2018 is drawing to a close, and motorcycle manufacturers around the world have again managed to bowl us bike lovers over with stupendous new products. Just over a year ago, we would have considered any motorcycle that produced north of 200hp to be at the top of the food chain. Fast forward to today, the 200hp+ space is steadily getting crowded with ferocious superbikes.
In this article, we take a look at the most powerful motorcycles of 2018, in no particular order.
Ducati Panigale V4
The Ducati Panigale V4 signals a paradigm shift in Ducati’s engine technology. Where its erstwhile top-shelf superbike, the 1299 Panigale made 202hp out of a 1,285cc L-Twin motor, the new superbike out of Borgo Panigale gets a shrunken engine that makes more power. 212hp to be exact. Out of a 1,103cc V4 engine no less.
The engineers at Ducati have also cleverly reworked the existing electronics package of the company to enable the fiery red superbike to go faster. That does not mean they have skimped on safety, for the Panigale V4 offers a comprehensive safety net to rein in those 212 horses. Oh, and did you know that a Termignoni-equipped Panigale V4 can put out 234hp?
You have to hand it to the Germans. Once they set their minds to something, they come up with something truly mind-boggling. In the case of the BMW S1000RR, the firm wanted a sharp track weapon that could blaze new track records wherever it was unleashed. This track weapon has brought laurels to its makers over multiple racetracks and championships. World Superbike, Isle Of Man TT, BSB – you name it, and the S1000RR has managed to scare the daylights out of its rivals out on the circuits.
How much power does it make? Exactly 200hp in the latest iteration. Although it is the least powerful superbike of the lot, it manages to even the odds with its low weight and superb dynamics. Add to that its exemplary adjustable suspension, and you have a superbike that can go real fast regardless of the surface where it is racing.
Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory
The Italians have historically been locked in fierce battle in the superbike segment. The battle is not limited to the racetrack and filters down to the street. But Italian racing machines are capable of frankly unbelievable power out of their engines, all in a bid to one-up their neighbours.
Aprilia is one such manufacturer that makes insanely powerful motorcycles. These machines focus purely on one function: going as fast as possible, everywhere possible. That the Noale-based firm’s bikes look so good is simply down to the Italians’ undeniable sense of elegant design.
The 2019 Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory gets an engine transplant, picking up the Tuono V4’s 1,078cc mill that makes 175hp. The RSV4 1100 Factory manages to extract 217 horses from the same motor. We imagine Borgo Panigale must be hard at work working on its own V4 to match the incredible Noale superbike.
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
It’s not just the Europeans that are rocking the 200hp+ superbike scene. The Japanese are also toiling equally hard to get a few more horses out of their motorcycles. Case in point, the 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. This green (certainly not in the eco-friendly sense) machine just makes the cut in terms of power output, but manages to claw back its way in the top pecking order thanks to its brilliant chassis design and electronics.
With 200hp at the crank, this superbike has been bringing Kawasaki quite a lot of laurels in the motorsports scene. And word has it that Kawasaki’s electronics package is one of the best out there, intrusive yet effective. But nothing holds a candle to the next, and final entrant in this list.
Kawasaki Ninja H2
Kawasaki’s most ambitious project to date, the Ninja H2 conforms to no pattern. It is not a racetrack tool, neither a tourer. It is not suited for urban commutes, or for a day in the dirt. It is, in plain language, a show of force by Team Green.
Kawasaki, as many other Japanese conglomerates, is not just into motorcycles. Two-wheelers form just a small part of Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ operations. Aviation, shipping, heavy machinery, metallurgy – it is quite a vast business.
The 2019 Kawasaki H2, just like the 2017 model, is the result of a collaboration between the various branches of KHI. A supercharged litre-class machine that puts down 231hp. Upon launch in 2017, it was the most powerful road-legal machine in the world. Kawasaki had nothing more to prove, but the firm went ahead and gave the already insane bike more power anyway.
Take a look at the Ninja H2 and you are bound to feel a certain nervous excitement within you. Although the bike begs to be ridden, the tall power figure is always at the back of your mind, capable of wreaking havoc in the hands of a skilled or a careless rider. And the way it looks adds more mystique to its aura. Its not fully faired, neither is it an upright naked. Sports tourer? Definitely not. Form clearly follows function on this bike, but Kawasaki still managed to make it look as mean as the rest of its green siblings.
Special mention also goes to the 2019 Kawasaki H2 SX, a sports tourer based on the H2 which makes 209hp and seats two in plush comfort. Although we doubt anyone in their right minds would choose the rear seat of this beast.
There are a lot more superbikes out there which put out more than 200hp. We just talked about the ones launched in 2018. Do you think any other motorcycle deserves a mention here? Do let us know in the comments!