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Top five… superbikes you can buy new in 2024

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Two decades ago 1000cc sports bikes were hugely popular and, although they are no longer the sales success they once were, you can still buy them new today. Today’s high performance superbikes deliver more than 200bhp, but come with all the latest racetrack developed electronics to make them (relatively) docile and manageable on the road. They’re quite a far cry from the comparative brutes we were riding 20 years ago.

That said, superbikes have become a bit ‘too much’ for many road riders in recent years, with higher prices, more extreme riding positions and excessive power putting them off and turning them on to other categories, such as adventure bikes and supernakeds. As a result, sales have dropped and a number of the big players have stopped making racy litre bikes over the past few years. Suzuki’s once dominant GSX-R1000 has been confined to the history books, while Yamaha’s iconic R1 looks set to become a track only model from 2025.

Despite this, many manufacturers continue to develop, build and sell their 1000cc litre bikes, providing them with a flagship model and a machine with which they can go superbike and superstock racing.

Which are our favourites? Well you can’t go far wrong with any of these five…


Aprilia RSV4 1100


Aprilia RSV4 1100


When it comes to a blend of style, performance and cost, the RSV4 1100 may well be the pick of our bunch.

Usually priced at £18,000, the standard RSV4 1100 has been reduced to £16,700 at the time of writing, making it the most affordable superbike you can buy.

The first RSV4 was introduced in 2009 and immediately made a big impression thanks to its 180bhp motor, compact dimensions and then cutting edge electronics. It took Aprilia to two WorldSBK titles (Max Biaggi in 2010 and Sylvain Guintoli in 2014), before they decided to withdraw and focus on their MotoGP programme.

Visually the model hasn’t changed all that much, but underneath it’s much modified from those original bikes. Without the need to comply with WorldSBK rules, the motor has been punched out to 1099cc, making it good for a claimed 217bhp.

The latest iteration was introduced a few years ago. The standard model gets Sachs suspension, but the £23,000 Factory (pictured, currently retailing at £21,300) version gets fancier Ohlins electronic suspension and lightweight forged aluminium wheels by Marchesini.


BMW S 1000 RR


BMW S1000RR 2022


Where others have exited the sportsbike sector, BMW has been super active in developing its S 1000 RR superbike.

The first version was unveiled in 2008, for 2009, and since then there have been numerous updates, with the latest model representing the sixth generation of S 1000 RR.

The super exotic M (for Motorsport) 1000 RR has provided a base for their world superbike racers in recent years, but the standard S 1000 RR remains and still delivers 210bhp performance for a lot, lot less money.

BMW might not quite have enjoyed the same success as their rivals on the race track, however the S 1000 RR is a simply staggering road and track bike. Surprisingly, considering the badge on the fairing, the BMW has the lowest RRP of the bikes in our selection, at least in standard trim. At £17,150 for the most basic version it undercuts even the Kawasaki, although historically very few BMWs leave the showroom without at least a good few options being ticked.

Packages include the popular £1,420 ‘Dynamic’ pack, which gives additional riding modes and electronic suspension, while the £30,940 M 1000 RR is the range topper and has a staggering spec sheet including carbon fibre bodywork and wheels, a few additional horsepower huge aerodynamic wings and even more sophisticated electronics.


Ducati Panigale V4


Ducati Panigale V4


When it comes to superbikes, there are few more evocative names than Ducati.

Exotic sportsbikes are in the Italian company’s DNA and they’ve been the most successful manufacturer in world superbike racing history by a long way.

There was some surprise when the V4 range replaced the iconic V-twins back in 2018, but it’s a design derived from the company’s hugely successful MotoGP racers and has, if anything, been fully embraced by the Ducatisti.

The most expensive Panigale is the V4 R, which is a limited run 998cc machine built almost exclusively as a base for the world championship winning WorldSBK racers, while the ‘standard’ models get the longer-stroke, 1,103cc, version of the Desmosedici Stradale motor – which is good for over 215bhp.

At £22,995 the standard V4 isn’t cheap, but still undercuts some of the competition. It might be the ‘base’ model but the specification is staggering and comes with high end suspension and brakes, as well as Ducati’s well renowned electronics package and the controversial aerodynamic wings which were pioneered on the Panigale, having been developed in the MotoGP programme.

If that’s not enough, there’s an S version for £5,000 more. This features fancy semi-active electronic suspension from Ohlins as well as lightweight forged aluminium wheels.

Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja


Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja


Once the weapon of choice in the superbike world, the ZX-10R is something of a veteran of the class these days, although at £17,499 it is one of the less expensive bikes in the category.

It says something about the phenomenal performance of modern superbikes when the Kawasaki is at the bottom of the power stakes with a ‘mere’ 200bhp but, unless you are a top level motorcycle racer, it is more than enough for us mere mortals.

The heritage of the Ninja is impeccable. This is the motorcycle which powered Jonathan Rea to six consecutive world superbike titles between 2015 and 2020, although it has received regular updates over the years. This latest generation was introduced in 2021, when the fairing was modified to incorporate aerodynamics developed to generate downforce on the front end.

It may not be as powerful or as sophisticated as the European alternatives, however Kawasaki has a loyal following and big Ninjas in particular attract a near cult status. These days the Ninja name badge is applied to all faired Kawasakis, however it’s 40 years since the introduction of the very first bike to wear the tag – the iconic GPz900R Ninja of 1984 – and to celebrate Kawasaki are offering a retro livery which pays homage to the late 1990s world superbikes, which is when the distinctive lime green hues really became Kawasaki’s signature colour.

Kawasaki also offer a limited run ZX-10RR Ninja, which costs £25,799. It has a few mechanical tweaks aimed at delivering the best performance on the race track, but has no real benefits for road riders.


Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP


Honda Fireblade 2024


With Suzuki dropping its GSX-R1000, Yamaha announcing its R1 will be going track only and Kawasaki having barely updated the ZX-10R in a decade, it’s left to Honda to uphold Japanese honour in the superbike stakes.

The Fireblade (originally written FireBlade) name dates back to the CBR900RR of 1992 but the latest generation Fireblade was an all-new design introduced four years ago. It gets a number of small but important updates for 2024, with the changes aimed mainly at improving Honda’s competitiveness on the race track.

Despite proving to be a real weapon around the Isle of Man TT, and in British superstock racing (where modifications allowed from the standard bike are minimal), Honda has struggled to match Ducati, Kawasaki and Yamaha on the world superbike scene. They hope that the refinements on the 2024 iteration will help unlock the final piece of performance needed to win on the circuit.

That doesn’t make it any less of a stonking road bike, although the days of Japanese manufacturers providing more affordable alternatives to European exotica have gone. While once Honda offered a number of different specification levels of the ‘Blade, the standard option is now this ‘SP’ variant, which comes in at a Ducati-like £23,499 – with a carbon fibre clad version available for an additional £3,250.

And while it might be expensive, the latest Fireblade really is a special bike. Where the first ‘Blades delivered straightforward performance for the masses, the 2024 iteration is full of technology derived from the limited run RC213V-S, while the inline four cylinder engine has a claimed power output in excess of 214bhp.

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