Edgy, Agile, and Eager In The Corners

Honda revamped its naked CB1000R for the 2018 model year, but rather than dressing it up, the Red Riders actually dressed it down even further with a retro cafe’-racer kick. The CB1000R replaced the CB600F Hornet back in ’08 and its naked streetfighter presentation and performance envelope was an instant hit all across Europe. Fast forward to ’18 and we find it still going strong with the same 998 cc mill and a brand new handle as the Neo-Sports Café’. Subtle refinements give the NSC a new look that takes inspiration from the past without becoming enslaved to it, and the result is fresh, modern and appropriately aggressive. Today I’m going to take a look at this decade old model to see what else Honda has done to keep it relevant and competitive in today’s market.

Continue reading for my review of the Honda CB1000R.

  • 2018 Honda CB1000R Neo-Sports Café
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Displacement:
    998 cc
  • Top Speed:
    141 mph
  • Price:
    11229
  • Price:

Design

2018 Honda CB1000R Neo-Sports Café
- image 768588
Whether one cleaves to the sport-naked aspects or the cafe'-tastic heritage, there is no denying the aggressive nature of the Neo-Sports Café'.

Honda tightened up the dimensions of its popular sport-standard by shaving half-an-inch off the length of the swingarm and carving 3.5 inches off the headlight can. In the spirit of the original cafe’ racers that were essentially bobbed standard/UJMs set up with nothing in the way of excess fat that might impede performance, the factory cut the front fender down to the bone. The snub-nose headlight can sports a horseshoe-shaped DRL and a duplex projector with a well-defined break between the high beam and low beam lights that is compact but takes care of business with super-bright LED technology.

At the other end, the factory kept the elevated subframe clean by moving the mudguard/plateholder down to the swingarm-mount hugger position, and y’all can go ahead and pencil me in as a fan. Not only does it clean up the ass end, but it lends it an even more sport-tastic vibe. If I’m honest, I’ll admit that the cafe’ DNA is subtle at best, but it’s sufficient to give the NSC a nice finish that sets it apart from the crowd.

Short bars pull the rider forward over the tank that makes the strongest cafe’ connection yet with the classic knee dents that help the flangeless tank taper down to the saddle. The saddle itself carries a shallow scoop with a short rise to the pillion pad with a set of JC handles tucked inconspicuously away below. LED whisker-mount turn signals flank the also-LED taillight, but the winker stanchions are not enough to ruin the clean finish. Whether one cleaves to the sport-naked aspects or the cafe’-tastic heritage, there is no denying the aggressive nature of the NSC, and I, for one, am eating it up.

Chassis

2018 Honda CB1000R Neo-Sports Café
- image 768587
It's no surprise that Honda went all out with an all-new mono-backbone skeleton.

New bikes get new bones, so it’s no surprise that Honda went all out with an all-new mono-backbone skeleton. Steel members provide the strength and rigidity to manage the stresses of sport riding with aluminum pivot plates that shave 5.5-pounds off the standing gear. I’m glad to see the adjustable usd forks up front. The Separate Function Fork-Big Piston stems by Showa provide full-spectrum adjustability with variable spring preload as well as compression and rebound damping via the easy-to-get-at adjustment points on the fork caps.

At 467 pounds wet, the NSC generates enough energy to rate four-piston anchors that bite dual 310 mm front discs with a 256 mm disc and twin-pot caliper out back. Yeah, that may be a bit of overkill there, but a two-channel ABS feature provides the safety net so you can get the most out of the brakes and still keep the machine dirty-side down. Symmetrical cast rims run a 17-inch diameter with a 120/70 up front and 190/55 out back that gets a size boost from the previous generation.

Rake (Caster Angle): 24.7º
Trail: 96.1mm (3.8 in.)
Suspension, Front: Showa Separate Function Fr Fork Big Piston (SFF-BP)
Suspension, Rear: Showa Balance Free Rear Cushion (BRFC)
Brakes, Front: Two hydraulic calipers w/ 310mm floating discs; 2-channel ABS
Brakes, Rear: Single hydraulic caliper w/ 256mm disc; 2-channel ABS
Tires, Front/Rear: 120/70 ZR17/ 190/55 ZR17

Drivetrain

2018 Honda CB1000R Neo-Sports Café
- image 768575
Honda's engineers tweaked the mill from the [CBR->mot292]1000RR SP, so there's plenty of power and a stupidfast top speed.

Honda’s engineers also tweaked the 998 cc, four-banger mill that powers the NSC. They borrowed from the CBR1000RR SP and ran with forged pistons in the 75 mm bores with a 56.5 mm stroke and slightly warmer 11.6-to-1 compression ratio. Dual overhead cams provide increased valve lift for improved waste-gas scavenging and volumetric efficiency plus a tuned intake tract that includes improvements to the airbox, filter and associated ducting.

Induction control falls to the 44 mm throttle body with a throttle-by-wire system that provides variable engine power, TC and engine braking so you can tune the engine right where you want it. You can count on 143 horsepower at the 12,000 rpm redline with 76 pound-feet of torque that comes on fully at 8,250 rpm and around 141.7 for a top speed. Power flows through a six-speed gearbox with a tough-as-balls chain final drive and a slipper-type clutch.

Engine: 998cc liquid-cooled inline four-cylinder
Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 75.0mm x 56.5mm
Compression Ratio: 11.6:1
Induction: PGM-FI fuel injection w/ 44mm throttle bodies
Ignition: Full transistorized ignition
Starter: Electric
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Clutch: Multiplate wet

Pricing

2018 Honda CB1000R Neo-Sports Café
- image 768588
Not yet available in the U.S. market, it'll likely be around $14k when it does.

The Neo-Sports Café rolls for £11,229 in the British market. One can hope we’ll see this ride in the U.S. market next year (I had hoped for this year...), and if it does you can probably expect something in the neighborhood of around $14 grand or so.

Color: TBA
Price: £11,229

Competitors

2018 Suzuki GSX-S1000
- image 725857
2018 Honda CB1000R Neo-Sports Café
- image 768589
In the looks department, I gotta say Honda beats the pants off the Suzuki, then chases it out into the parking lot for good measure.

Honda calls it a “cafe’,” but I ain’t really feeling it so I grabbed another naked sportbike for my head-to-head in the form of the GSX-S1000 ABS from Suzuki. To be fair, the NSC does have a rather unique and fetching look about it, but the Gixxes sticks to the pure-D Japanese streetfighter look with angular body panels and a Transformer-like headlight housing. In the looks department, I gotta say Honda beats the pants off the Suzuki, then chases it out into the parking lot for good measure. Yeah, I know it comes down to personal taste, but if you disagree then you need to be getting yourself some taste. Just sayin’....

Suzuki tries to keep weight down through the use of an aluminum frame and swingarm versus the steel support from Honda, but both got it right with fully-adjustable, inverted forks that allow you to dial in for your personal preferences. The brakes are likewise fairly even across the board with dual four-pot calipers up front and ABS protection as part of the standard equipment package.

Suzuki’s four-bore mill gains a single cube on the NSC with a 999 cc displacement but the third-party dyno numbers paint a very unflattering picture for Honda; at the rear wheel you can expect around 109 horsepower from the NSC, but the Gixxes pumps out 137 ponies, so in the power category Suzuki gets to flip the script and spank the Honda.

Pricing is a bit of a toss-up since we don’t actually have an MSRP listed for the NSC in the U.S. but at $10,799 I think it’s safe to say the GSX-S1000 ABS will have a leg up on the Neo-Sports Café.

He Said

“Sexy as hell as far as naked sportbikes go. Though subtle, the changes Honda made to the looks of the CB1000R really pay off in the end. Sure, performance drops off a skosh, but it ain’t always about brute force or pretty numbers ’cause the Honda has something just as valuable; soul.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I’m not really seeing the café part so much, but it would just be a different perspective. It’s a nice-looking bike; very angular, even the sculpted fuel tank, with an almost industrial edginess to it. It’s lighter than the outgoing model and the changes to the chassis should make it even more agile and eager in the corners. I like what I see so far. I hope it’s coming to the U.S. market soon.”

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 998cc liquid-cooled inline four-cylinder
Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 75.0mm x 56.5mm
Compression Ratio: 11.6:1
Induction: PGM-FI fuel injection w/ 44mm throttle bodies
Ignition: Full transistorized ignition
Starter: Electric
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Clutch: Multiplate wet
Final Drive: Chain
Chassis:
Rake (Caster Angle): 24.7º
Trail: 96.1mm (3.8 in.)
Suspension, Front: Showa Separate Function Fr Fork Big Piston (SFF-BP)
Suspension, Rear: Showa Balance Free Rear Cushion (BRFC)
Brakes, Front: Two hydraulic calipers w/ 310mm floating discs; 2-channel ABS
Brakes, Rear: Single hydraulic caliper w/ 256mm disc; 2-channel ABS
Tires, Front/Rear: 120/70 ZR17/ 190/55 ZR17
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: 83.5 in.
Width: 31.1 in.
Height: 43.1 in.
Ground Clearance: 5.3 in.
Seat Height: 32.7 in.
Wheelbase: 57.3 in.
Fuel Capacity: 4.3 gal.
Curb Weight: 467 lbs.
Details:
Color: TBA
Price: £11,229

References

2018 Suzuki GSX-S1000
- image 725856

See our review of the Suzuki GSX-S1000.

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

Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Motorcycle Finder: