Literbikes are the fastest accelerating vehicles on the road. Why buy a Porsche for $150,000 when one of these is faster for $15,000? Yeah, no. R1s, RSV4s, GSX-Rs, CBRs and Panigales aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, here’s 11 reasons why you don’t want a literbike. Really.
1) Why Literbikes Are Different
Literbikes, superbikes, 1,200cc V-twins — whatever you want to call them — are about one thing: horsepower. When I bought my first one a decade or so ago, it made 118 bhp and that felt like a rocket ship. Today’s bikes are closing in on 200 bhp at the crank and are now topping out at over 200 mph.
With that massive increase in power has come all sorts of technological development designed to tame it. Semi-active suspension, traction control, wheelie control, launch control; it’s all designed to turn an unrideable power-to-weight ratio into something that might not kill you. Maybe.
This horsepower war is fuelled by racing, of course, but also got kicked-off last decade as the industry chased its ever more-mature audience, giving them reasons to upgrade their bike every few years or to switch brands in pursuit of the latest and greatest. Trouble is, in the process, the bikes have almost ruled themselves out of relevancy. Here’s why.
2) Literbikes Make You A Lazy Rider
Out riding with your buddies? Doing a track day? On a literbike, all of a sudden you don’t have to try terribly hard. Want to close a gap? Just open the throttle and unleash the four horsemen of the accelerative apocalypse. Hell, they’re so fast that you don’t even need to shift down a gear or fully open the throttle, typically 20 percent or so of the twist grip will do. Where’s the fun in that?
3) Literbikes Get Stolen
See that news story about the CHP busting a huge motorcycle theft ring in Los Angeles and recovering hundreds upon hundreds of stolen bikes? Watching it, you could literally sit there and go, “literbike, literbike, literbike, literbike.” There wasn’t anything else. Riding one around town, you have to carry a heavy chain, a disc lock alarm and secure the bike both to an immovable object and by both wheels — every time you stop. They get stolen from locked garages, luxury condo buildings, secure trailers and in broad daylight. The latest generation of thieves have even begun bike-jacking them, waiting until you’re stopped a red light, then knocking you off and taking your pride and joy.
4) The Razor’s Edge Is Not The Safest Place To Be
To put down 180 bhp or more, the latest generation of tires has had to become incredibly specific. They work pretty well in the dry, so long as you take the time to heat them up, but the wet and cold? Just look at the incredibly minimal sipes for evidence of how that’s going to turn out. All that electronic trickery has been developed for a reason, too. The bikes have become virtually unrideable without its help. On anything but a track or dry, warm mountain road, you’ll need to turn down the throttle response and outright power output, turn up the TC and wheelie control, then still ride the bike on virtual tip toes. Any lapse in attention could cause a crash.
5) Literbikes Aren’t Any Faster Than A 600
In the real world, on real tracks and real roads, cheaper, more exploitable, more manageable 600s are just as fast. I mean come on, your bike might be theoretically capable of 186 mph, but when’s the last time you took it over 120? A 600 will hit 170 mph and get there 95 percent as quickly. Outright lap times on the track are a hair’s width apart. So why bother?
6) Literbikes Make You A Target
Rolling around on a loud, flashy literbike isn’t exactly a low-key thing to do. Everyone will turn and look, everyone will know you’re up to no good. That includes the cops — who disproportionately target literbike riders and tend to write them harsher tickets — and other riders, to whom passing you becomes something of a trophy. Is there anything worse than being that guy at a track day on the fastest bike there, getting passed by some 16-year old on a 250?
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