The Best Bike I've Ever Ridden
20 August 2008
Yep, the best bike I've ever ridden. Don't read too much in to that mind you because I've ridden a grand total of 7 different model bikes for any length of time, two 125s, two 500s, two 600s and one 1000; the CB1000R. I've only been riding for two and a half years and my main ride has been a 2006 Honda CB600F Hornet since August 06. But while the Hornet felt really fast at first I soon tired of having to constantly change gear to get any performance from it. I wanted more torque, but I didn't want to loose the speed or even the fun that the Hornet gave me. Sure it's a naked, but real world figures of over 130mph are plenty fast enough for the road. I've considered different bikes in the past year or so, including the Kawasaki Z1000 and Triumph Speed Triple, neither of which quite did it for me. But, I was off work last November after an elbow-op when I saw the CB1000R launch online. I'd considered the CB900F Hornet previously but a) it looks more dated than the 2006 600 Hornet I already owned, and b) it wasn't an exciting, light handling bike. When I saw the CB1000R though I was hooked. I had to have this bike! Within a month I'd been approached by an ex-member of a Hornet site that I was active on and asked if I wanted to help run a CB1000R site as I was obviously very keen. I dived right in and we soon had loads of interest in the bike. People were very excited and desperate for news. When Honda finally announced a July 4th launch date we all got on to the local dealers to see when we could get ours by. Most of us got the bike on the 4th (me included) and I got the black non-ABS model. Two weeks later and the 600-mile service had been done and it was time to really see what the bike could do. I'd already established that the suspension was too soft in the dry for my 13st bulk but I actually found it to be ideal when it was wet. The standard fitment BT015 tyres are responsive and grippy enough to let you know exactly what the bike is doing. It feels really small and light when on the move and the acceleration from the retuned 2007 Fireblade engine is astonishing considering this is a naked bike. The power delivery is very smooth too and there are no fuelling glitches at all. Everything is so predictable. Some people call it boring, but I prefer to think that it just means that I can twist the throttle and know what it's going to do. Amazingly the headlight is angled in such a fashion that windblast is actually acceptable well over 100mph (a speed which is achieved worryingly easily, without you even noticing), though you'll be pushing it trying to hang on beyond 130mph for long. Getting up to 150mph and you start to need to get down on the tank and gripping for dear life on the tank. At high speed the wind gets in between your legs and the bike and tries to spread your legs wide open. When I say at high speed though, I don't mean 60, 70mph, I mean well over 100mph. All tested off of Her Majesties Highway of course I bought the non-ABS for a couple of reasons: It's 5kg lighter than the ABS model, the ABS includes CBS which I don't feel confident with, the ABS looks a bit messy to me, and I prefer the 4-pot Tokico radial callipers to the ABS model's Nissin three-pot sliding callipers. While the brakes are not what I'd call mind blowing, they are amazingly good compared to what I'm used to from the Hornet. I feel exactly what's happening and feel like I can deal with whatever braking situation I'm put in. Looks wise, the bike turns heads everywhere. I've ridden in the past with a friend with a yellow/black Hornet and everyone comments on it and I wanted attention for a change. Now I get it. Even people who don't like bikes comment on how great it looks. Some are undecided on the LED position lamp but everyone admits that it does make the bike very distinctive from a distance, and you know it's there. The illuminated blue dash is also very striking and people comment positively on it too, though it doesn't glow in sunlight. The warning lights etc on the dash however do not show up well when there is direct sun shining on them. Non-biking friends say the bike would appeal to riders up to around 30 (I'm 29) but members of our CB1000R site are oddly mostly in their 30s. We also have a number in their 40s and 50s. Is this an old-man's bike or is it just the perfect way to convince the general public that you're in your 20s? Fuel range seems to vary between 130 miles (before the dash starts flashing to let you know you only have 4 of 17l left) and 90 miles, but taking it steady you can do 40miles on 'reserve' (just). If you run on the redline (a very rewarding place to be I must admit) then you will really see low mpg values, but when you're taking it steady you get plenty. About 10 miles to a litre. The official Honda accessories are plentiful, and the seat cowl is a very common touch. It looks great, especially if you remove the pillion pegs. Unlike on the outgoing CB900F Hornet, the CB1000R has a sports-style two piece seat, so you just remove the pillion seat and replace with the cowl. The next most common mod would be to replace that long, gangly numberplate hanger with something tidier, though Honda don't offer anything for this. Personally I'm in no rush as I don't dislike it, but many people buy a tail tidy before they even get the bike. Other Honda accessories include some nice engine details but also some odd 'titanium-look' panels which just don't match the rest of the bike and look a bit tacky in my opinion. We're still waiting for a rear hugger too, but thankfully the shock is actually quite well covered so doesn't suffer too badly. I commute every day in all weather on mine and it's the perfect bike for me. Most people test ride one and either don't like it or they buy it there and then, so while I'd encourage anyone who thinks it might be what they're after to try it, don't do it unless you can afford a deposit there and then!
Check out the Honda CB1000R owner's forum for more info at www.hondacb1000r.com