Honda’s current generation (2008-plus) CBR1000RR is one of our favorite sportbikes to ride on the street and racetrack.
Since being fully redesigned in 2008, Honda’s CBR1000RR has garnered plenty of awards. It won back-to-back titles in our prestigious Superbike Smackdown sportbike shootouts in ’08 and ’09 and finished runner-up to the outrageously fast BMW S1000RR this year. Even still, the current generation CBR has become one of our favorite sportbikes on both the street and racetrack due to its well calibrated ergonomics, easy handling and strong mid-range engine performance. In this review we’re focusing on what the ownership experience has been like over the last eight months.
We’ve always been hard pressed to find any faults with the CBR. Honda’s Superbike does everything so well that its superb performance can, at times, be confused for lack of character. From the handling and chassis balance to the power delivery and throttle response, the whole package is so incredibly dialed that it makes riding maneuvers, from wheelies and stoppies to carving corners so effortless that you actually take it for granted… that is until you hop on another competitor’s liter-bike. So to add a bit of edge and personality we fitted an affordable $439.95 (available at Motorcycle-Superstore.com) FMF Apex Slip-on Exhaust.
The muffler is available in titanium or carbon fiber sleeves with titanium end caps. We chose the latter configuration because we just plain prefer the look of carbon fiber. The muffler bracket is riveted to the pipe which reduces weight and makes it appear sleeker. It hooks into a stainless-steel mid-pipe that features a cross-over tube. Each exhaust piece appears to be of such high quality that you might want to hang it on your wall instead of the bike. Each component fits perfectly and it mates with the OE header with zero issues. Compared to the 13-lb stock pipe the FMF slip-on weighs seven pounds less. This reduced the curb weight of our CBR down to 441 lbs with a full tank of gas.
Fire up the engine and the exhaust note sounds deeper than stock but isn’t so loud it’s obnoxious. The pipe emits a deep bass-type rumble to remind everyone that you are on a high-performance sportbike and not some two-wheeled sewing machine. In our stationary sound tests our FMF-equipped CBR registered six points louder than stock at idle (88 dB). At half max engine speed (6650 rpm) the exhaust belted out a 103 dB reading which is three points higher than stock. On the road the pipe isn’t so loud it will draw extra attention by the police as long as you exercise some throttle restraint in urban areas. The pipe also comes with an optional baffle insert that you can install to reduce sound levels.
(Left) With a few simple and affordable modifications our long-term CBR1000RR stood out in terms of performance, appearance and character from a stocker. (Center) A night out on the town aboard the 2010 Honda CBR1000RR. (Right) The Bridgestone BT-003RS tires warm-up quick and outstanding grip as Waheed demonstrates.
In terms of power the bike felt marginally faster at all rpm but the difference wasn’t drastic. Still the riding experience did improve as you feel like you’re at the controls of a well-tuned racebike. The engine also continued to carburate perfectly. Glance at the dyno chart and you’ll see that both the horsepower and torque curves are a bit more linear with an extra boost of power throughout the 13,300 rev range. (Ed. Note the power numbers are lower than the numbers recorded in the 2010 Superbike Smackdown VII due to us running it on a SuperFlow dyno instead of a Dynojet.) Overall we’re really pleased with the fit, finish and performance of FMF’s Apex pipe and wouldn’t hesitate to mount one up on any new sportbike.
(Above) FMF’s Apex Slip-on muffler added some character to the Honda CBR1000RR and made it more entertaining to ride on the street and racetrack. (Below) The Bridgestone BT-003RS tires allow the rider to better explore the massive amount of handling performance from the Honda CBR1000RR.
After having accumulated 1500 combined road and track miles the rear OE Bridgestone tire was in need of replacement. Although we are satisfied with the street performance of the stock shoes we wanted a tire that could offer a bit more grip around the racetrack considering how often we hit the trackdays. So we mounted a set of Bridgestone’s high-performance street/trackday tires as tested in the Bridgestone BT-003RS Tire Comparison Review.
Before we slung them on though we sourced a set of Repsol painted wheels to make our CBR stand out from other stockers. The thing we really love about the BT-003RS is how compatible they are with the CBR. We didn’t have to mess with the suspension or chassis geometry and basically just mounted them up, set the tire pressure and didn’t worry about anything else. Warm-up time is on par with the stock set-up but outright adhesion and road feel was boosted significantly. If you’re looking for one set of tires that can do-it-all we highly recommend these up-spec Bridgestones.
Durability-wise our CBR proved to be rock solid. Whether we parked it in or outside and even in the rain it always fired right up every morning and everything from the clutch and brakes feel tight. Maintenance costs were low with the only cost incurred being an oil and filter change at 600 miles per manual recommendations. We also rarely had to adjust the drive chain tension though we did make sure to lube it every week or so.
Although it isn’t the newest sportbike on the market we just love Big Red’s 1000. When it came time to hand over the key to it we were less than enthused. Fortunately it’s coming back with minimal changes for ’11 so soon enough we’ll be back in the saddle of our trusty friend.