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How much power before you're uncomfortable?

Joe Frickin' Friday

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Joe Frickin' Friday

I've spent just about ten years riding my '99 R1100RT. I'm quite comfortable with its acceleration, although there have been plenty of times I've wanted more so I could pick the bike up out of a turn with the throttle.


And at the same time, a wretched excess of power, whatever that might be, makes me nervous. My past experiences:


-summer '05, I rode a Hayabusa. This was a scary piece of equipment; super twitchy throttle, I had difficulty just getting it out of the parking lot smoothly, and out on the road the acceleration was extremely unsettling. Sir Rodney (the owner) gets extra points for handling this beast with much grace and skill in the twisties we rode up in northern Minnesota. :Cool:


-spring '06, I rode a Tuono for a few miles. It was still in the break-in period so I didn't really whale on it, but even part-throttle application was intimidating. I can see where this power would be very helpful running hot laps on a track where your lowest speed is in excess of 80 MPH, but it seems like it would be a handful on tight twisties or around town.


-spring '07, I rode an FJR1300. This was out in Torrey, so it was missing about 1/4 of its rated power, and it seemed pretty reasonable to me. The idea of bringing it down to sea level and restoring it to full rated power (which I understand to be about 145 hp) gives me pause.


What makes me uncomfortable? the idea of unintended wheelspin on turn exits, and in some cases an accidental wheelie if I sneeze while accelerating in a low gear.


And now the K1300GT is on the horizon, bringing 167 hp to the table. Wondering what that's going to be like.


For clarity's sake, let me get this out in the open:


What I am NOT asking:

"Why does ANYONE need xxx horsepower on a bike?"


What I AM asking:

"how much power in a street bike is required before YOU are uncomfortable?"


What bikes have you ridden (or seen specs for) that made you say "that's too much bike for me"?

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i ride a 2006 KS with 167 hp and to be honest the bike is very tame below 7K rpms. unless you really role on the throttle hard the KS is not much different from riding my 2003 KRS. i seldom really push the bike to it's limits because congestion and cops prevent me from really opening her up and seeing what she can really do. the KS can pull the front wheel off the ground pretty easily but not at the touch of the throttle. while some of the Japanese sport bikes may do this the KS doesn't. i've also never had a problem losing traction rolling on the throttle coming out of a turn. while i never use all 167 hp it's nice to know it's there. i've never ridden a busa or zx1400 so i can't comment on how they handle. to much hp can get you in trouble fast but i think your riding skill can offset hp. for me 167 is enough and while i plan on buying the new K1300s it won't be just becasue the bike has a bit more ponies.

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Rode my daughter's '03 Hayabusa with headers and custom fuel-mapping a couple of years ago. It is crazy-fast, but I found it easy to control. Don't think I would want it as my everyday ride, though. Yeah, it has WAY more ponies than anyone needs on the street, but I found it to be civilized when necessary and extremely uncivilized when desired. I also rode a friend's FJR 1300. Extremely smooth, easy to handle at any speed. 145 hp is certainly more than I would use nearly all the time, but it is very nice to have, especially if it is smooth and doesn't hit you all of a sudden like the big 2-strokes of the '70's. 160 - 190 hp I think just turns into a peeing contest.

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That was my Tuono, I presume. Honestly, I've never been on a bike that I felt was too powerful. Back when I was teaching for the Superbike school, I'd regularly get assigned Kawasaki's fastest bike, the Ninja ZX-10R. It was just stupid crazy powerful to the point where you could lift the front in any gear. As with the Tuono, I liked the feel of the rear tire slipping a little coming out of turns, and the power never made me uncomfortable.


What I have found a LOT is that the more powerful bikes are a lot more difficult to control, not because of the power directly, but because the power comes with other nasty things: more weight, more resistance to turning quick, and less forgiving with bad suspension settings. (That's why I usually got stuck with the ZX-10R as the newbie, while the instructors with seniority always went for the SZ-6R.)


More power, baby, as long as it turns quickly and isn't heavy.

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Mitch, with me it really isn’t the power thing.. Pretty well the more the better as long as it is easy to modulate.. I hate twitchy throttles & unpredictable power delivery..


It is easier to not use too much power than to not have enough & need it..


It also depends on where the power is at.. I would gladly trade 10,000-12,000 RPM max horsepower for more low end & mid range torque.. (I want the power in the operating range I ride in)


Motorcycle chassis design & wheel base is also a big factor.. I rode a high horsepower worked over Buell Lightening a while back & it was a pawfull with it’s short wheel base & rear set pegs.. Just couldn’t keep the front end down long enough to use the power..


I really do like the power characteristics of the BMW K1200 & that thing is fairly easy to modulate.. Makes getting on the freeway a rush as you can hit about 135 mph just on the on ramp..


When I first got my Ducati I though it had a lot of power & speed but once used to it can now say I would like more of both,, just as long as it is tractable power..



I guess it can go wrong in both directions.. 200 hp on a 1,500 lb motorcycle could be a pain & 100 hp on a 450 lb motorcycle could be a pain..


I guess the other thing for me is the type of bike.. If it is my touring bike I want smoothness,, linier throttle control,, good mid range punch, & good loaded tractability.. If it is my after dinner play bike then great handling with lots of upper end power..



200 usable linier horse power on a 700 lb motorcycle with a decent wheel base & good front end geometry with great brakes? Bring it on.. I already have gray hair so a little more won’t show..





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Slight highjack here...my experience is that ALL manufacturer published HP figures are figments of the marketing departments' collective imaginations. If you go to the Dynojet website ( Linky ), you will find some actual measurements obtained from a Dynojet without a built in "correction".


I briefly owned a GSXR 1000 that was advertised as 160+ rear wheel horsepower; measured on a Dynojet actual HP was 140.


Regardless, horsepower is controlled by my right wrist...all higher HP means to me is I have to adjust my throttle inputs to the bike I'm riding. When I started doing WERA, I rode a 1994 CBR-600 and I could literally whack the throttle open at the apex; when I moved up to a GSXR-750, the same approach would have won me an ambulance ride. It's a cliche, but it IS all in the wrist.

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I've ridden a few high HP bikes, and agree with some others here that it's the throttle control and set up much more than the HP that effects my enjoyment. I owned a Kawi 600 Ninja for a while and rode their 1000. Loved both, but I'm now far too muscular (spelled f..a..t) to enjoy their riding positions. Also rode some Ducs and Honda sport bikes..same shtick.


If the bike has a smooth throttle response, comfortable seating, and comparable MPG (it does happen..look at the RT progression over the years) I'd always choose the higher HP bike. Of all the improvements BMW has made to the RT, by far the most compelling for me to "upgrade" is the increase in torque.

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My experiences have led me to this.


My first bike ('93 Suzuki Katana) had 106hp and weighed 461 lbs. I didn't realize how perfect this bike was until it was gone. At that point in my life/experience, I certainly didn't need any more hp. I probabaly shouldn't even have had that much


My 2nd bike ('97 Suzuki GSXR1100) had 156hp and weighed 487 lbs. I'm really suprised that this bike only weighed 26 lbs more than the Katana because it felt like a complete tank. This bike absolutely flew in a straight line, but couldn't get out of its own way when you hit the twistys. It was very tame in normal riding, but would scare the hell out of me when I cracked it open. I guess it was the weight distribution that kept the front end down because it never really came up unless I wanted it to. I never had a problem with wheel spin on corner exits, but then again.......I had it for 4 years and only put maybe 2500 miles on it.


I had the GSXR for about a year before I finally sold my Katana. When I finaly sold it I learned that the GSXR was overkill. I offered to ride the Katana to the new owners house, who lived about 20 min away. I took the back roads and absolutely wailed on it. I never could have ridden my GSXR like that on the street. Thats when I learned it was much more fun to override less hp than underride more hp.


Then I moved to the 1100RT with 90hp and weighing in at around 621 lbs. The RT has never scared me, but its certainly doesn't feel like a pig either. I believe it is a nice middle ground for what it is designed to do. I certainly wish I had some more power, but I'm not sure 160+ hp is the answer. Sounds to me like you would be using your Mojo lever quite a bit more often with that kind of power.


From a personal comfort level.....I guess I would have to say I think something in the 125-135 hp range would be perfect for me and the type of riding I do. Provided that it was in a bike that handled like the RT. My GSXR was over powered, but it also handled like crap. It might have been more managable with that motor in the Katana.


On the other hand.....bring out the electrical nannies with the traction control and give me 200+ hp. Who needs skill when you can rely on good old electrons :grin::dopeslap:

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I agree with Ted. The published numbers are imaginary and irrevelant in terms of absolute value. They are useful in making comparisons between bikes, but even then, the "fright factor" for me comes from the fuel map. My K12GT, with its "152" Bhp (or whatever) is smooth and tame. In comparison to my Brutale 910 with its 136 Bhp, the GT seems downright pokey. The throttle/fuel map on the MV Agusta was exhilarating. I wouldn't go so far as to say it was frightening, except for maybe on the first test ride. Damn, I miss that bike! It made me tingly in the giblets!


What is too much power? This will probably be determined when bikes become so powerful, that the government or the insurance industry can clearly demonstrate a strong positive correlation between horsepower and injury/death.

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This isn't a direct answer to your question but I'll respond with some thoughts because I'm pretty much in the same boat as you, same bike, somewhat longer ownership period, and like you I am very comfortable with the bike but occasionally wouldn't mind some more power. My problem is that just about everything else about the bike suits me perfectly... utility, ergonomics, ease of maintenance, etc. Every option I've looked at trades some of that off (to one extent or another) for the additional power that other models might offer. So I'm faced with figuring out what I want to trade for more power and the answer keeps coming up that some additional power just isn't important enough for me to trade off some of the other characteristics I like about my current bike. That may not be the case with you, or perhaps you have something in mind that matches the RT in the above areas and provides more power with no tradeoffs (if so clue me in!) Anyway, just a perspective from someone in the same position...



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Horsepower is what you make of it.

I have been drag racing motorcycles since the '60s and quite frankly, there isn't a street motorcycle made today that can impress me very much when it comes to acceleration. Involuntary wheelies do bother me but I can handle that with clutch/throttle modulation.


My Blackbird made a bit over 140 RWHP and I had to get really stupid with the throttle to break the rear tire loose on a corner exit. Power delivery on that bike was just so smooth that it didn't really have much in the way of bad habits. Once in the power band (7000-10000 RPM) the bike could be a bit of a handful in the tight stuff as acceleration would find you at the next corner before you were really ready for the next corner.


As David mentioned, I would worry more about things like brakes, weight and suspension before HP.


The best thing about a bike with big HP is the effortless way it gains speed. Especially in the 70-100 mph range. Doable on the BB, a Busa or ZZR in any gear from 2nd on.

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I think it's not so much a matter of peak power, but the overall pwoerband and how smoot hand progressive the throttle control is. I think manufacturers have gotten better and tuning mtoors for street use.


I think somewhere around 180RWHP on a motorcycle is the limit of sanity and the limit of what the rear tire can handle.


After owning bikes from 250cc (12HP) to 900cc (120HP) I would conclude that I would trade top end for midrange or a flatter torque curve. That's why I really like the powerband of the R1200 motor. Only above about 7000RPM does the ZX9R motor begin to out perform it.


I've never been on a bike with so much horsepower that it scared me. I have been intimidated, but they were all very controllable. They include a GSRX-1000, ZX9R, YZF-1000, FZ1, and a Ducati 996. I also had a CBR600F4i as well as a KLX250S dual sport.


The scariest situations I've been in were on the 600 because of hte way I rode it. You could got WOT mid corner, but when pushing hard, I've almost highsided the bike a few times and had some nasty tank slappers going over curbing. It's also the only bike I crashed.


Now would a MotoGP bike probably scare the crap out of me... probably, but I think I would have enough respect for the machine not to go crazy with it. It only makes 180+HP over 12,000 RPM. But respect and fear are a little different and I certainly woudln't turn down and opportunity to ride one, even if it was wet or cold conditions.

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What I AM asking:

"how much power in a street bike is required before YOU are uncomfortable?"


( Answer ) I haven't been uncomfortable on one yet, but anything over 200 HP is more than enough for me.


What bikes have you ridden (or seen specs for) that made you say "that's too much bike for me"?


( Answer ) The 300 HP plus (Street) Hayabusa's or Kawasaki ZX14's that we build for our customers.



I'd suggest going to the track and working out your fear of HP with someone that can help you.

Just because the power is there & available ...... doesn't mean you have to use it. Throttle control is a beautiful thing.

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The thing that gets a lot of new sportbike riders killed or badly injured is the combination of a narrow powerband, and a light bike. What will kill a newbie on a gsxr 750 or 1000 isn't so much that the motors are putting out 120 - 160 horsepower to the wheels, but more so that when it kicks in, it kicks in all at once.


Here's the classic way for a new rider to wipe out:


1. Rider whacks the throttle to start quickly off the line and holds it.


2. Bike accelerates unexpectedly as the engine hits the power band.


3. Rider is unable to back off on the throttle since he's holding on the grips tightly to avoid being flung off the rear of the bike.


4. The bike either ground loops, or high sides out of a turn.


I haven't ridden a K1300GT, but it weighs a lot, and it will have a much more linear torque curve that say a gsxr 1000, which has similar top end power, so it should be a lot easier to control. The weight factor alone will do a lot to counteract the horsepower. I suspect if you can handle an RT okay, you could adjust to the GT with little problem.

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Fair question. I just came off a FJR to my new R1200RT.


The various complaints I read about the R-RT throttle being abrupt in off/on transition makes me laugh. It is a tiny fraction of the difficulty experienced mid-corner on a stock FJR.


I'm sure years on the FJR improved my right hand muscule control but I never found myself overpowered on the FJR. Power builds linearly so it is trivial to not spin up the rear. There were a few times I wished I had more power down low. I also recall that early on I was careful to short-shift the FJR. I used more power as I got used to it.


If I had to guess, I imagine I'd begin getting fearful on a bike somewhere north of 200 HP. But the character of that power has so much more to do with fear rather than its magnitude. I've raced supercharged cars with TOO much grunt off the line. A light-switch throttle is difficult to modulate.

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When I bought my first house, I found a Kenny Roberts Yamaha RZ350 2-stroke in the buried up to its axles backyard, and demanded to keep it as part of the purchase. The owner agreed and I eventually got it running. I was used to 4-strokes at the time, having started on an '81 Kawasaki 440LTD and then buying my 1998 Sportster 1200 new.


The RZ, at least mine, went from mouse to lion so suddenly, that I would have sworn it was turbocharged or something. A big lag and then BAM - and only a 350!


I think to echo what others have said, the issue is not the empirical horsepower rating, it's more the usability of that power. The latter is what can get scary in the "real world."



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The 1200RT is just right! The K1200S can be scary after riding the RT for a week and then hopping on the KS.

The only time I would say I have experienced too much power, was when the I rode the latest version of the ZX-10 that a buddy purchased, he was ahead of me on the KS, it was early Sunday morning with almost no traffic, I decided to open it up for a few seconds, but not wide open throttle, I think I was in 3rd gear, I looked down and thought I saw 130mph, and thought "Man the steering on this thing is horrible", it felt so vague, I backed off the throttle and the front end dropped about 5 inches!! I thoughtI was apparently doing a hovering wheelie for I don't know how long! I just remember thinking holy Sheeeeii......

Anyway, it was a moment I will never forget!!!

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I can't tell you how much power is too much ... I would think there is not an answer to that for me. How much power would I use, that is the question. My RT is perfect but I could stand a little more torque at the low end .... power at road speed is perfect.


I have had the RT up to a little over 100mph and never felt uncomfortable. But I had an '06 Roadliner ... great torque and I never felt uncomfortable going from 0-60 in .2 seconds (ok, a little exageration) ... but when I got that bike up to 100 mph ... the butterflies in my stomach were going crazy because that particular bike was not stable at those speeds.


So, basically, I am saying it depends on the bike for me. No such thing as just too much power ... there is such a thing as too much power on a particular bike.


My $.02




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A BMW K1200s. On a recent test ride, I found the acceleration to be more than I felt "safe". To be fair, I could learn to manage it over time and agree with the mantra, "better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it".


However, I'm still perfectly happy with the power of my RT. The torque is there, nicely spread across the rpm band and even with only 95 ponies, haven't had a real need to explore the otherside of 7,000 rpm.



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Interesting question. I don't think a high horsepower rating would scare me, unless the power control is real lousy. I would not buy a bike just because a high HP number, I don't like to pay money for something I would almost never use. A educated right hand is a very good traction control.

OTOH I enjoy a relatively low performance bike or car, where I can do my best to wring the power out of it and regularly use all it has. I find it more fun than having a bike where I am at the max I want to do and the bike is laughing at me. For many-many miles I had BMW K75. I could be on the rev limiter all day. I did many a Reg Pridmore CLASS with them and really enjoyed going around K100 and K1100 bikes. That's fun!

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I have a rich history of riding high performance two wheeled vehicles, so I hope you find this helpful in your quest for knowledge and truth:


Honda 50 Scooter - I never had a problem with rear wheel spin while whacking the throttle. After moving to a custom muffler, top speed improved from 35 to a deafening 38 miles per hour. I wasn't skeered one bit, although I may have caused permanent hearing loss in my right ear!


I graduated to a Honda Passport (90cc - I think). I once got this up to 55mph on the H1 freeway in Honolulu. Again, my nerves were not tested by the extreme velocity. The honking cars wanting me to get out of their way was another matter.


My need for speed took me up to a 200 cc Honda. Did I mention I failed my first attempt at a MC certification on this bike? No problem though, cause I could handle the raw power and disappointment of a failed test. I wan't skeered.


I went cross country on my next performance sled - a Honda Shadow 600cc supersport. On a long downhill I once hit 101, or was that the freeway number - I'm a little foggy on that one?


...and after that, nirvana....I purchased the most powerful production motorcycle known to man - the 1150 RT....and for the record, I still ain't skeered :).


Hope that helps.


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It's a good question that varies depending on the situation.


When 2up and passing up hill, etc. there isn't such a thing as too much horsepower(HP) as long as the wheel has traction. In the rain, 1up, with grease added you could say a moped could have too much HP


I am a firm fan of the idea that it is MUCH more fun to ride a slow (underpowered) bike fast than it is to ride a fast (lots of power) bike slow.


Back in my race days there wasn't ever enough power. Interesting thing happened along the way though -


There I was racing along on my FZR-600 and doing well on the learning curve and finish position meter. I get a bit of backing from my then employer Vance & Hines and end up to the point where I get an Al Ludington built motor. I put it in and get out on the track with it. Everything is the same with the exception of that motor. I was at Willow Springs where I had been racing for literally thousands of laps. I knew the bike, I knew the track.


Scared the S%*^*T out of myself within 2 laps. The difference within 2 "same" motors was unbelievable. So much more HP and its delivery was different.


The point? It's not the amount of HP, it's your familiarity with it, the way it's delivered, and the situation.


It will take some time to become accustomed to the difference in the bike, the HP, the delivery, etc. Ya know, there's a reason that accident rates are higher within the 1st 6 months of a new bike purchase. It isn't about rider skill all the time either. It's about the interface and the communication between the rider and an unfamiliar bike.


My bet is that you will do just fine. You're a competent and skilled rider. You are assessing yourself as much as the bike right now. That, in and of itself, will make the difference once you get your new GT. You know you want one!

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Interesting feedback.


I thought the 'busa that I rode made power in a very smooth and unintimidating manner. Granted, it was stupid fast, but I never felt like it was going to get away from me while I was getting out of the parking lot or something like that.


The Tuono took a little bit of getting used to. Particularly the off/on throttle transition on mine (slightly different setup than David's) is fairly abrupt and I spent a bunch of my first few rides with the bike bucking around.


Once I got used to it, it's no big deal. I came down Deal's Gap on David's bike in pouring rain without a single worry. I've had my Tuono on gravel roads and never had a concern.


I do sometimes find myself with the front wheel in the air (just a couple of inches) when I accelerate hard without remembering to get my weight over the front, but that's about it. I haven't had any wheelspin on the street.


Overall, I think that as long as the power is delivered smoothly and predictably, you'll be fine. You'll need an adjustment period, of course, but after that, no biggie.


The single biggest thing I had to get used to on the Tuono was that on my favorite type of road (tight twisties), you accelerate out of the corners so much faster that you really have to pay attention or you will find yourself into the next corner hotter than you intended. Again...you can get used to it and it'll be fine, but the first few rides were a real shock.

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What I thought was a nice custom HD 1971 sportster. It turned out to be a fully modified S&S shop mule that an employee of S&S had owned. That was the fastest; most brutal; nasty, uncomfortable bike I have ever ridden. I traded it in after my soon-to-be wife decided it was unsafe to ride on, and before the Fresno police threw me in the clink forever.(not just over several weekends). It was only good for going from Bar to Bar at the fastest possible speed and even then it was a nightmare to ride. Even after S&S traded their regular carb for the racing carb on it, I had trouble keeping it's front wheel on the ground. Man, I was smart to heed my lady's advice. It was a killer.

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I was infatuated with the power and speed of the Kawasaki Mach III in 1969. Too bad I was too young and poor to afford it's then brand new price of $999.

As I look back, I may be alive now because I didn't own one. It had a hair trigger all-on, all-off throttle.

It's not the horsepower that matters but how the power is delivered.

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What I AM asking:

"how much power in a street bike is required before YOU are uncomfortable?"



I'm just an OlGeezer, so I don't need hardly any horsepower at all. Eventually, I'll get to where I'm going although not arriving with the same crowd I started with. I'm afraid of getting a valve job done plus new rings on my 2002 RT because not only do I fear it will have near-new hp (~95) but I also fear having to buy gasoline with more octane than regular. I've very seldom had the throttle wide open and I can still do the ton, not that I've actually done that (wink-wink).



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The RZ, at least mine, went from mouse to lion so suddenly, that I would have sworn it was turbocharged or something. A big lag and then BAM - and only a 350! -MKL


Man, I loved those RZ350 2 Strokes. A buddy of mine had one of these and it was a gas to ride...till he hit a deer on one. I remember reading a review of those bikes that said something like "lower than 6,000 RPM, this bike can't pull the skin off an old bowl of pudding....above 6,000....hang on!"


Great bike...wish they still made them.



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Forgot to mention the m/c with the worst throttle I ever owned, a 1982 CX500T, the first factory turbocharged m/c. It didn't have stunning power (80-some HP IIRC) but it came on in a giant rush. Twist the wrist, wait a second or two, and boom. To handle the boost it had lower compression than a regular CX500 so it was an even bigger dog off the line.


It was cool in many ways but not a friendly throttle response!

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"how much power in a street bike is required before YOU are uncomfortable?"

A hard quantity to define. I demand control of the power of my machines. On a select very rural road I have comfortably cruised (briefly) at 130mph on a ZX-12 and it wasn't scary at all as the machine was so stable. I can flip the question around and answer better. How much weight makes me feel uncomfortable on a street bike? I prefer under 550 lbs wet. The K bikes are very nice I'm sure but, it's an R for me because of the weight. Ride a Triumph Rocket 3 and you have a bike way out of my comfort zone. Lot's of power and weight. Less control when pushed hard.

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Had a Kawi ZZR 1200-145HP; a ten second quarter mile rocket. I'm way too old to have that much HP on tap. It changes your riding style in that you're always playing with and fascinated by the power. I started riding with others on similar bikes and the competitive group mentality thing took hold. All that being said it was a very uncomfortable way to travel 250 miles. Sold it and got the RT never looked back.

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dELIVERY of the power would be the biggie here..if it's like a light bulb - I don't want or need it.


I personally like scoots with a lot of torque. For me that's where the "thrust" is.


Big HP over 130 isn't managable.


My Sprint makes 123 and I'm very comfortable the way it delivers it. It won't run out from under me nor will it wheelie unless I press the "wheelie button" 8^)


What's not to like.??

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85-110 Hp with smooth delivery is fine with me...I do not need or want any more based on my everyday riding habits. To me more HP would increase the "show off " factor and it seems there is enough of this on the streets now... More HP to me equates to track riding not to street riding...

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You know, I have twice ridden the K1200S, and both times I was underwhelmed by the power the bike put out. Don't get me wrong, the power was both great and addicting, but I would not categorize it as overwhelming or scary. On one ride, I gunned it and the front wheel came up -- this was a slow, steady run as the wheel lifted slowly up on me -- and then I hit the rev limiter and that dropped the front wheel back down. Pure fun! But quite managable.


I attribute this to the fact that I weight 240lbs! If I weighted about 60 pounds less, maybe the power would have been too much.

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After 30 some years I went from Boxer (30+ to 85ish HP range) power to an original K GT (130 at engine).

I was concerned that the power difference would be a problem.

After the first tank of gas (which avg mpg was 28 :dopeslap:) I adapted to the extra ooomph easily.

Now, I'm happy to have the power for all passing (esp. 2 up) and other times it is needed.

You'll do fine w/new GT. :thumbsup:

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I was infatuated with the power and speed of the Kawasaki Mach III in 1969. Too bad I was too young and poor to afford it's then brand new price of $999.

As I look back, I may be alive now because I didn't own one. It had a hair trigger all-on, all-off throttle.

It's not the horsepower that matters but how the power is delivered.


Ahh, the Mach III. I also was totally infatuated with the Mach III. It was my very first bike bought well used. What a total blast and an absolute death trap in my totally inexperienced hands. Someone was watching over me to get me through those days unscratched.

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I was infatuated with the power and speed of the Kawasaki Mach III in 1969. Too bad I was too young and poor to afford it's then brand new price of $999.

As I look back, I may be alive now because I didn't own one. It had a hair trigger all-on, all-off throttle.

It's not the horsepower that matters but how the power is delivered.


Ahh, the Mach III. I also was totally infatuated with the Mach III. It was my very first bike bought well used. What a total blast and an absolute death trap in my totally inexperienced hands. Someone was watching over me to get me through those days unscratched.


Amen to all of the above. It was the first really fast bike I rode, sans helmet of course. At 18 it seemed like the thing to do... scary fast. Of course this is right after I rode a Triumph Bonneville over the century mark. It got my attention when I drained the oil to find a bunch of metal shavings :dopeslap:


I've had some brutally fast off road bikes that I raced/rode that would make your right wrist shy :/ (Maico 501, Triumph hill climber, 500 KTM, Honda CR500,etc)


I think the RT is about the only power I need now. The younger guys can have their fun now.....



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Hey! You owned your last Boxer RT for a decade and enjoyed the 80 or so horses, why not a new(er) one with the 110 horses? I've enjoyed my 1100 (my second) for a few years. A few more ponies under me would be nice but I never felt underpowered for the street. I was impressed as hell with the power and smootheness of the new Boxer. In time I gotta gets me one!


Oh! and to answer question as to what is 'too much'? Well, if it is truly way too snappy where you have no grace with the throttle, then....too much!

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My 1200RT is about the right balance for me. Enough get up an go but civilized. I did test drive an '06 K1200S this spring. I was really intimidated when I first got on it. That feeling soon went away as it has a very linear powerband. The power was almost too intoxicating. I now have horsepower envy but not enought to want to give up my RT.

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Back in the Bultaco days we would pull the top end off a 250 Pursang and replace it with a #209 360cc Astro piston port top end and use it in hair scrambles,cross country events because the torque was there from 2rpm on up! As the years progressed my addiction to torque shaped my riding style and how I set up the race bike. I could not tell you what HP was on any of race bikes because if you got to the top of the podium who would care? Gary Bailey and his son David who you might have heard of were Bultaco guys back then and we would swap stuff when we rode together and Gary was a great teacher of control and balance and it didn't matter what the HP was between my legs. I have had the good fortune to have been able to ride some factory MX equipment over the years and you learn respect real fast. I too only need my RT to satisfy my addiction for now or until I test drive a GT. "Lord give me strength"

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What I AM asking:

"how much power in a street bike is required before YOU are uncomfortable?"


R1150R- Have been riding for 3 years not enough power but great otherwise.

K1200GT - Did a 4K test ride(don't ask) to much power.

R1200RT - so far only about 1k, seems to be the right amount for me.


My .02

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I think you'd find that with anything more than a short ride's experience, you rapidly get accustomed to having power. The only bke I've ever ridden that was prone to unintended wheelspin was an '05 GSXR1000, and that was a combination of extremely light weight and massive amounts of torque, and honestly, it was really controllable when it happened and never frightening. As for unintentional wheelies - don't believe the hype. Getting a Tuono or gixxer to wheelie is trivial, but you'd have to be absolutely ham fisted to bring the front wheel more than 6 inches of the ground without doing so unintentionally, and at the 6 inch mark, there is no lack of control or feeling of instability.


That said, I'm not arguing that you can't have too much power. I wasn't too terribly torn up when the gixxer was stolen precisely because it really did have too much power for street riding. That bike simply wasn't even working unless you were ripping through sweepers at 120+mph. It was ok in the twisties, but really wanted to be in 3rd gear and high speed. The tuono was fantastic fun in the twisties precisely because of its torquey engine response and massive handlebar leverage. There was no way I'd ever consider it to be too powerful for street riding. I actually would have liked maybe 10-15bhp more, to be honest.


My measurement is really based on whether I am able to use the full rev range and full throttle range in my favoured type of riding. The Tuono was great for that. Redline wasn't so high that getting there in any gear over 2nd required a tripling of the speed limit, and in 2nd and 3rd gears, a run through the twisties would really let the rider use the entire rev range and full throttle.


The gixer, on the other hand, while easy enough to handle, just wasn't all that much fun, since you could absolutely never get the throttle fully open, and even in 3rd gear, redline was something like 140mph, so you simply never used much mor than the bottom 20% of the motor's capabilities. That said, the chassis performance of that bike was absolutely stellar - far superior to the 600 and 750 versions. It is really a shame that you cannot get a 600 or 700 with the chassis spec of the high end machines. Instead, you've got to do a bunch of suspension upgrades, purchase lighter wheels, drop a bunch of weight with titanium fasteners, etc, and that csts a whole bunch of money. The 750 motor is similar in character to the 1000cc twin of the Tuono, and in combination with the chassis performance of the liter bike, would be absolutely sensational to ride.

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As others have said, delivery is more important than the numbers. The K12S is an example of high HP, but with a perfectly manageable delivery character. In reality, shifting conservatively leaves you with a pretty 'normal' bike. As the revs build it gets exponentially more powerful, but in a nice linear way.


Like anything, practice is critical. I was ginger with the K12S at first. As I built familiarity, I was able to use progressively more power comfortably. Maybe a lame analogy, but the various ticks of the RPM gauge are like frets on a guitar neck. You play the instrument according to the mood of the moment!

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I had a GSX-R750 for a while that I thought had "too much power" for me. The throttle had absolutely no play at all and was extremely twitchy. It had instant on power which required a very, very smooth right hand and was very unforgiving of any choppy hand movement. I eventually adjusted and learned how to be smoother (a good thing), but ultimately I didn't particularly care for the bike. Aside from the throttle, I didn't fit on the bike very well and didn't enjoy the aggressive seating position, and eventually got rid of it.

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Back in the day, I had a Kawasaki Z-1. By today's standard, it wasn't that powerful but compared to its contemporaries, it was pretty powerful. It was king until Kawasaki came out with the 750cc two stroke triple. I would often claim that no matter how little time I had or how far I had to go, I could always get there on time. Yeah, I've been a BS'er for a long time. It also was in my possession before decided that house payments (and haircuts) were important.



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The 07 GT has a little plunger that limits the butterflys going to full open in 1st and 2nd gears, so you really don't get the full deal in those two gears.


But I never open it up in 1st and very seldom in 2nd, power is very smooth below 7k rpm. Smooth above 7k rpm also, just feels like a lot more of it (and it is). Very addicting, and hard to leave it alone for long periods.


It does get old always being on someones rear bumper and constantly looking for a safe area to pass, then you have the try and keep your license thing to watch out for.


I feel that the HP/handling is perfect for 2up touring and still able to enjoy the ride on the way (twistys).

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Lots of good replies relating to HP, but HP sometimes comes with cuts in comfortable department. I can't help you with HP, since my 1200RT is the most powerful bike I've ever had. I can't say it scares me with HP, but it sometimes is a little scary to accelerate hard on a side street and glance at the speedo and see 90mph (when you was expecting maybe 60mph).


The bike is really smooth, quiet, nimble and blocks the wind real nice. Where I live, there is really great riding an hour or so down the highway. The RT is really great for that. Comfy on the highway, and plenty of nimbleness and HP to have fun when I get there. I sometimes ride with a buddy who has a 07 Yamaha R1.

I think he has 180HP and it is a small bike. But he often is riding with me and I know he is suffering in the comfort area.


So to answer your question, I suspect others have answered really well in the HP area. But don't forget the comfort side if you often ride the highways to get to good riding spots.

Heck, if you want more HP and the bike is comfortable enough for the longest haul and well behaved, go for it !

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I call upon you to remember the 1969 Kawasaki Mach 1- with either a grimace or a grin. It'll sure be one or the other, no in between.



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"I was infatuated with the power and speed of the Kawasaki Mach III in 1969. Too bad I was too young and poor to afford it's then brand new price of $999.

As I look back, I may be alive now because I didn't own one. It had a hair trigger all-on, all-off throttle.

It's not the horsepower that matters but how the power is delivered."


As others have said it's all in the power delivery. The Kawi 2 strokes of the '70's had that light switch power band around 7000 RPM. With the early 500 H1's 750 H2's and even the S2 350's the front end would come with a quick twist of the wrist.


I have a '75 S3 400 and it's tame compared to the above models.




And some of the guys bikes in the Kawasaki Triples Canada




And at the Paris Ontario Vintage Bike Rally




They didn't call the H2 the Widow Maker for nothing! Brutal power band along with the short swingarm on the early models made for a scary ride. The bikes only made 60 HP for the H1 and 74 HP for the H2. The first thing to come off the bike was the pipe in favor of a set of chrome Denco expansion chambers for an even more hair trigger!


It's not the power, it's the way it comes on!

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