Sport bikes: race-bred technology for the street

Sport bikes, street-legal kin to pure bred race machines, may not make up the lion’s share of motorcycle sales in the U.S., but nevertheless continue to serve as test beds for some of the most advanced technology coming from powersports manufacturers.
American Suzuki Motor Corp. (ASMC) beckons riders to “own the racetrack.” Glenn Hansen, Motorcycle and ATV Advertising Manager, says the sport bike category “is the most important thing there is for Suzuki.”
“The GSX-R is our cornerstone, and it’s what we build many of our products around,” Hansen told Powersports Business. “The performance of that line makes up our DNA, and we want to communicate that to the consumer through all of our products.
“For instance, the fuel injection that’s in the SVs and the V-Strom, that came directly from the GSX-R program; and with our sport quad, you can see the GSX-R design element of having two headlights. Even engineers that work on the cruisers may have been on the GSX-R team
at one point and know the importance
of that product.”
Technology transfer from the track seems to be equally as prevalent at Honda, according to the company’s Jon Seidel: “Racing and Honda are synonymous; it’s been in our DNA since the inception of the company.”
“The CBR600RR and CBR1000RR have direct trickle down technology from our RC211V MotoGP bike, and features like Dual Stage Fuel Injection, Unit Pro-Link rear suspension and HESD, the world’s first continuously variable electronic steering damper, are technology advancements learned from racing that go directly into other products our
customers can buy at their Honda dealership.”
Brad Banister, Yamaha’s press manager, says racing always will play an important role in terms of Yamaha product development.
“It’s a test bed for new technologies and ideas that can eventually make their way to our sportbike line,” Banister said, “and it’s all quite evident in things like Yamaha’s five-valve engine, the long swingarm concept that helps powerful engines put power to the ground, stacked axle transmissions and Deltabox chassis technology.”
Kawasaki’s media relations manager,
Jan Plessner, says racing still plays an
important role in the development of new Kawasaki machines.
Plessner uses the ZX-6R and ZX-6RR as examples. “With several industry firsts, the ZX-6R and ZX-6RR offer features that were
previously only found on open class bikes or race bikes – inverted forks, radial mounted
front brake calipers, slipper clutch and adjustable swing arm pivot.”
“Consumers want a purpose-built race bike that is street legal,” Plessner said. “They want the styling and performance of a race bike to provide a thrill ride on streets and twisty roads, but with non-intimidating ergonomics.” psb

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