It's been nearly 12 years since I began working as a full-time motojournalist, and I get wistful for those simpler days. Back then, the literbikes (CBR900RR, ZX-9R, GSX-R1100 and YZF1000) were separated by nearly 100 pounds of weight and huge power disparities, and ergonomics ranged from racetrack refugee to something we now call sport-tour-y. Even a neophyte motojourno could pick a clear winner.
But today, we're stuck in a world of finely honed and fully featured literbikes whose level of diversity is amazingly insignificant. They all haul ass around a racetrack, chassis geometry distinctions are measured in fractions, and peak horsepower differs only by about 5%. Unless you're a nationally ranked Superbike racer, each of these bikes is way better than you are, and saying one is significantly better than another is mere hair-splitting.
If a person could ride a bike blindfolded (maybe next shootout…), they'd be hard-pressed to discern which literbike they were on. Jumping from one model to another at the racetrack, it was astounding to be fully comfortable running quick laps immediately on another brand's bike, as they all have remarkably high performance envelopes yet are amazingly user-friendly for what are essentially road-bound missiles.
More: 2009 Literbike Shootout