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.
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.
"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.
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!|
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.
"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.
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.
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
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.
** 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.