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Another Horsepower Race

The State of Horsepower in 2015

With the Kentucky Derby just passed we thought we would look at another type of horse race, the horsepower race. With 2015’s introduction of new big horsepower bikes there is a resurgence in horsepower figures (did an interest in horsepower ever really go away?). However not all manufacturers make their horsepower figures common knowledge and it takes a little digging to find them – or a close approximation. Others proudly display the figures up front because, after all,  200 is the new 160. But there are variances in the methodology of calculating horsepower.

There is horsepower at the crank and there is horsepower where the rubber meets the road, the rear wheel, which will be smaller number but the easiest for third parties to test. There are peak horsepower figures achieved with the assistance of Ram air which isn’t the easiest thing to test for on the dyno. And finally there is the VMax’s horsepower which is both here and there depending what is going on in it’s CPU. In any discussion on the topic you can’t ignore the difference between torque and horsepower. Horsepower is more glamorous but torque is what gets you moving. But like I said, horsepower is more glamorous.

We hit the top horsepower contenders (all five of the top bikes will see 200 or more horsepower, BMW says 199 for the S1000RR but we’ll play by horseshoe rules)  but then segway in order of power after the the ZX14 and Hayabusa into machines that represent the best from other manufacturers or bikes like the Diavel that sport the attitude or the K1600 which sports the unusual motor. There are plenty of bikes that get higher figures than the VRod and Rocket III but it eventually depends on what you want to ride. The 300hp Kawasaki H2R isn’t on the list because you can’t ride it legally on the street.

Prior to lining up at the starting gates, and just for reference, the Panigale will provide you with 205 hp and the VRod the mid 120’s.

Kawasaki H2 207hp – manufacturer claim Not quite as ridiculously outrageous as the H2R but close … and street legal.

Ducati Panigale 1299 – (205hp – manufacturer claim) Setting a benchmark for Italian speed and sexiness.

1299 Panigale.01
MV Agusta F4 RR – Setting the other benchmark for Italian speed and sexiness.


Yamaha R1M (207hp – manufacturer claim )- Not planning on letting Kawasaki get too far ahead.

BMW S1000RR – (199hp – manufacturer claim) Just proves if BMW really wants to do something, they do it right.

Yamaha VMax – No replacement for displacement (and scoops), it’s the straight line.



Suzuki Hayabusa – The original, enough said.


Kawasaki ZX14 – The replacement for the other original – the ZX-12.

Aprilia RSV4 – Oh right, an Aprilia.


Suzuki GSX-R1000 – This isn’t going to be the last word.

KTM 1290 Super Duke – Ridiculous, crazy and just about right.

KTM RC8 R – “We build more than just dirt machines”, see above for confirmation.

Honda CBR1000RR – Refinement, refinement, refinement.


Ducati Diavel – Don’t call me a cruiser.

BMW K1600GT (160hp – manufacturer claim)- Gimme six.


Triumph Rocket III (148 hp – manufacturer claim)- An icon … it’s the displacement.

Harley-Davidson V-Rod – Liquid-cooled before the Street but for another reason.



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