Hmmmm, I don’t remember why we didn’t attend the 2003 Honda CBR600RR press launch 20 years ago, but I suspect it had something to do with dear Minime’s legal problems at the time, the exact nature of which I also disremember. What’s important is that that 2003 bike marked the radical departure of Honda into a two-R maker of sportbikes in an era when 600s – and all sportbikes – were top sellers, and it was good. Things change.
My God, man, the thought of poor Trizzle having to ride an open-class sportbike around a chilly race track, and on damp roads, without benefit of traction control – and optional ABS – sends shivers all up and down my spine. The horror. Totally reminiscent of the WW1 aviation movies: We hate to send you up in a crate like this, kid, but somebody’s got to do it. According to me, the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 with aPRC was the first to contain an Inertial Measurement Unit to safeguard its pilot with modern avionics. After it, the electronics arms race was on. In spite of great advances in traction control and ABS over the ensuing ten years, Troy would go on to become a leading test pilot for inflatable rider safety gear.
I could’ve sworn Honda had discontinued the 600RR years ago, when I bumped into a pretty red, white, and blue 2021 model on the corporate website a few weeks ago. What? Colin Miller, our American Honda media rep, assures me that’s not the case, and that the bike’s been available in the US all along. Hmmm, wonder why I haven’t ridden one in such a long time?
Honda brought out the old and the new to Willow Springs Raceway. The old: The 1995 CBR 900RR. The new: The 1996 CBR 900RR. Normally, motorcycles add weight with age, but not the CBR. It’s back lighter and stronger than ever.Honda made a big deal of “Optimized Mass Centralization” four years ago, when the CBR nine was first rolled out. Translated, the jargon means if the weight is in the center of the bike, it handles better. So the lighter all the extremities are, the easier it changes direction. And while we’re lightening, why not lighten the big stuff too? That design credo introduced a 900cc sportbike with the weight of a 600 class machine. Four years on, OMC is still the word, and the new RR is the lightest, most powerful yet.
Aaaaah, just so: more of a “supersport for the street” than a race-replica like the R6 and GSX-R600 of the day, Honda’s 2001 CBR600F4i said sayonara to the carburetor and hello to the modern world – and also to a new-fangled catalyzer up its tailpipe to meet CARB 2004. Following a few Las Vegas laps, Minime deduced once again, it’s just about the easiest supersport bike to ride fast, on the street or on the race track. Those were the days.
The grass, brethren, is always greener on the other side of the pond. And on the other side of it a decade ago, we’d been peeping lasciviously at the Italian-designed CB1000R’s nude form since 2008. Hubba. At a time when Americans mostly rejected nudity, American Honda played coy as to whether they’d import the R or not. Honda Canada, meanwhile, brought in a few forbidden fruits for its journalists to debrief/debauch at Roebling Road. A reading from the book of Costa.
As far as mass-produced, 1000cc Honda sportbikes go, the new Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP is up there among the best the company has ever built (depending on how you want to classify the RC213V-S). With the increasing trend of the liter-class competition going towards track-focused weapons with little regard for streetability, Honda has finally followed suit with the new Triple-R Fireblade SP.
Let’s be real for a second here: Honda’s always taken the über conservative route with what we now know as the CBR1000RR, and this dates all the way back to the CBR’s origins with the CBR900RR. When compared against its peers, the consensus usually goes “The Honda is a really good bike, but it’s not great.” The reason is because Honda’s tried to toe the line between racetrack performance and streetable useability because these are road-legal motorcycles after all. And as much as any investor will tell you how important it is to diversify, in the sportbike world, this simply isn’t the case anymore.
After teasing us earlier this month, Honda officially introduced its updated 2021 CBR600RR for the Japanese market. That’s right, the updated CBR600RR has only been confirmed for Japan, with just 1,000 units being produced, while Honda’s U.S. and European arms say there are no plans to introduce it in their respective markets.
An Italian and a German walk into a bar… wait, Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Ten years ago, two serious new players from Europe appeared on our shores, intent on upsetting the 1000 cc Japanese applecart. “Inhaling slower bikes like the way an ’84 Seville’s radiator grill consumes flies,” these intoxicatingly fabulous sportbikes – especially the winner of this epic contest – reset the course to where we find ourselves today, which is to say, without a Literbike Shootout. So far anyway. But remember: Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth. Amen. Wait, what?
The title of this story pretty much sums it all, doesn’t it? Today’s flagship literbikes are getting increasingly expensive, putting them out of the realm of all but the most well off among us. So, let’s look at sportbikes at the lower end of the price scale, shall we? Mainly the Ducati Panigale V2. Ducati’s last V-Twin sportbike, the super-mid comes in at 955cc and $16,500 (well, $16,495 at the time I’m writing this). I had lots of good things to say about it when I got to sample it around the Jerez circuit at the end of 2019. Mainly, I was impressed with how easy it was to ride (a refreshing thing after hustling 200 hp beasts around lately. I know, I’m spoiled) and how well the electronics work.
Since the 2021 CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP was announced in November, we’ve been eagerly waiting for Honda to release horsepower figures for the U.S. market, hoping it wouldn’t be far off the 215 hp claimed for the European-spec model. Thanks to VIN documentation Honda submitted to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, we can now report the American-spec CBR1000RR-R will only produce 188 hp.
Once in a blue moon, Honda likes to flex its muscle and remind everyone that it’s Honda, and when its team of engineers and designers want to, they can produce cool motorcycles capable of completely blowing your socks off. Bikes like the RC35, RC45, RC51 (arguably), the oval-piston NR750, and who can forget the road going MotoGP bike, the RC213V-S? And though we haven’t ridden it yet, the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP promises to carry on that tradition, at which point those same designers and engineers can go back to their usual business of coming up with things like the DN-01 and NM4.
Twenty-five years ago Motorcycle Online‘s beloved founder, only one year into its founding and staring up an icy ski jump of an uphill battle (Motorcycle Onwhat?), found himself invited to the launch of the third iteration of one of Honda’s greatest hits of all time – the CBR600 F3. The original CBR600 Hurricane of 1987 was a breakthrough machine that launched 1000 squids, the F2 of a few years later was the first bike upon which yours truly drug knee, and the F3 only improved upon what was a fantastic sportbike you could also vacation upon. Maybe because you were only 35? Sure, they’ve built a lot of faster and sportier bikes since, but I almost think If Honda should last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”
It’s official now: Honda’s evolutionary but not quite revolutionary new CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP “will carry Honda’s sport motorcycle lineup into the future while also bolstering its racing efforts in series including the FIM Superbike World Championship.” Now adorned with the Fireblade monicker it’s always carried in other markets, as well as four capital “R”s, the bike is said to be packed with all manner of Honda Racing Corporation MotoGP trickle-down trickery, and is “focused on outright track performance.” Packing a more compact yet more powerful engine into an all-new frame, the new bike also gets the latest in aerodynamic and electronic aids – and looks pretty swell in its HRC Tricolor paint scheme as well. Price TBD. Our very own Troy Siahaan was at the U.S. unveiling of the new CBR1000RR-R, where he came back with a few notes:
Our friends at Iconic Motorbikes and Bike-urious.com have collaboratively started up an online auction business, dealing mainly in, what shall we call these superbikes of the `90s? Classic superbikes? Pre-Recession Relics? This zero-miles CBR already sold a week or two ago for a somewhat hefty sum, but then this is a special 27-year old RR. Here’s part of its description:
And so it came to pass, a day late and a dollar short. Honda’s brilliant CBR900RR begat the second in its line of superbikes to require two capital “R”s in its descriptor. Verily, the 929 was a fine motorcycle, but born misfortunately the year after the new Yamaha R1 had plucked the eyeballs from every coveter of ludicrous power and light weight. Someday, the acolytes say, Honda will rise again.
Oy vey, how things have changed in just 20 years. Though the Canon was still upon the Wing and His eye upon the light meter, in 1999 Bush II had not yet ascended to the throne, the Millennium and 9/11 had not yet occurred, and the Honda CBR600 was still one of the biggest-selling motorcycles in the world – even though the new F4 still wore carburetors and MO’s illustrious founder still wore the pants. Good times. Let us revisit the Las Vegas launch. Amen.
You’ve heard the adage a lot if you’re a consistent Motorcycle.com reader – it’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow – and with our recent Lightweight Sportbike Shootout we’ve gone ahead and proved it. By now we’ll assume you’ve already read the shootout, seen our conclusions, and also drawn your own; but what exactly do these three motorcycles look like at speed around Laguna Seca? This is your chance to see for yourself, as we’ve captured a quick lap aboard all three bikes, courtesy of Yours Truly.
Honda’s known for its iconic lineup of CBR sportbikes – the CBR600RR and CBR1000RR are two of the most legendary sporting motorcycles to ever grace a racetrack. Look deeper into Honda’s product lineup however, and you’ll find Team Red has a host of other models also wearing the CBR nameplate. Here, we’ll take a look at the CBR500R. A 471cc parallel-Twin, the 500R represents a stepping stone to the bigger, badder CBR models – or does it? After spending some time with it, here are five things you need to know about the 2018 Honda CBR500R.
It’s getting to be a bit silly what’s passing for a lightweight sportbike these days. In the beginning, it made sense: You had the Kawasaki Ninja 250. And, well, that was it. It only took twenty-odd years, but the other manufacturers eventually took notice that building small bikes to entice new or returning riders was probably a good thing for the industry, and hence, started building little bikes of their own. Honda came around with the CBR250R…just as the competition upped the ante again. Kawasaki pushed the bar with the Ninja 300, then Honda made a weak attempt to follow suit with the 286cc CBR300R. Yamaha then jumped in the game, shoving displacement rules out the window with its 321cc R3 – but not to be outdone, the brash Austrians (via India) at KTM one-upped all of them with the 373cc RC390.
And so it came to pass that King Brent of MO, and St. Billy the Apostle, travelled across the desert to ride the revised CBR at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which in those days had just been erected. And in those days, King Brent claimed for himself the fastest lap at the press intro, or maybe it was second fastest, and it was good in his own mind. Meanwhile, John the Blameless, and his disciple Minime, got in big trouble for showing up late from Sin City to bow down before Mr. Baba, and so ensued a great wailing and gnashing of teeth and gears throughout the land…
Once upon a time there was the Honda CBR600F, or Hurricane as it was called in the U.S. The magazines tripped all over themselves and I thought maybe I would spend my GI Bill tuition for one, but they were all sold out and I got a left-over 500 Interceptor instead – my first new motorcycle! Just as well, there was less plastic to scrape up.
For those who’ve lapped up every word, expression, and metaphor of the performance novel that was our 2017 Superbike Track Shootout and Superbike Street Shootout, the heir apparent is as obvious as the bike coming in last place. For those still wallowing in anticipation, unable to decipher our MOrse code, you can take a breath because, without further ado, we give you…
It’s been two years since we summoned together the superpowers of the sportbike world. In that time the Aprilia RSV4 RR, Honda CBR1000RR, Kawasaki ZX-10R, and Suzuki GSX-R1000 have either been heavily revised or completely overhauled. These changes beg a reinspection into the pecking order of world’s premier street-legal superbikes. Can Japan wrest away the literbike crown from the European OEMs, Aprilia and BMW, that have dominated the class since 2010?
Honda pulled out all the stops for its fresh, ground-up redesign of the CBR1000RR. And it’s about time, too. However, instead of searching for power like most of its competition, Team Red’s mission was to make the new CBR as light as possible. All in an effort to give the rider Total Control – the same design ethos given to the original CBR900RR 25 years earlier. To that end, Honda lightened everything it could; using magnesium engine covers, a titanium exhaust, and titanium fuel tank (for the SP model, anyway). It even made the frame walls – and fairings – thinner!
Cresting the top of the steep incline leading onto Portimao’s main straight, I’m committed to keeping the throttle on the new 2017 Honda CBR1000RR to the stop. With fifth gear clicked, the front wheel starts to reach for the sky. Unfazed, the throttle stays pinned, ready for the wheel to eventually come back to earth. The wait feels like forever, and my view is increasingly filled with sky instead of tarmac. I can’t wait for the Honda’s wheelie control any longer, so a click to sixth gently brings the front Bridgestone back to the ground. The Fireblade flexes its muscles, tickling 180 mph down the straight. Then it’s time to scrub speed down the hill before hitting the dip signaling the apex of turn 1. The short chute to reach turn 2 is quickly gobbled up before a moderate amount of brakes are applied to navigate through the hairpin. From there, it’s another flick to the left, and we’re driving uphill towards the crest of turn 3, knee on the ground, rear tire spinning ever so slightly.
Seeing Honda’s 2017 CBR1000RR get revealed this week at Intermot got me excited in more than the one obvious way. Certainly, learning about the decisions deemed to be necessary by the mighty R&D hands of Honda to compete at the highest levels of sportbike production will always be interesting, and that holds true with this freshly baked CBR1k. An extra 10 ponies is always beneficial, but it’s the trimming of 33 pounds from the scales that really excites me. My old and lazy bones will probably also like the semi-active suspension of the SP version and auto-blipping downshifter.
Just as we suspected, Honda today unveiled its much anticipated 2017 CBR1000RR at Intermot in Germany. We first reported on the new CBR last month as spy photos started to come out, but Honda still had a few surprises in store with this announcement. Two, actually. First, Honda decided to release its up-spec model, the CBR1000RR SP, ahead of the standard edition (Honda says to expect an announcement on that one come November). And second, there would be a second, limited-edition model, the CBR1000RR SP2, homologated strictly for racing purposes (more on that later).
Honda‘s Indonesian subsidiary Astra Honda announced the new CBR250RR, the production version of the Light Weight Sports Concept showcased last year at the Tokyo Motor Show. The double-R is a significant step up from the CBR250R, offering aggressive styling, an all-new Twin-cylinder engine, throttle-by-wire, selectable engine modes and other features usually expected from larger-displacement sportbikes.
If things in the UK weren’t bad enough, MCN is reporting 2016 to be the last year Honda will import the CBR600RR to Britain, as well the European mainland. “There’s still no official word from Honda about the future of the CBR600RR but MCN’s Japanese sources have confirmed there’s not going to be a European replacement for the ultra-focussed CBR600RR, while the existing model could continue to be sold in markets unaffected by Euro4 legislation.”
A few weeks ago a drag bike race in Perth, Australia ended in a foot race (see If You Ain’t First, You’re Last). This week, a drag race in Perth begins and ends in the same millisecond as drag racer Brett Ghedina flipped his turbocharged Honda, Saturday night at the opening round of Comp Bike eliminations at the Perth Motoplex. Ghedian, via social media, explains what went wrong.
At the pace the 1000cc literbike field is advancing, it’s easy to overlook the middleweight 600cc sportbike class. For instance, few might have even noticed it’s been three years since Honda gave its CBR600RR a slight refresh. Tom Roderick rode the bike both on the street and the track, where he came back impressed but not overly enthusiastic about Honda’s middleweight supersport. With the march of time giving way to technologies like traction control, cornering ABS, inertial measurement units and apps that can adjust the bike’s attitude at the push of a button, we thought it was time to revisit the CBR600RR to see if time has given us a new appreciation for the simpler things in life.
From the unchained environment of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where performance is the sole consideration for victory in our 2015 Six-Way Superbike Track Shootout, we move to the confines of public roadways to determine which superbike renders the best street-legal exhibition. As tight as our track test results were, the street shootout was just as close with a half-percent separating second from first place. If the MO offices were located in Florida, I’d demand a recount.
Rejoice, sportbike fans, as 2015 is bound to go down as the year of the liter-class superbike. After riding this latest crop of superbikes at their individual intros, your respective MO editors all came back gushing, proclaiming the bike they just finished riding is a viable contender for top honors in the class. Of course, with statements like that, pitting them all together and settling the score was the natural thing to do. And here for you now, we bring you the epic showdown you’ve long been waiting for, pitting five all-new or significantly revised superbikes on the racetrack against the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, winner of our 2012 Japanese Literbike Shootout. Stay tuned next week for our street impressions.
We’ve all been there. Really. We were new riders once. We understand where you’re at: You’ve just bought your first motorcycle. You’re all excited to be riding your new (or new-to-you) bike home, you park your bike and stand back to admire it – and then it hits you: Now what do I do?
This is a difficult position to be in for both me and Honda. We’ve a superbike shootout pitting the CBR1000RR SP against the likes of newer, technological-laden weapons from Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, Kawasaki and Yamaha, where the CBR is predisposed not to win that competition. But yet I’m about to give the bike a fairly glowing review with an individual score that may be higher than its shootout score.
From the title alone, there’s a good chance new riders are intently combing through each word of this shootout. The beginner bike market is one the manufacturers value dearly, and for decades Kawasaki has owned this corner of the market with its EX/ Ninja 250, and now the current Ninja 300. Honda finally followed suit in 2010, introducing the CBR250R as a 2011 model, and later, in 2014, the CBR300R as a 2015. Now the floodgates have opened, as both KTM and Yamaha have launched their own small-displacement sportbikes – the RC390 and YZF-R3, respectively – to try to grab a slice of that pie. If it weren’t for the crop of highly advanced literbikes coming out this year, a strong argument could be made for 2015 being the year of the entry-level sportbike.
The Lightweight Nakeds Comparo we did last September was such a hoot we decided to do it again on a few more little thumper/screamers. Flying around sunny SoCal’s freeways and mountain roads like little white blood cells fighting pathogens and boredom in your cardiovascular system is what we do best, flitting from Starbucks to Starbucks, letting the lattes fall where they may.
Recently, we here at Motorcycle.com brought you one of our biggest tests to date, in the form of our 2014 Middleweight Mash-Up Six-Way Shootout. In it, we wrangled six bikes with minimal or non-existant fairings, ranging in displacement from 471cc ( Honda CB500F) to 690cc ( KTM 690 Duke) and put them to the test.
When the Honda CBR250R came on the scene in late 2010 as a 2011 model, it seemed like the perfect challenger to the beginner sportbike king, the twin-cylinder Kawasaki Ninja 250, which, for a couple of decades, was basically the de facto choice for new sport-minded riders looking to get into motorcycling. Finally, there was another option for those who wanted something different. However, simply playing catch-up wasn’t enough. Kawasaki then fuel-injected the little Ninja and made it a 300, leaving the single-cylinder CBR reeling. Not one to back down from a challenge, Honda has come fighting back with the new CBR300R.
Ever since the Honda CBR250R came on the scene, the beginner sportbike war has been hotly contested between it and the Kawasaki Ninja 250/300. While the latest Ninja has a bigger engine and an extra cylinder, the CBR20R has a nicer price. At $4,199, it undercuts the green machine by $800 – a not insignificant amount of change. For just over four large, the Honda provides a sprightly fuel-injected, liquid-cooled 249.6cc single-cylinder engine.
Honda’s 500cc middleweight duo, the naked CB500F and the sporty CBR500R, fill a mid-size displacement gap between smallish 250cc beginner bikes and larger 600cc supersport weapons. Similarly priced at $5,799 and $6,299 for the F and R, respectively, the bikes represent reliable and fun transportation that’s also economical and attractive. Introduced last year, the CB500F and R have struck a chord with the eco-minded younger generation that are also image-aware and price-conscious.
The 2013 EICMA show announcements are rolling in, and Honda has returned to the single platform, multiple models approach that appears to working so well with the CB500 series. Give a hearty welcome to the 2014 Honda CB650F and CBR650F. As you might expect from the CB and CBR designations, one is a naked bike and the other a sporty one.
For some riders the top of the line isn’t enough, and Honda wants to give these folks what they deserve. So, this week for EICMA, Honda has just announced the 2014 CBR1000RR SP. What does the SP stand for? Suitably pimped? Super Powers? Specially Produced? Regardless, Honda will be releasing a limited number of CBR1000RRs that have been given this exclusive once over by Honda’s engineers.
If we got a dime every time we were asked what to buy as a first bike, we could easily buy a Kawasaki Ninja 300, Honda CBR500R or Kawasaki Ninja 650, three bikes we feel are best suited to answer the query. The truth is, there isn’t a simple answer anymore. Height, weight, natural ability, and of course wallet size all play important roles in determining which motorcycle you should start on.