2012 Honda CBR1000RR Preview - Motorcycle.com

Honda’s CBR1000RR has long been a favorite around the MO offices, especially since the 2008 version tested here. Nearly as light as a 600 but with liter-class-leading midrange power, the big double-R vaulted to the top of its class.

Now four years later, the CBR1000RR gets several revisions but stops short of a full overhaul. New bodywork enhances styling, but it’s the suspension that received most of the R&D work.

The biggest news from Honda for 2012 is its revamped CBR1000RR. Significant suspension upgrades are the headlining features.

The rear suspension is still of the Unit Pro-Link architecture, but a new shock body promises big improvements in responsiveness. The old single-tube shock gets tossed in favor of what Honda calls a Balance-Free damper which incorporates a double-tube design. Instead of the damper piston using integral valves, the damping oil is forced through a separate damping component. The Balance-Free shock uses just a single circuit rather than main and secondary valves like most shocks. Honda says this allows better control via a larger body of oil, resulting in smoother and more responsive damping action, especially through the transition from compression to rebound. Damping adjusters are easily reached at the top of the shock body.

Barely visible here is the new, patented shock from Showa that promises a leap in performance. Showa also supplies its BPF front suspension.
The front suspension also receives an upgrade, now using a 43mm inverted Showa fork with Big Piston Fork technology seen on some Kawasaki Ninjas and Suzuki GSX-Rs. Its larger damping volume reduces hydraulic pressure, resulting in more precise action during its initial stroke and less pitching during hard braking.

New bodywork is the most obvious change to the CBR. It follows the layered fairing concept to improve aerodynamic flow, helping create a large pocket of still air around the rider while also drawing in more air through the cooling system. Also new is an integrated chin spoiler above the front wheel that is claimed to reduce aerodynamic lift at speed.

Also new is the instrumentation. The LCD digital gauge pack now includes a five-level shift indicator, lap timer and gear-position indicator. The digital bar-type linear tachometer offers four selectable modes for style of readout.

The CBR’s midrange-strong motor is basically unchanged, but it did receive new EFI settings that provide response that is more linear and has smoother response at smaller throttle openings.

The CBR’s instrumentation is upgraded for 2012, now including a lap timer and a five-level shift indicator, as well as a miles-till-empty function.

Also new are the CBR’s 12-spoke cast-aluminum wheels replacing the old three-spoke hoops. These thin-spoke wheels are said to offer more rigidity, which we presume also makes them lighter.

The CBR’s Combined ABS system receives a minor revision for 2012. This sport-oriented ABS features “a modified front-brake effect better suited to sport riding.” Honda states it reduces front-brake application when the rear brake is actuated, followed by more-progressive front-brake application as brake pedal pressure increases.

The new CBR1000RR is scheduled to hit dealers in December, starting out at $13,800 for the base model. The C-ABS version costs an extra $1000. They’re available in a new Red color to join the existing Black choice, plus a sweet Pearl White/Blue/Red combo that looks HRC-inspired. The C-ABS model is available only in Red. Also, HRC is offering a power-up kit, but it’s intended only for track use.

The CBR is also available in a new red color scheme for 2012.

Although the changes to the new CBR aren’t exactly earth shaking, Honda promises its new suspension is quite revelatory and very noticeable. On the 20th anniversary of the debut of the iconic CBR900RR, this new 1000RR will surely again contest for liter-class supremacy.

Says Honda: “In the end, the CBR1000RR imparts an uncanny connection between rider and motorcycle thanks to its extraordinary balance, all-around performance and remarkably integrated feel. For 2012, Honda's engineers have further honed and sharpened these characteristics, offering riders the opportunity to step up and open the next chapter to the motorcycle that's become a living legend among sportbikes.”

Honda’s Remaining 2012 Model Updates

Other than the CBR1000RR, the rest of Honda’s 2012 lineup remains essentially unchanged. The only updates are new colors and revised pricing. Still to come is news about some minor revisions to the VFR1200 to be revealed at Milan’s EICMA show in early November.


Sadly, Honda’s middleweight sportbikes, the CBR600RR and CBR600RR C-ABS, don’t receive any of the goodies in the 2012 CBR1000RR, remaining mechanically unchanged for this year. Available in December of 2011 the 600cc CBRs include standard models in Black and Red for $11,540 and $11,690, respectively, $12,540 for the C-ABS model.

The 2012 CBR600RR is mechanically unchaged for 2012, but it’s now available in this red/white color scheme that’s reminiscent of the original CBR600F2 from 1991.


The Fury returns for 2012 in both standard and ABS forms retailing for $13,390 and $14,390, respectively. The 2012 model Furys should be arriving at dealerships in January of 2012.

There’s no mistaking the 2012 Fury with its new red frame in its black body color. Other colors include blue and black, both with matching frame and bodywork colors.


The fuel-injected, pro-street Honda Sabre is also available in both standard and ABS formats for 2012 beginning in January of 2012. Pricing for the new models is $12,250 for the standard and $13,250 for the ABS model.

The 2012 Honda Sabre flaunts an affordable price and a warranty for a bike with a very customized appearance.


Cousin to the Sabre, the 2012 Honda Stateline differentiates itself with retro-styled valanced fenders. Pricing for 2012 models is also similar to the Sabre with the standard model’s MSRP of $12,120 and the ABS model’s MSRP of $13,150.

The 2012 Honda Stateline blends modern elements with traditional styling.


The 2012 Interstate is basically a Stateline with touring amenities such as hard leather saddlebags and a long ride comfort-enhancing windscreen. Like Honda’s other cruisers the Interstate will be available in January of 2012 with both a standard and an ABS model retailing for $13,240 and $14,240, respectively

The Interstate is a rolling fashion statement accessorized for weekend trips rather than boulevard cruising.

Shadow Phantom

The Shadow Phantom lives up to its namesake when painted in matte black. The meanest model in the Shadow lineup, the Phantom hits dealerships in December of 2011 with an MSRP of $8,240

The 2012 Shadow Phantom is Honda’s anti-bling cruiser.

Shadow RS

The Shadow RS is Honda’s version of a Sportster. More agile than most cruisers, the 2012 Shadow RS can be yours for $8,240 beginning in December of 2011.

The Shadow RS features higher footpegs and increased ground clearance compared to other cruisers.

Shadow Spirit 750 C2

With its Candy Orange paint, ghost flames in the fuel tank and ample amount of chrome, the 2012 Shadow Spirit is the antithesis to the Shadow Phantom. Also available in December of 2011, the standard 2012 Shadow Spirit will retail for the same MSRP of $8,240, while the Candy Orange Flame version retails for $8,540.

The 2012 Shadow Spirit features programmed fuel injection.

Shadow Aero

For 2012 the fuel-injected Shadow Aero comes in Candy Dark Red and Pearl Black/Silver color schemes. Also available in December, the Candy Dark Red standard model retails for $8,240 while the Pearl Black/Silver standard model retails for $8,540. Shadow Aeros with ABS carry a retail price of $9,240.

Honda’s Shadow Aeros are classically styled and feature a low seat height.


The Honda ST1300, with its 1261cc V4 engine returns for 2012 ready for more long-distance sport-touring trips. A favorite of the go-fast touring crowd, the 2012 ST1300 hits dealers in December of 2011 with an as-of-yet undetermined MSRP.

The 2012 ST1300 features a three-way-adjustable rider’s seat and an electrically adjustable windscreen.

ST1300P ABS (Law-enforcement special)

Not available to the general public, the ST1300P Law-Enforcement Special brings speed, comfort and performance to ticket-writing duty.

This is one Honda motorcycle you do not want to see in your rearview mirror.

Related Reading
Honda Announces 2012 Off-road Models
2012 Honda Gold Wing Review [Video]
2010 Literbike Shootout: RSV4 R vs S1000RR vs CBR1000RR vs ZX-10R
2011 Supersport Shootout - Street [Video]
2011 Supersport Shootout - Track [Video]
2012 Honda Fury vs. 2011 Yamaha Star Stryker [Video]
2011 Literbike Streetfighter Shootout
2009 Sport-Touring Shootout
2010 Honda VT1300 Stateline and VT1300 Interstate Review
2010 Honda Shadow RS Review
2010 Honda CBR1000RR C-ABS Review
2010 Honda Shadow Phantom Review
2010 Honda VT1300 Sabre Review
2008 Honda CBR1000RR Review

Kevin Duke and Tom Roderick
Kevin Duke and Tom Roderick

More by Kevin Duke and Tom Roderick

Join the conversation