2005 CBR600RR Street Test - Motorcycle.com

Sean Alexander
by Sean Alexander

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

I love these years.... 2005 is a year when three out of four Japanese manufacturers introduced new or updated 600 supersports. This means there were three press intros to attend and three hot new sportbikes to enjoy.

It also means there needs to be a new middleweight shootout. But before we get to that highly anticipated contest, we have to wrap-up the individual bike tests for each of the new players.

This "street" test of the new Honda CBR 600RR completes the round of individual street and track tests for the new Kawasaki ZX-6R, Yamaha YZF-R6 and Honda CBR 600RR.

The new CBR 600RR hovers closer to the "racer" side of the street/track equation than any CBR to come before it.

Honda's CBR-RR series is known for solid feel and ease of use, and this new 600RR is no exception. However, it hovers closer to the "racer" side of the street/track equation than any CBR to come before it. In last month's track test, I praised this bike as being "the best streetbike I've ever ridden on a racetrack", and I wasn't kidding. Now, it's time to see how well this track weapon fares in the real world. I joined Ken Freund from Rider magazine and Jon Seidel from American Honda, for a long mid-week street ride through Malibu's Canyons. Unfortunately, recent SoCal rains left dirt and debris strewn across much of the "good" roads. This meant that a healthy portion of the day was spent making mid-corner line corrections, while dodging mud and gravel. In this environment, you really appreciate that CBR stability, coupled with the quick reflexes of a middleweight.

It's situations like this, which transport you to a magical "Happy Place."

I can't say our pace was hypersonic, but I will say that in these conditions, we probably wouldn't have gone any faster on anything short of a super motard. Lest you think that the entire day was wasted, there were entire sections of clean/dry pavement, where it was possible to concentrate on the bike and the flow of the road.

In these situations, the ease of direction change and the excellent brakes really stand out, helping you get into and through corners, as much as the boosted-midrange helps you get out of them. It's situations like this, which transport you to a magical "Happy Place". You know what I'm talking about; that happy place where time, bills, bosses and nagging wives fade off into the distance.

Now that I think about it, I tend to find these happy places most often on these hyperactive middleweight supersports or exotic Italian V-Twins. My afternoon of moto bliss is further enhanced by the delightful sound of this 15,000RPM screamer echoing off the walls of the deserted canyons. Only MO shares these kinds of aural treats with its readers. Although the 600RR weighs a little more than its competition, the bike's enhanced stability and confidence over rough surfaces seems to offset the extra weight it spots them, especially on the street.

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

Of course, the world isn't made entirely of racetracks or canyons, and 95% of these bikes will see semi-regular duty as a transportation tool. This is the one area, where I feel the CBR 600RR loses some ground to the comfortable new Kawasaki ZX-6R and Yamaha YZF-R6, thanks in large part to its stiff chassis and suspension tuning. I didn't spend much time on freeways and surface streets, but the little time that I did spend, saw my hands tingling from engine buzz and my back hurting from suspension jolts.

"The bike's enhanced stability and confidence over rough surfaces seems to offset the extra weight it spots them, especially on the street."

There's no denying; this bike has a bit more "edge" to it than the rest of the class, but when you're blitzing through your favorite windy road, it all makes perfect sense.

The stiffness issue is compounded by the 600RR's full-race riding position, which is a bit too extreme for the street. There is no denying that this bike has a bit more "edge" to it than the rest of the class, however, when you're on a racetrack or blitzing through your favorite windy road, it all makes perfect sense. Truly, this bike is aimed at hardcore backroad enthusiasts and track day junkies.

To summarize the 2005 CBR 600RR's updates; Honda has endowed the 2005 CBR 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 redesigned and lightened the frame by 3.5Lbs, 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 equipped it with updated Dunlop D218 tires.

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

All together, Honda claims that the new bike has lost 9Lbs. In addition to the technical updates, they also revised the aerodynamics and bodywork to more closely resemble the RC211V. Street riders who aren't into Tribal Flames or Racer Graphics will appreciate the new all-black paint option. The new bodywork is flawless, with a thinner and more aggressive looking tail section that houses a tall racer-esque seat.

The seat height might be a problem for those who are short of inseam, but the high tail, allows the seat-to-peg distance to remain somewhat reasonable, with the pegs high enough to provide outstanding ground clearance.

The CBR's ease of direction change and the excellent brakes really stand out, helping you get into corners, as much as the boosted-midrange helps you get out of them.

However, the pegs are tucked-up a bit too tightly for sustained freeway use. The instruments are logical, clear and easy to read at a glance, while the controls work with the usual Honda smoothness and positive feedback.

Honda bumped the CBR's price by $200, from $8,599 up to $8,799. Part of this price increase is offset by the upside down forks, radial calipers, improved motor and 9Lb weight reduction.

Is there a noticeable difference between it and last year's CBR 600RR? Yes. As with the track test, I was lucky enough to have a 2004 model along for the street ride. On the street, it is harder to tell the difference between the '04 and '05 chassis, but the newly enhanced midrange shines through loud and clear. Last year's 600RR is still very fun in the canyons, but the '05 is a little less work to ride and noticeably quicker out of tight corners.

Honda concentrated on improving the 2005 CBR 600RR's racetrack performance, while Kawasaki concentrated on improving the new ZX-6R's road manners. Who made the right choice? Stay tuned, as Motorcycle.Com should have a thorough shootout ready before March 15th.

2005 CBR600RR
** Information And Specs Provided By Honda **

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.


  • 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.


  • 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.
SPECIFICATIONSModel:CBR600RREngine Type:599cc liquid-cooled inline four-cylinderBore and Stroke:67mm x 42.5mmCompression Ratio:12.0:1Valve Train:DOHC; four valves per cylinderCarburetion:Dual Stage Fuel Injection (DSFI)Ignition:Computer-controlled digital transistorized with three-dimensional mappingTransmission:Close-ratio six-speedFinal Drive:#525 O-ring-sealed chain
SuspensionFront: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
BrakesFront:Dual radial-mounted four-piston calipers with 310mm discs Rear:Single 220mm disc
TiresFront:120/70ZR-17 radialRear:180/55ZR-17 radialWheelbase:54.5 inchesRake (Caster Angle):24.0°Trail:95mm (3.7 inches)Seat Height:32.3 inchesTurning Radius:10.5 feet Dry Weight:361 poundsFuel Capacity:4.8 gallons, including 0.9-gallon reserveColors: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.
Sean Alexander
Sean Alexander

More by Sean Alexander

Join the conversation