Honda really managed to stand out in 2008 with the all-new CBR1000RR and now the bike sees a double way into the future as two versions are available for 2009: the simple Honda CBR1000RR, featuring new colors (including a Repsol Edition) and the Honda CBR1000RR ABS.
The 2009 Honda CBR 1000RR ABS, an extension of the Fireblade, becomes an even greater and safer performer on the track thanks to the Combined ABS system that is also found on the 2009 Honda CBR 600RR ABS. Being electronically controlled, the ABS system manages to distribute the braking power in the most efficient way without locking the wheels.
Honda claims that the anti-lock braking system, which was especially created for being best valued on the racing track, significantly improves lap times compared to the ABS-free model. This is the result of tests that have undergone with professional riders on racing circuits. Apparently, the racing riders needed more than a few laps on the simple version in order to match the performance of the ABS-equipped model around the corners. So it is expected to see a notable difference when getting a feel of the new model.
But you haven’t heard the best of it yet. The C-ABS system doesn’t remove the braking task from the rider’s shoulders as it allows the brakes to be powerfully applied before intervening and making that small, but crucial difference. And when it does that, the bike’s stability isn’t affected so no worries about keeping a strong hand on that clutch lever.
While the engine and chassis remain unchanged for 2009, the fairing was slightly modified on the ABS model in order to mask the indeed small and compact system. An extension of the fairing covers the source of power situated next to the engine while a black cap underneath the seat covers the electronic unit.
Open-class supersport bikes care nothing about the long pages of history written by Honda and they mean serious business when claiming their fair share of the market from the CBR1000RR.
Starting with the Japanese crowd, Yamaha is out with the entirely new 2009 YZF-R1, a machine that shouldn’t be allowed to ride the streets, but it is. The secret behind next year’s model is the MotoGP derived crossplane crankshaft, the heart of that already highly performing fuel-injected 998cc, liquid-cooled four-stroke DOHC 16 titanium valves engine developing 180 hp at 12,500 rpm. It stands for awesome torque (115.5 Nm at 10,000 rpm) and smooth power at all rpm levels, something that places the R1 in our preferences list. The suggested retail price varies from $12,390 to $12,490 depending on the color you choose.
Suzuki has also revised the GSX-R1000 for 2009 and they’ve aimed at high engine and chassis performance as well as lightweight. The motor is a fuel-injected 999cc, four-stroke, four-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC unit and the overall curb weight is only 448 lbs (203 kg). How’s that for an alternative to the Honda and Yamaha. Performance figures haven’t been made public yet, but the MSRP is only $12,199.
A cheaper Japanese alternative (MSRP from $11,790 to $11,999) is the 2009 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. Though not as good looking as the previously mentioned bikes and the ones that follow (I would fire the entire design crowd if I was an important Mister Miagy at Kawasaki), this bike is saved by the fuel-injected 998cc, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-valves per cylinder inline-four engine. This develops 181 hp at 11,500 rpm and 83.2 lb-ft at 8,700 rpm.
The Aprilia RSV4 is good to go in 2009 with its 999cc, 65° longitudinal V-four, liquid cooled, double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder engine implementing multi-mapping ride-by-wire technology and the variable geometry aluminum frame and swingarm. The motor is capable of 180 hp at 12,500 rpm and 115 Nm at 10,000 rpm so there are plenty of reasons to mention the RSV4 at this heading. Though the MSRP hasn’t been announced yet, we reckon Aprilia will situate it around $20,000.
More of a competitor for Aprilia rather than Honda, the BMW S1000RR is expected to be quite a big hit in the liter class next year as the German manufacturer has prepared a four-stroke inline-four-cylinder engine, twin-spar frame, standard swingarm and conventional forks for this model. The full specs haven’t been made public yet and the price is also expected to go sky high (around $25,000).
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.
Engine and Transmission
Engine Type: liquid-cooled inline four-cylinder
Bore and Stroke: 76mm x 55.1mm
Compression Ratio: 12.3:1
Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Induction: Dual Stage Fuel Injection (DSFI)
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital transistorized with three-dimensional mapping
Transmission: Close-ratio six-speed
Final Drive: #530 O-ring - sealed chain
Chassis and Dimensions
Suspension Front: 43mm inverted HMAS cartridge fork with spring preload, rebound and compression damping adjustability; 4.3 inches travel
Rear: Unit Pro-Link HMAS single shock with spring preload, rebound and compression damping adjustability; 5.4 inches travel
Brakes Front: Dual radial-mounted four-piston calipers with full-floating 320mm discs
Rear: Single 220mm disc
CBR1000RR ABS: Honda electronic Combined ABS
Tires Front: 120/70ZR-17 radial
Rear: 190/50ZR-17 radial
Wheelbase: 55.4 inches
Rake (Caster Angle): 23.3o
Trail: 96.2mm (3.8 inches)
Seat Height: 32.3 inches
Fuel Capacity: 4.7 gallons, including 1.06-gallon reserve
Curb Weight*: 439 pounds (461.7 pounds CBR1000RR ABS)
Colors: CBR1000RR - Repsol Edition (Blue / White / Orange / Red), Pearl White / Light Silver Metallic, Black
CBR1000RR ABS - Red / Black