So many motorcycles on the road but one stands out above all others.
A liter bike isn't exactly the most common name for these machines and when said out loud someone might think you have said "leader bike." In many respects, both names apply.
A liter bike represents any of the high-flying machines you may or may not see pass you: Suzuki GSX-R1000, BMW S1000RR, Kawasaki Ninja 1000, Yamaha YZF R1. And, pretty much every racing motorcycle you see on the race track. For the uninitiated, you can often tell by the wider rear tire.
OK, why is it called a liter bike? A liter bike refers to a motorcycle that boasts a 1 liter or 1,000cc engine. Notice all the 1000s in the models above. So, if the popular 1.8 or 2.0 liter engine can easily power a car just imagine the power a 1 liter engine brings to a much lighter motorcycle. They call them crotch rockets for a reason. They are insanely fast, incredibly nimble and a machine only veteran riders or racers should climb aboard.
A liter bike is not a beginner's motorcycle and it is not for everybody regardless of years in the saddle. Ride at your own risk, as they say.
These bikes, and yes other smaller-engine motorcycles, have state-of-the-art equipment like ABS brakes, traction control, slide control, launch control, wheelie control and a whole bunch of other stuff designed to keep you from hitting the pavement so soon after rolling the throttle.
Lots of people might say Ferraris or Lamborghinis, and the like, don't really belong on the road. These cars have racing engines and speed limit laws inhibit their true potential. But that doesn't stop people from owning a high-priced, wicked fast automobile that begs the floor to meet pedal. And laws often don't stop drivers from opening up, at least for a short stretch.
In many respects, a liter bike falls into the same category. Though hardly comparable in price, liter bikes certainly match power and speed, plus you can easily find any of these bikes at most motorcycle dealers unlike a six-figure fast car. Some argue a liter bike makes you a lazy rider because it takes such little effort to go so fast while others say these bikes have no purpose other than on the race track. In fact, Stefan Pierer, CEO of KTM, said in a 2015 interview with Cycle News Magazine that Superbike style motorcycles only belong on a closed course.
And, many liter bike owners take heed and leave these swift little machines for weekend tracks days for amateur racing while comfortably riding to work the next day on a more approachable 600cc street bike.
But to be fair, you could also find a large crowd of dirt bike enthusiasts who say the powerful 450 4-stroke now considered the premier class in off-road racing, rather than the 250 2-stroke, has no place on the Motocross or Supercross track. But the 4-stroke revolution now approaches 15 years despite numerous injuries later and a loud chorus of people who demand a return to the 250 days anytime a favorite rider goes down with a season ending injury.
All that to say, Liter bikes remain quite popular and if you enjoy a thrill ride every time you head out on the road, nothing comes close to a liter bike.
Just know that according to the Insurance for Highway Safety, riders of supersport motorcycles, i.e. liter bikes, have a death rate four times higher than riders of other motorcycles. Take that as you wish.
Point being, liter bikes are not for the faint of heart.