Riding Impression: 2009 Honda CB1000R

Naked, insane and illegal in the U.S.!

Photography By Jeff Allen

2009 Honda CB1000R - Riding Impression

Right up front: We love this bike! So did the rest of the world's press when they got the CB1000R in 2008, while we in the States just gazed from afar and wondered if it would ever come to our shores. In fact, it was all the praise from Europe that forced us to buy an airline ticket and fly Over There to sneak a ride on this CBR1000RR-based machine.

How to find a perfect setting for a multi-day ride on great roads? A call to Edelweiss Bike Travel (www.edelweissbike.com) was a natural choice. The expert advice from the long-time motorcycle touring operator was to use its Alps Touring Center and partake in a week-long, day-loop setup that launches from the same Austrian Alpine town of Seefeld in Tirol each day, so no packing and repacking required.

This Dragon Green Metallic machine debuted in 2007 at the Milan show, rolling out as a replacement for the aging Hornet 900, known as the 919 stateside. This wasn't a warmed-over version of that older design, but rather a new bike that utilized the compact cast-aluminum Hornet 600 frame with a re-engineered '07 CBR1000RR engine.

It only took a few days on the road to get the idea about this bike. It is a superb all-rounder, with perhaps one of the most tractable, flexible performance engines ever to grace a two-wheeler. Claimed output is 123 horsepower at 10,000 rpm and 74 foot-pound of torque at 8000 revs, but the story this doesn't tell is how cleanly and strongly it pulls right off idle. It amazingly good down low, is backed up by a good step up in power at around 6500 rpm and then sings to its 10,250 redline. An excellent clutch and superb six-speed tranny work in harmony with the broad power.

The chassis is up to task, as well. A 25-degree rake combines with 4.0 inches of trail, while the wheelbase is a reasonably compact 58.9 inches. Steering is medium-weighted, and high-speed stability on the autobahn was excellent. It is sporty without being hard-edged, and is one of the easiest-to-ride, most confidence-inspiring bikes I've ever ridden. Damping from the fully adjustable inverted Showa 43mm HMAS fork (derived from the CBR1000RR) and the single, preload- and rebound-adjustable shock was comfortably taut, meaning a smooth, controlled ride allied with very little chassis pitching.

Our Combined ABS-equipped bike uses a linked setup with a pair of three-piston, sliding-pin calipers at the front and a two-piston sliding-pin unit at the rear. (These are "conventional" ABS brakes, not the new CBR-RR supersport-type.) Braking feel is good but not excellent. We tried also the standard Nissin radial-mount four-pot fronts on another machine and were mighty impressed. In both cases, stops were sure and consistent.

After three day-long stints in the saddle, I never once thought of the seat or any of my interface points with the CB1000R. Ergonomics are very comfortable, the levers for the front brake and hydraulic clutch offered adjustment within a useful range, and even the wind protection from the large headlight/mini-cowl was helpful. Claimed full-fuel-tank curb weight for our Combined-ABS testbike is 489 pounds (478 for non-ABS).

We contacted American Honda about whether the company might bring the CB1000R to the States, because it sure seems like a winner. But the company's response—while enthused about the bike's riding qualities and fit into the U.S. market—was somewhat measured due to the fact that the machine was conceived in Europe for the European market, and is manufactured at Honda Italy. This would make it a bit pricey for us. At the current exchange rate, CB1000R pricing in Europe (excluding the Value Added Tax) is running about $11,200 for the standard bike and $11,700 for the C-ABS model. Competing bikes like the Yamaha FZ1and Triumph Speed Triplecome in under $10,000. Nonetheless, the CB1000R would make a great addition to the U.S. lineup. For the full story, see the October, 2009, issue of Cycle World.

In the meantime, do you think Big Red should bring the bike stateside? Or should the Euros have all the fun? Sound off in the Add a Comment section below or take the poll in the Cycle World Forum.

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R

2009 Honda CB1000R