The CBR was judged easiest to get comfortable on. However, its lack of top-end punch left our riders craving more power from Big Red.
Honda CBR1000RR 4th Place (82.6%)
Honda’s literbike was awarded the distinction (dubious or not) of being the best superbike for newbies in our street test, and that feeling was reinforced during our time with it at PIR.
“The CBR was definitely the easiest bike to go fast on,” Becklin affirms. “That’s not to say it’s the fastest, but it was easier to get it up to the limit without fearing for your life. It almost reminded me of riding a 600 – except for the weight – because it wasn’t very intimidating to go quickly on.”
Most riders praised the CBR’s riding position, and Roberti judged it as the easiest to become comfortable on. In a similar vein, we were all comforted by the CBR’s excellent stability, second only to the beautifully sorted 999R. While the higher horsepower ZX and GSX-R continually threaten to loft their front wheels, the milder CBR was able to lay down its power without second thoughts.
“The CBR may be down a few ponies, but I think I was able to be more generous with the amount of throttle exiting corners and probably got more power to the ground than I did on some of the other higher horsepower bikes,” says BC.
The CBR’s muscular midrange gives it a strong drive out of the corners, but it eventually gets run down by the other Fours in this test. It hits its rev limiter before a dyno-measured 12,000 rpm while the others continue winding out. Its trap speed of 166.3 mph was the slowest of the Fours (though not far off), and its peak acceleration was a distant fourth.
The CBR’s only power delivery flaw shows itself when re-applying throttle from a closed position. “An abrupt throttle delivery is the only thing I found a little unnerving,” BC notes, “especially when trying to be extremely smooth when traction is an issue.”
You’d have a hard time guessing it from riding on the street, but the CBR is easily the heaviest bike in this group. It scales in a massive 31 pounds more than the class lightweight ZX-10R, and that extra lard makes itself noticeable on the track where performance demands are greater.
“I could definitely feel the weight of the CBR,” Becklin asserts. “It didn’t bother me too much, but it took more muscle to turn and it wouldn’t hold a line very well when really pushed into a corner.” That said, Becklin actually cut his quickest lap on the CBR, though the fact that he owns a 1000RR and has ridden it at PIR makes reading too much into this a bit suspect.
The CBR is easily the heaviest bike in the Smackdown, weighing in 31 pounds more than the lightest bike of the bunch, the ZX-10R.
“The bike did feel a little wide and heavy on turn-in,” BC interjects, “But I think the weight showed most when getting the bike slowed from top speed.”
Becklin concurs and adds, “Its brakes are the weakest in the class. There is a significant amount of lever travel before the brakes engage, and then slowing the bike down takes longer than the others.”
Despite how the brakes feel to the rider, the CBR’s vaunted stability helped the bike record the second-highest g under maximum braking at the track. Having the only non-radial-pump brake master cylinder may have contributed to the impression of lesser brakes as much as the CBR’s extra weight.
Both Becklin and Roberti, our two fastest guys, noted the CBR tended to run wide on corner exits. “It runs wide every lap in Turn 1 and on the back straight,” says Roberti, although slower riders were less aware of this condition.
Greater mass also takes its toll when converting energy into speed, and the CBR ultimately ended up with Roberti’s slowest lap of the group.
“It’s a very smooth and stable bike ideally suited for newer riders getting their confidence up on the track,” Chamberlain opines, “but is too heavy and lacks the agility and horsepower for the serious racer.”
“Honda has built what is arguably the easiest open-class bike to ride in the history of 1000cc bikes, yet it doesn’t win on the performance sheets,” Hutchison sums up. “The suspension is spot-on and the CBR’s uncanny ability to stay planted makes it easy to say only good stuff about this machine. But I think it’s too heavy to be the definitive track bike. In the end the CBR1000RR is a true streetbike that can hold its own at the track.”