Where credit's due:

Editor 'arris
Colin Fraser & Others

Editor 'arris was all smiles, until the legs turned gimpy.
It was painful. A whole day with the Las Vegas Motor Speedway at my disposal, a brand new CBR600RR just begging for a thrashing, and my lardy arse decides its not going to co-operate! Well, my quad muscles, to be more precise.

Three months of winter and a lanky disposition meant that after a day of forced knee-out track riding at the Freddie Spencer School the day prior would have my muscles going from sore to painful. A couple of sessions the next day was enough to put them into spasm mode—usually just at the apex of the lavish 180 degrees of corner two.

It was no good. Although I managed a grand total of three half-sessions, it wasn’t enough to get beyond familiarity and into the real tofu of bike testing.

How could life be so cruel?

Well, all is not lost as the ever-gracious Steve Bond has stepped up to the CMG plate and agreed to fill you in on the track element at the end of this piece.

For now let’s take a gander at the knowledge yielded from the on-road portion of the event (and a few laps on the track), specifically on how it compares to the CBR600F4i.


Sliding around like a 17 year old.

The first problem I expected with the compact RR was that of just being able to fit on it. Once again, I'm 6'4", so it's always a potential problem when it comes to getting on—and staying on—a modern sportbike. Although the bars are now located under the upper triple clamp and the rider is 70mm closer to the tank, it's not too bad overall. The setup is great for the track, allowing the rider to slide all over the bike in a manner usually reserved for athletic 17-year-olds with a tub of baby oil.

On the road, the snugness is more noticeable, but a well designed fairing bubble allows for a non-turbulent flow of air over the top and against the rider's chest. I didn't have long enough with the bike to notice the speed required to get this supportive blast working, but a day blasting through the desert outside of Las Vegas only left my wrists (and arse) slightly sore—a very good sign when you consider I can only last about half an hour on most other supersports.

Still, swapping with Mr. Bond for a stint on the F4i highlighted its more generous ergonomics, but also its buzzier nature at the bars. You’d think that would be more of a problem with the higher tuned bike, but no.

One of the most noticeable things about riding the RR is its motor. Honda claim that by raising the upper rev limit of the bike (redline is 15,000rpm—indicated by a little light on the tach), they can lower the overall gearing. This allows more of the power generated by revs to be accessed at slower speeds, however it also means that you constantly feel that you should be in a higher gear as you're revving the thing too much. In top, 70 mph would equate to 6000 rpm and I would find myself searching for the non-existent overdrive so that I could cruise more gently through the cop-infested Nevada State parks.

Of course, this isn't even noticeable on the track. The overall effect is that it has more midrange than any other 600 sportbike I've ridden, making it a much more usable tool on both the track and road—once you get used to howling it higher rev everywhere.

On one particularly straight stretch of desert highway, I pulled the RR to a stop and then just revved the knackers off it through the gears. Apart from noticing how much I enjoy doing this, there were some evident surges in the ultra-smooth power delivery. Off idle it’s your usual woolly 600 response until around 4,000 where it starts to pull. Then there's a noticeable surge around 7,000, another around 10,000, pulling strong and smooth all the way to the 15,000 redline.

Sexy lines from any angle.

Max power (a claimed 115hp) hits at 13,000. For the next 2,000rpm it’s seemingly flat, dropping off for the last 500 rpm before hitting the rev limiter, giving quite a generous over-rev capability for those amongst us who don’t know when to, or simply refuse to, change.

One thing I haven’t mentioned is just how quickly it spins up—making the F4i feel like someone’s just filled the crank with 10 grade treacle. It’s also testament to a glitch-less fuel injection system.

The box is also worthy of note as it’s so smooth you don’t really need the clutch during upshifts. And while I’m on a roll of fitting in information that I can’t fit anywhere else—the longer swingarm and taller first gear make it less wheelie prone. Whether that’s a good thing or not is dependant on how much you like wheelies, I guess. But if you’re a serious track rider more power with less wheelies helps enormously when it comes to keeping track times down.

Put track theory onto the road.
Uh oh, is that a white car parked up ahead? Oh look, rolling stoppies!

And what a convenient segue that gives me.

Front stoppers are a bit up from the F4i, with larger 310mm twin discs. However, Honda have opted to not go with the latest trick radial brakes (or USD forks for that matter), claiming that the RR simply doesn’t need them. Maybe it doesn’t. Front brakes have bags of feel, but also require a good hard squeeze if you’re, oh, coming down the home straight watching the tach rather than your brake markers? Bit scary, that one.

Still, I prefer range and feel over the on/off stoppers that some manufacturers like to fit—even if it does mean some faith and determination to get the back end up and the stoppies rolling. Back brake? Didn’t notice it. If you lock up the rear or find that it does nothing when you need it most, you notice it. So that’s good then.

F4i (left) and RR (right) face off in the desert.

Handling is fine. I know that sounds bad and it’s not meant to be, it’s just that there was such a hoohar about the mass centralization thing that I was expecting it to ride itself and then hand you a lit cigarette afterwards. Having said that, it did everything I wanted to and allowed me to totally focus on my line/cramping muscles on the track. It is better then the F4i, but not night and day, in my humble average-Joe viewpoint—although the more race-experienced Bondo seems quite convinced. Actually, I’m not sure that night and day would be possible as the F4i’s still a fine handling motorcycle.

There was one scary moment on the road trip when we hit a series of grievous ripples that would not have been out of place on Joan Rivers. The RR’s bars were ripped from my hands, wiggled side to side for what seemed like hours, straightened up again and then carried on as if nothing had happened - and my pants were still clean.

This also highlighted the fact that the suspension is a tad on the hard side. But that’s okay because Honda claim it to be track focused first, and there the suspension is about as close to perfect as I could ask for. Did I mention the super-sexy braced swingarm? I guess I just did.


Moment #1. Well maybe just before as I still haven't removed the antigravity pucks at this point.
I can’t finish this piece without sharing the two "moments" of the ride. The first was on the track—trying to push through the pain barrier on the never ending corner two. It was all perfect—the line, the body position, speed and attitude. My right knee kissed the asphalt and licked its way around the whole corner in a perfect arc. That’s a first for me—I simply can’t quite get into the right position. It was almost better than sex (note: if anything’s better than sex, then you’re not good at sex…although that position thing can still be a problem!).

Moment two was ploughing off a snow-covered mountain down a perfectly straight road into the bowl of the desert below. Tucked in at 160 mph, 14,000rpm in fifth with the howl of the righteous bellowing out the back and a clear view of any potential danger ahead. Simple, but rare. It’s the kinda thing that the RR excels at, and the more I rode it the more I liked it.

If only Honda could get that lit cigarette thing sussed.

SECOND VIEW – by Steve Bond

Bondo trying to forget memories of airline incidents.

For me, Honda Canada’s press launch of the all-new CBR600RR started off rather um...shitty.

En route to Las Vegas, Toronto Sun columnist Philip Lee-Shanok and I were sitting together, three rows from the back of the plane when I suddenly got a whiff of something.

I thought the older gentleman standing in the aisle had cut the cheese, but the odor soon became bad enough that I actually started to gag. I leaned over towards Phil.

"Hey Phil, it smells like this guy crapped his drawers." The stench suddenly slapped him across the face like a wet fish.

"Dude, that’s awful."

What I’d originally thought to be a natural (albeit poorly-timed) bodily function degraded into a major compromise of his bowel integrity, leaving a trail of putrescence starting three inches to the right of my size elevens, all the way to the restroom.

What are the odds of this happening to anyone but me? When a supermodel takes her top off guaranteed I’ll be getting a beer or have my back turned. Some guy draws mud on a transcontinental flight and it’s almost in my lap. Sheesh.


They're everywhere - motorcycle journalists AND slot machines.
Monday we did the Freddie Spencer School and that’s a story in itself. I hadn’t been on a track since I threw my SV650 racebike down the road last September. It felt good to drag a knee again.

Tuesday, we got our first look at Honda’s CBR600RR. It definitely brings a lot to the 600 supersport party. Sit on the saddle and the mass centralization concept is obvious once you wiggle the bike back and forth (damn, forgot the wiggle test – 'arris).

The revolutionary Unit ProLink rear suspension is more than just technology for technology’s sake. There are tangible benefits that surface both on the track and street.

Under hard acceleration the rear of the 600RR squats less than a conventional linkage, which is good. When the rear squats, the front extends and you’re basically trying to steer a chopper. You then have to muscle the bike around or roll off to make the corner, and neither option is ideal. To compensate for rear squat, you add preload which can raise the rear too high or make it too stiff.

Confidence is a beefy front fork!

At the end of the day, the Michelin Pilot's were shagged and I noticed that when the rear slid, none of the suspension energy was transferred through the frame to unsettle the front. It just steered where it was pointed, while the rear slithered away by itself.

During my first session, I flicked it in on a fast left and promptly clipped the inside curb. Man, this thing steers quickly! On most bikes, careening off the curb at that speed would have launched me into the dirt, but the RR gave one little twitch and settled back down.

The front forks are a beefy 45mm—no other motorcycle has given me as much confidence in the front end as the CBR600RR. After personal instruction from Mr. Spencer, I felt quite comfortable pushing the front harder than I ever have before and the bike steered precisely with wonderful feedback.

No more pipe touching.
A stock F4i has ground clearance issues on the track. The peg feelers drag quite easily, the exhaust canister touches next with the handlebar ends following shortly after. The RR’s pipe is tucked way up under the seat and I suspect the pegs are slightly higher and narrower, although I can’t confirm that. I touched the right peg feeler down once or twice, but that was about it.

The RR’s 310mm front brakes have a stronger initial bite than the F4i's and require a firmer pull to maximize their effort. Feedback is exceptional.

The compact motor is a jewel, pulling strongly to the stratospheric 15,000 rpm redline, although maximum power is developed at 13 and change. The extra 2,000 rpm "overrun" is there so racers won’t have to upshift when exiting a corner, which could unsettle the chassis. Throttle response is seamless and the two-stage fuel injection is completely transparent to the rider—i.e. you don’t feel where it cuts in.

The CBR600RR is the sharpest focused Honda yet. It calls the racetrack home, but it likes to visit the street as well. During a full day over Nevada highways, Editor ‘arris and I teamed up and swapped an RR back and forth with an F4i. The F4i’s riding position is cushier and the suspension more plush. The RR seems more taught, more poised and the ride is firm (bordering on harsh sometimes), especially over bumpy pavement.

Falling in love with the RR?

The RR has major midrange, and during some impromptu 100 km/h roll-ons, it slowly pulled away from the F4i in fourth and fifth. In top gear the RR left the F4i for dead. Nevada’s generous 75 mph (125 km/h) limit made for 85-90 mph (140-150km/h) cruising without worrying about the gendarme, which is fortunate as both bikes gave a wonderful view of mon elbows.

From bleak desert to 9,200 feet mountain passes (complete with snow and ice), the fuel injection worked flawlessly on both bikes. The RR’s handlebars are below the triple clamps and the seating position is sportier than the F4i. Larger members of our group found the RR less extreme than other extreme sportbikes while those smaller in stature thought it more severe. Strange, no?

If I had to choose? Geez…tough call.

Probably the RR. The sportier riding position and lack of underseat storage are more than offset by the willing engine, taut chassis and great overall package. It raises the 600 Supersport bar another notch—a big ‘un.

Dealers will be able to special order race kits, but at press time. We don’t know what’s in the kit or pricing.







599 cc

Engine type

Liquid-cooled inline four-cylinder


Dual Stage Fuel Injection (DSFI)

Final drive

Six speed, Chain drive

Tires, front


Tires, rear


Brakes, front

Dual 310 mm discs with four piston calipers

Brakes, rear

Single 220 mm disc with two piston caliper

Seat height

820 mm (32.3")


1,390 mm (54.7")

Dry weight

160 Kg (370 lbs) (claimed)

Canadian colours

Red/Black, Black, Pearl Yellow