HONDA CB1000R ABS
After owning and riding this bike for 7,000 miles I have and intimate opinion and review on the motorcycle.
Since seeing the bike I really liked the style. It’s clearly a cafe-ish style. With the short stubby tail and the round low full LED headlight. Along with LED turn signals and brake light. But doesn’t have the typical looks of a custom café though. Like lower handlebars and a higher rear seat and skinny bean shaped gas tanks. Still looks new with a dash of old. Probably why Honda calls it a Neo-Sport Café. But It is still technically a café look. The gas tank is beautiful with a wide front that narrows between your legs. With a silver paint band where the seat meets the tank. The “Brushed Aluminum” Plastic pieces below the tank, around the radiator, and around the headlight could gain from being painted as well. The CB also has a blacked out sub-frame that makes it forgettable, unlike the Super Dukes orange painted frame. It should have more of a statement piece. Nothing on the bike really screams “Look at me.” The pipes on the Honda are visible to the world to show off its beauty and its beer gut. The headers are beautiful as well as the muffler. One of the best looking stock mufflers I have seen. But the entire system is ruined by the largest catalytic converter to ever be slapped on a bike. A catalytic replacer would definitely clean up the looks of this bike. Aside from that, the dash is nice compact and manageable. The bars are, well bars. The mirrors are useless and make it look less café. The tail and license plate holder are located on the single sided swing-arm and wraps behind the rear tire. Making it look more café. And the engine is showcased in all its glory for the world to see.
The key word in this bikes style title is “Sport.” So it makes sense that they used an engine from their super-sport class. Using the 998cc DOHC inline-four from their CBR Fireblade as a base. They used forged pistons instead of cast. Making the engine stronger and more reliable with a bore and stroke of 75mm x 56.5mm. Giving the engine a claimed 143.5 horsepower at 10,500 rpm and 76.7 foot-pounds of torque at 8,250 rpm. And an in practice 38.8 MPG. With a 4.3 gallon gas tank its not the best for long trips. The transmission is not from a Fireblade though. Honda boasts an “Innovative design” that “Hooks up tight to get all the CB1000R’s power.” And i say boast because it's not that innovative and I find myself not getting gear resets for clutchless shifting at high RPMs. Often going to shift again to find the lever feeling like it’s not attached to anything. Having to let the throttle out to allow it to reset. Defeating my speed. Neutral is too easy to find, especially while clutchless shifting. Honda also boasts a “Light pull at the clutch lever.” Depending on context this can be true. The lever itself is like pulling a truck. But you don't have to pull it far and the contact patch gives you plenty of feedback to know when and how much more you need to pull or let out. So much so you can ride the bike at slow speeds using only the clutch. So the clutch requires a light pull to engage. But the lever is not a light pull.
Now all that is good to know but I'm sure everyone really wants to know how it performs. Well, it performs like a gentle soul with an anger problem. The bike has a gentle and consistent power up to about 8k rpm. Once there the bike says, “Alright we gonna die now.” The top end power of the 998cc repurposed superbike engine, really wants to not be a repurposed superbike engine. Its feels like the bike is telling itself to behave and then half way through the RPMs it decides it doesn't want to. The power is so sudden that just from cracking the throttle open and leaving it open, the bike will pop its front tire up once it hits 8k rpm. Without adding any throttle or any other input. The top end power being so different and sudden from the low end power makes the bike feel like a two in one. And with a custom riding mode that allows you to play with power, traction control, and engine braking the bike can be your bike. You can tell Honda was trying to make a two in one bike with the ergonomics of the bike. You have a city bike handlebars and seat. But a superbikes pegs. The engine, the way it is, allows easy and comfortable city and traffic riding but also high rpm, tire burning, hand numbing street carving. The rigid frame and adjustable suspension makes the bike flickable and planted. Like most Hondas, the almost 470 pounds feels even lighter at speed. But not so much it doesn't feel planted. Brakes have dual 310mm disc in the front and a single 256mm to the rear. The front brakes have four pistons per caliper making the initial bite strong.
The bike is very comfortable at both low and higher speeds. The engine is smooth in low rpm meaning a day in 35mph city will feel like the bike is at idle. But at higher speeds, the bike can get kind of, numbing. My hands and feet go tingly after about ten minutes at interstate speeds(70mph). But highway(55mph) they are fine. The bike also has no wind protection as most naked bikes do not. But at speeds that I can not disclose, it feels like you are being pulled off the bike. The passenger seat has a little lip that tries to help you stay on but, its so gentle it's more of a reminder of how far back you're being pushed. At a standing point like a stoplight, the clutch cover can kind of bully your leg if you put it a little forward. And can get uncomfortable on hot summer days. I can feel the muffler touching my heel when my feet are on their balls. The kickstand can be hard to find sometimes. The riders seat is soft and comfortable for about two hours of riding. The passenger seat is wide and soft. The pegs were a little high even for a shorter passenger.
I love this bike as a daily rider. It is reliable and smooth but also has the ability to be exciting. It's a great bike with its own problems. It may even secretly be an entry to the liter bike class. With an Msrp of 12,999 USD its priced at one too. This bike also comes in a 300cc and a 650cc. But for a large bike it doesn't feel like a large bike until it reminds you that it is. All in all, it’s the bike for me and I would buy it again.
Thank you for reading.
~Teddy Two Wheels.