To the naked eye, and from a dozen or so paces away, a Superbike and a Superstock bike might look the same. But they’re not. If you’ve ever wondered what £30k will get you, compared to £100k+ in the BSB paddock, wonder no more as we ask, BSB Superbike vs Superstock… what’s the difference?
You might think the engine is where the biggest differences are, and once upon a time, you might have been right. But these days, particularly in BSB, it’s not the case. Yes, Superbike and Superstock engines are both 1000cc (or 1200 if it’s a twin). And in both classes, you can’t do a massive amount to the standard engines; crankshafts, pistons, cylinders and valves have all got to remain standard. In a Superstock bike, just about everything else has to be standard too (with the exception of the base gasket).
But there are a few bits you can do to a Superbike engine to get a bit more power. Porting and polishing is allowed and you can set the compression ratio to whatever you feel like. Cam sprockets or gears can be changed so you can tilt the cams to adjust the cam timing, and cam duration and lift are free. You can change the con-rods, but their weight must be the same or greater than the original homologated parts, and they have to be the same length. Aftermarket clutches can be used in a superbike, as well as bigger (or additional) radiators and you can modify the oil pump.
Exhaust choice is free in Superbike and Superstock. That means you can use any pipe you like in either class; as long as it’s no louder than 107dB.
Chassis and Suspension
This is where the Superbike teams can really go to town. Let’s start with suspension. In a stocker, you can change the rear shock for a complete aftermarket unit, be it Öhlins, Maxton, or whatever. You can also change the internals of the forks by slotting in an aftermarket cartridge kit. But you’ve got to keep the standard fork outers.
The Superbike boys can, and do, run completely different, beefed up forks as well as running aftermarket shockers. They also use bespoke superbike swing arms, that offer extra strength where they need it and extra flex where they need that. It’s worth pointing out that you can’t use aftermarket electronic suspension (if you want to use electronic stuff, you can only use the OEM gear).
Frame-wise, you can’t touch anything on a stocker, and you have to run the standard sub-frame. But on a Superbike you can beef things up with tubes and gussets. You’re not allowed to remove any material though (except for drilling it to fix fairing brackets and stuff).
Subframes can be changed on a Superbike, but you can only use something of the same material (or heavier). Stockers have to use standard wheels, but you can change wheels on your Superbike to anything made from an aluminium alloy, and they’ve got to be 17 inchers.
This is where it gets a little bit weird. Superstock rules state that you can run either the standard ECU and wiring harness, or replace it with the manufacturers ‘kit’ ECU and harness. That allows you to bin off all bits of loom associated with the road kit; lights, horn, all that nonsense. It also lets you fine tune the electronic systems like traction control, launch control, etc. But you can’t raise the rev limit. You can also use a Power Commander or some such fuelling module, if you so wish. That’s simple enough to get your head around, isn’t it?
On a Superbike, you have to use a MoTeC ECU and dashboard and you can’t modify the software, with the exception of normal tuning adjustments; fuelling, ignition timing, that sort of thing. So it’s actually a lot more controlled in the Superbike class. Superbikes are allowed another 750rpm on top of standard. Unless you’re running a Ducati Panigale V4R, which mustn’t be increased from 16,000rpm; that’s probably enough though, isn’t it?
Superstock and Superbikes both need working electric starters. You can have data logging on both, if you want it/can afford it, but it not telemetry (i.e. your data loggers mustn’t speak to the pit wall).
In Superbike and Superstock, you can bin the bulky ABS systems and standard lines, to replace them with braided hoses. The brake fluid can be changed and you can use aftermarket levers and any discs (as long as they are made from ferrous materials, i.e. no carbon MotoGP spec discs are allowed) and pads, but that’s it for Stockers.
In the Superbike class you can change the whole system. Aftermarket master cylinders and callipers are usually found on Superbikes. Oh, and you have got to run a brake lever guard on Stockers and Superbikes.
This is probably the single biggest difference between a Superstock and a Superbike. Realistically, you could build a Superstock bike for around £25k – £30k; that’s buying a new road bike for £15k – £20k, spending £3k on suspension, £2k on an exhaust, £3k on electronics and a bit more on brakes, bodywork, controls etc. That’s without putting yourself a spares package together.
To build a competitive Superbike, you are talking more than double that. Way more if you want a competitive one. And that’s just for starters; all a stocker really needs to keep it rolling is a bit of fuel, a lubed chain and fresh oil every once in a while. A Superbike takes a lot more looking after. And with all that extra power, you’re putting a whole load more stress on all its parts.
And then there is the tyre bill. Race a stocker and you’ll be looking at about a grand a weekend in rubber. With the extra power and track time that the Superbikes get, you could easily spunk three times that amount on the black and round things, every race weekend. Ouch.