Words by Govind Janardanan
Commuter bike with a racing pedigree
“There is a strong surge of speed above 6,000 rpm carrying all the way to a high of 8,000 rpm, which is very addictive.”
“Front headlights to me are one of the most exciting designs on the bike.”
“One can see the amount of time spent by the Honda designers and engineers to make the proportions of the motorcycle just right.”
Liter class naked bikes that look this good and come from Japan are few and far between. This new breed of motorcycle from Honda is termed “Neo Sports Café.” The word Neo describes the major role here. This CB1000R is a selectively refined and newer design than the version it replaces and tastefully so. One can see the amount of time spent by the Honda designers and engineers to make the proportions of the motorcycle just right.
The front headlights, to me, are one of the most exciting designs of the bike. The correct placement of the front lights can make or break a motorcycle’s design. Here, they have succeeded in designing a retro looking LED headlight with a thin profile and placing it perfectly between the front forks to give it a mass centralized look. The embossed Honda logo takes pride of place in the middle splitting the high and low beam. The eclipse shape of the light ring is a design feature reflected in the tail light and LCD display too.
The LCD meter that sits atop has a large area displaying a set of useful data. The main numbers you need to know when riding are the speed, the gear position and the rpm. These are holding the prominent real estate in the display and are easy to glance even while riding fast. The display also shows the selected riding mode and the letters ‘T’ for torque, ‘EB’ for engine braking and ‘P’ for power with markings showing the levels of electronic intervention in each riding mode. These are part of the HSTC (Honda Selectable Torque Control) riding mode set. Riding modes available are Sport, Standard, Rain and User. User mode allows you to play with the setting and even switch the traction control completely off.
For me, Rain mode was good for busy street riding as the throttle response is very smooth and makes commuting tight spaces a breeze. Sport mode raises all the parameters up a few notches. I only used it if and when required to overtake slower moving traffic and also while climbing Jebel Hafeet Mountain where we took the Honda to get some good pictures. For most of the general riding, Standard mode does pretty well and serves its purpose. Neat detailed touches are seen around the bike like the CB stamping on the aluminum radiator shroud, red stitching on the seats etc. The rear three quarter view of the bike can be largely enhanced with a tail tidy kit, which helps remove the awkward looking but very legal rear number plate holder.
Once onboard, you will notice the slim profile and the very accessible seat height, which will be well appreciated by short riders. The position of the handlebar and the controls are very apt for long rides.
Switch on the key, press the starter button and let the inline-four-cylinder 998cc engine come to life. The engine taken from the previous generation Fireblade is brought up to date with a ride by wire throttle system, forged pistons and higher compression ratio in addition to other engineering changes that makes it more rideable for the street than the racetrack.
There is a strong surge of speed above 6,000 rpm carrying all the way to a high of 8,000 rpm, which is very addictive. Quick shifting from lower gears in this range will let you have some front wheel lifting fun before the traction control pulls you down.
Thankfully the suspension and brakes are more than adept to the job of keeping the shiny side up. Honda has not done any cost cutting in these areas, instead kitting the CB1000R with Showa suspension and brakes from Tokico. There is a Separate Function inverted front fork design where the right fork comprises solely of a spring and the left fork features a spring and hydraulic damper with a high response big piston for preload adjustment. The suspension performs well riding around smooth highways and also on not so smooth service roads, absorbing just enough shock while still being firm enough for good handling. The brakes are super bike spec with just the right amount of bite dialed in.
Having had the Honda for a couple of days allowed me to use it in various daily rides; from small jaunts to the nearby café, to longer rides and to finally hit the curves of Jebel Hafeet Mountain. As the kilometers grew so did my comfort level on pushing the CB, and I realized how well engineered and complete this motorcycle is making it a proper all-rounder. So much so that the name CB1000R may be interpreted as a commuter bike with a 1000cc engine having a racing pedigree.
Engine: 998cc liquid-cooled DOHC inline-4 cylinders
Power: 143.5 hp @ 10,500 rpm
Torque: 104 Nm @ 8,250 rpm
Fuel consumption: 17 km/L
Fuel capacity: 16.2 liters
Brakes: front (310 mm double disc), rear (256 mm single disc)
Tires: front (120/70 R17), rear (190/55 R17)
Suspensions: front (Showa SFF-BP USD Fork), rear (Showa BFRC)
Seat height: 830 mm
Ground clearance: 135 mm
Weight: 212 kg