Easy, Tiger

For power, danger and terrifying speed, there’s nothing better than a superbike. Just go slow the first time out. They weren’t kidding about the ‘super’ part.

Vikrant Singh | Print Edition: January 11, 2009

Superbikes are meant to be extreme. They’re the superheroes among bikes. They’re incredibly powerful and agile, they possess the might to outpace nearly anything on the road, and maybe even fly. (They don’t, however, wear their underwear over their clothes.)

To put things in perspective, the typical superbike is 10 times more powerful and thrice as quick as bikes we call sporty in India. They’re tech.-laden, too, and pack in the sort of technology that would give sci-fi writers a wet dream. A word of caution, though, these are manically fast, and in incapable hands, can be lethal.

I’m on one right now, at the Twin Ring Motegi, Japan’s Mecca for motorcycle racing. It is a racetrack where motorcycles with over 200 bhp of power battle it out at—wait for it— 300 kmph. But the one I am riding today at Motegi is a little different. Sure, the Honda CBR1000RR, better known as the Fireblade, makes 180 bhp and can clock well over 250 kmph with her throttle wrung to the stops. And like others of her ilk, the seating is designed more for gymnasts than the rest of us. With so much fire in her belly, she can get nasty, too. Get on the throttle with enthusiasm and you’re more likely to end up staring at the skies than the road ahead.

Touch the brakes with a hint of vigour and chances are she will throw you over her handlebars, and then run you over. But give her respect and she is surprisingly easy to ride. It’s little wonder that she has unanimously been voted as the best superbike in the world. She is light and agile and telepathic, too. Going around a fast left hander, a tad unsure, I still tipped her in. But she did my bidding like an obliging geisha. Then she urged me to go faster on every straight, brake later for every corner and carry more speed through each bend. And I did, because no matter how fast I rode, I couldn’t get anywhere near her limits.

The CBR is for those who love excitement, who wake up every summer morning smelling of petrol than sweat and would rather take a wild stallion ride and pray for the animal within to settle down than steal a jaunt in a comfy limo to a tuxedo party. But mostly superbikes are for those who have plenty of money and a flair for showing off. After all, there’s no better expression of freedom, adventurism and style than arriving in a youthful, dangerous and downright impractical motorcycle like the Fireblade

999.8 cc
Max power: 180 bhp
Max torque: 112 Nm
Gearbox: 6-speed
0-100 KMPH: 6 seconds
Top speed: 290 kmph
Price: Rs 12 lakh (estimated)

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