A Much Better CBR1000RR Than The CBR1000RR Has Ever Been

Honda carries its CBR1000RR superbike, a.k.a. ’Fireblade’, into 2018 with little in the way of changes from last year. That’s hardly surprising given the scope and scale of the revisions done prior to MY17 that brought us the newest gen of Honda’s Total Control initiative with a host of electronic goodies to help keep the 189-horsepower engine (10 more ponies than the previous gen) under control. It’s Honda’s first inline four-banger to run a throttle-by-wire induction control, and the factory piled on with Riding Modes, Wheelie Control and more to make the ’Blade serve as a model flagship for the affordable-supersport sector with plenty of influence from the racing department for the ’everyrider’. Today I’m going to take a gander at the new-since-2017 Fireblade and see how it stacks up against something of a more European persuasion.

Continue reading for my review of the Honda CBR1000RR.

  • 2017 - 2018 Honda CBR1000RR
  • Year:
    2017- 2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Displacement:
    998 cc
  • Price:
    16499

Design

2017 - 2018 Honda CBR1000RR
- image 774579
Jockey-mount foot controls, a high-and-tight belly fairing and an upswept exhaust allow for deep leans that make the fiery-eyed peg draggers happy.

There’s very little in the way of differences between the ’17 and ’18 models aside from some subtle changes in the livery. An angry-alien fairing leads the way with an unusual aesthetic that’s based in science, if not vanity. It starts just below the bubble windscreen with a triangular brow that overhangs the split LED headlights. The headlight recess gives way to the intake of the cowling with no weight or space wasted on the lower part of the fairing. It may look a little funny head-on, but the extended cheek fairings close off the void under the lights when viewed in profile.

Rather than spending energy pushing that air aside, the bike allows it to flow into the upper cowling and through vents at the trailing edge where the air then reintegrates with the slipstream with minimal drag. Really clever stuff since it saves energy in a number of ways. Though it can be configured as a race bike with an absolutely slick entry, the street-legal version comes with the necessary mirrors and LED turn signals married together for minimal visual and performance impact so it shouldn’t break your immersion in your race-day fantasy.

Moving aft, a peak in the fuel tank hump makes for an unusual flyline ahead of a tumble to the saddle. A short rise at the pillion serves to form a bit of a butt-bucket for the pilot while the p-pad itself is actually wide enough to catch something other than your passenger’s tailbone and naughty bits. As seems to be “the thing” nowadays, the LED taillight housing serves as the terminus of the tail-up subframe in an effort to keep the rear-end clean, and the turn signals are mounted on the mudguard along with the plateholder for easy removal as a unit (same as the mirrors) for some actual race-day fun.

Jockey-mount foot controls, a high-and-tight belly fairing and an upswept exhaust allow for deeper leans than my nerves would tolerate, I assure you, but I’m sure it’s just about right for some of you fiery-eyed peg/knee/elbow-draggers out there. The overall look makes clear connections to the original.

All 1000 cc sportsbikes are extraordinary examples of high performance engineering,” says Large Project Leader, Mr. M Sato. “But for us, for our new Fireblade we want extraordinary to be the pleasure of handling and controlling such a machine. Its true purpose – wherever it’s ridden – is to enjoy something that is not normally experienced in everyday life, something that cannot be surpassed.

The very first CBR900RR remains a milestone in our history and an inspiration we have drawn on to radically reduce weight and increase power.” Mr Sato continues. “And, to go to Next Stage Total Control, we have added an electronic control system that is there to support the rider, totally. What then can our new Fireblade promise our customers? That is simple – the pure joy of riding.”

And there it is folks, the philosophy behind this newest generation ’Blade. From what I can see, it seems safe to say mission accomplished.

Chassis

2017 - 2018 Honda CBR1000RR
- image 773928
The real gem here is the corner-sensitive ABS feature that delivers safe braking intervention, even when traction is being split between braking and steering forces.

The new ’Blade’s bones got the Richard Simmons treatment (drop those pounds, ladies) with lightening efforts made all around. Main twin-spar frame, subframe and swingarm all shed weight while maintaining or improving the rigidity/flexibility where appropriate. The result; an all-aluminum frame that is both lighter and more agile for a win-win situation. A pair of 17-inch aluminum rims round out the rolling chassis with a lighter, five-spoke configuration to further reduce weight while also limiting the unsprung weight to help enhance the performance of the suspension components.

As for the suspension itself, the CBR1000RR relies on a set of 43 mm Showa Big Piston Forks to support the front end and Showa’s Balance Free Rear Cushion shock to float the rear with the full trinity of adjustments — preload, compression/rebound damping — at both ends. While that isn’t quite as fancy as the automatic/electronic Öhlins rig on the SP version, it isn’t as expensive either and it still provides the full spectrum of ride-quality tweaks.

Dual 320 mm discs and a pair of four-pot, opposed-piston Tokico calipers slow the front wheel with a 220 mm disc out back, but the real gem here is the corner-sensitive ABS feature that delivers safe braking intervention, even when traction is being split between braking and steering forces.

Suspension, Front: 43 mm telescopic fork; 4.7-inch travel
Suspension, Rear: Unit Pro-Link® single shock; 5.2-inch travel
Rake (Caster Angle): 23.3º
Trail : 96 mm (3.8 inches) 
Brakes, Front: Two 320 mm discs w/ hydraulic calipers (ABS model w/ ABS)
Brakes, Rear: Single 220 mm disc w/ hydraulic calipers (ABS model w/ ABS)
Tire, Front: 120/70-17
Tire, Rear: 190/50-17

Drivetrain

2017 - 2018 Honda CBR1000RR
- image 774582
What this bundle gives you is a bike with multiple personalities that has the power to thrill and the safety nets that should allow you to survive trying to find the top of your performance envelope.

In the engine compartment, the ’Blade benefits from both mechanical engineering excellence and magical electronic wizardry. First, the mundane; it measures out just under a liter at 999.8 cc with a 76 mm bore and 55 mm stroke. This oversquare configuration gives the mill a 13-to-1 compression ratio that will demand the finest road champagne but deliver a generous 189 horsepower at 13,000 rpm in return. The full 84 pound-feet of torque comes on by 11,000 rpm, so without a doubt, this mill is built to be wound up tighter than Dick’s hatband.

If you think that sounds like a lot of power, you’re right, it is, but the factory has you covered with a selection o’ safety features to help you cope. It starts with a throttle-by-wire rider interface that works with the riding modes to manage the various safety systems. Traction Control, Engine Braking Control, Engine Power Level and Wheelie Control features all come bundled in various strengths for a mix-and-match ride quality. A six-speed gearbox crunches the ratios with a slipper clutch that delivers a 17-percent lighter pull with anti-hop protection to prevent loss of control on aggressive downshifts.

What this gives you is a bike with multiple personalities that has the power to thrill and the safety nets that should allow you to survive trying to find the top of your performance envelope.

Engine: 998 cc liquid-cooled in-line-four-cylinder four-stroke
Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 76.0 mm x 55.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 13:1
Induction: PGM-FI; 48mm throttle bodies
Ignition: Digital transistorized w/ electronic advance
Starter: Electric
Clutch: Multiplate wet
Transmission: 6 speed

Pricing

2017 - 2018 Honda CBR1000RR
- image 774577
This is an excellent machine whether you plan on hitting a track or just parking outside of one, and the price tag really makes it a threat.

This is an excellent machine whether you plan on hitting a track or just parking outside of one, and the price tag really makes it a threat. At $16,499 MSRP for the non-ABS model, the CBR1000RR is readily available to folks who may be looking for a second (or third) ride upgrade, but don’t want to go out of pocket for one of the pricier options out of Europe. Adding ABS will bump the price another three bills. The Fireblade comes in Grand Prix Red with black trim or Matte Metallic Black with red trim this year.

Color: Grand Prix Red; Matte Black Metallic
Price: $16,499 (ABS model: $16,799)

Competitors

2018 Ducati Panigale V4
- image 773487
2017 - 2018 Honda CBR1000RR
- image 773929
The higher-price on the Ducati certainly reflects the slightly greater level of refinement, and it also places it out of reach of the more budget-minded buyers.

Ducati has a powerful weapon of its own in this market with the Panigale V4 supersport that packs in lots of yummygoodness of its own. First a disclaimer; it’s a cheater-liter with an actual displacement of 1,103 cc and a slight edge in performance.

The Italian Stallion churns out a total of 214 horsepower and 91.5 pound-feet of torque against 189/84 from the Honda, but the Red Riders’ woes don’t stop there; Ducati packs on a superior electronics suite that adds Slide Control, Power Launch and a Quickshifter to the features offered on the Fireblade. Brembo and Bosch take care of the brakes and ABS, respectively, and the 330 mm front discs and 245 mm rear certainly give the Duc a greater capacity to haul it down on demand.

So far, the Panigale is showing itself to be a somewhat superior product, but that comes at a price: $21,195 to be exact. That difference represents a significant chunk of change, and while it certainly reflects the slightly greater level of refinement in the Panigale, it also places it out of reach of the more budget-minded buyers.

He Said

“Honda’s ’Blade never disappoints, and the ’17-’18 model is certainly no exception. The race-tastic pedigree is readily apparent, and it should serve to satisfy anyone looking for an authentic-feeling ride for their riding enjoyment on or off the track. At less than 17 grand, I’d say the new CBR1000RR is destined to make a number of U.S. riders very happy.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “This bike just wants to go, there’s no doubt about it. Lean just a little bit and it just wants to lay right over. It’s an aggressive rider triangle, and it’s an aggressive ride, especially once you get into second gear. In the ride-with-abandon rider mode, the bike comes alive at 10k with an unbelievable surge of power. Way too aggressive for my style, but the fiery-eyed peg draggers are gonna get a chubber. In the rider modes, you can actually set how much engine braking you want. That’s cool. This is a much better CBR1000RR than the CBR1000RR has ever been.”

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 998 cc liquid-cooled in-line-four-cylinder four-stroke
Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 76.0 mm x 55.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 13:1
Induction: PGM-FI; 48mm throttle bodies
Ignition: Digital transistorized w/ electronic advance
Starter: Electric
Transmission: 6 speed
Clutch: Multiplate wet
Final Drive: 16T/43T; chain
Chassis:
Suspension, Front: 43 mm telescopic fork; 4.7-inch travel
Suspension, Rear: Unit Pro-Link® single shock; 5.2-inch travel
Rake (Caster Angle): 23.3º
Trail : 96 mm (3.8 inches) 
Brakes, Front: Two 320 mm discs w/ hydraulic calipers (ABS model w/ ABS)
Brakes, Rear: Single 220 mm disc w/ hydraulic calipers (ABS model w/ ABS)
Tire, Front: 120/70-17
Tire, Rear: 190/50-17
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: 81.3 inches
Width: 28.3 inches
Height: 44.3 inches
Seat Height: 32.3 inches
Ground Clearance : 5.1 inches
Wheelbase: 55.3 inches
Fuel Capacity: 4.2 gal.
Curb Weight: 430 lbs. (ABS model: 433 lbs)
Details:
Color: Grand Prix Red; Matte Black Metallic
Price: $16,499 (ABS model: $16,799)

References

Ducati Panigale V4

2018 Ducati Panigale V4
- image 773924

See our review of the Ducati Panigale V4.

Honda CBR1000RR SP

2017 - 2018 Honda CBR1000RR
- image 774575

See our review of the Honda CBR1000RR SP.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: ducatiusa.com, powersports.honda.com

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