Mr. BOND’S CBR1000RR TRACK IMPRESSION

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Words Steve Bond   Photos: Rob O’Brien/Colin Fraser/Honda Canada

Mr. BOND’S CBR1000RR TRACK IMPRESSION

His Royal Editorship claims to not like track sessions (even though he gets around pretty well) so he asked if I’d mind writing up the track bits on the 1000 while he handled the street riding. No problem, but don’t expect any “pushing the motorcycle to its limits” crap from me. Honestly, there are very few riders in Canada who can take a stock CBR1000RR (or any front line sportbike for that matter) to the edge and I’m not one of them. Unless your name is Jordan Szoke, Mike Taylor, Steve Crevier or Francis Martin, you’re not one of them either.

I can, however, flog something around a circuit and tell how its going to behave in the hands of club racers, advanced sport riders and those who do track days.

Thumb the starter and the big Honda emits a real bark from the underseat exhaust – nothing obnoxious, just a throaty growl that’s pleasantly different than what spews from the usual, side-mounted 45-gallon drum canister. Taking it slow at first, the steering initially feels somewhat heavy although there’s no tendency for the front to “fall into” the turns. The riding position is definitely on the extreme side of sporty with the “head down, bum up” style that’s typical of the hyper sportcycle.

Bondo gives it the thumbs-up for stability.

First impression? The 1000 feels like it’s carved out of one solid piece of billet aluminum. It is without a doubt, THE most stable sportbike I’ve ever swung a leg over. The excellent 600RR felt skittish by comparison and it’s difficult to believe that a bike with the 1000RR’s prodigious power can be so composed.

The engine pulls like a freight train from idle all the way to the rev limiter and the dual stage fuel injection is completely transparent to the rider- i.e. there are no power spikes or “hits” anywhere in the rev range.

The riding position is much more aggressive than the 954 as the handlebars are a full 80mm lower and the pegs are higher and farther back. The Unit ProLink rear suspension design allows the rider to be located lower and further forward as well for almost ideal weight distribution.

The RR is rock solid on the straights and once in the corner, holds its line until you decide to change it. Mid corner corrections (if required) don’t unsettle the chassis and it seems no matter how ham-fisted you are with the throttle, the big Honda won’t lose its composure. Under very hard acceleration off slower corners, most liter bikes will pull the front or break the rear wheel loose but the Honda just hooks up and drives. No slides, no wheelies, no drama.

No soiled underwear here.

For the first time in recent memory, Honda incorporated a steering damper on the CBR1000RR, but Editor ‘arris has undoubtedly covered how the damper functions in his in-depth technical analysis so I’ll just add my two cents. It ain’t a gimmick – it works!

Coming onto the Vegas Speedway front straight, there was a sort of chicane and, to straight line it, you had to clip both curbs on the left-right sequence. On most sportbikes, under acceleration that severe, and clipping curbs to boot, you’d be into a lock-to-lock and an underwear change – but the Honda never even flinched.

The 1000RR has so much torque that the quickest way around the track was to short shift and just let it pull. It didn’t feel very fast until I checked the large, digital speedo and saw some scary numbers. No problem, two fingers activates the four pot, Tokico radial mounted calipers and it stops like you’ve run into a glue pit. Interestingly enough, the 1000RR sports a Nissin rear caliper, proof that Honda is using the best components available for each application, not just scouring parts bins for what fits.

The cassette-style six speed gearbox means racers can remove the tranny to change internal ratios without removing the engine and splitting the cases. Stock, the ratios seem ideally suited to the torque and power characteristics and third gear is good for an indicated 200-plus kmh. Dunno what the top speed would be because the Vegas course didn’t have a long enough straight to find out. I saw 200 klicks several times before bailing out and hitting the binders for a tight right hander with a facing wall that looked as if we were turning into the parking lot at WalMart. Rumour has it that one journalist reported 268 km/h on a different um, “track” and I got ‘er up to 260 on the same stretch.

It definitely wasn’t one of the roads* out in the desert though. No way. Not us.

Where the 954 was a streetbike first, then modified into a sort-of racebike, the CBR1000RR was designed as a racing platform that also works as a streetbike – albeit the most extreme, narrow focused Honda yet.

Should be an interesting season.

IMPRESSIONS DE SZOKE

Jordan’s back and he’s happy with his new ride.

Two time Canadian Superbike Champ, Jordan Szoke, was on hand and took an RR out after the journalists were done. Actually both RRs survived our flogging unscathed and incident free, unlike the ZX10 launch where a journalist who shall remain nameless (Costa) tossed one of the bikes down the road. Jordan was very impressed with the stock bike and said the chassis felt solid, maybe even on par with his last year’s GSXR1000 superbike. Even on shagged rubber, he said he had difficulty getting it to slide and really had to work at a wheelie.

The Canadian racebikes will have HRC fork internals and a different shock but the frame and swingarm will be stock. American Honda will use a beefed-up modified swingarm but a Honda Canada rep feels it’s “overkill.” Jordan likes a powerband that comes on like a two-stroke so tuner Scott Miller will fiddle with the injection mapping and torque curve to accommodate him.

Steve Bond


Steve Bond is the motorcycle columnist for the Toronto Star and freelances for a number of other magazines including Inside Motorcycles, Motorcycle Mojo and, of course CMG Online.

* It was the secret CMG Nevada private track location.

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