Details: Honda CB1000R

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The Honda CB1000R isn’t, as you might assume, a naked CBR1000RR. The two bikes share lower engine case design that makes the engines appear the same from the outside, but the CB1000R makes a whopping 53bhp less. Is being a completely different bike from the CBR necessarily a bad thing?

Photos: Grant Ray

Why the CB1000R is not a naked CBR1000RR
The CBR1000RR has a twin-spar aluminum frame — two large pieces of aluminum rise from the swing arm pivot and meet at the steering head. You’d also see this type of frame on a Yamaha M1, Aprilia RSV4, etc. In contrast, the CB1000R has an aluminum backbone frame — one large piece of aluminum runs from the steering head over the top of the motor and splits into a Y before heading south to the swing arm pivot. This frame allows the CB1000R to hit a lower price point because it is easier to construct. Being in the middle of the bike, the frame is much better protected from crashes.

Some people would call this a de-tuned CBR1000RR motor, implying added restrictions and maybe small changes like different cams or smaller throttle bodies. While the two engines may share their basic architecture (cylinder spacing, deck height, transmission arrangement, primary drive, etc), a number of details make the motor powering the CB1000R unique.

–Pistons are 1mm smaller and stroke is 1mm longer.

–Revised cylinder head and side-draft throttle bodies. First, because of the backbone frame that takes up more room, the large airbox needed a place to live. Second, downdraft throttle bodies like you find on the RR or any other racing machine, that provide a straight shot for air from the airbox to the intake valve are great for huge horsepower numbers over 10,000 RPM. In contrast, sidedraft intakes force the air to make a 90 degree turn before going past the intake valve and into the cylinder, improving low RPM cylinder filling and, with it, torque.

–Gearing. A CBR1000RR is geared to go 186mph, which is fun, but a 90mph first gear is hard to use around town. In contrast, the CB1000R delivers real acceleration from a dead stop without abusing the clutch and making a lot of noise. The downside? It’s bouncing off the rev limiter at 145mph.

It sounds like I’m saying “tuned for torque”, but there is a subtle difference here. This motor is built from the ground up to produce a specific powerband, not a quickly re-tuned version of the CBR1000RR engine. On paper the difference is subtle, but ride the bikes back to back and the difference is huge.

How the CB1000R stacks up with other ‘nakeds’
The Diavel, Streetfighter, Z1000, CB1000R, Speed and Street Triples, Touno V4R, and Brutale 1090R are all built around basically this formula. Some, like the Street Triple are basically light-weight sportsbikes with lower gearing and taller bars. Others, like the Diavel, are hulking brutes that do 0-60 in 2.5 seconds. This is a crowded and poorly defined genre of motorbikes. Ride a few of them and you quickly realize they don’t have much in common with one another.

Two things set the CB1000R apart from the rest of the crowd. First, it’s price. Coming in at $11,000 means that it’s less expensive than everything in the “category” except the Z1000. Don’t for a second think that means that this is a cheap motorcycle though. Second, this bike is designed and built in Italy for the European market, but retains its essential Honda-ness (amazing fit and finish, slick shifting transmission, flawless electronics and reliability, nice ergonomics, etc.) Everything that makes a Honda a Honda is still here, even though the bike is technically Italian.

Good
–Cover the rear brake in first gear and clutch up in second if wheelies are your thing. If wheelies aren’t your thing, they will be after spending a week on the CB1000R.
–The dash fades from black to blue (and back again)
–The quiet factory exhaust is also nice to look at.
–Fiat-esque wheel bolted to a Single-Sided Swingarm.
–It’s comfortable. Seating is bolt upright, bars are narrow and feet are up and out of the way. Passenger accommodations aren’t bad either and there are hand holds built into the tail.

Bad
–Ground clearance (not normally an issue for anything but choppers) is extremely limited. Try to cross a parking lot speed-bump two-up and you’ll scrape the pipe pretty bad.
–The brakes generate an unnerving vibration and become progressively more grabby as speed decreases. Don’t try a stoppie on this bike, you’ll just end up with a locked front wheel.
–The fuel gauge could be more accurate or changed to a warning light. The tank is supposed to fit 4.5 gallons, but the gauge will scare you into filling up around 3.2.
–The factory mirrors provide a blurry view of your elbow and not much else.
–The bike is only available in black in the U.S. while Europe gets two other options: all white or red, white, and blue with gold wheels.

  • Gene

    Any real pics of the front, or is it as ugly-ass cylon as the one pic says?

    It sure sounds nice, and I *loved* the single-sided swingarm on my Hawk 650GT.

    (plus I’m a mechanical idiot, but it sounds like your brakepads have been baked, and you need new ones)

  • Campisi

    The CBR250 has the same fuel gauge problem. Until I actually looked into its fuel tank capacity, the blinking gauge had me thinking the tank only held two and a bit gallons.

  • http://www.mcfw.com/ quint7

    I would like to see the front end too. Totally thought ‘new’ cylon when I saw it. I, like Gene love the swinger on my Hawk GT.
    On to the bad:
    Fuck these angles. Honda keeps putting out drop dead gorgeous concept bikes and we get a copy of the fugly Z1000?
    Passenger? I know Ashley is s trooper, but c’mon, make a bike a girl (or guy I guess) can ride on that doesn’t put them 3mm from falling off or getting a body cavity search.
    Relation to the long running CB1000-1300/Big1/Super4…. none. Not even a remotely similar look. I know the Big1 didn’t sell well here (loved mine), but the bike sold forever overseas. Look for pics the Bol D’or replicas of those bikes. Gorgeous.
    There is nothing about this bike that would make me consider dropping 10 large on it. I’ll be looking at Honda UK’s site to see how they package factory luggage for this thing. If they don’t offer any than that sums it up for me, the bike is aimed only at wannabe stunters. I saw hard luggage (at least a top box) on every reply racer on the road there and when I had my ZRX I got a well designed and built factory rack system that ‘wasn’t offered” to Americans….. because apparently nobody here uses their bike for anything other than recreation.

    • Sean Smith

      “nobody here uses their bike for anything other than recreation.”

      Hm, I think you may be onto something there…

    • Ratlanta

      “nobody here uses their bike for anything other than recreation.”

      I guess I’ve imagined all those car-less years spent touring and commuting on my bikes without hardbags.

      • http://www.mcfw.com/ quint7

        I said “apparently”. Reading comprehension…….. its not just for tests in 9th grade English.
        The big bike companies assume nobody here rides because they need to. That is why we never get the functional accessories offered from the factory in Europe.

        • Ratlanta

          You’re right. Honda has some need to not make money by selling accessories and tour packs. Face it, the reason why Honda doesn’t offer hardbags for more bikes is that enough people don’t tell them to.

          • http://www.mcfw.com/ quint7

            They sell all kinds of stuff, just not to their US customers. There is a company out of Germany called 5 Stars that makes most of the tubular racks for the industry and you can check them out online to see how many luggage systems are available for buyers over there. They made the racks for my ZRX for Kawasaki and were still savvy enough to make a ‘similar’ one under their own name that was sold here by Twisted Throttle because the factory one wasn’t allowed to even be ordered by a dealer here even with the part numbers. Most hard luggage is made by Givi/Kappa from Italy and is just rebranded. The VStrom factory 3 bag setup I had was made by Kappa and had Suzuki badges on it. I ordered plain old Kappa badges from Toronto (Kappa isn’t sold here, just Givi) and removed the Zuk ones and had the exact same bags as Kappa sold. It isn’t a matter of us asking, it is a matter of attitude towards US riders.

    • AaronT

      I agree with your statement that the companies don’t cater to the commuters and practical users. It’s a shame seeing how I don’t have a car.

  • Nick Cherrone

    Favorite Honda at the moment. Will it still have limited availability in the US? Looks better in white but black could still get me to buy one.

  • BigRooster

    Fuel gauge? It has an trip meeter doesnt it? Sure the gauge should work but it’s not vital or even really needed.

    • Sean Smith

      It still costs money to make a bad fuel gauge and that cost is passed on to the customer. If they’re going to do it, they’d better do it right.

      • BigRooster

        Agreed. Maybe a faulty fuel gauge helps to give it some authentic ‘Made in Italy’ charm.

        My point is that this must be a pretty decent bike if the fuel gauge is a major quible.

        Fuel gauges seem to be a tough nut, so few seem to work well on bikes.

        • Sean Smith

          ‘Zactly.

    • enzomedici

      I really don’t understand the difficulty that motorcycle manufacturers have in designing a fuel gauge that works properly and one with a mileage remaining digital readout. Is that rocket science? All of the engineers at motorcycle companies cannot figure this out? Put a damn gear indicator there too. The engine knows what gear it is in, can you show it to us please?

  • Roman

    Surprised there’s not mention of the bike’s handling, which is supposed it’s strongest attribute. Regardless, the bike has really grown on me. It now shares the same mental space as the Speed Triple, which is really saying something. Might get overpowered on the track, but just about right for the street.

    Also somewhat amusing to see so many fellow Hawk GT riders commenting on HFL.

    • Sean Smith

      I think I would pass on riding a CB1000R at the track. It’s not that it handles poorly, but that it’s suspension and geometry just aren’t suited to pushing hard.

      • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

        Track riding is why god made cheap late-model Japanese sports bikes on craigslist.

  • 2ndderivative

    If they cite low sales of this as justification for not bringing the CBR600F over I’ll be pissed.

  • DoctorNine

    The exhaust treatment on this thing is an abomination. Absolutely.
    No way I’d buy this. Still want their CB1100 in the US, though.

    • http://www.mcfw.com/ quint7

      Yup. Thats the kinda Honda we need here instead of Transformer wannabe bikes.

  • CCarey

    The fuel guage issue is kind of a Honda trademark isn’t it? I know I have the same problem with my 600RR.

    • Squid_Squidly

      y hello thar.

    • jp182

      yeah, thats the one thing I DON’T miss about my 600rr. Interesting to see that Honda hasn’t fixed that yet.

  • Squid_Squidly

    Since when is “only comes in black” a con at HFL?! :p

    • AaronT

      When the MV Agusta F3 in white gave them palpitations.

  • R13

    I wanted one of these but when I went down to my dealer they said they wouldn’t even bring it into the showroom until I put money down on it. I think the US was only given less than 1,000 of these but few people will buy them sight unseen and then Honda will say naked bikes don’t sell and pull them off the market again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

    It seems disingenuous to say the engine was “built from the ground up” when it’s a tuned version of an existing engine. That turn of phrase suggests starting from scratch. Maybe it’s more comprehensive than other tuning jobs, but it is what it is.

    I haven’t ridden it, but the difference on paper is pretty big compared to the donor bike as well as other bikes in the category. In that way, it sure does seem to be a traditional tune with aggressive gearing.

    That said, I know a guy who has one and loves it. That’s what matters.

  • zipp4

    Whats up with the pictures? I mean, they are largely pointless (#3, 5, 6, 9, 10) and we all know what bargain disc brakes look like (#4)…

    • BigRooster

      #3 FTW. Made it my new wallpaper.

      • Sean Smith

        Yup. It’s nice to know you’ll never need to buy another tank pad again.

  • BigRooster

    Hmm. Well I really like this bike but there is no way I can justify the crazy insurance. I am in the market so I have been doing lots of cross shopping (bikes and thus insurance). Here is what I found from Progressive (all rates quoted, annual, “choice” full coverage package).

    CB1000r = $1,206!
    Street Triple = $309
    Speed Triple = $401
    Monster 796 = $309
    Z1000 = $512
    Griso 8v = $401
    XR1200x = $111
    Shiver 750 = $309
    XB12scg = $305 (used, sadly)

    Sort of makes the Honda a non-starter to me -(even if I could find one at a dealer). Why the huge rate difference? I wonder if its the “R”?

    Enough insurance to be legal is the same for all: $75 – But I’m only comfortable with full coverage.

    • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

      Its that goddamn “r”! Seriously, insurance companies will charge more for model names with “r” in them.

      And Harley’s are always less, even when they are ostensibly their “sporting” model.

      • contender

        My Ulysses is no cheaper than my TL1000s…

    • http://greatjoballweek.blogspot.com/ Case

      Don’t use progressive. I use Dairyland Cycle and it’s cheaper. When I got a ticket even the cop approved (not kidding).

      Cost increase is maybe caused by fact that they mapped cost data from the CBR1Krr?

      The Shiver 750 or street triple look like a strong choice. One man’s opinion.

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

      Progressive might just be horrible about brand new models. My ’10 Z1000 coverage, the 1st year, was around $1300 or so. I changed to Allstate the following year and it’s somewhere below $500 – but it looks like Progressive is probably in that same neighborhood now, too.

    • Sean Smith

      Interesting that the Harley is so cheap. Horsepower is obviously a factor.

      • BigRooster

        yeah that and it’s considered a cruiser by progressive. Hey is there a Shiver review on the way? Saw the bike in your glove review.

        • Sean Smith

          It’s coming soon.

          Real fast:
          -Not too fast, not too slow.
          -Incredibly satisfying to ride.
          a. Because of the sound
          b. Because of the handling
          -Comfy
          -Good mirrors (a rarity on bikes)
          -Undertail pipes keep your but and legs warm without ever cooking you. Magic.

    • Gene

      That’s why I’m no longer with Progressive, and I switched to GEICO.

  • Brian

    Meh, Looks like a CBR250R with a Gixxer headlight tossed on. I’d rather take the fairings off my 636 and install a upright handlebar and keep the sweet SuperSport goodies.

  • Dave Turner

    Got one with abs , love it .

  • Scott Campbell

    Beautiful Italian bike that almost drives itself in the corners. Great sound, definitely fast enough and high tech everywhere. I own this bike and a CB 1100 both unique bikes and they will look great into the future.