2017 Honda CBR1000RR Spy Shots!

Kevin Duke
by Kevin Duke

Big Red gives its superbike a major update

Photos by: Sandro Rubinic; Animated GIF by Dennis Chung

It was all the way back in 2008 when the CBR1000RR got its last full overhaul, but new photographs from the Grobnik racetrack in Croatia reveal a heavily revised CBR apparently ready to launch at this fall’s motorcycle shows.

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Visually, we can see new bodywork from front to rear, including a headlight design similar to the recently unveiled CBR250RR that includes LED daytime running lights to meet the latest Euro 4 regulations. The paint and colorway borrows from its Africa Twin brother. The current CBR’s under-engine muffler is replaced by an exhaust with a separate canister, part of what’s necessary to meet Euro 4 emissions regs. At the rear is a much tidier tailsection and a new tag hanger.

From there, it’s difficult to say for certain what’s changed on the CBR’s chassis. The frame itself appears very similar to the existing model, and the swingarm too. In fact, nearly all of the bike’s underpinnings look very similar to the current CBR1000RR. An inverted fork remains up front, presumably a Showa Big-Piston Fork, but it’s not Showa’s Balance Free Fork seen on the latest Kawasaki ZX-10R. Wheels and brakes look similar to the current Fireblade as well – and not the SP model due to its lack of Brembo stoppers and Ohlins suspenders. If these pictures are, in fact, of a new CBR1000RR, then the bike might be merely an evolution, not a revolution, of the current model.

2016 Kawasaki ZX-10R vs. 2016 Aprilia RSV4 RR

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The engine architecture looks very similar to the current CBR, down to the case-cover bolt patterns, although there’s only so many ways to bolt together an inline-Four powerplant with a stacked transmission gearset. We’ll assume it’ll incorporate ride-by-wire technology that’ll easily enable a choice of ride modes and traction-control settings. Whatever the internal changes, an uprated CBR1000RR will need to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 170 rear-wheel horsepowerto be competitive with its rivals. Doing so would match the the latest ZX-10R and top the Yamaha R1 by seven. Ten more horses would put it firmly in contention with the Europeans.

Interestingly, the bike in these photos is equipped with wheel-speed sensors in the brake rotors that are much smaller than the ones typically used for traction-control and ABS systems, the latter a requirement of European streetbikes in 2017; the former because every new literbike must have the latest in electronic rider aids. The new Fireblade, as it’s called in Europe, is sure to have state-of-the-art electronics to match up with the contemporary systems used by Yamaha, Kawasaki, Ducati and others.

Wheel-speed sensors are becoming less obvious as technology progresses. On the right is the previous CBR.

Drawing firm conclusions from spy photos is always problematic, and it’s even more so when the circumstances surrounding the images seem a bit odd. For example, the pics indicate the CBR was being photographed for photos and video. However, if this was an official product shoot, the bike’s headlights wouldn’t be covered in tape and rearview mirrors would be installed. Perhaps the tape would be removed and mirrors installed while shooting later in the day…?

Also, photographer Sandro Rubinic says he nabbed the pictures from outside Grobnik’s track fence, however, the images from around the pit-lane area look almost like he was inside the track’s boundaries when he shot them.

Could this be a case of an old motorcycle getting a pair of new clothes, or is it a whole new motorcycle cribbing heavily from its progenitor? Full details will be revealed at this fall’s European moto shows, either at Germany’s Intermot October 5-9 (or October 4 if you’re a member of the media) or at EICMA in Italy during the first week of November.

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