2003 Honda CBR600RR Comparison

Kevin Duke | July 24, 2003
2003 Supersport Shootout
The CBR600RR is not the most comfortable on the street, but its small size and stable chassis make it fun to ride in the twisties.


We’ve included a wide cross-section of riders to evaluate this capable quintet, from a relative newcomer like our own Brian Korfhage and his three years of full-time riding to eight-time Oregon Motorcycle Road Racing and Washington Motorcycle Road Racing champion Shawn Roberti. All have had some racing experience except for the ranting Korf who got his first track experience at Jason Pridmore’s Star School.

At least one of us amongst our cadre of testers had previously sampled each of the five contenders in this shootout, although none were ever ridden in the company of another. With such a stellar, competent cast, it didn’t take us long to realize we’d need many miles of back-to-back comparisons to divine an overall winner.

And here’s where we offer our caveat about this test. The topic of conversation throughout our time on these sporting tools is that they are absurdly competitive with each other. Yes, we’ll be picking winners and losers, but if your buddy is a bit faster rider than you are, he’ll still be pulling away on a winding road no matter which bike he (or she) is on. Each has so much capability packed inside that you should probably choose the bike that “grabs you,” personally. That said, let’s begin this firefight.


We were a bit taken aback by the purposeful and committed riding position of the CBR, as we’ve been used to the do-it-all “F” models for the past, oh, 15 years. If it weren’t for the bright red Duc, the double-R CBR would take the “most uncomfortable” award in the group.

2003 Honda CBR600RR Highs & Lows
  • Rock-solid chassis.
  • Top-end rush.
  • GP-inspired styling.
  • Lack of grunt.
  • Uncomfortable on the street.
  • $600 more than the other 600s.

“It feels very aggressive,” says MCUSA graphics wizard Brian Chamberlain about the RR. “It has a high, very firm seat, with high pegs and low bars. At speed, though, the ergos feel very natural and its racy stance evoked aggressive riding. The bike feels rock-solid in the corners and will go anywhere you want it to without complaint.”

After straddling the Ducati for a stint, Chamberlain was singing a similar tune. “The seat is like a piece of plywood on fire,” says the former racer about the 749’s heated seat, thanks to the underseat exhaust system; this is a problem also noted with the similarly mounted exhaust on the CBR, although to a lesser extent. “The cockpit feels elongated because of the size of the rest of the bike which is very small and compact, especially the tank which is by far the narrowest I’ve ever wrapped my legs around. The gauges, controls and attention to detail are top of the class, and the windscreen offers good wind protection.” Several testers echoed BC’s notes about the Duc’s stylish mirrors (with neatly integrated turn signals) being “useless.”


Kevin Duke

Contributing Editor|Articles | Bashing A legend in the motorcycle industry, Duke Danger is known for his wheelie riding antics, excellent writing skills, appetite for press intro dinners and a propensity to wake up late. Once a fearless member of the MotoUSA team, the Canadian kid is often missed but never forgotten.

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