I just returned from Honda Canada’s 2010 model presentation held in Savannah, Georgia, and in the upcoming weeks we’ll have riding impressions of the new VT1300 Sabre and Interstate, the new VT750 Phantom and my favourite new Honda V-twin, the VT750RS, as well as two marvellous new standards, the CBF600 and CBF1000.
In the meantime, we thought we’d treat you to a sneak peek of the not-yet-available CB1000R, which the folks at Honda Canada are considering bringing here and so brought one along for a brief ride around the Roebling Road Raceway.
This sharply styled, litre-class naked bike is powered by a 998 cc inline four derived from a previous-generation CBR1000RR and detuned to produce 123 hp and 73 lb-ft of torque.
An aluminum frame uses a fully adjustable 43 mm inverted fork and a single-sided swingarm is suspended by a single shock adjustable for rebound damping and spring preload.
The seating position it typical of a naked bike, with footpegs mounted rearward, and somewhere between a supersport and sport-touring bike in height, and the handlebar placing you in a modest forward lean — in other words, just right for blitzing back roads.
Steering geometry is a bit less aggressive than on the latest CBR1000RR, but the bike still felt a bit twitchy through Roebling’s long, sweeping turns.
That twitchiness was mostly caused by the combination of quick steering geometry and leverage provided by the wide, 1980s superbike-bend handlebar; the bike gave no indication that it was prone to wobble.
Turn-in was quick enough to make you think you were riding a middleweight roadster (claimed wet weight for the ABS model is 222 kg/489 lb), and there was enough cornering clearance to ride to the edges of the Bridgestone BT-015 radials, with only the extra-long footpeg feelers touching ground.
Power delivery was certainly subdued compared to the latest CBR1000RR, with a relatively flat, yet broad powerband. It didn’t have the brute bottom-end grunt of a Triumph Speed Triple, though it did have a meaty bottom end that got progressively stronger as revs reached the 10,000-rpm redline. Its six-speed gearbox operated so smoothly that it almost shifted at the mere thought of changing gears.
Though the CB1000R didn’t have shoulder-socket-popping acceleration, it pulled about 240 km/h into a headwind along the front straight and was still accelerating. The lack of bodywork, however, made holding on at that speed a real workout on the forearms and biceps.
Combined ABS slowed the bike hard at the end of the front straight, the only place at the track where hard braking was necessary.
But the CB1000R isn’t a track bike. Where it will likely excel is in an urban setting or when blazing back roads with your riding buddies. So while we’re waiting to see if it does, indeed, come to Canada, I’ll be anxiously anticipating a longer follow-up ride.
Photos by Bill Petro and Rob O’Brien