There will still come a time when bikes like the CBR 1000 RR will be legislated out of existence. How is it that no health and safety officer has ever donned a hi-viz jacket and pointed menacingly at a superbike? These are lethal missiles in the wrong hands. But until that day comes, I will still ride them and still be amazed at the phenomenal performance these bikes give.
It took Honda a good couple of years to develop this bike, and the CBR has been put on a very strict diet. Every single part on this bike has been reimagined, reworked and trimmed to bring the overall weight down by 15kg. They even went so far as to make the plastics 0.2mm thinner. The wheels have fewer spokes, and the tank is now made of titanium. All in pursuit of that last ounce. The whole exercise meant that at 195kg of weight and 189hp on tap, the power-to-weight ratio is almost 1:1.
Visually there is not much to dislike. The lines of the CBR flow as a superbike should with a swept up backside and handlebars that force you to lean far forward. Honda wanted to create a track bike that you can use on the road, so the mirrors fold away whenever you are in the mood for some knee-scraping lap times. I have to say, in this respect it was a huge success. The Fireblade is probably the easiest of the current crop of superbikes to ride on a daily basis. Even with my limited skills, I was pushing this bike faster than I could any other superbike.
There are two models available, the standard RR and the SP version. The SP version adds Öhlins shocks, Brembo calipers and a quick-shifter. There are also a few additions in the electronics, but I fail to see how the sum of the parts can equate to the R60 000 price difference the SP demands.
The RR allows you to set the Traction control, ABS and Engine braking, so no matter the application, the Honda will always have your back. Seating is as superbikes go – cramped and uncomfortable on the road, but near perfect for track use.
The Honda CBR 1000 RR is a very civil and easy bike to ride, but it still demands your full attention when riding fast. The Blade has the ability to make even an inexperienced rider look good. For people upgrading to a liter-bike, the Honda offers a lot of bike for the money, and should be near the top of your shopping list.
Words and pictures – Brian Cheyne