Feel free to call me a heretic if it makes you feel any better. Call me Ishmael, or a Luddite or just generally soft in the gums. But the maximum four-cylinder carnivores perched atop our sport bike food chain have evolved into a frustrating sort of obselescence.Maybe it’s different in your little corner of the universe. Punishing ergonomics, astronomical insurance premiums and springing for a $250 rear tire every other month might not seem like much measured against a ride that would dust anything on an AMA Superbike just a handful of years ago. Where I live, the Honda CBR1000RR, Kawasaki ZX-10R, Suzuki GSX-R1000, Yamaha YZF R-1 – take your pick – offer variously brilliant definitions of overkill everywhere but the racetrack. Magnificent technology, if only we had the real estate to use it.
Airing out any literbike without risking your life and/or driving privilege has never been easy. Now that deserted canyon road has become an unfortunate oxymoron, it’s essentially impossible. If you believe a recent Texas Transportation Institute study, anyone unfortunate enough to live in Los Angeles spends 72 hours every year stuck in traffic and let’s just say nobody is betting on that number getting any smaller next year. Rolling around on two wheels rather than four lets me shave that number a bit, but there’s less and less open pavement between my front wheel and somebody’s front bumper every time I leave the garage. Being able to hit 100 mph or so without the inconvenience of shifting into second gear doesn’t do much for me anymore, and local law enforcement representatives are considerably less enthusiastic about the idea.
Factor in the ascendant price of super unleaded along with any other consumable you can name and let’s just say I’m more enthusiastic about technology that’s scaled to real life. Stepping back from the cutting edge doesn’t seem so bad, especially if it saves me a few bucks. Yamaha’s YZF750 is still a fantastic motorcycle, and a bona fide steal at $3350 for the 96 model I’m looking at here. The fact of the matter, weather you’re willing to admit it or not, is that most mortals go faster at the track with a modern 600 than they are on any sort of modern liter-class weapon. My BMW 800GS will gap the average ham-fist on the nasty, dirty, deliciously tight ribbons of neglected asphalt around here. So why pay more –– insurance, fuel, tires…you name it –– to swing a bigger stick than you can use? Especially these days.