Honda CBR1000RR: 90.2
We were as surprised as anyone when we added up the scores, but despite carding the quickest lap time by a comfortable margin and being one tester's pick for a track bike, the Honda ranked third in the continued on page 70 track ratings. On the plus side, the CBR's light weight definitely plays to its favor, as does its ultrastrong midrange. "The weight advantage the Honda has over the rest is amazing," notes Siahaan. "It feels like you're tossing a scooter from side to side. And once the engine is in its sweet spot, it just rips." On the minus side are a number of detail items that are individually minor but sum to make the big Honda a lot of work to ride quickly. The suspension is stiff and harsh over Buttonwillow's many rough sections. Top end is noticeably lacking on longer straights, especially stacked up against the Suzuki and Kawasaki. And while our Geek cited good throttle response at the bike's introduction and swears the off/on transition is smooth in most corners, our other testers argue it's too abrupt, especially in long sweepers. Literbike Hondas are typically polished and refined, but the '08 CBR displays some very un-Honda-like tendencies, further hurting its scores. Our test unit hung up in gear several times, requiring an opposite push on the shift lever. On acceleration and deceleration puffs of smoke can clearly be seen behind. And the starter sounds like it won't run for more than a few seconds before draining the new, smaller battery.