Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR
Start with an easy-to-ride street bike and there’s a good chance you’ll end up with an equally easy-to-ride racebike. Case in point: the latest Honda CBR1000RR. I’ve ridden the Corona Honda AMA Superbike and it was an all-around good and easy-to-use machine. Ten Kate, on the other hand, has taken things to the next level with their World Superbike-spec CBR. Where the AMA bike is a hopped up Civic, Ten Kate pumps it up to full-fledged Lamborghini status. Still, many of the same characteristics apply; the biggest how utterly effortless it is to ride, and ride fast.
Jumping on young star Johnny Rea’s No. 65 Hannspree CBR, from the first corner out of the pits I was instantly at home. Its small size, easiness to turn and light-action throttle made the Double-R an inviting and relatively uneventful machine. The Dutch boys from Ten Kate know a thing or two, as to be harnessing that kind of HP in such a confidence-inspiring and unintimidating chassis is utterly amazing. Of the entire field, this is one of the few that could be easily fitted with lights and mirrors and made into a daily driver.
This ease of use also made for instantly quick laps with extreme ease. Unlike the Ducati, which took at least two laps to get one’s head around, I was pushing the Honda at 9/10th by the third corner out of the pits. It felt familiar right away, as I’ve spent so much time in the seat of the latest CBR; only this time when ‘familiar’ hit 10,000rpm it sent me sliding back in the seat with the haste of a NASA rocket and took some serious forearm strength to hang onto. Like the Ducati, though, Rea doesn’t use much TC down in the low rpm, allowing for some big tire-spinning slides in several areas of the track – easy rear end steering to be had no question. Easy to highside if not careful as well.
Interesting to note, where most all of the other WSBK teams opts for some kind of trick dash – from a spruced up stock unit to full GP-spec LCD screens – the Ten Kate Honda does away with all of this in favor of a small carbon plate, fitted with only a host of shift and warning lights positioned throughout. No tachometer to be seen, just a 4’ x 4’ carbon plate with some blinking lights. Ten Kate and Rea are definitely fans of the ‘less is more’ way of thinking. That said, while it may not look uber-trick, out on the tracks all one really needs are the shift lights and everything worked flawlessly.
(From left) Ten Kate Honda may not be a looker but it works; Gauge cluster is simple and easy to read; Big power lies in that engine.
For this reason redline was a mystery, though going by seat-of-the-pants it easily felt at least several thousand rpm up on a stock machine and slightly higher than the AMA machine I rode. Also of higher spec than the AMA machine, Rea’s Nissin brakes were spot on the mark with back-busting power and beautiful feel and feedback. If only all street bikes came with such wonderful binders.
All said and done, though, the one major thing that stands out is the sheer ease in which one could go fast aboard the Dutch CBR. It may not have been the most exhilarating bike out there, but if asked to race one of these bikes tomorrow, there’s no doubt in my mind I’d do best on the Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR.
2009 World Superbike Comparison
Corser’s BMW S1000RR
Fabrizio’s Xerox Ducati 1098F09
Rea’s Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR
Tamada’s Paul Bird Kawasaki ZX-10R
Spies’ Sterilgarda Yamaha YZF-R1
Kagayama’s Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000
Biaggi’s Aprilia RSV4