2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX
Kawasaki steps up its game ahead of the 2020 model year with new body components, updated electronics, and a smoother-running engine for its Ninja 1000SX. The factory also tuned up the ergonomics in an effort to improve long-range comfort and even chucked on an adjustable clutch lever for a little bit of lagniappe. Improvements in rideability, control, and aesthetics join the liter-plus engine and Ninja pedigree to deliver a refined product to the masses.
2020 Kawasaki Z H2
Kawasaki’s H2 crossed family lines from the Ninja superbikes over to the “Z” supernaked range with the 2020 Z H2 model. This brings with it the supercharged engine that made waves when it landed in the top-shelf Ninjas to make this bike the flagship of the Z range. The magic doesn’t stop there ’cause Kawi blessed it with a veritable alphabet soup of electronic features that increase safety and rideability all at once. Best of all, the Z H2 wastes not an ounce on superfluous body panels, so the 100-plus pounds of grunt converts directly into acceleration to make it even meaner than the much-vaunted Ninja line, and the price schedule keeps it within reasonable reach for the majority of riders.
2017 - 2020 Yamaha YZF-R6
If you’ve ever wanted to own a bona fide racing machine but didn’t have the money or vanity to go for one of the $100K-plus literbikes on the market right now, I’ve got good news for you; Yamaha updated its mid-size YZF-R6 in MY2017, and it can be had without selling a kidney or your firstborn. At just over the $12K mark, the R6 claims over 120 horsepower with a host of features to help riders manage the tremendous forces this thoroughbred generates. The 600 cc-ish bracket has been getting a little stale as of late between competition from the liter category and the burgeoning interest in the 300 cc bikes, so the updated version of a proven mid-size racetrack champ is exciting news indeed.
2020 Yamaha YZF-R1 / R1M
Yamaha announced the new 2020 YZF-R1 and R1M to boost its supersport lineup with improvements throughout the build. A refined engine pushes optimized fairings and cowlings across the board, and the R1M has panels made of carbon fiber in a bid to keep weight down. The upgraded electronic ride-quality and safety suite has new top-shelf goodies to make this latest generation R1 family a marvel of engineering. While it isn’t a racetrack-only bike, it definitely falls in the stupidfast category, and of course, track days are still a viable option with very little tweaking to set it up for the circuit.
2018 - 2019 Aprilia RSV4 RF / RF LE
Ahead of MY2018, Aprilia gave the RSV4 RF a significant rebuild that included a new set of Öhlins stems and beefed-up electronics along with improved anchors, all of which are driven by a race-proven, 201-horsepower V4 engine. This is a bike built for the would-be racers and fiery-eyed stoplight burners out there, and it comes with all the street-legal goodies you need to enjoy it on the public roads. If you’re into actual track use, the factory would like you to know that this machine is a full second faster than the outgoing model; take that for what it’s worth. Additionally, the factory offers the RSV4 RF in a limited-edition build with its own special design and livery that sets it apart from the standard version.
2016 - 2020 Suzuki Hayabusa
It’s a Hayabusa. Is there really anything more to be said? Suzuki’s Gixxer 1,340 cc monster speed machine is back again for 2020. The ’Busa is one of the biggest sportbikes out there, so yeah, big and heavy; you don’t want to go slow for very long. Once at speed, the bike is in its element. Look up ’Stupidfast’ in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of a Hayabusa.
Aprilia put together the Tuono V4 1100 range for folks who want racebike performance but have no intention of ever taking it past the parking lot at the track. The “RR” serves as the base model with the aptly-named “Factory” as a factory-custom model that pulls exclusively from the top shelf for the most discriminating elbow-draggers out there. Both versions rock newly-revamped electronics suites, but of course, the Factory takes that a step or two further, as well, with the new RSV4 superbike’s DNA in evidence across the board. If you’re looking for a street-legal bike that’s also a racer-like bike, Aprilia’s Tuono V4 line may be your Huckleberry.
2019 Ducati Panigale V4 S Corse
Ducati expands its Panigale lineup and replaces its “1299” with a new model that’s meant to take over as the new apex-predator – the Panigale V4 – and the new Panigale V4 S Corse builds on that platform with a race-worthy package. Not only does it closely resemble the MotoGP version with much the same look and equipment, it doubles down with the factory race team’s unmistakable colors in its unique livery. Lest there be any confusion on this point, let me be clear; this is not a wannabe/poser machine. It doesn’t waste any weight on the road-legal gear that’s rather superfluous on a racebike, and it’s intended for the closed-circuit and proper road-courses only. However, no expense was spared in the ride-control electronics department, and the robust suite makes this a veritable marvel on two wheels.
2019 Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory
Most of the major players have some sort of street-legal racebike on the market, and for Aprilia, that honor falls to the RSV4 1100 Factory. Aprilia pulls from the top shelf for the electronic safety and comfort systems to put together a machine that delivers track-like performance with a veritable alphabet soup of under-the-hood features. Aprilia gives you everything you need to manage the power that sets a new standard for a production V4 with over 200 ponies on tap.
2017 - 2019 Ducati 1299 Panigale R FE
Ducati released the 1299 Panigale R Final Edition in 2017 with much celebration. This last edition of the 1299 Panigale R superbike comes laden with top-shelf electronics and racing livery in a finale for the twin-cylinder Superleggera-derived Superquadro engine.
2018 - 2019 Aprilia RSV4 RR
The “RR” version of Aprilia’s race-tastic 2019 RSV4 superbike is something of a dual-purpose ride. The "RR" is essentially a racebike made street-legal that can easily be set up for trackday through the use of the optional Track Kit. The liter-sized mill cranks out over 200 horsepower, and the “RR” comes with an electronics suite packed with top-shelf ride-quality gadgets to help you keep it rubber-side down.
2019 Kawasaki Ninja H2 R
Many of the major players offer a pure-D racetrack hypersport for the public’s consumption, and for Kawasaki, that honor falls to the freshly updated Ninja H2 R. The H2 R brings the best Kawi has to offer to the table along with top-flight aerodynamics and a supercharged engine on top of a full electronics suite to make itself a threat on the track right out of the box. That’s about the only place it’s a threat though, since the H2 R is far too awesome to be street legal, and as a track-only bike, it wastes not an ounce on any silly old mirrors, headlights or turn signals. Carbon-fiber components complete the package with their own brand of lightweight strength.
2019 Ducati 959 Panigale / 959 Panigale Corse
Like all the major players on the world stage, Ducati offers (relatively) street-friendly models in the 959 Panigale and 959 Panigale Corse for 2019. This pair showcases the Italian giant’s performance chops from the brushed-up stressed-skin structure all the way down to the newly-tuned innards of the 955 cc engine to compete against the other top-shelf, racebike-like offerings. Top-shelf electronics finish off the package to give them all the rider aids and safety systems you can reasonably expect at almost any price point, so you have a chance of keeping it dirty-side down while you raise your riding game.