Instead of overhauling Big Red’s potent CBR1000RR for the new year, Honda opted for modest upgrades to its liter bike.
Over the years the latest generation CBR1000RR has proven to be one of the best liter bikes we have tested at MotorcycleUSA.com, but knowing this is the 20th Anniversary of the original CBR900RR we were a little disappointed not to see more significant upgrades on Honda’s flagship sportbike. In our 2011 Superbike Smackdown the 1000RR finished runner-up to only the mighty BMW S1000R. It held off the challenge from Kawasaki, Suzuki, KTM and Yamaha with one of the oldest designs in the class and a 150-horsepower engine with no traction control or variable engine mapping. Sure, it handles great, is very rider friendly and looks decent enough, if not a little subdued.
So, it would seem that addressing the dearth of power or technological gadgets might be on the table for the anniversary edition; instead, Honda opted to simply sharpen the tip of its spear. In these tough economic times, who can blame Big Red for taking the conservative approach? Instead of bitching about what we didn’t get, let’s take a look at what we did get.
Starting with the chassis, the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR now utilizes Big Piston Fork technology, complemented by Honda’s “Balance-Free Rear Shock.” Exactly what the new configuration brings to the table is being kept under wraps
Most of the CBR’s revisions are targeted toward its chassis with Big Piston Fork technology being added along with Honda’s newly configured Balance-Free rear shock.
until the upcoming press introduction of the new model. Stay tuned for a technical explanation of Balance-Free in the coming months. The CBR1000RR was never in contention for the class horsepower title, but the motorcycle has always been strong in the real world and is rider-friendly on the track thanks to its strong bottom-end and midrange-biased power delivery.
It doesn’t appear anything was done to the engine so we expect the new CBR to still churn out somewhere in the neighborhood of 153-horsepower and 78 lb-ft. of torque which keeps it right in the middle of the pack. What Honda has done historically is used an excellent chassis, confidence-inspiring handling and light weight to its advantage on both the street the track.
In our 2011 track test, the CBR1000RR won the coveted Superpole during our timed and controlled on-track session at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. AMA Superbike racer Steve Rapp edged out the BMW and Kawasaki to give the Honda top billing and the right to retain the coveted Superpole Cup for the third-consecutive year. Now, with revised suspension components we have to expect the CBR will handle even better, which will make it a more formidable opponent come testing time.
The 2012 CBR includes styling updates to give it a more aggressive look, particularly around the headlamps.
Where the most conspicuous changes to the 2012 CBR1000RR come into play is in the styling department. New, aggressive bodywork – particularly the front cowling, combined with new 12-spoke wheels, gives the Honda a sporty facelift. The front fairing, especially around the headlamps, has been received with mixed reviews from the public when the bike first broke cover in Japan. You cannot argue that the new look gives the CBR an anime-quality that some riders seem to love or hate. The side panels leave much more of the engine cases exposed and have a distinct teardrop look that helps distinguish this model form the previous version. The dash appears to be revised as well, with a new multi-function racing-style LCD dash that replaces the more traditional unit found on the ’11 model.
The CBR1000RR continues to be offered as a C-ABS version, but significant upgrades like traction control, which now BMW, Kawasaki and Yamaha all offer, eluded the Honda this time around. With a base MSRP of $13,800 or $14,800 for the C-ABS model, the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR is only $400 more than last year’s bike. Plus, the Pearl White/Blue/Red version really stands out compared to the basic red or black schemes.
Check out the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR Specifications in our Buyer’s Buide.