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2009 ABS Honda CBR600RR tested!

Published: 15 December 2008

Updated: 19 November 2014

MCN Senior Road Tester, Michael Neeves has just been riding the new 2009 Honda CBR600RR in Qatar.

There’s lots of talk about the new Combined ABS on Honda’s new CBR600RR.

Indeed it’s the first time a system like this has ever been fitted to a supersports bike and it’s an incredible piece of engineering. But away from this headline news, Honda’s amazing little 600 is actually revised for 2009 in other areas.

Honda has tried to give the CBR600RR more real-world grunt (it has lots for a 600 already) between 6000rpm and 10,000rpm. They’ve achieved this with a new cylinder head, pistons and exhaust system.

The new bike also has lighter monobloc front calipers, the same as the Honda Fireblade’s, and a new bellypan, which completely covers the engine and the electronic valve unit for the C-ABS system.

Riding the non-ABS on track is still a wondrous experience. It’s hard to notice the extra mid-range, though, as you’re mostly screaming the motor to its redline at this very quick MotoGP venue.

We’ll have to wait to ride the bike on the road to feel the differences and to find out if it’s still the supersport top dog. Having ridden the brilliant new ZX-6R last week, it’s not going to have it quite so easy in 2009.

The engine is super-strong, the delivery linear and the stability in a straight line and in the corners is epic. This is such an easy machine to take to your personal limits. It flatters your riding and makes you feel like a hero, which is what it’s all about.

Johnny Rea, Andrew Pitt and Leon Haslam are here riding the CBRs, too and they’re like big kids – it’s hard to get them off the bikes so we can ride!

Riding the CBR without the Combined ABS system is a familiar experience, but circulating the track on a C-ABS equipped machine is slightly different. You never notice the ABS part of the system, as on a hot, dry track you’re unlikely to lock the front wheel in a straight line, but you can certainly feel the electronically-controlled combined braking,

As you apply the front brake hard into a corner, the rear brake is triggered slightly before, sitting the rear of the bike down, just before the front brakes come on full.

This keeps the bike flatter under hard braking and much more stable. The extra confidence this gives you into a corner lets you brake later and later.

As we found out in our braking test in the dry, wet and sand covered test area, it’s impossible to lock the wheels in a straight line, so you know that no matter what you do, you’ll be safe, so long as you’re upright. The system won’t stop you from losing the front when lent over, unfortunately, but Honda is working on that…

To find out more about the new CBR600RR, check out MCN next week.

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