Color, graphics and making the CBR600RR look brand new again

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The Honda CBR600RR is, without a doubt, the most versatile, broadly capable 600 on the market today. It’s equally at home on track or on a city commute. It’s even all-day comfortable and easy to ride, which makes it our pick of the entire Honda range for sport touring. There’s just one problem: it’s woefully ugly. For 2012, the CBR600 hasn’t received a single mechanical update, but it does get this new paint job. It’s not just red and white colors that help, but the way the graphics have been laid out serves to visual lighten the bike, emphasizing the points and creases over the blocky proportions.

There’s four main tricks going on here that visually elevate this red and white 2012 Honda CBR600RR above the graphics of previous years:

1. The all-white tailpiece separates bodywork from underseat exhaust and ugly plate hanger. That plastic is nice and pointy, making the tail look nice and pointy and sportsbikey. Previous years and dark colors saw the plastic and exhaust flow into one amorphous visual chunk.

Visually separating the side fairings with an alternate color never worked for the CBR. Neither did a colored tail piece or mono-color nose.

2. The white wheels shift visual emphasis to the colored bodywork, again visually lightening the shape.

3. Older CBRs separated the vertical side fairings into a separate graphic element. Here, they’re tied in, with the use of graphics and colors, to the top fairing and tank, leaving the side engine covers all-black. This finally achieves the trick those vertical side fairings were supposed to do in the first place; the proportions are now made taller while the lengthy is visually reduced. The awkward gap between side and nose fairings is now almost invisible.

An unfortunate comparison, but this generation CBR600RR has always had a bit of the Fazer to it. Blame the square headlights, abrupt nose and the awkward suggestion of 3/4 fairing in the split between nose and side.

4. To us, this generation’s headlights and squat top fairing have always looked a little too 1st-gen Yamaha Fazer 600 to us. Especially compared to the old 600RR’s rakish lamps and pointy nose. Here, designers have colored the portion of the fairing below those headlights white, emphasizing their angularity and drawing the eye to the colored top portion. It’s not quite the 600RR of old, but it is closer.

Other decisions, like choosing to stick to just three simple colors and the minimal badging also help. The overall effect is a bike that looks sharp, fresh and fast. Quite an achievement for a bike that’s been around since 2006.

  • smoke4ndmears

    What white wheels?

    • Wes Siler

      D’oh, that’ll teach me for opting for the user friendliness of Honda Europe’s press site.

      US gets white wheels:

      I’ll fix the gallery, if American Honda’s site cooperates.

      • smoke4ndmears

        much better. thank god the flat biller graphics are gone.

  • $Lindz$

    I think in the press shots the white wheels add lightness (thanks to the white background). But in the real world, on pavement, the white wheels will shout out to you “Look at me in all my 3-spoked glory”. Bleh.

    I like the other changes though. Much improved (but that taillight/plate combo cluster under the exhaust is still horrid).

    • Case

      The OEM rear plate/indicator on all stock bikes is horrid. But you have lots of aftermarket choices. ; )

  • stickfigure

    Hell For Leather writes article praising “bold new graphics”? Isn’t this a little late in the year for April 1?

    • Wes Siler

      Hell For Leather discusses design?! The sky is falling!

      • Scott-jay

        Nope, it’s re-assembling.

  • Jeremy

    woefully ugly? Seriously? I dig the look of the 2007+ models and still think it holds up to the current models anyone offers. The underseat exhaust & contrasting panels are sweet.

    • 2ndderivative

      The overall shape is hopelessly generic, an 8th grader’s doodle of “sportbike”. I say this as someone who intends to buy one next year, probably a leftover 2010 or ’11 with ABS.

      • Jeremy

        I think a few things make it stand out a bit – the fairing doesn’t totally cover the engine so you can see some of the parts (especially on the 07), unlike on most sportbikes where its totally covered, and you can see thru the bike in the front bit, making it look super light.

        (I’ve got an 07 so I’m feeling compelled to weigh in here)

  • Liquidogged

    The white wheels are dope as hell. That red and white scheme has more than a touch of retro going on and I love it.

    • dux

      White wheels look awesome, but hard as hell to clean! The black still looks good to me.

    • $Lindz$

      White wheels look rad when it isn’t garbage-ass 3 spokes.

      RC30 with 6-in-front, 8-in-rear quirkiness was awesome. Typical Japanese 600 budget 3 spokes… not so much.

  • Chris Davis

    You forgot to praise the Hefty Bag suit.

  • Jay

    Please provide the name your pharmacist so that I can obtain the same chemistry
    used to make the CBR600RR’s colors appear to be red with white wheels, rather
    than orange with black wheels.
    Also, let’s discuss touring on the CBR as opposed to another Race Replica: the CBR600F4i, which actually Was Comfortable Ergonomically. The CBR600RR Might Be Comfy if one had no gonads And a 26 inch inseam: in other words, if one were
    a Diminutive Female.