Project Bike CBR600RR Part 2

March 13, 2007
Ken Hutchison
Ken Hutchison
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The ulcers keep piling on for the warden of the MotoUSA asylum. With the inmates running rampant around the globe, Hutch has opted to get in on the madness more these days than in years past and is back in the saddle again.

Stay tuned - we re not done with the 2006 Honda CBR600RR project bike yet.
The MCUSA 2006 CBR600RR Project Bike underwent a metamorphosis after we tossed on a Hotbodies exhaust and improved K&N intake.

The first order of business is to uncork that politically correct exhaust system and replace it with a slip-on from Hotbodies Racing. The complete undertail kit includes a dainty steel slip-on muffler and finished bodywork that not only conceals the exhaust except for a tiny orifice where the top of the exhaust pokes out but it also has thin integrated turnsignals as well.

Hotbodies Racing provided instructions that recommend that a reputable dealership complete the install to maximize the potential of the system, but who really does that in this day and age? Most likely you scraped your last penny together to even buy the kit and are struggling to make the monthly payment and insurance bills. So we went about conducting the process in our own semi-pro fashion and learned a few useful bits of info that might make it easier for the rest of the do-it-yourself crowd.

Getting rid of the stock unit is the first step and that requires removing the faux fuel cell cover along with the rear seat and bodywork and unbolting four of the six sub-frame bolts (you can leave the front two in place). This, of course, requires removal of all six bolts holding the fuel tank in place. Unbolt the stock S-bend and the first half of the task is complete.

Despite the CBR600RR being factory black  Hutch chose a red undertail to coordinate with his master plan to put on a red Tape Works graphic kit.
MCUSA’s Ken Hutchison used a red undertail on the black OEM bike to match up with the Tape Works graphics kit the bike is going to receive.

Installing the HBR S-bend is easy because it utilizes the existing mounting points so lining it up is pretty straight forward. The bike sounded great when we fired it up, but I detected an exhaust leak at the point where the slip-on mated to the OEM header. We used a strip of exhaust tape to snug-up the tolerance at the junction between the header and the HBR slip-on. That was the biggest legitimate problem with this part of the install process. The stock tin heat shield is unsightly so we opted to install a piece of ‘Versa-Shield’ heat shielding material between the OEM plastic that holds the wiring harness, and the Power Commander unit, in the hopes that it would cut down on the potential heat emanating from the exhaust to the rider or passenger seat. When the swap was completed we had a lighter and cleaner-looking exhaust that pared 3.5-plus pounds off our CBR600RR in less than an hour.

The second part of this install is attaching the slick pre-painted undertail bodywork and integrated turnsignals to the OEM tail section. You may notice that we opted for a red undertail although the bike is black. That’s because we plan on incorporating the color in with a Tape Works graphics kit later. This required wiring up the new unit to the OEM harness, and the HBR-supplied connectors accomplished the task quickly and tidily. When positioning the tailsection in place it seemed as though the mounting points were not lining up perfectly. Some strategically placed rivets secured the new bodywork and we haven’t had an issue with it since and there does not seem to be much, if any, additional heat seeping through the backside of the bike.

Without a doubt it really adds to the riding experience when you have the sweet sound of a hi-revving four-cylinder motor attached to the other end of the throttle.


It took 4 hands and a little persistence  but the K N Air Filter finally lined up with the right amount of persuasion.
The instructions seemed simple enough, but it took Duke and Hutch to get the K&N Air Filter fitted properly.

Like any experienced motorcycle owner will tell you, a K&N Air Filter is the cheapest way to improve a bikes performance. The extent of the improvement was not scientifically determined at this juncture but it is one of three necessary symbiotic changes. The instructions are easy to follow, but the implementation is another story. Generally you just pop the airbox lid and drop it in, but this one was an outright SOB. The fit was not perfect and it took two people to hold it in place in order to get the lid back on. We’ve never had an issue with the fit of a K&N in the past so we’ll chalk that up to bad luck. The final piece of the puzzle is the Power Commander III. Compared to the damn-near impossible task of getting the K&N filter to successfully line-up, the task of installing the PCIII was relatively easy.

Power Commander III

With so much electronica stuffed under the CBR bodywork, it is a tight fit getting the Power Commander wiring mated to the necessary OEM wiring harness – but we did it. Following the provided instructions is the key to a successful install, but practice makes perfect here since we’ve installed PCIIIs on a half dozen bikes in the last few years. Unless you have finger tips designed by vice-grip you should use a set of long needle-nose pliers to remove the F.I. sensors during this process. Once the PCIII is secured and located beneath the pillion pad it was time to give the CBR a test run and see if there was any noticeable performance improvement.

Navigating the electronic maze that is the nervous system of the CBR can be daunting  but if you follow the instructions carefully the task of connecting the PC III can be achieved.
Tampering with the CBR600RR’s intricate electrical system to hook up the PCIII could be daunting, but it is possible if the instructions are followed carefully.

Our seat of the pants dyno tended to have us believe that the bike revved a bit quicker than before, but the most apparent change with a totally new exhaust note from the HBR slip-on. It sounds great, and the bike didn’t pop on deceleration, so we assume we did a decent job on the install and PCIII map selection.


A set of Michelin Pilot Power Race tires would ensure that the CBR600RR Project Bike would have the traction necessary to bring it home unscathed after hundreds of track miles and a couple hundred more street miles on the odometer.

On the track

Michelin Pilot Power tires are OEM equipment on a number of modern sportbikes, and they are grippy and durable. But for our upcoming racetrack sessions, we wanted something even stickier, so we threw on a set of Michelin’s race-compound tires, the Pilot Power Races. Although made of a softer compound, we were surprised by how well they held up to a double-dose of track duty. The first track day took place at a Pacific Track Time event at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, California. The folks from PTT were kind enough to turn us loose for a no-holds-barred afternoon of peg scraping and tire toasting on the serendipitous 15-turn multi-elevated layout.
The Michelin Pilot Powers proved their worth after surviving two trackdays and hundreds of street miles.
The Michelin Pilot Power Races come standard on many sportbikes, and after standing up to the test of two trackdays, we are convinced of their durability.

The Michelins provided plenty of grip all afternoon and showed very little signs of wear despite my best efforts. The lack of wear really shouldn’t be the surprise; it’s the amount of traction that comes from the medium compound rubber. With a triple-digit first turn and an off-camber Turn 3, it was nice to have a front tire stuck to the tarmac like glue. The rear was equally good, and when it did break loose it never really caught me out, and that could be a testament to the tire design or maybe the rider-friendly rear-end of the CBR600RR. Even a couple sessions of two-up riding with a friendly female spectator did little to phase them. Thanks, PTT, for giving me the green light on that one.

Since the tires were in relatively good shape I tempted fate and left them on for the second track experience at Portland International Raceway. This time things were a bit more serious since it was a Champ Racing School with instructor Doug Chandler. Doug’s school is held in conjunction with a number of trackday providers, and on this day it was Cascade Track Time hosting the show.

PIR may be a bit bland, but its relatively short layout and primarily right-hand turns makes it easy to learn which simplified the learning process for me. Instead of worrying about the track I was able to pay attention to what Chandler was teaching. Check out the Champ Racing School Review for the whole story there.

We re not finished with our CBR600RR yet. Included in the final installment will be the addition of the red Tapeworks decal kit to match our Hotbodies exhaust.
We’re not finished with our CBR600RR yet. Included in the final installment will be the addition of the red Tapeworks decal kit to match our Hotbodies exhaust.

Our CBR600RR Project Bike continues to run like a champ and is always ready to go into service as a camera bike, pack mule or commuter. It is a little more-sleek and a little bit lighter, but there’s more still to come.

There are a few additional pieces of bolt-on goodness that we plan on installing. In the third and final episode we will change tires to Pirelli’s Super Corsa III, install a GPR stabilizer, apply our Tapeworks decal kit and finish up with a few more accessories from Hotbodies Racing before all of this fun comes to a grinding halt.

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