2019 Honda CB1000R ABS Review

Naked truths.

There’s no question that the CB1000R is more than just a styling exercise, but the “Neo-Sports Café” cues certainly catch attention.Monti Smith

Cycle World has a long-standing affinity for the naked sportbike. Heck, we’ve been known to reference our own Honda CBR900RR naked custom featured on the cover nearly three decades ago as having lit a fire that helped kindle a then-emerging streetfighter segment.

True as that may be, thank goodness our project bike’s raw edgy handling didn’t manifest in the production CB1000R Honda introduced stateside in 2011. In fact, it was quite the opposite with Big Red’s entry into the liter naked ranks epitomizing refinement and confidence-bolstering handling.

CB’s LCD dashboard
The CB’s LCD dashboard provides need-to-know riding information at a quick glance, while also serving as a homeplace for rider-aid functions including HSTC, engine-brake control, and power modes.Monti Smith

Having recently spent a few days in the saddle of the 2019 Honda CB1000R ABS, I was pleased to learn that the updated second-generation model retains this same user-friendly civility while now packing a more thrilling peak power punch.

Honda managed the feat via hot-rodding the CB’s prior generation CBR1000RR inline-four, yet hedged the bet with ride-by-wire electronics offering selectable ride modes and traction control. While at the drawing board Honda chassis gurus came up with a new lighter and stiffer steel backbone frame, shortened single-side swingarm, and fitted the bike with Showa’s up-to-date Separate Function Big Piston fork and have shaved 16 pounds of weight, 10 of which is credited to the new exhaust alone. Just to be certain all will recognize the latest CB1000R as something all-new, stylist conceived what Honda calls a “neo retro café” look.

The “Neo-Sports Café” styled CB1000R ABS is available at the local Honda dealer for an MSRP of $12,999.Monti Smith

Appearance-wise you be your own judge, though it’s worth noting the attention to detail evident in the bike’s seamless fuel tank and a minimal use of plastic external parts. Nice touches.

Beneath the skin are key engine updates consisting of a better flowing airbox feeding substantially larger (+8mm) diameter throttle bodies, larger intake ports, and increased valve lift on both intake and exhaust. The new tune indicates a goal of increased top-end output, as validated on the Cycle World dyno with the new CB producing 121.8 peak horsepower at 9,800 rpm. This amounts to an impressive 15 hp jump over that posted by its predecessor, and while peak torque has also been increased 5 pound-feet, it came at the expense of low-to-midrange torque. Despite raising the engine’s compression ratio along with the 4-2-1 exhaust’s midrange boosting link pipe, our dyno shows the current CB has sacrificed between 5 and 10 pound-feet of peak torque throughout the bottom half of its 12,000-rpm rev range.

CB1000R cornering
Tipping the Cycle World scales at 468 pounds ready to ride, the CB1000R possesses a strong chassis balance and nimble cornering behavior that’s comfortable for the less experienced but appreciated by the veterans.Monti Smith

If that sounds alarming, rest easy. I can’t say I felt any lack of adequate low-end grunt zipping from one traffic signal to the next, nor wanting of roll-on passing power in a tall gear. The updated engine is extremely smooth and clean right off idle and even willingly pulled away from a stop in third gear as a demonstration of sorts. It wasn’t until I had escaped the urban sprawl and reached canyon country that a sense of bottom rpm softness set in while driving off second- and third-gear corners.

Big Red CB1000R engine
Power? The Honda has a respectable amount. Big Red’s CB1000R pumped out 121.8 peak horsepower at 9,800 rpm, while producing 68.8 pound-feet of torque at 8,200 rpm.Monti Smith

Here I soon found that keeping revs at or above 6,000 rpm through the heart of a corner was paramount to strong and immediate exit acceleration with delivery really coming alive as the CB’s analog-style tachometer sweeps through 7,000 rpm. With Honda Selectable Torque Control (traction control) at the ready, the onslaught of power proved benign while leaned over on the rear tire. If wheelies are your thing, this non-IMU traction control strategy allows the front to lift. In fact, you would be well advised to cover the rear brake when pinning the throttle in the bottom two gears as the front can enthusiastically elevate around seven grand in Sport mode and will even hang a floater in the Standard ride mode. Before you dismiss Rain mode as being just for those wet behind the ears, consider the benefit the mode’s tempered smoothness offers when packing a pillion VIP.

Tokico four-piston brake calipers
A pair of Tokico four-piston brake calipers clamping to 310mm discs provide stopping power for the CB1000R, while ABS comes standard.Monti Smith

Left at standard settings, the suspension provided a high degree of feedback and chassis control with front/rear chassis balance and fork support under hard braking all proving well in the groove for spirited back-road ballet with my 185-pound carcass in the saddle. Light input through the CB’s premium-looking taper-type tubular handlebar is all the effort needed to set the bike into corners or flick through side-to-side transitions, and its neutral steering tracks your chosen line with autopilot aplomb. With the CB’s combination of configurable engine-brake control, a slipper/assist clutch, and ABS, I found it takes a pretty serious rider misjudgment to unsettle the chassis at corner entry.

LED headlight
Headlined by a classic round-style headlight, the Honda CB1000R features a full LED lighting package.Monti Smith

All in all, the latest CB1000R possesses that magic balance of performance, comfort, and approachability that has endeared its predecessor to such a wide audience. As a seasoned rider I certainly appreciate the merits of its top-weighted engine tune and improved chassis agility while finding no fault in the addition of electronic rider aids allowing owners to scale performance to their particular comfort level.

2019 Honda CB1000R ABS Specifications

MSRP $12,999
Engine 998cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled inline-four, 4 valves/cyl.
Bore x Stroke 75.0 x 56.5mm
Transmission/Final Drive 6-speed/chain
Front Suspension Fully adjustable 43mm Showa SFF-BP; 4.3-in. travel
Rear Suspension Showa adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping; 5.2-in. travel
Front Brake Dual radial-mounted 4-piston calipers, full-floating 310mm discs w/ ABS
Rear Brake Single caliper 256mm disc w/ ABS
Tires, Front/Rear 120/70-17 / 190/55-17
Rake/Trail 24.7°/3.8 in.
Wheelbase 57.3 in.
Seat Height 32.7 in.
Fuel Capacity 4.3 gal.
Measured Wet Weight 468 lb.
Contact powersports.honda.com

CW Measured Performance

Horsepower 121.8 hp @ 9,800 rpm
Torque 68.8 lb.-ft. @ 8,200 rpm
Quarter-Mile 10.71 sec. @ 128 mph
0–30 1.3 sec.
0–60 3.21 sec.
0–100 6.27 sec.
Top-Gear Roll-On, 40–60 mph 2.53 sec.
Top-Gear Roll-On, 60–80 mph 2.85 sec.
Braking, 30–0 35 ft.
Braking, 60–0 137 ft.