Motorbike

Honda CBR600RR (2007 - 2008) review

New model in 2007 with lighter weight and more mid-range punch.
Details
Manufacturer:
Honda
Category:
Sportsbikes
Overall
4
Reliable, well built and with slightly more space for taller riders.
Almost too easy to ride, a little bland.

Four years ago I compared the new CBR600RR to diminutive super star Kylie Minogue. Both appeared in the late 80s, lost some fans in the 90s then came back sassy and sexy. Well, both have had a difficult year and both are back healthier than ever. The parallels continue…

In 2006, for the first time in the 600RR’s five-year history, Honda failed to top the European sales charts. Yamaha’s new R6 did that, and if it hadn’t been for a bizarre lack of concentration from Kevin Curtain at last round of the World Supersport Championship, the ultimate middleweight racing prize would have been in the bag too. With alarm bells ringing, Honda’s project leader Norikazu Maeda and his team have delivered an all-new, more powerful, more compact, lighter and sharper CBR for 2007.

But Honda haven’t done anything radical, choosing instead to rework the current CBR in to make it the very best on road and track.

While sports 600 machines, even standard ones, can lap tracks incredibly quickly, recently the Japanese have lost their way when it comes to enjoyable road riding. But I’m celebrating, because the with the new CBR, Honda is the first of the Big Four to give us a new generation 600 we don’t have to thrash to find road riding satisfaction.

At first glance little has changed but look closer and you’ll see redesigned, minimalist bodywork revealing a much smaller engine plus a new single air intake between the headlights. Like the fairing on the new RC212V race bike, the CBR cowling no longer exists to cover the bike in sponsor’s logos but is engineered for aerodynamics, cooling and induction. A by-product of this is a much more exposed engine, which in my book only enhances the look.

The tank and seat unit integrates well and a re-contoured front mudguard looks good. However one oddity is the rear brake master cylinder, precariously positioned behind the right-hand pillion footpeg hanger. If you want to track day or race this bike I suggest you do a relocation job – it will be the first thing wiped out in a crash.

The riding position doesn’t feel much different but with 10mm higher bars, a 30mm shorter nose and slimmer tank and seat the CBR gets a more compact feel.

Four colour options are available, black, red/black, white/black and blue/white but the blue/white is by far the brightest and my favourite.

Honda claims a maximum of 119bhp at 13,500rpm but the best bit is the surge between 7000rpm and 11,000rpm, so you’re not constantly shifting gears to maintain momentum. Much of this improvement comes from a brand new, smallest-in-class 599cc engine with lighter pistons and conrods. Fueling is by twin injectors aided by an airbox with an extra 700cc capacity.

The power increase is significant but only half the story. A mate recently lost over five stones and, apart from obvious benefits like seeing his feet, he says the best thing is how fast his bikes feel now. Power-to-weight is the key, see, and that’s where Honda have excelled here. They claim a dry weight of 155 kilos (the Suzuki claim 162 kilos for the GSX-R600). That’s well under the racing weight limit so racers had better get some lumps of lead taped on before the season begins! Most of the weight has been lost from the new engine, followed by the frame, swingarm, cast wheels and exhaust.

Suspension remains the same – 41mm USD forks to the fore and the Pro-Link shock at the rear – however a longer swingarm and shorter wheelbase aids agility. Brakes are as before too, with 310mm discs up front and a 220mm at the rear, although a radial action front master cylinder has been added.

On track the most noticeable improvement to the CBR is the useable midrange. Over a whole lap of this 14-corner circuit I was only using three gears (second, third and fourth), which meant I could think less about gear changing and more about enjoying the riding. In one session I was only losing about half a second a lap to one Mr. J.Toseland, so my pace wasn’t a million miles off the young ’uns. In the slower corners the engine was happy to pull from 8000rpm all the way to the 15,500rpm rev limiter although I found gear changing was best done around 14,500. Emission regulations are spoiling the off-on throttle of control of any modern bikes, but thankfully the CBR appears to have no problems in this area. The engine note is now deeper too, and that’s probably due to the shorter, fatter silencer making it sound more distinctive than previous models.

The new CBR excels at turning-in to low speed corners and flicking through fast chicanes, but I found rear wheel chatter during really hard braking quite difficult to control. I also found a certain amount of headshake under hard acceleration in second gear, which made me nervous. The HESD electronic steering damper tucked under the tank should take care of this but it doesn’t react at lower speeds, which caught my attention on occasion.

In the morning sessions we rode on standard Bridgestone BT015, which slid around a bit too much for my liking. I can only put this down to too much pressure in the rear, as I would normally rate them as one of the best on the market. In the afternoon we changed to Bridgestone’s BT-002 Pros and stiffer suspension settings, which transformed the CBR into a very impressive track bike. The more controlled ride and slick-like grip level was very impressive – even on my first lap I was heading for apexes much earlier and scraping the pegs at nearly every corner. These tyres aren’t cheap and won’t last half as long as the BT-015s but the suspension and tyre combination was awesome.

From the outside it appears not much has changed, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a completely new bike and I’ll be surprised if any of the competition will match it on the road or track in 2007.

Four years ago I compared the new CBR600RR to diminutive super star Kylie Minogue. Both appeared in the late 80s, lost some fans in the 90s then came back sassy and sexy. Well, both have had a difficult year and both are back healthier than ever. The parallels continue…

In 2006, for the first time in the 600RR’s five-year history, Honda failed to top the European sales charts. Yamaha’s new R6 did that, and if it hadn’t been for a bizarre lack of concentration from Kevin Curtain at last round of the World Supersport Championship, the ultimate middleweight racing prize would have been in the bag too. With alarm bells ringing, Honda’s project leader Norikazu Maeda and his team have delivered an all-new, more powerful, more compact, lighter and sharper CBR for 2007.

But Honda haven’t done anything radical, choosing instead to rework the current CBR in to make it the very best on road and track.

While sports 600 machines, even standard ones, can lap tracks incredibly quickly, recently the Japanese have lost their way when it comes to enjoyable road riding. But I’m celebrating, because the with the new CBR, Honda is the first of the Big Four to give us a new generation 600 we don’t have to thrash to find road riding satisfaction.

At first glance little has changed but look closer and you’ll see redesigned, minimalist bodywork revealing a much smaller engine plus a new single air intake between the headlights. Like the fairing on the new RC212V race bike, the CBR cowling no longer exists to cover the bike in sponsor’s logos but is engineered for aerodynamics, cooling and induction. A by-product of this is a much more exposed engine, which in my book only enhances the look.

The tank and seat unit integrates well and a re-contoured front mudguard looks good. However one oddity is the rear brake master cylinder, precariously positioned behind the right-hand pillion footpeg hanger. If you want to track day or race this bike I suggest you do a relocation job – it will be the first thing wiped out in a crash.

The riding position doesn’t feel much different but with 10mm higher bars, a 30mm shorter nose and slimmer tank and seat the CBR gets a more compact feel.

Four colour options are available, black, red/black, white/black and blue/white but the blue/white is by far the brightest and my favourite.

Honda claims a maximum of 119bhp at 13,500rpm but the best bit is the surge between 7000rpm and 11,000rpm, so you’re not constantly shifting gears to maintain momentum. Much of this improvement comes from a brand new, smallest-in-class 599cc engine with lighter pistons and conrods. Fueling is by twin injectors aided by an airbox with an extra 700cc capacity.

The power increase is significant but only half the story. A mate recently lost over five stones and, apart from obvious benefits like seeing his feet, he says the best thing is how fast his bikes feel now. Power-to-weight is the key, see, and that’s where Honda have excelled here. They claim a dry weight of 155 kilos (the Suzuki claim 162 kilos for the GSX-R600). That’s well under the racing weight limit so racers had better get some lumps of lead taped on before the season begins! Most of the weight has been lost from the new engine, followed by the frame, swingarm, cast wheels and exhaust.

Suspension remains the same – 41mm USD forks to the fore and the Pro-Link shock at the rear – however a longer swingarm and shorter wheelbase aids agility. Brakes are as before too, with 310mm discs up front and a 220mm at the rear, although a radial action front master cylinder has been added.

On track the most noticeable improvement to the CBR is the useable midrange. Over a whole lap of this 14-corner circuit I was only using three gears (second, third and fourth), which meant I could think less about gear changing and more about enjoying the riding. In one session I was only losing about half a second a lap to one Mr. J.Toseland, so my pace wasn’t a million miles off the young ’uns. In the slower corners the engine was happy to pull from 8000rpm all the way to the 15,500rpm rev limiter although I found gear changing was best done around 14,500. Emission regulations are spoiling the off-on throttle of control of any modern bikes, but thankfully the CBR appears to have no problems in this area. The engine note is now deeper too, and that’s probably due to the shorter, fatter silencer making it sound more distinctive than previous models.

The new CBR excels at turning-in to low speed corners and flicking through fast chicanes, but I found rear wheel chatter during really hard braking quite difficult to control. I also found a certain amount of headshake under hard acceleration in second gear, which made me nervous. The HESD electronic steering damper tucked under the tank should take care of this but it doesn’t react at lower speeds, which caught my attention on occasion.

In the morning sessions we rode on standard Bridgestone BT015, which slid around a bit too much for my liking. I can only put this down to too much pressure in the rear, as I would normally rate them as one of the best on the market. In the afternoon we changed to Bridgestone’s BT-002 Pros and stiffer suspension settings, which transformed the CBR into a very impressive track bike. The more controlled ride and slick-like grip level was very impressive – even on my first lap I was heading for apexes much earlier and scraping the pegs at nearly every corner. These tyres aren’t cheap and won’t last half as long as the BT-015s but the suspension and tyre combination was awesome.

From the outside it appears not much has changed, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a completely new bike and I’ll be surprised if any of the competition will match it on the road or track in 2007.

Reliable, well built and with slightly more space for taller riders.
Almost too easy to ride, a little bland.