By: Blake Conner
Back in 2006, when Honda was selling roughly 20,000 CBR600RRs in the U.S. each year, fast-paced development and short motorcycle life cycles were necessary to keep consumer interest and provide a good platform for Supersport racing. Now, in a market in which CBR250Rs outsell big brother significantly, careful evolution is the new norm.
For 2013, Honda improved the RR’s throttle response, bumped power output, bolted on Showa’s 41mm Big Piston Fork (BPF) and completely redesigned the bodywork for improved aerodynamic efficiency (6.5 percent less drag). As a matter of fact, aerodynamic improvements to the CBR600RR’s new bodywork were significant enough that they were applied to the RC213V MotoGP racebikes, too.
We spent two days riding the new CBR600RR, one in the mountains above Malibu, California, and the other at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway near Indio. Honda is proud that the 600RR is equally at home, street or track.
On road, the CBR feels über refined: Excellent fuel mapping and throttle response work in concert with a broad spread of power. The clutch and transmission are incredibly slick and provide very light shift action. The chassis is quite good, too; kudos to the BPF for providing a taut and responsive ride for carving apexes that never feels harsh while droning along on the freeway.
As a matter of fact, everything on the 600RR is highly refined; you’d be hard pressed to find a motorcycle on the market with better fit, finish and build quality. From an ergonomic standpoint, the CBR provides a comfortable perch for the everyday commute, but is well layed out when you really want to haul the mail at a place like CVR.
At the racetrack, we sampled a C-ABS model and also a standard model. If you only rode the former, you would find little to complain about. Hop on the 22-pound lighter standard model, however, and you realize how much performance is missing (a second a lap for me). Acceleration, handling and hard braking are all enhanced on the non-ABS equipped RR.
Our bike was equipped with Dunlop’s D211 GP-A Supersport rubber for Chuckwalla; when combined with track-oriented suspension settings the RR felt right at home, and nothing like the docile streetbike we’d ridden through Malibu’s twisting canyon roads.
As for the suspension, Showa’s Big Piston Fork is designed to reduce internal pressure via the greater surface area of its damper piston, which improves oil flow for better bump and rebound response. At CVR, the front end felt very stiff and had noticeably less fork dive under braking than a conventional cartridge fork. This took a bit of time to get used to, and then wasn’t an issue. Trackday riders and racers alike will find that the new CBR is a good weapon for circuit riding.
This bike is truly versatile and does an amazing job making the proper compromises between the two extremely different environments of street and track. While a lot of the competition has gone supersized (Triumph Daytona 675, Kawasaki 636), Honda, along with Yamaha and Suzuki, has stuck to the classic 600cc Supersport formula. As much as we love the added torque from those upsized middleweights, Honda has refined the CBR6000RR into one of the best overall packages the class has ever seen. This latest CBR is without doubt the best CBR6000RR Big Red has ever created.
Link to original article.
Originally published in the May 2013 issue of Cycle World.