So what’s the deal? Is there a new CBR1000RRR or VFR1000R or what? I remember hearing all kinds of rumors that Nicky Hayden would have a new bike to ride in the second year of his WSBK contract, but I haven’t seen any evidence of that actually happening. Can MO please get to the bottom of this? I gots to know.
Well, a new literbike from Honda must surely be on its way, as it’s been almost nine years since the last ground-up CBR1000RR. We’ve been waiting for a seriously sporting liter-sized V-4 from Honda since long before 2006, when Nicky won the MotoGP championship on the mighty RC211V five-banger. At the time, we would’ve been willing to settle for one cylinder fewer than that bike.
Ever since then, Honda has titillated, then slapped us flaccid with various VFRs and Interceptors that sounded close on paper but wound up being not quite what we had in mind, from VFR1200F to Interceptor 800 to RC213V-S. We at MO decided at some point to let the VFR dreamboat sail and consort instead with as many V-4s from Aprilia as Shane Pacillo, one of the finest and best looking humans we know, will let us borrow. Those are great bikes.
Longtime Honda spokespeople neither confirm nor deny a new bike is on the way, which is unusual because they’ll often at least give us a hint if we pester enough. EiC Duke, based on what he’s been able to deduce from their behavior and from other sources, is certain we’ll see an all-new superbike at this year’s EICMA show in November.
Whether it’ll be another inline-Four CBR or a new V-4 platform is ripe for speculation, but Duke notes the contemporary literbike market has surged dramatically upward in price lately, so it’s more than possible that Honda would capitalize on its illustrious V-4 racing heritage that stretches from the RC30 to the RC213V.
When Hayden switched to the Ten Kate World Superbike team at the end of 2015, Ronald Ten Kate was quoted as saying: “Well, it depends how far your horizon is there, of course… on my horizon, there is something new coming… well… let’s stop that conversation here. My horizon is a little bit different to yours, I can confirm [laughs].”
Most of the world moto media seems to think Nick’s new bike for 2017 is on the way, and that it’s going to be a heavily updated version of the current CBR1000RR inline-Four, fortified with the horsepower it now lacks and idiot-proofed with the kind of advanced rider aids befitting a contemporary literbike.
The current CBR is a bit long of tooth, but its 76mm bores are same-same as the ZX-10R’s, which has been dominating WSBK racing. In stock form, the CBR has a great power curve; it just signs off earlier and lacks peak power. Perhaps a bit more compression and a little tuning could have the Honda making equitable power? Throwing in some nice titanium connecting rods (which have to be of the same material as stock under WSBK rules), like the latest Yamaha R1, and lighter pistons could probably earn the Honda its fourth “R.” The current CBR is already two pounds lighter than the ZX-10R, at 444 wet.
Meanwhile, say some pundits, Honda’s hard at work on a new V-4-powered bike that, unlike the CBR, will have a racetrack mission rather than a primarily road-going one. England’s Motorcycle News seems to have started the ball rolling on this idea back in February, based on comments from Honda’s head R&D guy Tetsuo Suzuki: “There are three projects under serious consideration. The three options open to us include a new replacement for the Fireblade [CBR to us Yanks], the RVF1000 and also a cheaper version of the RC213V-S. We will be studying all three in parallel and all are under serious consideration, but it is likely there will be one or perhaps two of the three options made for production.”
Most of the press seem to think the “RVF” or whatever it winds up being called, if it exists, will arrive as an ’18 model, to be sold alongside the CBR for considerably more cash, just like CBs and RCs and RVFs have always done. It will no doubt be pricey, but it shouldn’t be super-expensive like the RC213V-S since WSBK rules now cap base-bike price at 40,000 Euros (and require 500 bikes be produced).
Other clues we have that a new V-4 may be afoot include these patent-application drawings Honda filed last October, showing a monocoque frame like the one Ducati’s Panigale uses, holding onto what looks like a V-4 with a bit more than 90 degrees between cylinder banks, which would be a completely new direction. If it’s a slow day at the office, here’s a long examination of other Honda patents for a new air cleaner design that also point toward a new V-4.
So, a new Honda literbike is on its way, but we’re not yet sure if it’ll be an inline-Four or a V-4 or maybe both. If the V-4 wonderbike finally happens, all we can say is it’s about time, Honda.