Our All Time Favourite Superbikes
Our All Time Favourite Superbikes
Without a doubt we have witnessed some incredible machines throughout the years. We’ve pushed aside the 200+ BHP machines of today (well, mostly) and round up our 10 favourite superbikes from throughout the ages. This list isn’t based on what is the fastest, most expensive or best rated. It’s instead based on bikes that have caught, and maintained, our imagination throughout history.
No article discussing superbikes of yester-year would be complete without mentioning the legendary Ducati 916. Designed by Massimo Tamburini (often regarded as one of the greatest motorcycle designers), the gorgeous lines stunned everybody when it was first shown back in 1994. Creating 114 BHP from it’s desmodromic, liquid-cooled, 90° V-twin engine it was as fast as it was beautiful. Sleek feminine lines, a single sided swing arm and twin under seat exhausts all added to the 916’s presence. Ducati went on to win 4 out of 5 world superbike champsionships, securing the 916’s place in history (as if it needed any help!).
Honda VTR 1000 SP1 / RC51
Honda’s big V-Twin was released back in 2000 with only one job to do; to beat Ducati at their own game (v-twin dominance from the 916 and later the 999). The SP1 came out fighting and won the World SuperBike title that year. Ducati reclaimed the title in 2001 so Honda took back the SP1 and further refined it into the SP2. The original SP1 remains a real head turner, even today. Sadly, finding a good one can be a bit of a treasue hunt. At the time Honda didn’t have much demand for their new twin so they only produced enough to be homologated within the rules of World Superbikes. A fantastic investment should you have the opportunity to own one.
MV Agusta F4
Massimo Tamburini (the designer of the 916 we mentioned earlier) returns, this time delivering us the beautiful F4 that spearheaded the resurrection of MV Agusta back in 1998. Sporting the classic MV red and silver livery, single sided swing arm and gorgeous lines, the F4 was an instant hit. Leading the way for all of the future variations of the F4 and the F3, the original F4 will always have our upmost respect.
After Ducati missed the mark a little with the 999, not that it was a bad bike but it was in no way going to fill the boots of the 916. Ducati returned with the 1098 and reminded us all they can still make beautiful machines. With the twin headlight design, under seat exhaust and single sided swing arm you can clearly see the 916 heritage. Winning the World Superbike title in both 2008 and 2011, the 1098 really was something to take note of.
Norton V4 RR/SS
Where to start with Norton’s V4 superbike? Born and raised on the Isle of Man TT circuit, what Norton has achieved in bringing a retired brand back to competing with all of the top manufacturers is truly remarkable. Considering the extrended R&D thats gone into each component on the V4 – not to mention the development of their own engine – the hefty price tag actually seems like very good value. If we could, we certainly would!
Ducati Desmosedici RR
The third Ducati on our list, the Desmosedici is basically a Moto GP bike with headlights. First announced in 2004 and breaking cover in 2006, the Desmosedici offered us mere mortals the chance to experience riding a fully fledged 200BHP Moto GP bike. Originally costing approx £40,000, you got a lot of bike for the money and limited to just 1,500 machines being produced almost guaranteed a solid future investment.
Designed and hand built by John Britten back in 1991, the V1000 broke the mould by doing things their way. Experimenting with things such as a frame-less chassis and placing the radiator under the seat. The 999 cc V-Twin motor produced 166 BHP and went on to set several speed records and won the Battle of the Twins at the Daytona Bike Week. A total of 10 bikes were built which today exist in private collections and museums.
The rotary powered Norton’s are easily in the list of our favourite superbikes of all time. Looking and sounding like nothing else, they raised lots of eyebrows from their Japanese competitors when they started winning at the Isle of Man TT and the British Championship. Sadly, rules were changed and the Norton’s found themselves out of a job. Today, they can all be found at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham but it’s not uncommon to see them at classic gatherings such as the Festival of Speed or the Classic TT.
Aprilia RSV Mille
After enjoying success with their 2 stroke machinery, in 1998 Aprilia released their first superbike – the RSV. The 998cc V-Twin produced 128 BHP, fully adjustable suspension and Brembo brakes really offered the full package. The Mille paved the way for the next generation, the RSV-R and later the incredible RSV4. Despite it’s age, the Mille is still an absolute stunner.
Perhaps a controversial entry to our list, the Shinden is fully electric. Enjoying continued success at the Isle of Man TT Zero, the Shinden has continually improved every year. They are now at the point where they are lapping quicker than the super twin machines, which is incredible when you think about it. Although they lack the excitement of a traditional engine, we can’t help but admire what Mugen has achieved. With rumours of other big manufacturers exploring electric and hybrid motorcycles, this is surely the next big step in motorcycle history. If your interested, you can read more about the Shinden here.
So, there you have it. Our 10 favourite superbikes of all time. We must admit it was incredibly hard to narrow down to just 10 bikes. Perhaps we should add another 10 and make it a top 20! We would love to hear your suggestions in the comments section below.