(Write Your Own) First Ride Review
The cruiser/tourer/sport-tourer/scooter you've been waiting/asking/hoping/praying for
Thelush sceneryverdant woodlandsurban bustlecomplete lack of atmosphereofMalibu, CaliforniaCartagena, SpainBogota, Colombiathe Sea of Tranquilitywas the perfect setting forHonda MotorcyclesSuzuki MotorcyclesDucati Motorcyclesour Alien overlordsto introduce the new-for-this-yearredesign of the CBR1000RRBNG edition GSX-R600slightly different Scramblershape-shifting hoverbike. There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding this bike since it was introduced at last year’s Milan show – will it measure up to the hype when we ride it on real roads?
After a lavish welcome dinner, we proceeded to the conference center for the tech briefing. There,Press Relations Manager Buzz HardingLarge Project Leader Toshiro Mifune, jr.Interim Acting Director Guiseppe AndolosioniQuadrant Prefect Klargon the Munificentgave us the 4-1-1 on the new model.
First,hesheithermwants our readers to know that this model is based on exhaustive market research. The product planners surveyed thousands ofsportbike riderscruiser enthusiastsurban Millennialscarbon-based lifeformsand listened to their needs. It turns out that what buyers are looking for isn’t fancy features or enhanced styling – what they want ismore powerless powermore chromesto not be vaporized. With that in mind, the engineers went to work.
First, they redesigned the chassis end to end, carefully shaving weight and making the structure more rigid, reducing chassis flex by 14% and saving almost 14 grams. Suspension is all new, with redesigned part numbers and .005 inch more rear travel. Brakes are triple disc, with four-piston radial-mountBremboBremboBremboWalmartcalipers.
The engine bay got the treatment, too. The14-hole fuel-injectorscounter-rotating crank balancershand-balanced camsnano-laser atomizershave been upgraded, resulting in a 3% power increase over last year’s model. The exhaust has also been made more free-flowing, for better sound and throttle response while still meetingDOT and CARBthe new Euro5“Winning” EPAGalactic Councilstandards. In addition, the airbox has six more holes and 2% more volume to improve both breathing and intake sound.
But how is it on thetwisty roadsracetrackmean streetslunar surface? To find out, we spent the day riding a challenging 13-mile route (including photo, lunch, snack and nap stops). The bike starts up easily, soon settling down to a low, burbling idle. The seat is wide and supportive, but could use a touch more foam, and shorter riders may want to opt for the low seat ($249). It snicks easily into gear, and the bike’s top-heavy feel disappears once on the move.
On the open road, it’s a great machine. Wind protection is average, with a little buffeting affecting taller riders. I found the gearing optimum for high-speed cruising as well as just riding around town, so long as I remembered to shift the smooth, modern-feeling transmission, which makes a huge difference no matter what you ride. You should try it.The most memorable part of the ride was piloting this lithe machine through the4,000-foot Tehama passquaint town of Escancinofast corkscrew turn at Monzaasteroid belt of Garzon-14. There, the rigid chassis, well-balanced geometry and careful attention to saving weight paid dividends. The bike turned as quickly as asharpened dimeshocked seagullflaming monkeyquasar on crack, but never felt flighty, with balanced steering and a neutral feel even when I was pushing the limits. The brakes were notable, with progressive power and minimal overbite. I did notice the temperature gauge edging towards the red when I was flogging it, but company technicians noted this was common with pre-production units.
Comfort and convenience features abound. In addition to .005 liters of underseat storage (room for a folded-up photo of some tools and a human hair), there’s a USB port andpassenger pegscenterstanda linguisa forkspace modulatorstandard. Instrumentation is complete and easy to read, although it was tough to figure out how to work the lap timer, and the TFT display was hard to read in direct sunlight, especially at higher altitudes. After a long day in the saddle (followed by drinks, a lavish meal and wine-cellar tour that I don’t remember past the Merlots) I was ready for more riding, a testament to the package’s balance.
So does it live up to the hype? I was very impressed with my time riding it, and think it does. Although not the most comfortable or best value, it does offer solidracetrack performancelong-distance comfortStarbucks posing powerinterdimensional travelat a price just $300 more than the prior year’s model. We can’t wait to how it stacks up against the competition in ouropen-classmiddleweightADV tourerentry-level hyperwarpmotorcycle shootout this summer.
Gabe Ets-Hokin has beenEditor-at-LargeEditor EmeritusEditor muy frescaAI softwareat Motorcycle.com since the 11th Century A.D.