The Japanese motorcycle manufacturers can be a frustrating bunch. They have all the tools at their fingertips to create the most wonderful toys in the world, yet despite all this ability sometimes they manage to completely miss the mark. It’s almost as if too many people become involved in a project and muddy the previously clear waters. And for one reason or another in recent years they have been continually conspiring together to shoot wide when it comes to creating a decent streetbike.
Take the Kawasaki Z1000 for example. The first model looked stunning, but the engine was gutless. Then there was the ill-fated first generation FZ1, which Yamaha somehow managed to mess up the fuel injection on. Add to this list the hideous Suzuki B-King and it’s not a fairytale of success. no-one can hold a candle to the Japanese when it comes to cutting-edge sportsbikes, but even tiny Triumph and Aprilia can kick their arse when it comes to making a streetbike that ticks all the boxes. why is this?
Many will argue that a streetbike needs to have character and soul, but I reckon it’s simpler than this. A streetbike needs just a few simple, yet key, ingredients. It needs bottom end power, instant power, and lots of it. How often do you go over 100mph on a streetbike? Hardly ever, if at all. It’s impractical as well as bloody uncomfortable. A top whack of 130mph is more than enough, but it must get there (or at least to 100mph) pretty damn fast. Also important is a decent chassis. Gone are the days of the wobbly chassis being acceptable on a street bike. When even a cruiser comes with radial brakes and inverted forks, streetbikes can’t ignore the current fashion trends. Which leads neatly to the third crucial factor: these bikes have to look good. Image is everything in an unfaired bike. Riding a streetbike is even more of a statement than riding a sportsbike. Want to know why Suzuki is struggling to sell B-Kings, then look no further than the ridiculous rear end with its Dame Edna glasses on the end of the enormous pipes. Does anyone actually think this looks good?
So now, new for 2008 but actually a 2009 model due to the fact, much to the dealers dismay, that it arrived so late comes Honda’s CB1000R. When it was first shown reaction to the CB was mixed to say the least. Unfortunately, rather than the pretty white that this bike arrived in, Honda chose to unveil the bike in the drab pondweed green colour. emotion means so much with a streetbike and the only emotion that the green CB stirred was nausea.