For next year’s CBR1000RR, Honda hasn’t reserved new design tweaks and the bike carries on as the same small and light supersport model that tends to show Japan and the entire world the way that bikes will be designed in the near future.
That is only because Honda has just finished redesigning their new machine in 2008. So what we have now is the smooth, aerodynamic look that reduced some serious weight on the previous model year only that painted in some new exciting colors. These are: Blue / White / Orange / Red for the Repsol Edition now available, Pearl White / Light Silver Metallic and Black for the simple editions. The ABS model is Red / Black painted.
Having the opportunity to get a feel of a Honda CBR1000R, even if that was only a 2008 model year, got me very excited and anxious to get suited up and on board this class leader. I said to myself that if it is to ride slow through the pit lane, I’d better describe some “S” curves and warm up the tires in the process. The first thing that strikes you as soon as you first start rolling is the ease of handling that helps you get accustomed with the still new CBR very fast.
As I got out the track, the top priority in my mind was the engine’s acceleration so I got ambitious with the throttle and put to work the 175.3bhp produced at 12,000 rpm, but what I’ve come to appreciate is that, although a supersport bike, is the massive torque (84 lb-ft at 8,500 rpm). This works magic at low revs and that is also what Yamaha achieves for 2009 with the crossplane technology that they start using.
The bike is extremely fast and, personally, I managed a 180 mph top speed on the straight line and never felt like I’m about to take off. That is mostly due to the improved aerodynamics and superior riding position compared again to the Yamaha R1 (previous model years) and the Suzuki and Kawi. Honda has clearly got a head start and that feels every time you widely open the throttle as you go out of those hairpins. The six-speed gearbox is precise and reliable while the clutch smoothly sets you into action without any rear wheel trouble at all.
Like I was expecting, power delivery is linear and practically never ending, but it was by now time to get a feel of that light and feedback providing chassis. Knee scraping hasn’t been part of my routine lately, but the Fireblade made sure that I know what track riding means on the seat of what I can now call the sharpest handling motorcycle in the liter class. Now, the 2008 CBR1000RR is 17 kg lighter than the previous model year and that has an incredible contribution to the positive cornering capabilities and the overall light feel.
The tachometer and digital speedometer are easy to read either you tuck into the fairing for a new land speed record or get up as you start breaking before a tight corner. Also, all the commands are right where the rider expects them to be, allowing him to concentrate on the riding and on obtaining better lap times.
The suspensions will have much contribution to that even though Honda kept them pretty simple only with spring preload, rebound and compression damping adjustability. They are both stable at high speed and reassuring during aggressive cornering and I must admit that the Bridgestone BT002 tires brought their fair share of safety feel.
That also happened under strong braking as they gripped to the track under hard braking from the dual radial-mounted four-piston calipers acting on 320mm discs. As you can suppose, the rear is fitted with a single 220mm disc and the brakes work just fine and worm up pretty fast, I could say. Though this wasn’t a 2009 model year, I can’t wait for some C-ABS action in the spring.
Honda is good at marketing strategies and the prices for which these two models are available show it best (keeping in consideration what the competition has to offer). The simple 2009 CBR1000RR comes with a base MSRP of $11,999 (close to the Kawasaki ZX-10R) while the 2009 CBR1000RR ABS has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of only $12,999. Keep in mind that this last is a class-leading new model and the Yamaha R1 is closely priced to it.
What Honda managed to do with the 2009 CBR1000RR models is not only an example of technological advancement and innovation, but yet another proof that the leader of the liter class supersport is here to stay. We shall soon see what the 2009 R1 is up to, but for the moment I can only think at the wonderful time I spent in the seat of the Fireblade.