By the numbers: 2011 muscle bikes

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It’s ironic, but a traditionally irrational Italian company is attempting to turn a class that’s never been about logical decision making on its head with a muscle bike/cruiser thing that’s all about numbers. Not just outright power or torque either. While the Ducati Diavel makes a lot of power — 162bhp — it’s also very light weight, at least for muscle bike/cruiser things — 210kg (dry). How’s that stack up to bikes like the VMAX and B-King? We crunched the numbers to find out.

Update: BMW K1300R added.

The muscle bike/cruiser class is an interestingly nebulous one, defined not by mechanical configuration — everything from V4s to Porsche-designed v-twins and 2.3-liter inline-threes — but by a certain concept of a performance image over actual performance. Think of these as the two-wheeled equivalent of ExtenZe. Huge engines make good power and torque, but they also mean huge weights, which makes just about all of these slower than, oh say an air-cooled Ducati Monster 1100 Evo, which we’ve thrown in just as a reference point. Every single one of these bikes would be outclassed in power-to-weight by a supersport 600.

Having made fun of them, these bikes do tend to be fairly ok to ride. They’re not so much about lap times or canyon carving as they are that feeling you get when you twist the throttle in everyday traffic without even bothering to downshift. That emphasis on feel and experience over ration is perhaps why we rank the CB1300 as our favorite bike in this group. It may not be the fastest or the most exciting to look at, but its incredibly smooth, easy-going engine, classic looks and good wind-protection makes it sort of a luxury tourer that doesn’t look bloated. Handles surprisingly well for something so massively heavy too, something the faster B-King can’t claim. The K1300R is similarly good handling (to the Honda), but has a very low center of gravity, requiring it to lean further for a given corner speed. This feels weird, but it’s a capable bike.

There’s no official price on the Diavel yet, so we’re using numbers that Ducati News Today is reporting.

  • Ben W

    Very interesting comparison. I love when you put these together. I got stuck on a remark, though.

    “Every single one of these bikes would be outclassed in power-to-weight and torque-to-weight by an supersport 600.”

    I don’t think that’s true. I can’t imagine the torque-to-weight on a supersport 600 fares even close to these. Honda doesn’t provide numbers on their site, nor do any of the big four, so here’s some guessing. If Honda claimed 120 HP on the 600RR, that would be .65 BHP:KG (using the UK 184 KG claim) – equal to the VMAX and below both the Diavel and B-King. If Honda claimed 55 LB-ft, it’d be .29 LB-Ft:KG, well below all but the V-Rod. I believe Honda’s actual claims would be more conservative for both horsepower and torque.

    • Wes Siler

      ah, you’re right. I’m talking out of my ass this morning. Should really eat breakfast, it’s already 1pm…

  • motoguru

    It would be lovely to see the MT-01 and CB13 in America, wouldn’t it?

    • Mark D

      I’d prefer the MT-03. Very cool bike, I think!

      But the MT-01 beats the crap out of any of the above bikes (save maybe the Rocket III, for sheer insanity).

  • AHA

    Why no K1300R? I quote HFL in 2008:

    “Power is now up to 173bhp (from 163), torque stands at 103lb/ft (from
    94), but more importantly the final drive ratio has been reduced to
    2.91 (compared to 2.82 on the K1300S) for increased acceleration at the
    expense of top speed. The only fly in the ointment is the weight: 243kg
    (536lb) with a full tank of fuel. In comparison the portly B-King
    weighs just 235kg (518lb).”

    • Wes Siler

      Ah, knew I’d forgotten something. Added it in above.

  • Kevin

    Sure would be nice to have an HFL power/torque comparison tool. So as you generate these comparisons, we can query any bikes we wish for comparison.

    • Wes Siler

      How do you envision that working?

  • Ken D

    If you weigh 85kg, you’re going to put a big dent in the power to weight ratio of a 170kg supersport just by sitting on the thing aren’t you? A 360kg Rocket III wouldn’t notice if you drank lard and wore medieval armour. I’ve always been suspicious of straight power/weight calculations for that reason.

  • Mauricio

    You can get ASC for the K1300R:–7648.htm

    Probably there as a safety net rather than for outright performance, but it is traction control nonetheless…