Honda offers a bit of old and new with its latest entry into the liter-size naked bike class. Feast your eyes on the new 2018 CB1000R (starting at $12,999). Classified as a "neo sports" entry, this top-of-the-range CB is designed to offer something a little different in this growing segment.

“Look around at the other entrants in the category. You have everything from kind of wild and aggressive, like the [Yamaha] MT-10 and [KTM] Super Duke R,” American Honda’s Assistant Powersports Communications Manager Jon Seidel says.

Honda CB1000R
Just when you thought a Honda motorcycle couldn’t be any more polished, the company releases this super-premium CB1000R. It rides just as well as it looks.Kevin Wing

“Our bike is a blend of old and new,” he explains. “[Other manufacturer’s models] have some existing styling cues. We didn’t want to make it a replica, nor redo anything new. If you look at everything—especially the proportions, from the shape of the tank to the short rear overhang—it’s almost a little bit non-Honda-like. We sometimes are said to not have the coolest of things…”

But cool factor is something this CB oozes. From its round multi-chamber LED headlamp, liberal use of metal, and signature single-sided alloy swingarm, this Honda is a head turner. It feels every bit as good as it looks behind the handlebar too—offering a ultra-polished riding experience that’s above others in the class, for the most part.

CB1000R LED headlamp
The CB1000R blends modern and classic styling elements. A multi-chamber LED headlamp sits inside a round housing.Kevin Wing

Swing a leg over it and it’s noticeably slimmer than before—especially through the midsection where the rider is perched. Although seat height has increased by 0.6 inch (32.7 inches now), the new CB feels more manageable due to its thinness. In typical Honda fashion, the cockpit is well-proportioned with adequate spacing between each control surface. We appreciate the position of the handlebar, and the distance between it and the seat. Together this affords a sporty but not overdone riding position. This is a bike you can ride comfortably for hours, while still providing an aggressive platform to work from during cornering high jinks.

CB1000R seat
The CB1000R’s seat is supportive and proved very cozy for an all-day ride.Kevin Wing

The CB continues to be powered by Big Red’s previous-generation 998cc inline-four superbike engine, with a twist. Honda’s new ride-by-wire throttle control system has been retrofitted, which essentially breathes new life to this old but certainly still adept powertrain. Other important mechanical changes include a switch from cast to forged pistons along with a 0.4 compression ratio increase (now 11.6:1). Valve lift has increased slightly, too, as has the diameter of the throttle bodies now measuring 44mm instead of 36mm. It drinks fuel from a 4.3-gallon tank (0.2-gallon smaller than before).

CBR1000RR inline four
Honda’s 2008–2016 generation CBR1000RR inline four powers the CB1000R. The engine now features forged pistons (instead of cast) as well as more valve lift and larger throttle bodies.Kevin Wing

The engine sits inside a stiffer steel backbone frame that Honda says is 10 pounds lighter than the aluminum version it replaces. Geometry has also changed with a 0.3-degree sharper rake (now 24.7) with a corresponding 0.1 inch decrease in trail.

CB1000R turning
The 2018 CB1000R is 17 pounds lighter than before. Pair that with its sharper steering geometry and you’ve got a motorcycle that loves to turn.Kevin Wing

Renowned for its broad, torquey powerband, the CB1000R’s inline-4 engine is well suited to life on the road providing plenty of muscle in each of its six gears, no matter what rpm the engine spins at. Vibration is mostly muted but you feel a slight buzz when cruising in top gear at highway speeds. It certainly isn’t too intrusive though. Wheelies come easy in first or second even with Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC—Honda’s version of traction control) enabled. HSTC also includes integrated wheelie control logic tied to each setting.

Broad powerband
With its broad powerband, Honda’s previous-generation 998cc inline four superbike engine is well suited to life on the road.Kevin Wing

For best results, you can manually disable HSTC using the switch gear. ABS on the other hand, is fixed—a small strike for would-be stunt riders.

“It’s not something that we see as a benefit or something that most riders would want,” Seidel answers when asked why Honda doesn’t offer the ability to manually disable ABS (as you can on most European-made bikes equipped with the feature).

Regardless of the reasoning, the CBR1000RR-sourced front brakes are strong with just the right amount of bite at either lever. We also appreciate the use of a heavy-duty radial-pump master cylinder up front, which delivers strong hydraulic force when the lever is squeezed.

CB1000R brakes
The CB1000R wears the same front brake setup as the RR version. The brakes have plenty of bite with excellent feel.Kevin Wing

A tasteful LCD display keeps tabs on motorcycle vitals, including HSTC, engine power mode, and engine-brake settings. Each offers three levels of easy-to-manipulate and individual adjustment, using the User menu. Additionally, three global settings are available (Sport, Standard, and Rain) with corresponding levels of electronic intervention.

Although Honda claims the intake was redesigned in part for a “unique sound,” the engine note remains neutered—more so than the other similarly positioned motorcycles from Kawasaki and Yamaha. But it’s a small gripe considering how well the bike rides as a whole.

CB1000R suspension
Calibration of the suspension components and their overall function is another strong point of the CB1000R.Kevin Wing

Speaking of the ride, the CB offers true versatility in terms of ride quality and sporty handling. The Showa SFF-BP inverted fork uses fork springs inside each leg, but isolates damping duties inside the right leg, with the left offering preload adjustment. The adjusters are located atop each leg, making adjustment relatively easy. Rear suspension is handled by a spring-preload and rebound-damping adjustable shock that mounts directly between frame and swingarm. Suspension travel is rated at 4.3 inches and 5.2 inches front and rear.

CB1000R swingarm
In typical Honda fashion, a single-sided alloy swingarm adorns the CB1000R.Kevin Wing

Even on bumpy, beat-up pavement the suspension performs well, filtering out road imperfections while offering above average road holding and suspension support in the twisties. The high-quality Bridgestone Battlax S21 rubber complements things well with a larger 190/55 section tire sitting on a wider 6-inch wide rim. The tires are shoed on nice-looking 10-spoke wheels. All told, the CB1000R is 17 pounds lighter than its predecessor with a claimed ready-to-ride weight of 467 pounds.

With its sharper geometry the CB pours through turns yet with its poised suspension settings remains stable in the rough stuff. True, it isn’t quite as well-supported as CBR suspenders, but overall the components perform admirably, and more importantly better than others in this class.

2018 CB1000R
Although ultra-polished, the 2018 CB1000R remains fun-loving and ready to play.Kevin Wing

After a good part of the day riding around Los Angeles and Malibu canyon it’s clear Honda has something special on its hands with its revamped CB1000R. Polished in most every way, this bike offers a more premium experience than others in this space. Although its engine lacks a degree of character, it’s smooth and well-metered with, of course, plenty of oomph.

Battlax S21 rubber
Bridgestone’s premium Battlax S21 rubber comes standard on the CB1000R. They’re a versatile set of sport shoes for all riding conditions.Kevin Wing

“We think we have a nice, overall package that’s Honda,” Seidel sums up. “To me, if you were blindfolded and you went out and rode eight naked bikes, I believe you could pick this one out. That’s the Honda. It has that kind of feel.”

We couldn’t agree more.