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2012 Honda CBR1000RR Street Comparison

Monday, June 11, 2012

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2012 Honda CBR1000RR Street Comparison Video
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Honda's CBR1000RR received an update for 2012. Find out if those changes helped it in scores in our 2012 Honda CBR1000RR Street Comparison Video.
In 2010 Honda CBR1000RR fell from grace as our Superbike Smackdown champion, knocked from its perch by the omnipotent BMW S1000RR. Even so, it had a three-year run as the best street superbike available. Not one to take finishing second to any manufacturer lightly, Honda gave the $13,800 base model 2012 CBR a serious reworking in order to re-capture the crown. The big question is whether or not the amount of work done on the former class champ is enough to match the Bavarian brute or the fresh blood of the Panigale.

The list of updates on the CBR1000RR is not long. In fact, you can count all of them on one hand, but that doesn’t mean they are not significant. Honda wrapped the CBR in more aerodynamic bodywork, gave it new 12-spoke wheels, worked up fresh suspension, installed a flashy digital dash and, last but not least, reworked the ECU settings. Honda is historically very calculated with its changes and although we were disappointed to not see an all-new CBR we have to admit this bike is good. But, we can still bitch about one thing still absent in the Honda’s bag of tricks: No traction control, but Big Red is so confident with the new suspension and ECU setting that it feels the CBR doesn’t need an electronic babysitter to be competitive.

Power output from the CBR has always felt strong thanks to a fairly low curb weight. It has never been described as overbearing or uncontrollable, and the trend continues with the
The 2012 Honda CBR1000RR is the most user friendly bike of this test.
The power of the slightly revised 2012 CBR1000RR is smooth and easy to control.
2012 model. The bottom to mid-range is punchy yet easier to handle as the throttle response is smoother in tight corners and when initiating small throttle inputs. More aggressive riders might like to have a little more power down low, but for most riders, the tradeoff for the smoothness is acceptable. The buzzword often associated with the Honda powerplant is “user-friendly,” but the downside to that user-friendliness is that it takes something away from the visceral feel of the bike, leaving the Honda in last place in the engine character category.

“The engine in the Honda works great—the bottom-end is a little soft which will be appreciated by novice riders," muses our resident speed freak Adam Waheed. "Stay in the throttle though and you’ll be surprised by just how much mid-range it cranks out. Only problem is that it’s so smooth and refined that it doesn’t offer a whole lot of wow factor. It’s more utilitarian in its feel and power delivery—which is great if say you’re logging 10,000 miles a year. But for a bike I want to play around on it needs to have more ‘oomph and excite me some more.”

Despite the powerplant getting the lowest marks for character, it rated well in the subjective engine power, but on the dyno the numbers weren’t as impressive. The CBR1000RR ranked in the lower half of the field with 151.28 horsepower, but the torque was the highest from all the Inline Fours, including the mighty BMW, with 77.25 lb-ft. That mid-range torque is a signature ingredient in the CBR recipe for success on the street. Honda has always made streetbikes first and this is where they continue to shine. While the power was middle of the charts, the fuel economy was not. For 2012 the CBR1000RR took top honors in fuel economy with a 36.56 mpg average. That also gives the CBR the longest range in the test at 171-miles from its 4.7-gallon tank.

At the drag strip the 448-pound CBR fared well in the quarter-mile and 0-60 times too, despite have horsepower fugures near the bottom of the pack. Blasting down our real world piece of pavement the Honda flew through the trap with a time of 10.98 seconds at 141.0 mph
2012 Honda CBR1000RR Dyno Chart
Honda thinks the 2012 CBR1000RR does not need traction control or power modes to get the most out of the chassis.
The 2012 Honda CBR1000RR transmission is precise, the clutch has a positive feel and its geared perfect for the street.
and accelerated to 60 mph in a runner-up time of 3.597 seconds. This surprising performance can be attributed to the silky smooth power delivery and positive feel from the clutch, but it also has plenty to do with the Honda being the third-lightest machine in this test.  

The rest of the drivetrain was just as affable as the clutch, coming in second behind the German-engineered BMW on the subjective scoresheets. Our test riders lauded it for perfectly spaced gearing and crisp shifting that never once left us down. It was exactly what you would expect from Honda in regards to a no-fuss user interface and riding experience.

“The CBR’s transmission is really even and ready to hit the streets out of the box,” says our lady stunter and all-round ripper Leah Petersen. “Each gear felt even and appropriate for street riding.”

Our guest Monster Energy rider Ernie Vigil concurs with Leah’s appraisal, “Simplicity again proves that it doesn’t take a bunch of gadgets to make a sound bike. Typical Honda smoothness in the tranny and clutch makes for a user-friendly platform.”

Sitting on the Honda feels familiar, as the ergonomics are exactly the same as years previous. Although the bike doesn’t look as small with the new facelift, it still feels compact. Even with its tighter proportions, most of our testers had no issue with the comfort of the CBR. In fact, it rated second in both the rider interface and comfort categories. The only complaint came from my less than flexible, motocross-damaged legs and knees that took issue with the short distance from the very flat seat to the tallish footpegs.

Our second woman test pilot Lori Dell disagreed with my view on the Honda’s ergos. “I think the CBR is the best commuter bike out of the bunch,” states Lori. “It’s a good liter bike starter; it has simple well-mannered comfort.”

The 2012 Honda CBR1000RR may be the easiest of all the bikes in this test to ride.
our taller test riders were comfortable on the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR.
The 2012 Honda CBR1000RR is easy to ride and a case can be made that it is the best commuter bike in this test. Its comfortable, has good mid-range power and fits most riders.
One area where the Honda could have done better in the ranking was the instrumentation area. It's got new gauges, but it somehow finished mid-pack. The new LCD screen is easy to read and conveys more information than before with a gear position indicator. However the monochromatic black on grey/white display failed to wow our crew in comparison to some of the flashier units in this shootout. The five level shift light is a nice touch and easy to see when looking down the road.

The biggest story with the Honda for 2012 is the new suspenders on both ends. Up front a pair of 43mm Big Piston Forks (BPF) keep the front in contact with the pavement with a confident but slightly muted feel. This gives the rider just the right amount of information on grip and terrain without overloading the senses with every bit of detail of the asphalt. Controlling the motion at the rear is a shock that Honda and Showa developed jointly to eliminate the lack of feeling for the split-second the Pro-Link transitions from push to pull. The dampening force remains constant no matter the position or movement of the shock, thereby increasing the traction of the rear wheel. On the street it’s hard to tell if it makes a huge difference, but the rear end is planted and stable no matter the situation just as it always has with previous years.

“The suspension on the Honda makes for a stable platform,” claims Ernie. “And that stable feeling builds confidence for the rider.”

All of our test riders rate the Honda as the easiest motorcycle to ride in the curves at most speeds, but that being said the BMW and Aprilia are the sharper knives in the drawer. Perhaps because it is so easy to ride that the Honda was rated second in the handling
The 2012 Honda CBR1000RR has no traction control or power modes.
In the end the lack of character hurt the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR in our test riders subjective opinions. But you cannot argue with a second place finish, can you?
scores. Hustling through corners is nearly effortless and gets easier when you really crank up the pace.

Honda managed to improve the CBR1000RR, a tough task to accomplish without a whole new bike, but it paid off with another second place finish. With so many unique machines in this class, it was hard for the Honda to seperate itself from the pack at times. It all boils down to this – the CBR is easy to ride, almost to a fault. It’s forgettable as soon as you get off it because it didn’t either wow or scare the heck out of you. It’s a wallflower, vanilla and yet perfect at times. Most important, it's one damn fine motorcycle, and if Honda could find a way to give the CBR1000RR some more personality, it might just reign supreme.

2012 Honda CBR1000R Street Gallery
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2012 Honda CBR1000RR Specs
The Honda CBR1000RR gets a facelift for 2012.
Engine: Liquid-cooled 999cc Inline-Four, 16-valves
Bore and Stroke: 76.0 x 55.1mm
Compression Ratio: 12.3:1
Fuel Delivery: Dual Stage Fuel Injection
Clutch: Wet multi-plate slipper clutch; Cable actuation
Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive: Chain 16F/42R
Frame: Twin spar aluminum
Front Suspension: 43mm Showa inverted Big Piston Fork; 3-way adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound; 4.3 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Pro-Link equipped Showa Balance-Free gas-charged shock; 3-way adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound; 5.4 in. travel
Front Brakes: 320mm discs with radial-mount Tokico four-piston calipers
Rear Brake: 220mm disc with twin-piston caliper
Tires: Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier; 120/70R17, 190/50R17
Curb Weight: 441 lbs / C-ABS: 467 lbs 
Wheelbase: 55.5 in.
Rake: 23.3 deg. Trail: 3.7 in.
Seat Height: 32.3 in.
Fuel Capacity: 4.7 gallons
MSRP: $13,800 (as tested) 
Colors: Red; Black; Pearl White/Blue/Red
Warranty: One year unlimited mileage
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lmassett   February 27, 2014 01:34 AM
I have a 2012 1000 with some modifications. Specifically a Yoshimura full exhaust, PowerCommander5 with a timing retard inhibitor, and I applied Dynojet's recommended map changes. At full throttle when the RPMs get to 10K the front end pushes itself into the air in second and third gear. It's a WOW moment.
disreputablebastard   December 14, 2013 12:53 AM
For such a small bike, at least appearance-wise, you ride it and it just feels like there's a huge cannonball in the middle of it, it feels like a much-bigger and heavier bike. You know that it has some balls but the handling and weight-balance are just too weird. It and the Gixxer are like night and day. I'd much rather ride the Gixxer than this bike.
TexusTim   August 6, 2013 04:49 AM
Hi Justin,
I have to disagree with you on almost everything you said and your review makes me wonder if you didnt just rewrite exactly what others have said about this version for the cbr 1K...if you spend anytime on the new bike you will feel the differnce..the "muted" suspension is a teribble way to describe your inablity to actully understand what your feeling and to descdribe it....so you like the wow feeling in everything ? knoncking the awsonme gauges foe this version...you fogot to metion the lap timmer and different ways to adjust the tach readout.
this are awsome improvements and you have to understand it before you describe it sir.
I have race this bike and have owned every version...oberall this bike a had a crankshaft and flywheel change and updated clutch.the slipper clutch work better now than ever.
the 2012 also got an updated 3d ecu and updated sterring dampner along with the suspension uopgrades you mention..you put all of it toegther and the 2012 is the best allaround liter bike including the aprilla and the bmw...you like the wow factor and poping weelies and rough riding on the street..go get a gsxr if you wnat a refined liter bike that does everything well and stand the test of time get a cbr.
now if you care about the american market it's time to publish stuff that actuaaly helps us.!!
here is an atricle you should consider because with all the awsome bikes honda makes there warranty is the wors in the industry !!
pacman52   January 16, 2013 07:51 AM
I bought a 2012 R1 but I must say that the CBR and the R1 were the two bikes on my list. It was just a matter of $$$ (better deal on the R1). Really like the CBR...
Bert   October 3, 2012 08:25 PM
the 2011 CBR1000RR: 10.07 in 1/4mile; the 2012 CBR1000RR: 10.95 in 1/4mile; quite a difference! the 2011 CBR1000RR: 2.90 0-60; the 2012 CBR1000RR: 3.6 0-60; quite a difference! What gives?
Bert   October 3, 2012 08:24 PM
the 2011 CBR1000RR: 10.07 in 1/4mile the 2012 CBR1000RR: 10.95 in 1/4mile quite a difference! the 2011 CBR1000RR: 2.90 0-60 the 2012 CBR1000RR: 3.6 0-60 quite a difference! What gives?
dailyriderX3bikes   June 28, 2012 09:25 AM
@jfc1- The statements you're saying about why the little things matter such as HP/specs/times/MPG/#'s/practicality - because when people spend money on nice things, everything matters! Every single detail counts.. whether it's a car, motorcycle, jewelry or paying for a new fence or home improvements. it all matters, that's the whole point of owning things and having pride in what you enjoy.
EvelKnievel   June 21, 2012 05:11 PM
As M-USA points out, the 2012 CBR1KRR is really an upgraded version of the 2008 model. As an owner of the 2008 model with many miles on the street, I have to say that I love the bike and almost everything about it. I'm sure the 2012 model is every bit as good as they say, and that it probably is a better street bike than the BMW in many ways. The midrange is a huge advantage for this bike and it is valuable both on the street and the track, BUT... In my opinion, the BMW and most of the other bikes are clearly a better choice compared to anything from American Honda, which does not support its customers by honoring defects under warranty. I have had very positive experiences with BMW taking care of anything that isn't right (and I suspect the other companies would as well). This cannot be said for American Honda. For example, after several complaints by me to my local Honda dealer for excessive oil consumption, the dealer ran a test and determined my bone-stock under-the-initial-one-year warranty CBR was burning over 1.8qts of oil per 1,000 miles. The dealer took it in to repair as it was well over the "Honda Policy" of 1qt/1000 as being excessive. Seriously, it was consuming more than it's entire capacity in less than half the oil change interval. Months later, the same very embarrassed dealer called back to let me know my bike was ready to pick up, but that American Honda decided the scientifically measured 1.8+qt/1000 consumption was "normal" because no black smoke was evident in the exhaust while revving the bike to 8,000 rpm in neutral; and that I could pick up the bike in its unrepaired state. If you're considering a Honda here in the United States, you best hope that you're not on the bad end of a production defect, because unlike BMW customers, you might well be left out in the cold by Honda.
mi2tom   June 14, 2012 08:01 PM
AM LOL! I agree.
AM   June 12, 2012 08:19 PM
Adam, According to the HP graphic, the HONDA picks up about 50+ HP in just about 1000 rpm from +/- 5300 rpm and +/-6300 rpm. How that can not be felt as a no WOW factor and be so smooth? No other bike comes even close. Can you please rephrase this? "Only problem is that it’s so smooth and refined that it doesn’t offer a whole lot of wow factor. All bikes have just about the same HP up to 10500 / 11000 rpm. How can the BMW feel that much faster if it makes just about the same HP as the others up to 10500? NO WAY it's faster below 10500. Sure you can feel the power past that but there is no way it can be faster up to that point. Street / twisties riding are done below that. All the difference is after 10500 and when you're riding on the twisties there is no way you would go past 10500. Maybe on a little long straight in first or second gear, but on the turns you're not even close to that. Well at least if your second name is not Marcquez or Stoner or Lorenzo. Even so. 1st is +/- 90MPH ,2nd is +/- 110MPH.There's just no room to bring the gears up there on the turns. POWER is there but you do not go there on the twisties. Twisties are 35 to 70 mph turns. So what's this ALL the BMW rage power on the streets / twisties? "Oh, hell yes this thing hauls ass! Sure, after 11000 rpm...”No ofense, but are you going to tell me that you guys were riding and doing turns on the streets / twisties at 12500 on the Beemer? Straights does not count. Nobody buys sports bikes for the straights. Go get a ZX14 if you're riding straights.
Piglet2010   June 12, 2012 05:00 PM
So the main thing "wrong" with the CBR is that it is too well sorted and refined? "Character" may be fun for a moto journalist who rides a couple of different bikes every week, but grows old if you actually own the bike and ride it a lot. If I am paying the bills, the Honda would be my choice.
Razzic   June 12, 2012 03:18 PM
Love Honda, but if they would only just fix up the looks of them... the last one I bought was the 07 Repsol just recently cause as much as I love Honda, they look damn ugly lately, 2012 is an improvement but still a way to go. I think they had the shape perfect in 05 nice and sharp, just need to slim it down like they have and others have a bit like an 05 on a diet would be perfect, not this punched in nose look they have happening so much lately. (Oh and under the seat exhaust was the bomb)