When dinosaurs ruled the earth and I started riding, we had…. motorcycles. We rode our motorcycles to work or school, did day trips, maybe slapped on a set of number plates and raced it on weekends, cruised the scene on Friday nights and if we were really adventurous, rode it to the west coast.
Now we have sportbikes, sport tourers, full dress tourers, adventure tourers, dual-purpose bikes, dirtbikes, cruisers, power cruisers, touring cruisers, baggers, factory customs, retro-classics, standards and lately – (drum roll please) naked bikes. Or …. what we called motorcycles.
The Europeans have always liked naked bikes but as usual, it took North Americans a few more years to gather ‘round the two-wheeled stripper pole and appreciate a motorcycle sans bodywork.
To cash in on this growing and most welcome trend, Honda took the Double R sportbike, slowly peeled away the plastic (layer by sensuous layer) and the CB1000R was born.
Available in Yurp since 2008, the 1000R has the 998cc motor from the ’07 RR sportbike which is “retuned” for more midrange and low end torque. Honda is reluctant to say “detuned” but losing over 45 horsepower (123, down from about 170) sure meets my definition of detuned.
NAKED BUT HAIRY
Retuned, detuned or six-string open tuned, the motor is a gem. It’s so smooth and refined, you can putter about town in sixth gear at 50 km/h all day with nary a buck, lurch or stutter.
Leaving from a stop, the low first gear eases you off the line and there’s so much torque you could shift directly to sixth, passing “GO” and all the interim cogs.
Not that you’d want to – the 1000′s gearbox is one of the lightest, crispest and most precise I’ve experienced in quite a while. The throw is very short and clutchless upshifts are easy and quick – just preload the shifter, roll off the throttle quickly and “snick,” meet your next gear.
When you want to go, just twist the throttle and you get the full liter bike pop. Even though the 1000R is ferociously fast, the power comes on progressively and in a linearly manner, with no power spikes or surges to catch you unawares.
On the highway, 100 km/h comes up at about 4,300 rpm so it’s very relaxed, although the tiny deflector on the instrument pod doesn’t do much to alleviate the windblast.
A die-cast aluminum frame and aluminum single-sided swingarm provides a strong, yet lightweight foundation. A single shock adjustable for preload and rebound damping holds up the hind end, while fully adjustable 43 mm USD cartridge forks support the front of the bike.
The seat height is a manageable 825 mm (32.5 inches) and when sitting on the bike, not only does it feel slightly wasp-waisted, it seems as if the front wheel is tucked right under the engine as it’s not visible to the rider. The reach to the gorgeous, gold anodized tapered handlebars feels just about right and the pegs are directly under the seat, where they should be.
Once underway, the 1000R feels quite nimble for a 485 lb (wet weight) liter bike. It steers lightly around town and through the twisties at “street” speeds, there’s a very smooth, almost intuitive transitions when going side to side. Honda’s fanatical devotion to “mass centralization” (as well as using a 180 rear tire to quicken the steering) really does pay dividends.
I even managed a few track sessions aboard the CB1000R during Honda Canada’s press launch in March. If there’s one way to uncover any warts on a motorcycle’s fanny, it’s by pushing it hard on the track.
Not surprisingly the 1000R behaved admirably through the flowing corners of Georgia’s Roebling Road Raceway. It responded well to trailbraking and was rock steady even through the faster corners as long as I remembered to maintain a light grip on the bars.
With the upright riding position and no bodywork, windblast was ferocious at the end of Roebling’s long straight, especially as the “detuned” CB was consistently indicating between 150 and 155 mph (240 – 248 km/h) at the braking markers.
Braking duties are ably handled by twin 310 mm rotors squeezed by four pot Tokico radial mount calipers that were likewise, lifted directly from the ‘07RR sportbike that donated the engine, save for the addition of ABS.
Braking power was excellent with a smooth, consistent bite; they were fade-free, with outstanding feel and feedback. I trusted them implicitly even while trailbraking deep into some of the slower corners.
WRINKLES IN THE BLANKET
Styling is always subjective but I prefer the Honda over its competitors – it’s modern and aggressive without being campy and overdone. The 1000R’s unique, ice-blue LED running light sits underneath the inverted triangle headlight like the tuft on an upside-down Santa hat.
When Honda unveiled the CB1000R in 2010, it came in a gorgeous red but the 2011 model tested was only available in black and for 2012 they’ve opted for matt grey with gold wheels. The bike is okay in black but it’s outstanding in red.
It’s all well and good until you get to…. (sigh) the muffler. Looking like a section of flattened downspout, Honda slapped a cheap looking plastic cover over it, but sadly, the basic shape is still visible. It’s even worse with the motorcycle leaned over to the left as spectators then get to view the industrial looking collector and resonator, nestled under the frame.
And lastly, the instruments. Instead of classic round gauges that actually deliver information, the 1000R has a trifecta of ghastly, overstyled LCD displays. Up top is a weird-ass, sweeping tachometer that dominates the view, a digital speedo is off to the left, while the right pod houses the fuel gauge, clock and tripmeters.
The entire package is covered by a curved, sculpted piece of clear Plexiglas that reflects light from every angle, making it virtually almost impossible to read during daylight hours. The only good feature of the instrument package is that the entire dash is subtly illuminated by soft, bluish backlighting.
The 1000R even goes the extra mile with a couple of nice touches – helmet hooks and places to attach a tailbag.
I guess I’ll never learn to speak fluent Marketing because, whether you call Honda’s CB1000RA a “Naked Bike” or “Sport Standard,” I’d still just call it a motorcycle.
And a damned good one at that.
|MSRP||$13,999 for a 2012 or $13,599 for a 2011|
|Engine type||inline four-stroke dohc, liquid-cooled|
|Power (crank)*||123 HP @ 10,000 rpm|
|Torque*||73 ft-lbs @ 7,750 rpm|
|Tank Capacity||17 litres|
|Final drive||Six speed, chain drive|
|Tires, front||120/70ZR – 17 radial front|
|Tires, rear||180/55ZR-17 radial rear|
|Brakes, front||Dual 310 mm discs with triple-piston calipers. Combined Braking System with ABS|
|Brakes, rear||Single 256 mm disc with dual-piston caliper. Combined Braking System with ABS|
|Seat height||825 mm (32.5 in.)|
|Wheelbase||1,445 mm (56.9 in.)|
|Dry weight*||222 kg (489 lb) including required fluids and full tank of gas – ready to ride|
|Colours||Mat Cynos Grey|
|Warranty||1 year, unlimited mileage, freely transferable warranty|