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Honda CBR1000RR First Impressions

4-8-2009

by Marc Cantin , moto123.com

Honda Canada turned us loose on the high-speed Roebling Roads track, near Savannah (GA), at the March Press event. It was a unique opportunity to ride the 2009 CBR1000RR sport bike from Big Red - the prime example of Honda's new approach to this segment, where buyers now demand the quickest stock bike possible, in terms of ultimate track performance, even at the expense of some street comforts if necessary.

2009 Honda CBR1000RR

We were thus riding the CBR1000RR in the intended habitat - no more "nice street bike with excellent performance on the track" compromises - and it works. This friendly monster is certainly focused, and it works! In fact, I predict that it will again win the lion's share of serious track comparos, and as a bonus, might even win the street side of these comparisons.

Listening from the pits, the 1000 actually growled past on the way to 270 km/h at the end of the straight. From the seat, the torque came on with a rush at anything over 7000rpm, and keeps pushing smoothly up to the stratosphere. The 1000 bends into corners easily and adopts a steady cornering stance, undisturbed by bumps on the track, until you move it back upright and pour on the power - all in a relaxed, gradual evolution. And what a thrill it is to see the speedometer claw its way past 260 and on to 270 (Once for me), with no SUVs or County Mounties to worry about. And it is definitely windy over 250 km/h, but I am willing to overlook this understandable picadillo.

This happy behaviour results from mass centralisation (Under-engine exhaust, compact engine block, stacked transmission), the slipper clutch, an electronic steering damper, the wonderful C-ABS braking system, and easily dialled adjustable suspensions.

We used the excellent Pirelli race compound tires for the track event. You can expect excellent traction from the stock tires, developed especially for extreme performance bikes on the road and on track days, but not quite up to racing standard (or costs!).

The 2009 CBR1000RR moves the performance and ease-of-use bar for liter sportbikes so high that we almost question the old saw that says you should start with a 600 and then graduate to the bigger bike. In fact, the 1000 is easy to ride under all circumstances.

"More please!"

2009 Honda CBR1000RR - Ya, I know, move my butt further off the seat. Next time, promise!



Photo Credit : Rob O'Brien, Honda Canada