2005 Honda CBR 600RR

story by Sean Alexander, Created Dec. 09, 2004
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Buttonwillow Raceway, CA ~ "Like A Rock" is already taken, but I think Honda might want to try a similar campaign for their CBR-RR series of bikes. This is the thought that kept running through my head last week, as I flogged the 2005 CBR-600RR around the floor of California's central valley.

Honda's CBR 1000RR scored an unpopular win here in our 2004 Open Class Superbike Shootout. That victory was based largely on the 1000RR's overwhelming feeling of solidity and confidence. I say the win was unpopular, because the other three contenders in its class are clearly lighter, more powerful and quicker in a straight line.

However, thanks to its stability and ability to apply power out of rough corners without shaking its head or upsetting my injured right hand, that CBR 1000RR lapped quite a bit quicker than the (then new) ZX-10R & YZF R1.

Solid

Even though the 600RR has lost a claimed 9Lbs for '05, it leaves me with that same confidence and a belief that, like its bigger brother, its enhanced stability and confidence on rough surfaces will more than offset any remaining weight disadvantage.

To keep pace with the ever escalating levels of technology in the 600 Supersport Wars, Honda has endowed the new 600RR with a set of 41mm Honda Multi-Action System (HMAS) upside-down forks with radial brake caliper mounts, revised the intake ports and fuel injection tuning for a wider powerband, totally re-designed and lightened the frame by 3.5Lbs.

Riders who aren't into Tribal Flames or Racer Graphics will appreciate the new all-black paint option "A myriad of subtle changes and improvements propel the new bike another step up the sportbike food chain."

Honda further redesigned and lightened the sub-frame, redesigned and lightened the new cool-looking inverted-gull top triple clamp, simplified and lightened the exhaust system, simplified and stiffened the swingarm and rear suspension mounts, lightened the rear shock, coated the pistons with a new low-friction moly surface treatment, and replaced last year's Dunlop D208s with the much improved D218 tires.

In addition to the technical updates, they also revised the aerodynamics and bodywork to more closely resemble the RC211V. Riders who aren't into Tribal Flames or Racer Graphics will appreciate the new all-black paint option.

Then again, the Silver bike is quite attractive in its Honda Wing suit.

Ok, so nothing shocking here, just a continuation of the subtle refinement and improvement cycle typical of Japanese sportbikes. So, is there a noticeable difference between it and the '04 CBR 600RR? Surprisingly, the answer is a definite "Yes". The '05 model does indeed feel quite different than the '04. I was fortunate to be able to make mid-session swaps between the 04 & 05 bikes and though I probably had just as much fun on the 04, there was little doubt that the new bike has a much stouter midrange and a nicer turn-in when trail braking.

Surely, those new engine refinements are responsible for the improved power delivery. However, that cleaner turn-in is probably just as much a function of those new D218 tires, than it is to the new upside-down fork and chassis revisions. Midrange and improved manners are the two biggest differences between this bike and last year's model, but there are a myriad of subtle changes and improvements that propel the new bike another step up the sportbike food chain.

After the lunch break, Honda fitted Dunlop's next generation D208GP "A" (front) and D208GP-JLB (rear) DOT Race Tires. Not so long ago, streetbikes would quickly tie themselves into knots, when you switched from "street" to "race" tires. Now, they can all handle the transition with a minimum of fuss and fiddling. The CBR 600RR doesn't just handle the switch, it thrives on it.

Choose Your Color!
Red / Black MSRP: $8,799 Black MSRP: $8,799 Black / Tribal MSRP: $8,799 Metallic Slvr / Blk MSRP $8,799

The bike's stellar manners don't change a bit with the sticky rubber, it just accelerates harder off the corners and allows a nice boost in mid-corner speed. Granted, the suspension settings were sorted and optimized by Doug Toland, and adjusted between our street-tire and race-tire sessions. However, no hard parts were changed, just simple adjuster fiddling, that anybody can do trackside.

The riding position is certainly racetrack extreme, but when you're on a racetrack, it all makes perfect sense. Transitions are handled with moderate effort and a nice stability that allows more aggression than most other bikes will tolerate.

After swapping the '05 for an '04 mid-session, Sean had little doubt that the new bike has a much stouter midrange and a nicer turn-in when trail braking.

"The new bodywork is flawless, with a thinner and more aggressive looking tail section that houses a tall racer-esque seat."

However, smaller riders have mentioned slightly "heavy" turn-in and transitions, so your mileage may vary depending on your level of aggression and personal strength. For me, it just felt like the usual nimble 600, remaining light and neutral at all times, only with a feeling of solidity the other 600s lack. Looks like a Shootout is the only way to accurately resolve this issue.

Uber fast guy Doug Toland has just breezed by under braking and in my fevered (and ultimately futile) attempts to re-pass him, I get a bit over-eager on the loud handle. We are exiting the esses onto the short straight leading to Buttonwillow's final corner and as the tire spins-up and the tail slews to my right, I'm suddenly sideways enough to have the suspension extend and though the bike gave a slight lurch and a little wiggle as it came back into line, it handled that situation with aplomb.

It's a shame Honda doesn't race in the AMA 600 Supersport class. However, their Formula Extreme CBR 600RR is one trick little effer!

On a lesser chassis, I might well have been writing about a freshly broken collar bone, however the combination of a steady throttle hand, well-sorted suspension and a rock-solid chassis allowed me to escape with nothing more serious that a wedgie and a slight loss of drive.

The next lap, I'm pleased to find a bold and distinct darkie decorating the exit of that corner. Doug may not be winning World Endurance Championships anymore, but he's still faster than hell, so a combination of discretion and simple cowardice allows me to break-off my chase and go back to evaluating the chassis.

Man-o-man, what a chassis this is! After recently riding the new R6 and spending the last couple of days testing the fantastic new ZX-6R in Spain (I'm somewhere over the Atlantic, as I type this,) I can honestly say that the `05 CBR 600RR has the best balance between maneuverability and stability that I've ever had the pleasure to throw a leg over. Of course, I've never thrown a leg over Jennifer Garner, so I can't really say the 600RR is the "Best in the World", but it is pretty freaking fantastic and from a pure handling standpoint, and no doubt the best streetbike I've ever ridden on a racetrack.

Miguel Duhamel's AMA Formula Xtreme
Championship Winning CBR600RR





"Does the rest of the bike measure-up to the chassis? It's pretty darned good for sure."

Does the rest of the bike measure-up to the chassis? It's pretty darned good for sure. The brakes offered all the retardation I could handle (and believe me, I know a lot about being retarded.) As is typical for non-linked Hondas, the front brakes are excellent.

However, my initial impression is that they might be just a tad softer and less progressive than the binders on Yamaha's 2005 R6, which is blessed with a new Brembo designed radial-master cylinder. In other words, the CBR's radial-mount 4-piston Tokico calipers are great, better than anything you could've wrapped a finger around a couple years ago, they're just a tad behind the Brembo equipped Yamahas, Ducatis and Aprilias.

The new bodywork is flawless, with a thinner and more aggressive looking tail section that houses a tall racer-esque seat. The tall tail might be a problem for those who are short of short inseam, but that's the case with all 600 supersports.

Page2The high-tail, allows the seat-to-peg distance to remain reasonable, while the pegs are mounted high enough to provide outstanding ground clearance. Indeed, I had no clearance issues at the track, even at an aggressive 220Lbs on race tires. The instruments are logical, clear and easy to read at a glance, while the controls work with the usual Honda smoothness and positive feedback.

For '05, the new 600s seem to be focusing on bolstering torque in the midrange. This whole 600 class is a funny animal, one year, you hear about stratospheric redline increases and astronomical peak numbers, then two years later the focus shifts to improving midrange response and boosting the torque curve. On the surface, this would seem a bit contradictory, but the funny thing is that the CBR's (and to a varying degree the new R6's and ZX-6R's) enhanced pull comes without a sacrifice in the upper rev ranges, in-fact top-end power is stronger than ever.

When you start doing port work, there is a fine line between improving the midrange and killing the top-end. It seems that Honda threaded that needle perfectly, and the '05 CBR 600RR benefits greatly from all of that engineering know how. This is where I'd be tempted to say something corny like "Things are getting serious in the 600 class," of course that ship left port about six years ago. However at this pace, we'll have 150Hp 600s within the next six.

Between sessions, Sean's test unit kept whispering "Bring Em On!" in his ear. He assumed this was a reference to the new R6 and ZX-6R, but then again, it might just have been asking for tire warmers.

Not being quite the (ahem!) "athlete" I once was, I'm only good for about 20 minutes of sprint pace, and then I start getting lazy, braking earlier and carrying taller gears than I should. This is the situation which best illustrates the engine improvements on the new RR. Exiting a long 180° right hand sweeper, I find myself with 8K showing on the tach, instead of the usual 11+, yet I get good acceleration and as I arrive at the next corner, I find my terminal speed is close to that of the laps where I kept the bike boiling between 10-15K. Indeed, this is a very good motor and the improvement from last year is most noticeable right where good streetbike riders and track day aficionados will appreciate it most.

Another thing all riders will appreciate is the enhanced wail from the new intake. Intake noises seem to be getting better year-by-year as intake tracts get shorter and air boxes become less restrictive. The CBR 600RR howls with the best of them and sounds like this are what make motorcycling so much frigging cooler than insulating yourself in a cage.

As my grandfather always told me: You have to take the bad with the good. Such is life. In this case, the "bad" would be that Honda has hiked the CBR's price from $8,599 to $8,799.

"With its added rigidity, good mass centralization and overall handling excellence, the CBR wears those extra groceries quite well."

Part of this price increase is offset by the upside down forks, radial calipers, improved motor and weight reduction. About that weight reduction; even with a claimed -9Lbs loss, the Honda should be in the neighborhood of 15Lbs heavier than its closest competition, even though the new R6 and ZX-6R have gained a couple Lbs for 2005. In the world of 600 Supersports, 15Lbs is like trying to race with a bag of groceries strapped to your back. Of course, with its added rigidity, good mass centralization and overall handling excellence, the CBR wears those extra groceries quite well. Furthermore, last year's bike was at an even greater disadvantage, and it still managed to win the World Supersport Championship.

Will its $200 -$500 price premium and extra weight keep the CBR from the head of the class? That'll have to wait (pun intended) until the 2005 600 Supersport Shootout. I'm already bugging the manufacturers to get all of the test units together at the earliest possible date. In the mean time, I can confidently tell you that the latest Honda CBR 600RR has come out swinging.

** PRESS RELEASE **

Dunlop Introduces Two New Race Tires

The Next-Generation D208GP Front Tire and The Innovative D208GP-JLB Rear Tire

Buffalo, NY: ~ Racing defines the ultimate heights in motorcycle tire performance, so consider the fact that entire generations of modern-day championship-level racers in the USA have known only one name: Dunlop.

"This innovative combination of carcass-building techniques creates a tire with revolutionary stability and incredible cornering grip, thanks in part to the larger footprint provided by a flatter profile."

Our record speaks volumes. Dunlop earned yet another championship in the prestigious AMA Superbike class in 2004, which brings our total to 19 titles, including the last 15 in a row. Add to that impressive tally another AMA 600 Supersport championship that keeps our perfect record intact with 17 out of 17 titles, plus the AMA Superstock and Formula Xtreme titles in 2004, and you begin to understand the absolute hammerlock we hold on high performance.

Our reputation for high performance now grows even stronger, thanks to a pair of brand-new track-going race tires that join Dunlop's championship-caliber DOT-legal D208GP-A.

The next-generation D208GP front tire features a new race-proven compound, while a totally new D208GP-JLB rear tire now joins Dunlop's lineup. This innovative hybrid-construction racing tire, the D208GP-JLB, provides a new level of bolt-on performance with unprecedented chassis and suspension consistency when transitioning from the street to the track, and when going from track to track.

Using cutting-edge technology developed in racing slicks used this past season by 2004 AMA Superbike champion Mat Mladin and many other top-level racers, the D208GP-JLB combines one nylon ply, one nylon cut-breaker, plus a Jointless Band-a continuously wound belt of aramid fiber, which is the same material used in bullet-proof vests.

This innovative combination of carcass-building techniques creates a tire with revolutionary stability and incredible cornering grip, thanks in part to the larger footprint provided by a flatter profile.

This hybrid construction creates a lighter tire for less unsprung weight, and its zero-growth characteristics yield more consistent performance. This new construction also runs cooler, which allows the use of a softer compound to further enhance grip. In addition, the D208GP-JLB is less affected by heat cycles than the GP-A.

Net result: a true race-spec tire with a forgiving nature, requiring minimal chassis and suspension adjustments at the track. Developed and manufactured in the USA, the cutting-edge D280GP-JLB delivers a whole new level of performance to racers and sport bike riders.The D208GP front tire and D208GP-JLB rear tire are made in Buffalo, New York, and will be available to all riders at dealerships and outlets wherever Dunlop tires are sold.

D208GP-JLB Tire Features And Benefits

New D208GP-JLB hybrid construction combines one nylon ply, one nylon cut-breaker, plus a Jointless Band (JLB), a continuously wound belt of aramid fiber, which is the same material used in bullet-proof vests.

New hybrid tire construction yields "bolt-on" performance, requiring minimal chassis and suspension setup when transitioning from street to track and moving from track to track.

JLB hybrid construction creates a lighter tire for less unsprung weight, and its zero-growth characteristics yield more consistent performance. This new JLB construction runs cooler, which allows the use of a softer compound to further enhance grip. In addition, the D208GP-JLB is less affected by heat cycles than the GP-A. The D208GP-JLB features a flatter profile, which creates a larger footprint for enhanced grip.

Benefits include unparalleled grip, excellent drive out of corners, exceptional steering response and superior on-the-track handling, all with a more forgiving nature. New D208GP front tire incorporates a next-generation racing compound developed under the most demanding conditions-AMA pro racing.

D208GP-JLB tread pattern is identical to the tested and proven D208GP-A national championship-winning tire. Developed in the USA and manufactured in Buffalo, New York, to specifically meet the needs of racers and sport bike riders in the United States.

The high-tail, allows the seat-to-peg distance to remain reasonable, while the pegs are mounted high enough to provide outstanding ground clearance. Indeed, I had no clearance issues at the track, even at an aggressive 220Lbs on race tires. The instruments are logical, clear and easy to read at a glance, while the controls work with the usual Honda smoothness and positive feedback.

2005 CBR600RR
** Information And Specs Provided By Honda **
FEATURES AND BENEFITS

The 2005 CBR600RR incorporates a host of next-generation upgrades that elevate this full-on sport mount to all-new heights.

New for 2005

  • Radial-mounted front brake calipers.
  • 41mm inverted front fork.
  • New intake port shape and redesigned exhaust for lighter weight and increased mid-range power.
  • New piston surface treatment for reduced friction.
  • Fuel injection flow increased to match intake and exhaust system changes.
  • Frame and sub-frame redesigned for lighter weight while maintaining superior handling characteristics.
  • New bodywork more closely resembles RC211V and reduces weight.
  • Redesigned top triple-clamp allows for lighter weight.
  • New swingarm assembly redesigned for lighter weight.
  • New two-piece shock design for improved performance and lighter weight.
  • Available in Red/Black, Black/Tribal, Metallic Silver/Black and Black.

Unique Features

  • Unit Pro-Link rear suspension and swingarm design inspired by RC211V.
  • Dual Stage Fuel Injection (DSFI) system features two injectors per cylinder.
  • High-revving engine redlines at 15,000 rpm.
  • RC211V-style center-up exhaust system.
  • Centrally located fuel tank increases mass centralization and allows more compact frame design.
  • Line Beam Headlights feature three-piece reflector design.

Engine/Drivetrain

  • Liquid-cooled DOHC 16-valve 599cc four-stroke inline four-cylinder engine features oversquare bore and stroke of 67mm x 42.5mm.
  • High-revving engine has 15,000-rpm redline (CBR600F4i redlines at 14,200), wider powerband and more over-rev than CBR600F4i.
  • Compact engine length (236mm) positions the rider forward for more precise handling.
  • Iridium-tip spark plugs improve fuel combustion and performance.
  • Dual Stage Fuel Injection system features two injectors per cylinder-one upper and one lower-controlled by an ECU that senses rpm and throttle opening. Lower injector enhances rideability while upper injector improves top-end horsepower. At lower rpm only the lower injector is working. Above 5500 rpm both injectors are activated. The system uses 40mm throttle bodies.
  • Denso injectors with 12 holes per injector deliver a finely atomized fuel mixture for optimum combustion efficiency and power.
  • Auto enriching system is integrated into PGM-FI module, eliminating the need for a manual choke.
  • Two-stage ram-air system provides a high volume of cool air to the airbox for linear power delivery and incredible engine performance.
  • Cylinder head features angled valve inset to improve airflow.
  • Cylinder head features two springs per intake valve and two springs per exhaust valve for optimum high-rpm valve operation and durability.
  • Direct shim-under-bucket valve actuation ensures high-rpm performance and durability and offers 16,000-mile maintenance intervals.
  • Light pistons, piston pins and nutless connecting rods contribute to higher-revving engine.
  • Pistons receive new moly surface treatment for reduced friction.
  • Double-pivot cam-chain tensioner for cam chain durability.
  • Right-side starter gears for increased lean angle.
  • Lightweight aluminum oil cooler.
  • Smooth-shifting close-ratio six-speed transmission is closely matched to the engine's powerband.

Chassis/Suspension

  • Die cast aluminum frame utilizes new manufacturing methods to provide optimum rigidity while reducing weight. Frame is tuned for precise handling characteristics.
  • New 41mm inverted Honda Multi-Action System (HMAS) cartridge front fork features spring preload, rebound and compression damping adjustability for precise action.
  • Unit Pro-Link rear suspension system is patterned after RC211V GP racer. In this system, the upper shock mount is contained within the swingarm rather than the frame. With no top frame-mount for the shock, this unique system reduces negative suspension energy from being transmitted into the frame, allowing engineers to optimize frame rigidity and producing improved rideability out of corners.
  • Braking system features twin four-piston radial mounted front calipers, dual 310mm front discs and a single 220mm rear disc for optimum stopping power.
  • Redesigned center-up exhaust system features four-into-two-into-one design for increased performance, aerodynamics, and lighter weight.
  • Handlebars located below top triple-clamp for precise handling.
SPECIFICATIONS
Model: CBR600RR
Engine Type: 599cc liquid-cooled inline four-cylinder
Bore and Stroke: 67mm x 42.5mm
Compression Ratio: 12.0:1
Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Carburetion: Dual Stage Fuel Injection (DSFI)
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital transistorized with three-dimensional mapping
Transmission: Close-ratio six-speed
Final Drive: #525 O-ring-sealed chain

Suspension
Front: 41mm inverted HMAS cartridge fork with spring preload, rebound and compression damping adjustability; 4.7 inches travel
Rear: Unit Pro-Link HMAS single shock with spring preload, rebound and compression damping adjustability; 5.1 inches travel

Brakes
Front: Dual radial-mounted four-piston calipers with 310mm discs
Rear: Single 220mm disc

Tires
Front: 120/70ZR-17 radial
Rear: 180/55ZR-17 radial
Wheelbase: 54.5 inches
Rake (Caster Angle): 24.0°
Trail: 95mm (3.7 inches)
Seat Height: 32.3 inches
Turning Radius: 10.5 feet
Dry Weight: 361 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 4.8 gallons, including 0.9-gallon reserve
Colors: Red/Black, Metallic Silver/Black, Black/Tribal, Black
Additional Features

  • Industry-leading ergonomic design features maximum rider comfort for minimum fatigue in all riding conditions.
  • Centrally mounted 4.8-gallon fuel tank is positioned low in the frame, increasing mass centralization and allowing a more compact design. This design positions the rider 70mm forward for optimum handling.
  • Plastic tank shell cover protects tank and airbox.
  • Line Beam Headlights feature three-piece reflector design (first in the world) utilizing two H7 bulbs for optimum light distribution, and unique compact design.
  • Instrumentation is very compact, featuring a large central tachometer flanked by a small LCD display for fuel level and coolant temperature on the left, and a large LCD readout of speed, dual tripmeters and related warning indicators on the right. Brilliant ISO-marked LED indicator lights are positioned around the perimeter of the panel.
  • Attractive hollow-spoke aluminum alloy wheels feature race spec 3.5 x 17-inch front and 5.5 x 17-inch rear dimensions.
  • One-piece fan assembly for maximum cooling efficiency.
  • Maintenance-free battery.
  • Optional seat cowl.
  • Compact rear cowl storage compartment for U-type locking devices (lock not included) under the passenger seat.
  • Pivoting aerodynamic mirrors.
  • Integrated ignition switch/fork lock for added security.
  • Convenient push-to-cancel turn signal switch.
  • Transferable one-year, unlimited mileage limited warranty; extended coverage available with a Honda Protection Plan.
  • Ownership includes one-year complimentary membership in the Honda Rider's Club of America™ (HRCA®). Benefits include: discounts, travel benefits, roadside assistance, one year complimentary subscription to Honda Red Rider™ magazine, access to HRCA Clubhouse Web site (www.hrca.honda.com), access online to Honda Common Service Manual. For HRCA details, call 1-800-847-HRCA. For dealers only, please call (310) 783-3958.

Available Accessories

  • Color-matched Passenger Seat Cowl.

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