Good to know from a local! I've always suspected as such, and I've always taken these reviews with a grain of salt as well. Personally when it comes to superbikes and supersports, I'm really only interested in how they perform on the track, and it would be nice to have someone that's fast as hell and is unbiased, ride them back-to-back at a decent track and see what the thoughts on each bike are, as well as lap times.
Such a test was done on a bit smaller scale a couple years ago when the new R1 came out. They compared the 1199R Panigale, the RSV4 RR (I think), and the new R1. They had Neil Hodson ride the bikes, somewhere in California if I recall, along with the guys from whatever magazine it was that was doing the review. Interestingly enough Hodgson was the only one who went faster on the 1199R, by a significant margin too. Basically the conclusion overall was that the 1199R was the fastest bike but also the hardest one to ride and because it is such a beast, it requires someone of "well beyond average" talent to really get the most out of it, whereas for most of us average Joes, the R1 and RSV4 were easier to ride and therefore easier to go faster.
I don't wish to impugn anyone's 'journalistic integrity' or infer that I am (or was) some overlooked WSB contender-in-the-making, but in reality, I believe these sorts of reviews are worthless.
Neil Hodgson was a factory Ducati rider, and achieved his greatest success with this factory. It suited his riding style (higher corner speed as opposed to point n' squirt), but even changing to a 4 cylinder model where this is less effective, isn't going to really kill his lap times. Boil it down another level and you have competent racer/top-end trackday rider. Realistically, they're only beginning to really be able to appreciate differences between suspension settings, tyre choice, engine power, etc and have genuine
differences to their results.
Then there's the great unwashed. The 'Average Joe', to whom these factors count for nothing. You could send them out for three hot laps, change the tyres to pre-warmed, race-spec rubber, add 10bhp, tweak the suspension, adjust the traction control... and there's still a big variation in lap times (both up and down).
This is all long before introducing the umpteen (technical term) variations in conditions that are brought about by riding on the road.
My opinion (and, please note, opinion
!)? Ride what you like. Enjoy and appreciate it. If you're not at the aforementioned 'competent racer' level I described before - and drop all the ego you may possess before making that assessment - whatever tyres/exhaust/suspension tweaks/supercharger/high-octane fuel/rearsets/brand of steering damper you use will have absolutely bugger-all effect on how fast you go.
The limitation is your experience and abilities; not the bike.