Best superbikes 2018
What are the best superbikes in the world? Find out with our top ten round up of the fastest things on two wheels
Superbikes in the modern sense were popularised in the 1990s, a decade which saw the rise to prominence of the one litre-plus machines that took performance to levels previously seen only on the race track. A performance battle between legendary machines such as the Honda Blackbird, Suzuki Hayabusa and Kawasaki ZX-12R saw power outputs and top speeds creeping ever closer to the 200bhp and 200mph mark.
It wasn’t just the big three Japanese manufacturers of course. Everyone was building bigger and faster bikes, and sales of 800cc and bigger models more than tripled to 300,000 in 10 years. There came a point in 1999, when it all started to look a bit silly and manufacturers – afraid of EU legislation to cap these outrageously fast machines – agreed to a self-imposed top speed of 186mph to end the power race.
But did that mean the end of the road for the superbike? Absolutely not, and although for a while manufacturers turned their focus to adventure bikes and retro-styling, the need for speed won out in the end.
In 2007, the power race returned with a bang, when the MV Agusta F4 R 312 launched with a claimed top speed of 194mph. In 2008, the BMW S1000RR was revealed with a top speed of 188mph – a bike from the company that suggested the gentleman’s agreement in the first place.
A further nail in the coffin of the self-imposed speed limits came with the 2013 1199c Panigale R, with a digital speedometer that went blank above 186mph… that bike’s successor, the 1299 Panigale SS is top of our superbike list today.
Not to be outdone, Kawasaki officially tore-up the agreement with the £41,000 supercharged Ninja H2R, with a whopping 319bhp propelling it to 210mph on track. The H2 197bhp roadgoing version is still restricted to a piffling 186mph. Still, what can you expect for only £22,000?
So the good news is that if you still want flat-out uncompromising performance, and nothing else will satisfy your need for speed, there are still lots of toys to play with, and not all of them will break the bank.
Click the links below or at the top left of this page for our round-up of the best superbikes on sale…
Best superbikes 2018
- 1Introduction - currently readingWhat are the best superbikes in the world? Find out with our top ten round up of the fastest things on two wheels
- 21. Ducati 1299 Panigale S
- 32. BMW S1000RRIf you’d said 10 years ago that BMW was going to produce a world-beating superbike, the nice men in white coats would have locked you up.
- 43. Honda Fireblade
- 54. Kawasaki ZX-10R NinjaSome bikers who tried out earlier versions of the Kawasaki ZX-10 were later led away muttering that it had scared them half to death.
- 65. Yamaha YZF-R1
- 76. Aprilia RSV4 RFAprilia launched the RSV 4 in 2009 with two aims: to achieve racing success and to challenge the might of Ducati as the bike of choice for riders looking for a sexy Italian machine equally at home on track and road.
- 87. MV Agusta F4Riding the F4 is a challenge. It’s a bike that offers lots of excitement, but neither comfort nor compromise.
- 98. Suzuki GSX-R1000
- 109. KTM 1290 Superduke R
- 1110. Kawasaki Ninja H2