2009 Honda CBR600RR C-ABS - First Ride!
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I’ve been converted. I feel as if I just watched an evangelical TV program and was personally healed by the righteous hand of the Lord.
Hard on the brakes in standing water and Honda's C-ABS equipped CBR600RR is rock solid and totally controlled.
I was, without a doubt, the biggest hater of ABS (Anti-Lock Brake System) that I know of. I don’t like them on any car I’ve ever owned or drove and even more so, I despised them on anything with two wheels. Why? Well, even though I may sound pompous for saying this, I believe I’m one of the one-percent of people able to exploit a vehicle’s braking-performance far beyond that of any advanced ABS system, thus I considered them as a hindrance to my personal fun-factor. And until yesterday, they were. In a way they still are, but after what I sampled yesterday I saw the light. I'm a believer.
I had my epiphany while riding Honda’s all-new C-ABS linked braking system, which is now an option on both the CBR600RR
for ’09. We sampled it on a 600RR at Honda’s top-secret HPCC proving grounds in the middle of the Mojave Desert in Southern California and I think Honda ordered some divine-intervention, because it rained the entire time, something that happens about once every three years in those parts. But it provided a perfect environment in which to test the new system. And for the sake of all things holy, it really works!
For a complete breakdown of the system stay tuned for the full review
and video here on Wednesday, but I was so amped on it I had to throw up a blog and shed some light on the topic. I’m born again, people. Well, not totally. In the dry, on a racetrack, I would still prefer a non-ABS unit, as I tend to like to have fun backing it in and trying the occasional stoppie, which this system eliminates. But for the street I would take the ABS unit in a heartbeat, as would I in the rain at the racetrack. It’s no coincidence that Honda is homologating both bikes for competition in the AMA/DMG Series next season. Watch out when it rains people – anyone on this thing is going to have a huge advantage.
C-ABS control unit.
Real quickly let me tell you why. Where the one percentile of top-level riders will always be better at stopping in the dry, as they are in tune with levels of adhesion and the ability to slide the bike some becomes an advantage, in the rain, unless you are literally Valentino Rossi (remember that amazing Suzuka win in the rain?), riding to that absolute limit under braking is damn near impossible. The levels of grip are so low and bike is so quick to lock up that it’s almost impossible to brake perfectly in the rain. On the new Honda system it is very possible – every time!
This same thing can be applied in the dry, so for those street riders and occasional trackday riders who aren’t able to exploit every last ounce of braking without getting in trouble, this bike will do wonders for your riding. The roads and racetracks will be a much safer place for it. One can literally slam on the binders - front, rear or both - with every last ounce of your might, and the machine stops with the precision of a doctor’s scalpel every time. All the rider needs to do it steer the bike in the correct direction; no pulsing is detectable through the lever, only a slight shudder just before the bike comes to a stop. The system is totally electronically controlled and weights only 20 pounds, so performance penalties are very small as well.
The only visible difference between the C-ABS bike and non-C-ABS bike are bronze calipers and wheel-speed sensors.
When that car makes a left turn into the lane of a new sportbike rider (Honda’s research says 30-pecent of all CBR600RR
buyers are new riders) and said rider panics, grabbing a handful of both brakes, the end result is usually quite ugly. This is a typical reaction, and until now no true sportbike has had a defense against this. The new CBR’s with C-ABS do and in my opinion it’s going to save lives. It really is amazing, so be sure to come back here in a couple days as a complete technical breakdown and video will be up to explain how it all works, plus more of our impressions. Until then, I simply refer back to what I have said many times before: Amen to technology – embrace it.