BEAUTY, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. So some will look at the shovel-faced (as in, 'hit by a...') new CBR600RR and drool. But others will look and ask: “Why did they take inspiration from a snow-plough?”
The face is, after all, what this bike is really all about. After ten years of minor visual tweaking – yes, it's been a decade since the original CBR600RR made its appearance – Honda has given the bike the facelift to end all facelifts. Gone are the sloping headlights with twin air intakes beneath, in comes a new central air intake splitting a pair of lamps that make the CBR600RR nothing if not distinctive.
Behind that bold new look, though, the changes are less radical. As the bike's Large Development Project Leader Hirofumi Fukunaga says: “The new CBR600RR, building on the platform of the previous model, has taken its performance to a new level. It delivers an awesome ride on the circuit, but is even easier than before to ride on city streets. It sounds contradictory, but the natural fusion of these two aspects of the bike’s character is what makes this model even more attractive than its predecessor. What’s more, we developed the bike with an eye to making it available at an affordable price. As the overall project leader, nothing could give me greater pleasure than for this new CBR600RR to stimulate the Supersports mind of the rider new to the class.”
“Building on the platform of the previous model” is the key phrase – since the chassis and engine are basically carried over. The motor gets revised ECU maps but still makes 118bhp at 13,500rpm and 49lbft at 11,250rpm – exactly the same numbers as the old bike. The big news, handling-wise, is the adoption of Showa's Big Piston Forks – a move said to reduce dive on the brakes and improve stability.
The bodywork, headlights aside, is a development of the earlier shape. Despite its bluff new nose, the shape now creates 6.5% less drag with an upright rider, and 5% less with the rider tucked in. New wheels are a huge visual step forward compared to the old three-spokers, but despite their light looks the new bike's kerb weight is 193.4kg in ABS-equipped form, just 0.6kg less than the previous model.
Paint options include black, Repsol-rep and a rather nice retro-styled take on the traditional red-white-blue 'tricolour' scheme.