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2011 Honda CB1000R First Ride

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The 2011 Honda CB1000R takes the middle road by providing sportbike
enthusiasts a comfortable riding position with turn-of-the-grip power.
Sportbikes these days are designed, brewed and bred for one thing: Going fast around the racetrack. Sure they are fun for short jaunts on your favorite backroads, the key being the 'short' part. Sparsely padded seats and aggressive riding positions that put large amounts of weight on a rider’s wrists are not conducive to much more than fast laps. But that brute power and agile handling can be addictive. If only there was a compromise? Something with liter-class bhp and torque, plus a comfortable seating position. Japanese motorcycle giant Honda has pondered the same thing on several occasions, the result being its new 2011 CB1000R.

Motorcycles like this aren't some recent invention, though. In fact many of you may remember the original Honda CB900F/CB1100F from the early-'80s, followed by the CB1000 of the mid-'90s. The 900F and its siblings were some of the precursors to today's modern sportbikes, but they have since taken a backseat role to their track-biased siblings for the past couple decades. And while naked standards, or streetfighters as they are now called, have had a relatively slow return in the U.S., the segment enjoys huge popularity in Europe. With the recent introduction of Ducati's successful Streetfighter and the latest Kawasaki Z1000, more and more naked bikes are making their way onto dealer showrooms. Honda's revived CB is the latest such offering.

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2011 Honda CB1000R Video
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We review Honda's latest streetfighter and its balance between speed and comfort in the 2011 Honda CB1000R Video.
Swing a leg over the upright-sitting Honda, turn the key, fire up the naked black beauty and it comes to life with a subdued rumble, but a rumble nonetheless. Clutched in and dropped into gear, the transmission engages smoothly and the CB1000R can be as mild-mannered as one desires. This is the result of near-perfect fueling from Honda's PGM-FI system. But get a bit more daring with the throttle and the CB quickly reveals its true potential. The new Honda's signature move is arm-pulling torque that lofts the front wheel with ease in any of the first three gears. This low-end to mid-range tuned engine combined with the upright seating position and no fairing for wind protection delivers a sense of speed that trumps most sportbikes on the road today. While the numbers may not be that of a true sportbike in a quarter-mile, our CB ticked the lights at 11.31 seconds at 122.4 mph (compared to 9.71 seconds at 141.7 mph for the CBR1000RR). However, it sure feels equally quick, if not quicker in seat-of-the-pants terms.

2011 Honda CB1000R First Ride
2011 Honda CB1000R First Ride
2011 Honda CB1000R First Ride
To achieve this the boys in red started with the highly potent 1000RR powerplant, then tuned the Inline Four for better driveability and improved bottom-end and mid-range, both attributes that apply nicely to street use. The engine features a smaller bore and longer stroke (75mm x 56.5mm compared to 76mm x 55.1mm), which reduces the displacement, marginally, from 999cc to 998cc, along with new 36mm throttle bodies. Compression drops from 12.3:1 to 11.2:1, while the engine still features dual overhead cams, a close-ratio six-speed transmission and a 4-into-1 exhaust system that exits spent gasses on the lower right side through an under-slung, 'shorty-style' muffler.

Our CB1000R test unit spun the in-house MotoUSA dyno to the tune of 108.58 hp at 9900 rpm and 64.3 lb-ft of torque at 7400 rpm. Although some 44 horsepower down on its big brother CBR1000RR Superbike, by road-going standards this is more than enough horses to quickly get one in trouble with the authorities, as well as induce ear-to-ear grins with the slightest twist of the right wrist.

Once acclimated to the front-wheel-floating powerband a rider quickly warms up to the equally impressive chassis. Also based on the CBR1000RR, the CB's twin-spar aluminum frame is mated to a stylish single-sided swingarm that leaves the sculpted four-spoke rear wheel open for your competition's viewing pleasure -- if they can keep up that is. Suspension is handed by a fully-adjustable 43mm inverted HMAS cartridge fork up front with 4.7 inches of travel and Honda's patented Unit Pro-Link rear end, featuring a single gas-charged HMAS shock that is preload and rebound adjustable and has 5.0 inches of travel.

Achieving a more street-oriented balance and feel, the chassis dimensions have been modified slightly. Rake increases from 23.3 degrees to 25.0 degrees, while trail goes up from 96.2mm to 99mm (3.8 inches to 3.9 inches). As a result the wheelbase has also grown from 55.4 inches to 56.9 inches, though seat height stays nearly the same (32.5 inches verses 32.3 inches). But the biggest change to the equation are the wide and relatively high handlebars -- despite the CB's less aggressive geometry these still allow for an extremely quick steering motorcycle. Only a minimal amount of counter-steering input is needed to get the streetfighter to change direction. And while this agility is a common trait among many naked sportbikes, due to the leverage provided by the bars, what isn't as common is an equally stable machine when leaned over at triple-digit speeds. Several of the competitors struggle in this department, but in typical Honda fashion they have found a very balanced compromise that works well in all situations, a result of the increased rake/trail and wheelbase.
2011 Honda CB1000R First Ride
A capable 1000cc Inline Four with improved bottom and mid-range torque make the CB1000R ideal for tearing up the streets. 

Getting the CB slowed back down are dual radial-mounted, four-piston Nissin calipers gripping 310mm rotors up front (slightly smaller than the CBR's 320mm disks but the same radial calipers); out back a single 256mm disc is larger than its sibling's 220mm single unit. Just like the CBR, braking on the CB is strong and progressive while providing loads of feel and feedback without showing any hints of fading even when pushed hard for extended periods. Much like the hooligan-friendly engine, the powerful binders do just as well to persuade one into doing, well... somewhat less than smart things on the street.

The easy-to-read digital tach/speedo is all-new to the CB, though the only wind protection comes from a stylized front headlight, which is next to nothing. This is one of the few areas that the Honda isn't that comfortable, as even a small cafe faring would go a long way to make extended periods of time spent at freeway speeds and above much less fatiguing. That said, the totally naked styling does have a mean, sleek and enticing look. It is also a fitting tie back to the single headlight design of the original CB1000. The rest of the ergonomic setup is well laid out, as the reach to the bars isn't excessive and the seating position and footpeg height is comfortable yet sporty at the same time.

2011 Honda CB1000R First Ride
The 2011 Honda CB1000R has the pedigree to be a formidable streetfighter. The engine and chassis are great and it looks good as well. Now, we just need to see how it stacks up to the competition in our Streetfighter Shootout.
2011 Honda CB1000R First Ride
If there was another area of complaint, as strange as this sounds, it would be that the Honda is too good; too refined; too clinical. One of the things that people tend to flock to streetfighters for is to be different, edgy and aggressive. A byproduct of this is sometimes a motorcycle that is far from perfect, but at the same time gets some of its character from these defects. The Honda, on the other hand, does almost everything without flaw and as such may lack some of the quirkiness that naked sportbike buyers look for.

This may be one of the first official signs that I'm getting older (and hopefully wiser), but the thought of riding a pure-bred sportbike on the street on a regular basis just doesn't excite me like it once did. The racetrack is a different story, but when it comes to public roads I'm no longer willing to put up with the numb hands and lower back pain that comes with the seating position of most of today's sportbikes. This is why I'm very much a fan of the CB1000R -- with the torque of a liter-class track machine but a far more compliant riding position, not to mention its sinister black, stripped-down look, I have a hard time finding any real faults with the new 2011 Honda CB1000R. My father owned several of the original Honda CBs 'back in the day,' and looking up to my dad like I did, I was always a big fan of these bikes growing up. And while both the CB and I have changed quite a bit in the past couple decades, I'm still just as big of a fan.
2011 Honda CB1000RR Photo Gallery
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2011 Honda CB1000R Dyno Chart
2011 Honda CB1000RR Dyno Chart
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Honda CBR1000RR Dealerships
2011 Honda CB1000R Technical Specs
2011 Honda CB1000R First Ride
2011 Honda CB1000R
Engine: 998cc liquid-cooled inline four-cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 75mm x 56.5mm
Fueling: PGM-FI Fuel injection with automatic enrichment circuit and 36mm throttle bodies
Transmission: Close-ratio six-speed
Final Drive: #530 0-ring chain

Front Suspension: 43mm inverted HMAS cartridge fork with spring preload, rebound and compression damping adjustability; 4.7 inches travel
Rear Suspension: Single gas-charged HMAS shock with spring preload and rebound damping adjustability; 5.0 inches travel
Front Brake: Dual radial-mounted four-piston calipers with 310mm discs
Rear Brake: Single 256mm disc
Front Tire: 120/70ZR-17
Rear Tire: 180/55ZR-17

Seat Height: 32.5 in.
Wheelbase: 56.9 in.
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gal, including 1.0-gal. reserve

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RedR   August 27, 2012 10:12 PM
I have one of these bikes. I bought last years model. A 2011 CB1000R and I can say that the engine is not smooth. At around 3000rpms in 3rd gear at 50kms per hour it has a small intermittent miss in the engine. The honda dealer got a hold of their honda tech line and told me that because it is a detuned fireblade engine, that is the way they are.
RedR   August 27, 2012 10:09 PM
I have one of these bikes. I bought last years model. A 2011 CB1000R and I can say that the engine is not smooth. At around 3000rpms in 3rd gear at 50kms per hour it has a small intermittent miss in the engine. The honda dealer got a hold of their honda tech line and told me that because it is a detuned fireblade engine, that is the way they are.
Piglet2010   August 29, 2011 12:20 AM
I wonder how many of people complaining about the CB1000R's engine could actually use the extra power of the CBR1000RR engine on the street more than once in a blue moon without losing their license? Of course, if you bench race, stats rule, not real world usability.
bradvanhorn   August 3, 2011 09:14 AM
Cycle World has a printed comparison; they have only a short summary video on their website. Read/view at your leisure if you so desire. I did research Speed Triples and Street Triples and I saw nothing scary. The problems mostly observed on the older Speed Triples supposedly were resolved with the latest version; time will tell. The few Aprilia owners I know or have met have all been extremely happy with the product. I've little idea about Ducati, but they do have a finicky reputation. I don't know anyone who has a Z1000, but what I've read has been ok. FZ1 owners have complaints, but as a former FZ1 owner I thought it was a decent bike. Sadly Yamaha is going with the FZ8 for the future. No one is suggesting the CB1000 is junk. What we've all said is Honda built a liter-bike based naked, but left off the liter-bike performance. If that doesn't matter, then buy one and feel good about it. I do not disagree with you that most people likely would be well served by a CB1000 if it fit their riding style. However, if you want middleweight performance, then there are numerous examples of solid performers which are lighter, cheaper, and overall just as capable. So again, why buy a neutered liter-bike?
speedyjerry   August 3, 2011 08:25 AM
http://www.motorcycle.com/shoot-outs/2011-literbike-streetfighter-shootout-90928.html?page=2 According to this comparison, only one I seen, the cb1000r kind of wins in handling comfort tight twistys and the kind of riding some of us enjoy. If you want the fastest bike in town do not buy this bike, do not compare it to others especially the typical un-reliable Euro Trash available today. Go to any speed triple forum to see what owners say about them, I did. My 919 had a Two Bro's 2 into 1 pipe that made enormous performance improvements from 0 to the rev limiter in all six gears according to before and after dyno's on the same machine. I suspect the 1000r would do the same, let it breath it will fly.
bradvanhorn   August 3, 2011 05:48 AM
I find it rather ironic the 919 is lighter and posted faster 1/4 times than the 1000. The 919 ran 11.1 at 121 mph (with a top trap speed of 142 mph by the way; 155+ is your speedo lying to you). The 1000 ran 11.3 at 122 mph. By comparison, the Triumph Street Triple R (675) ran 11.3 at 118 mph, and the Speed Triple ran 11.0 at 125 mph. The Kawasaki Z1000 ran 10.5 at 130 mph.

This is the problem with the CB1000. Honda "improved" a good bike (the 919) by giving it larger displacement (implying more performance), but less speed and more weight, or in other words less performance rather than more. It is not faster and, despite the upgraded suspension, it is not better handling than the competition. Road test comparisons are already published and the CB1000 did well but did not beat the competitors, including in the tight twisties - the Z1000 was the overall winner.

I had high hopes for the CB1000. I have a 2000 VMAX for the street and a 2007 R6 for the track, and I was (and still am to some degree) considering a naked bike as a single replacement for double duty. The CB1000 is a good bike, but it is barely equal to the competition, and does not deliver liter-bike performance. The 675-based Street Triple R and the European market Honda Hornet (CB600) both are near equal in performance to the CB1000, so why bother with the 1000?

No thank you Honda, if I want a 1000 naked then the Z1000 and Speed Triple are both equal or better options. Sadly the Z1000 is f-ugly otherwise this would be a much easier decision.
speedyjerry   August 2, 2011 02:32 PM
Well, like I said, the 919 keeps up with most anything from Japan 0-100 with 105 HP unless they have the front end strapped down. Speed Triples, naked Aprilias and Ducatis never kept up with it from a traffic light OR tight Twistys, I'm an average rider. Usable Street Horse Power, this cb1000R will be a little better with it's updated suspension. My 919 indicated 155-160 mph, this may do a bit better, if thats not fast enough for you buy a sportbike. If The Tail Of The Dragon style of riding, handling, doesn't matter then most likely this bike is NOT for you, besides, it wouldn't like a hundred tooth rear sprocket, full roll cage and the gas tank smashed down with a hammer.
bradvanhorn   August 2, 2011 01:40 PM
Well speedyjerry your condescending attitude is nicely displayed. I think it matters little how good this bike could be riding the Dragon, and others I think are likely to agree. Riders such as myself (25 years experience riding on numerous 600 and 1000 i4 and vtwin sportbikes) are not going to pay $11k+ for a bike which is not all it can be. Honda has the right idea, but it appears most of us believe they missed the mark. Honda is trying to break into an eccentric market, and they present us a quality machine (no one suggested otherwise from what I read) but without the liter-bike performance to match (or better yet exceed) the competition. The Triumph Speed Triple and Kawasaki Z1000 are two notable examples offering more performance (~10% more HP and torque across the curve, fractionally lighter, but with equally capable chassis) at approx the same price point. The Triumph Street Triple R gets nearly the same performance comments as the CB1000, but is ~70 lbs lighter and ~$2k lower in price. Not to mention insurance typically will be cheaper on a 675 vs. a 1000. In my opinion, Honda gave us a good bike, but it will not draw a market share which will feel like a success, and thus it likely will be labeled a failure.
speedyjerry   August 2, 2011 09:49 AM
Excellent write up, looks like some commenters have no idea what they are talking about. Have owned two Blackbirds, an 07 cbr1000rr and the latest RED 919. It dyno'd 103 with stock pipes, 105 with Two Bro's 2 into 1 pipe, torch and rpms went over the top after pipe install. This bike with 108 will easily get 112+ hp with a pipe and make it come alive the same way my 919 did with my 165lb's on it. For those of you inexperienced HP freaks what good does 180hp do under 100 mph when you are only feathering 50% of it coming off a light or out of a tight twisty at the tail of the dragon? Honda's ability to build a usable 100hp bike is unmatched by any others today. There's a ton of busa, rr, zx, gsr, and Euro Trash riders from South Florida that tried to leave me behind at Deals Gap and traffic lights the past three years with my 919 and NONE of them ever did it til we reached near 100 mph where they could use their insane HP. I suspect this cb1000R with it's updated suspension will do even better, from 0-100 OR at The Tail Of The Dragon NOTHING will leave this bike behind, believe me.
JBZ   April 27, 2011 01:13 PM
I hate how Honda acts like they're doing us a big favor by offering US buyers this bike now. The CB1000R has been out for 3 years in Europe. 3 Years!! That's a lifetime in bike-years. Though I have read in European magazine comparisons where they've labeled the CB1000R the second best Jap naked bike behind the 2010 Z1000. But 485lbs and 107hp is not good enough to pull $11,000 out of pocket, despite it's 'newness', cool dash and single swingy. I'll keep my $4,000, 04 Z1000 that currently weighs 467lbs and made 127.8hp (and has fork, shock and brake upgrades already). Sorry Honda, a day late and a few horsepower short.
Ahmed   April 27, 2011 04:55 AM
I owned a 2002 Honda X11 then a 2008 Suzuki B-King (now)
I have a big blame to Honda, I am all the time wondering why Honda stoped producing the mighty Honda Blackbird 1100XX which is knocked-out by the Suzuki Hayabusa...then Honda - unfortunately- stoped the X11 production although it was a very powerful street bike (I know it just needed some improvement in the handling). But why Honda is just focusing on producing bikes that are not popular or needed by the market & quit the competition in the real world bikes class.
Now Suzuki created the ultimate "sport" bike the Hayabusa & the ultimate street bike the B-king.
I am waiting for a 2012/13 Honda X11 or X12 whatever & a mighty Blackbird 1100XX or 1300XX.
RENDELL   April 23, 2011 01:36 PM
I really enjoyed reading the article and watching the video. Once I tried the older version of Honda's naked, the 2006 919, which had the old CBR 900RR engine. I was surprised how easily the front wheel lofted up in the air. The 919 was fast, agile, and fun. This newer version looks even better. Nevertheless, I'll keep my '08 CBR 1000RR in the meantime.
bradvanhorn   April 22, 2011 05:42 AM
After some additional reading, I rediscovered an option Honda could, and I'll go so far as to say should have pursued. Resurrect the CBR1100XX motor, which they tried in a naked bike in the form of the CB1100 X-11 with an 1137cc motor from 1999 to 2002. The X-11 was praised for a strong motor, and criticized for less than stellar handling and a rather modest appearance (I'll say it, it's ugly). The new 2011 CB1000R is practically the opposite: praised for slick looks and superb handling, but with a modest motor. The X-11 motor produced ~136 hp and ~85 lb-ft, as opposed to the CB1000R motor at ~108 hp and ~64 lb-ft. When we're talking a liter-size bike, who doesn't want 30 more hp and 20 more lb-ft? Dear Honda, take the CB1000R and bolt in that X-11 motor, and now you're a lot closer to producing the kind of performance numbers that will draw attention in the "more power, more speed" U.S. market.
Al56   April 21, 2011 04:07 PM
Agree with prior posters - My '08 FZ1 is good for about 135 hp at the rear wheel and is a full second faster in the quarter.

I don't know what the Jap companies are thinking - are they afraid of liability all of a sudden? The new Ninja ZX-10R came out very fast but then disappeared in a callback, and the new ones seem way down on power, based on this site's recent track comparo - only managed third after the CB and the BMW liter bikes. Not sure what's going on, but it's not how you sell lots of bikes.

509MXFan   April 21, 2011 01:36 PM
It's somewhat disappointing, but what I expected. It's what all the Japanese have done with their nakeds (except the B-King which was just priced out of it's market). Unfortunately, if they make the same bike, without fairings, it still costs them the same, thus the same retail price. I think basing the motor on an earlier superbike engine, where the tooling is paid for and parts are available, is a good plan to cut the cost and thus MSRP. However, why take power out? Make it the same, cut the costs, and put less expensive suspension and brakes on it (the stuff that's already too good for street use on stock superbikes).

At the end of the day, they still didn't F up as bad as the DN-01 on this one.
bradvanhorn   April 21, 2011 07:27 AM
I'm frankly perplexed by this motorcycle. I do like the look, and Honda may have made a very fine bike, but I think it could have been so much more. As a few others have already suggested, take a 2011 CBR1000RR, strip the bodywork, add some street bars, and put on a bikini fairing. For my money, a gutted 2007 CBR1000RR motor in a heavier "naked" package is not very enticing. A revised package based on a 2011 CBR1000RR motor which, "...is so easy to use and could be one of the most user-friendly liter-class engines ever made," would be far more inviting to me.

Honda may well sell the limited supply of U.S. CB1000R imports, but I bet the sales will be lackluster enough to discourage them from continuing the experiment for too long. Had they brought in the aforementioned concept bike (essentially a stripped 2011 CBR1000RR) then I would be more confident it would be a successful bike in the U.S.

2011 CBR1000RR: 443 lbs, 153.08 hp, 77.79 lb-ft
2011 CB1000R: 485 lbs, 108.58 hp, 64.3 lb-ft

Call this an unfair comparison if you like, but it is what it is, and this is not a good way to win over the U.S. market in my opinion.
AM   April 20, 2011 07:49 PM
WAIT. 108 Hp and 488 lbs curb weight ( listed at the HONDA UK site ) What kind of formula for making a new motorcycle is that? Hey, let's get this bike, take 40 plus HP and add another 40 plus pounds. Hey Steve,how can a bike that is 40 lbs HEAVIER with LESS 4O plus HP and tick the lights at 11.31 seconds at 122.4 mph (compared to 9.71 seconds at 141.7 mph for the CBR1000RR feel quicker in seat-of-the-pants terms? That's not even close. What? Honda, did not let you put the weight on the spec sheet? It might be a fine all around bike but it still is SLOW and PORKY. Sorry Honda, you got it WRONG again. And once again it will sit on the showroom floor just like the 919 did.
slowgeek   April 20, 2011 06:43 PM
Hi Steve: looks like a fun bike! Not sure if you know it but that motor is based on the 2004 -2007 CBR1000RR. That is where its bore and stroke came from. Its not a current 1000rr with a smaller bore and longer stroke that your comments seem to imply. Also the 2004-2005 version had 310 mm front disks. You seem to be comapring the bike to the 2008 - 2011 1000rr which the bike is not based on...Keep up the good work!
Rufi000000   April 20, 2011 04:19 PM
They detune all the nakeds they try to sell over here and then wonder why they don't move very many. Just take the fairings off, subtrack the price, and sell the thing. People in this country are too stats obsessed to be able to deal with knowing that somebody's faired bike has 40+ more hp than their naked. We should all go out and pick up the Aprilia. That'll teach em.
Huff955   April 20, 2011 08:39 AM
I dont get it. Honda has an awesome liter bike to start with. Why not follow Aprilias lead. Just ditch the clip-ons and the fairing! Done..easy..cheap! My 1999 Speed triple had more than 109hp.
grimace   April 20, 2011 02:03 AM
A bigger low and midrange does make a better street bike I'd say. The Cb1000rr always gets reviews on how much faster off the line it is compared to the other liter sportbikes. This cb1000r has more low and midrange. Steve in the video was wheeling all over the place. Gutless my a@#. I had an '04 Z1000 that had a great hit at 7k plus rpm but riding around town below that was a bit tame. On a naked the point of the wind rush is to give that feeling of speed without going 120+mph. On a sportbike you just get used to the speed because there's no air blast making you hold on. My last bike the m109 had gobs of torque, power to 7.5krpm, great soundtrack and had that wind blast effect. Just a bit heavy and unwieldy on country back roads. Great for my urban commute. If they made a bike with the m109's engine characteristics and but it in a bike the size of the cb1000r that would be wild. My current bike (griso 8v)falls between the m109r and the '04 z1000. Handles better than the m109 and has more midrange than the Z. So far i love it. Maybe include the griso in that naked bike comparo. that would be cool to read.
Thewall67   April 19, 2011 08:05 PM
BTW, nice riding in the vid:) Looked like a ton o fun.
Thewall67   April 19, 2011 08:00 PM
Yeah, have to agree. The big 4 neuter the nakeds WAY to much. I own a naked and love the concept. But 450lbs or less, 120hp or more, and 70+ ft lbs torque. Why can't the big four do that? They'd sell a ton here in the US.
Superbikemike   April 19, 2011 05:48 PM
i'm with u guys, tuned for low, mid always kills the fun.... that is a fugly exhaust....;)
B-kings Rock   April 19, 2011 02:24 PM
Have to agree with RJ.....tempted to say "more of the same". I'm sure it's a great bike...Honda doesn't build junk, but in the naked bike arena, a soft power to weight ratio isn't gonna cut it. 135-140 at the back tire would have been a nice starting point.
Is that quarter mile time/speed adjusted for altitude/temp?
RJ   April 19, 2011 01:51 PM
Frankly, I'm a little disappointed in the attempt to create a hooligan bike, then "tuned the Inline Four for better driveability and improved bottom-end and mid-range" which means yank the guts right out. 108.58 hp at 9900 rpm is not going to get it done in this category, not when the Z1000 puts out more HP's. If targeting an older demographic, then the issue where 80-90 MPH's is fatiguing becomes even more of an issue and that's not going to happen either. The bike is sharp looking and all but for crying out loud, put a little fire in the belly.