Superbike racing is a category of motorcycle racing that employs highly modified production motorcycles, as opposed to MotoGP in which purpose-built motorcycles are used. The Superbike World Championship is the official world championship series, though national Superbike championships are held in many countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, Australia and Canada. Superbike racing is generally popular with manufacturers, since it helps promote and sell their product, as captured by the slogan “Win on Sunday; Sell on Monday”.
Superbike racing motorcycles are derived from standard production models, so for a bike to be eligible, the manufacturer must first homologate the model and manufacture the required number of roadgoing machines. While rules vary from series to series, in general the motorcycles must maintain the same profile as their roadgoing counterparts, with the same overall appearance as seen from the front, rear and sides. In addition, the frame cannot be modified. Teams may modify some elements of the bike, including the suspensions, brakes, swingarm, and the diameter and size of the wheels.
Superbike racing motorcycles must have four-stroke engines of between 850 cc and 1200 cc for twins, and between 750 cc and 1000 cc for four cylinder machines.
The restriction to production models distinguishes Superbike racing from MotoGP racing, which uses prototype machines that bear little resemblance to production machines. This is somewhat similar to the distinction in car racing between sports cars and Formula One cars, though the performance gap between Superbike and MotoGP racing is much smaller.
The world’s first ‘Superbike’ was built by brothers Ross and Ralph Hannan in the mid/late 1970s. First ridden successfully in Australia and overseas, including the Suzuka 8 hour and the Bol d’Or 24-hour endurance races, by Graeme Crosby who went on to international success and was eventually inducted into the NZ sports “Hall of Fame”.