What is a Sports Bike?
A Sports bike is a type of motorcycle which falls under the performance-bike segment. The manufacturers optimize the sports bikes for acceleration (pick-up), speed, braking, and cornering abilities. However, these performance parameters come at the cost of comfort and fuel economy as compared to other motorcycles. So, generally, most of the Sports bikes around the world have varying sizes and prices than other bikes.
According to Soichiro Honda, Founder of Honda, the Super Sports bikes primarily offer the speed and the thrill. However, many believe that the sports bike’s enjoyment comes mainly from its ability to perform on paved highways. The characteristics of the sports bikes include the cornering on the paved roads and handling. They also deliver adrenaline acceleration, braking power, and the record top-speed.
Design of a Sports Bike:
Traditionally, the Sports bikes have narrow and hard seats. In these bikes, the riding position allows the feet to rest at the rear while the hands bend in the elbows. Thus, it forces the rider to lean forward; as if virtually sleeping on the bike. This helps to reduce the aerodynamic drag. So, the spine remains bent forwards while riding a sports bike. The cornering ability in Sports bikes is immense because of the low center of gravity and low ground clearance. Hence, the sports bikes are designed to use for a short distance but at high-speed such as during the racing events.
Furthermore, the sports bike features low and narrow handlebars which provide an awkward riding posture. It does not provide the comfort to the rider. The footpegs are placed at the rear near the exhaust or the rear mono-shock. Hence, they are very close to the rider’s body. While cornering, the rider has to lean sharply; almost touching the knees to the ground. Thus, it further reduces the riding comfort.
Riding a Sports bike requires the highest concentration. So, the ideal ride is for a short distance and time. With not so good riding posture and high speeds, there is so much strain on the rider’s body & muscles and stress on his/her mind.
The Sports bikes are good to ride when ridden at high speeds. However, riding for long periods at high speeds can cause exhaustion and discomfort. Riding the bike with the bent hands causes strain on the forearm muscles. Additionally, the legs and thigh muscles often experience cramps after a few hours of riding.
Characteristics of a Sports Bike:
The Sports bikes are the ones which most people use for short-distance or in the sporting event/racing. The distance ranges from 70 km to 200 km or so in a day. They feature a high-revving & smooth engine which makes the sports bikes sprint faster than other types of bikes. The sports bikes have four main categories according to their usage which is – the Lightweight, Middleweight and Super Sports and Hyper sports bike. These are further divided into Naked, Dual-Sports, Sports Touring, and Adventure Sports sub-categories. So, depending upon the application, the manufacturers offer different engine capacities for Sports bikes.
Thus, some of the entry-level Sports bikes are those with engine capacities of 300-500cc and power output below 50bhp. However, the mid-level Sports motorcycles offer engine sizes between 500-750cc which offers more power. Some high-end Sports bikes offer engine capacities above 750cc up to 1000cc. However, the manufacturers offer more variations according to the local regulations and market. One of these upmarket Hyper Sports bikes such as the Kawasaki Ninja H2 delivers a power output of a whopping 310bhp. It recently broke the record of top-speed at mind-boggling 400 Km/h.
Watch Kawasaki Ninja H2R Breaking World Record 400 km/h in 26 sec:
Often, the Sports bikes are sleek with complex design and many premium features. They also have a low center of gravity which gives better handling and control. So, technically, they are expensive to manufacture than the commuter bikes. The Sports bikes have less comfort and low mileage and high maintenance cost. Primarily, their focus is on the cornering ability, pick-up, and top speed.
These bikes use lightweight materials such as the cast aluminum to reduce weight and improve handling. A few Sports bikes have dual exhaust pipes which deliver a deep, rumbling exhaust sound. They also offer premium features such as the Motorcycle TCS, ABS, wider tires, high-performance front & rear suspension and alloy wheels to improve the performance.
Other safety features comprise of stiffer trellis frame, slipper clutch, soft-compound tires, and a mono-shock rear suspension for more agility and dynamic response. Some modern Sports bikes offer Dual, semi-floating 330 mm discs with four-piston calipers for efficient braking. Some manufacturers even provide special features such as the quick-shifter, bank-angle sensor, and a super-charger. This improves the bike's performance and rider’s convenience. However, some of these Sports bikes deliver a fuel economy of only 15-20 Km/L. They also have numerous expensive spare parts and high maintenance cost. Hence, they could have many issues to deal with if & when they break down.
Advantages of a Sports Bike:
Generally, the Sports bikes have higher power & torque, trend-setting colors, and sleek design/style. The Sports bikes are preferred because they deliver high performance and break the speed records. Hence, the Sports bikes are more popular in the developed countries such as the USA, Canada, Europe and Australia. Some of the popular premium Sports bike manufacturers include the Kawasaki, Yamaha, Honda, Ducati, Aprilia, and KTM.
However, there are many entry-level sports bike manufacturers in the developing countries. Some of them are the Bajaj, Hero, and TVS. The Bajaj Pulsar, Hero Karizma ZMR, and TVS Apache RTR are some of the popular Sports bikes in India.
In short, the Sports bikes are capable to travel short distances without any hassles. They offer great performance, cornering and handling abilities. With sharp cornering ability, the Sports bikes are quite fun to ride on the winding roads/bends.
Moreover, they are perfect mainly for the race-tracks/paved roads/tarmacs. Some premium Sports bikes offer better suspension, safety and other equipment that suits regular travel. However, these bikes are very expensive. Thus, swankier and more feature-laden the Sports bike gets; it commands a higher price-tag.
Disadvantages of a Sports Bike:
However, they are not much comfortable for the long-distance commute due to their cramped seating position. Hence, most people use them for the short-distance commute on the highways or for racing.
Watch a Sports Bike in Action: