From the Performance Bikes archive.jpg

Buy back issues of Performance Bikes magazine

January 2019
The best bike in the world? There’s never a clear answer: dyno, speed and track testing data only tell you which bike is technically superior.

The concept of ‘best’ cropped up a few times this month – firstly in our light-hearted end-of-year awards ceremony. Our choice for ‘Bike of the Year’ wasn’t the priciest or fastest (though it’s hardly cheap or slow). Johnny and I pondered our choices when our long-term test S1000RR and Super Duke R were pried from our fingers: bikes we struggled to fault as they suited us as individuals down to the ground.

As 2019’s new models appear, we’re forced to question that all again: variable valve timing, clever aero and even advanced electric bikes rendering all that we currently understand irrelevant. The answer, of course, is there isn’t one: while we make informed judgements when we test stuff, it’s too personal to pin down. For one day this month, Johnny was even convinced an adventure bike was his...

Buy January 2019 issue >>

 

December 2018
Is it just me, or are manufacturers missing a trick with middleweights? We’re tired of beating the drum about a Daytona 765; but the Ducati 959/MV 800 ably demonstrate the merits of slightly less powerful, more agile bikes, in an exclusive, pricey Italian sort of way. 

But witness KTM’s Pikes Peak-winning 790 Duke. It’s essentially a pipe and suspension kit, yet it elevates a bike from feeling a bit ‘new rider’ to ‘weapons-grade hoon tool’. It would make a brilliant production bike. Same goes for Yamaha’s 700 platform. Dirt cheap, with a great engine and intrinsically good geometry, but held back by poor suspension. PB’s German friend Dominik Klein turned an XSR700 in to handy little grin tool without too much effort: it scores heavily on style, too.

In a time when the firms are pushed to make bikes safer and greener as well as combatting a cost-conscious market, it seems there’s an opportunity being missed. Not by us, though: dive in for more on our midweight antics this month.

Buy December 2018 issue >>

 

If the British-built creations we’ve ridden this month are any indication of what this country is still capable of producing, we may yet emerge from the Brexit process in decent shape... A few laps on Triumph’s development mule for their 2019 Moto2 control motor was all it took for Johnny to practically insist they take the short step further by turning it into a road bike: the lightly-tuned 765 motor in a Daytona chassis felt so close to the big-bore Triumph supersport bike we've been hoping for, it’d be criminal not to offer one. For the first time, they said they might do it, too... Of course, they're already building some great sports weapons: the Speed and Street Triple RS models are great road bikes, and surprisingly tough customers in the fast group, too.

Michael Rutter was tasked with finding out whether torque or agility makes for the fastest Brit supernaked. And while the XSR900 is technically Japanese, Hag Hughes’ 900LC is a very British creation, and very fine it is, too. See it inside this month's issue.

Buy November 2018 issue >>

 

October 2018
In the October issue of PB, Rutter tests the Ducati Panigale V4 head-to-head with its rival the Yamaha YZF-R1M in a bid for top superbike honours, whilst a German tuning house makes the Panigale's raw power more accessible to everyone.

In our triple tug-off we find out how Triumph's Speed Triple S compares to the top spec RS and we get a sneak peak at a retro superbike R1 hybrid, rebuit with a 2018 engine.We've got the most important stories from the world's most gruelling race, the Suzuka 8-hour and we introduce you to our new project bike, Rutter's 2018 Macau GP RCV.

The Mod Squad show you how to make your Monster 1100 better and we take a look around an NC30 lover's Aladdin's Cave of a garage. Looking for some cheap thrills? Maybe it's time to buy a 2000-2001 Yamaha R1?

Buy October 2018 issue >>

 

September 2018
It's been a strange month. On the one hand, Team PB and seemingly every other biker has been out lapping up the weather: roads buzz to the sound of bikes, trackdays are full up and down the country. It’s almost the perfect summer.

But on the other hand, road racing has been cruel to us in the recent weeks and months: Dan Kneen, Adam Lyon, William Dunlop and James Cowton’s sad passing in competition reminding us of the risk we’re all taking to some extent. Why do they do it? Why do we watch it? Why do we ride a bike at all, for that matter: most of us aren’t racing for a living, yet we’re taking not-dissimilar risks for the hell of it.

The same, almost glib, answer applies to all three for most people: the love and thrill of it outweighs the risk. I’ve had some great road and track rides this month, and, tragedies aside, racing has been stunning to watch. Riding a bike hard, whatever your level, evokes emotions non-motorcyclists can’t understand. I even see those feelings etched on my toddler son’s face as he scoots around on his balance bike.

On the face of it, there’s no logic to it. But for them and us, being on two wheels brings a selfish joy that’s impossible to replace. Nobody wants to pay the price for it: all we can do is try to stay out of harm’s way, remember those we’ve lost and make the most of this daft, brilliant passion we have.

My, and the PB team’s, condolences go out to anyone close to those whom the sport has lost.

Buy September 2018 issue >>

 

August 2018
It's nice to know I’m not getting soft in my old age. From his first spin on the Panigale V4 at Jurby, just to get familiar before some flat-out laps of the TT course later, Michael Rutter was in awe and more than a little in fear of the beast from Bologna. All we got out of him for five minutes were various bemused utterances. Even fresh from first practice on his BMW racers, the standard Speciale edition’s next-level performance caught him unawares. Professional that he is, he got on with the job of answering a big question that had been swirling around our brains since we first rode the bike: can Ducati finally make a return to road racing success?

The V-twins haven’t been significantly successful at the TT since the days of Tony Rutter in the mid-1980s: too fragile, too slow, poor-handling, or a combination of all three. Well, I’ll tell you now it didn’t break, it was bastard fast and handled well enough to gather some unreal data – read the feature and see whether it has what it takes to make a TT comeback, and also if electronic suspension is all it’s claimed to be, too.

Enjoy the feature, and the rest of this TT-themed issue.

Buy August 2018 issue >>

 

July 2018
Good tyres are a funny thing: very few these days are so crap that they’ll launch you up the road at random. But it’s the subtle, often barely-tangible qualities that make us trust them when doing a bit of quiet piss-taking on a deserted stretch of country road somewhere. PB’s industry-leading blind tyre test is back to assess the best sports tyres: with brand preconceptions ruled out, we’ve got to the bottom of the best road rubber on sale today. As we expected, there were no bad options, but plenty of surprises. See which tyres will really tickle your fancy.

Talking of class-leading tests, the Michael Rutter track test returns for 2018, now the weather necessary for a decent lap of Donington Park is finally here... We’ve opened our 2018 account with the latest R1 and RSV4 RR – two superbikes living in the shade of their far fancier relatives, but with 99% of the performance of the £20,000 posh models, for 80% of the cost. If a £16,000 bike could ever come close to being called a bargain (which they can’t, although a Ford Fiesta costs more than that these days), these are the bikes that could be. We reckon the noise, the feel and the looks are enough for anyone, and that’s before we even start talking about the speed.

Buy July 2018 issue >>

 

June 2018
It's refreshing to get some sub-1000cc bikes in that really make a ride special. Anything sporty less than a litre – faired or naked – has either been either dropped or neglected for some years. Thankfully that’s turning around, and we’ve an issue full of bikes that make you question why you’d want 190bhp. MV are trying to pull themselves out of a few difficult, troubled years with bikes like the Brutale 800RR. Sexy? Tick. Fast? Tick. Good enough? Ask the two Johns: they spent a day with it in the company of the excellent Street Triple RS and MT-09 SP.

Meanwhile, one man is fighting the middleweight sportsbike’s corner: Paul Hinchliffe is raising the ire of his paymasters at Triumph by turning the Street Triple 765 into a sportsbike – a Daytona 765 in all but name – and selling it. With more clever touches than new parts, the conversion showed us just how much potential an official Daytona has as a mature but sharp mid-capacity supersport road bike. Here’s hoping it made Triumph grumpy, because he’s narrowly beaten them to the punch with the idea...

Buy June 2018 issue >>

 

May 2018
There's nothing glamorous about the back road that more or less links my house to the dyno at BSD a few miles away: it’s windswept, rutted, and a local accident blackspot to boot. But it’s here where I truly appreciated the next-level performance of the Ducati V4 – not the track launch, not a runway test, nor even the dyno where it cracked out 202bhp moments earlier. Normal road, extraordinary motorcycle – the sheer rate of acceleration doesn’t fit my frame of reference for a road bike. And that was only a brief ride: Johnny spent a couple of days in the south of France seeing if something so extreme can really work on a public road.

On the same note, Rutter got his first taste of the HP4: a bike with some big claims attached to it, and an even bigger price tag: even moneybags Michael can’t afford one, so his team built the closest thing they could for the Macau GP. His DIY HP4 met the real thing, with the superb standard S1000RR along as a reference point, at Valencia for an exclusive test, and even Britain’s fastest road tester was gobsmacked by the performance on offer. 

Buy May 2018 issue >>

 

April 2018
There's nothing glamorous about the back road that more or less links my house to the dyno at BSD a few miles away: it’s windswept, rutted, and a local accident blackspot to boot. But it’s here where I truly appreciated the next-level performance of the Ducati V4 – not the track launch, not a runway test, nor even the dyno where it cracked out 202bhp moments earlier. Normal road, extraordinary motorcycle – the sheer rate of acceleration doesn’t fit my frame of reference for a road bike. And that was only a brief ride: Johnny spent a couple of days in the south of France seeing if something so extreme can really work on a public road.

On the same note, Rutter got his first taste of the HP4: a bike with some big claims attached to it, and an even bigger price tag: even moneybags Michael can’t afford one, so his team built the closest thing they could for the Macau GP. His DIY HP4 met the real thing, with the superb standard S1000RR along as a reference point, at Valencia for an exclusive test, and even Britain’s fastest road tester was gobsmacked by the performance on offer. 

Buy April 2018 issue >>

 

March 2018
Hype is a dangerous thing to generate for any new product: there’s been plenty of it around the Panigale V4. Will it be flawed like the MotoGP bike was until very recently? Will it sacrifice everything Ducati has stood for in the 43 years since it first placed two cylinders at 90 degrees to each other?

Any questions over Ducati’s move into a new world for its flagship sportsbike are now answered. I was on the launch, on Valencia’s extremely technical MotoGP circuit. It’s almost an odd location to launch a bike claiming 214bhp – mostly second/third-gear bends – but what it did was prove the V4’s worth beyond a dyno.

More than any other Ducati superbike (and everyone else’s, I’m confident), its stunning handling, braking, grip and power curve are exploitable from warm-up lap pace right up to the lap times set by Ducati’s test rider, which would have qualified him (just) for the 2017 MotoGP race. There are plenty of other great features in the issue, too, but read it first. It’s a truly special bike.

Buy March 2018 issue >>

 

February 2018
Naked bikes rock – grunt, style and decent handling but with a bar/seat/footpeg relationship that promotes hooning but not creaking bones. But, if you’re from a sportsbike background, they can lack a little outright performance when you give it your best.

Some of the nakeds we’ve pulled together for this issue definitely don’t have that problem. German Yamaha dealer Klein have form for sorted Yamaha specials, so when we heard they’d sauced up the brilliant MT-10, there was no way we weren’t having a piece of it. It’s incredible, and even addresses some of the Yam’s ‘challenging’ aesthetics...

Only slightly closer to home, a band of French street special lovers decided they needed a race series to reward style and engineering prowess as well as speed, so they created the Monsters Race series. In essence, you must remove and replace a minimum number of parts from the donor bike to qualify, and the more you change the better you score, before you even race it. The result is some stripped back machines that look tough and work when you thrash them: our kind of specials.

Our own naked bike projects are ongoing in a smaller way, too: Whitey’s MT-09, my MV and new boy John’s Super Duke have all had some winter love in the workshop.

Buy February 2018 issue >>