Honda 1000RR Review
By Nicholas Frankl Senior Editor
If you ever get the chance to “ride the rails” in Europe I highly recommend it. Traveling through Europe on the train with nothing but a EuroRail Pass, a crappy map, a backpack full of stuff you won’t wear and dreams of finding that special place you see in foreign movies is magical. Something about those old trains that rattle and creak and eventually when you have been rejected by every woman on it rocks and rolls you to sleep is just about the most romantic way to travel. There was a point on the trip that Ewan McGregor took last year around the world in, I think, Siberia, that the roads just disappeared and the frost heaves and constant water crossings wore them down to the point that they loaded their bikes on a cargo train and rode for several hundred miles the easy way. In the future if the Germans and the Japanese have their way we will all be traveling by high speed “Bullet” trains all over the place. The latest versions of which easily go 200 MPH!!! The latest Magnetic hovering type trains are aiming for 300 mph. Can you imagine going 300 miles and hour on the ground without a helmet?
I think Honda has pirated some of these bullet train engineers and turned them loose on their CBR series of sport bikes. They go so fast so smoothly you have to keep checking the Speedo to keep from going straight to jail. The people who have rode the latest hover train on its test track in Germany tell a tale of not realizing they were moving till they looked out the window, its that smooth. So is the Honda CBR 1000RR you have to rev it up high to get it to start moving because first gear is very tall and the clutch is so smooth you will kill it otherwise. We had the chance to enjoy a full summer of revving the RR, a long-term test to explore its character like real world owners, but without any of the headaches! The RR took us all over LA and the surrounding countryside, to business meetings in Beverley Hills, brunch on Sunday afternoons and into the mountains and canyons at full crack. Like the latest hover trains, once under way the thing is just silent and smooth and calm, nothing seems to upset its balance. The electronic damper works so well one wonders why they don’t put these things on everything? Set down a wheelie at 100 crossed-up down hill no worries it does not even wiggle a tad. Except for a bit of on-off throttle harshness you can’t upset the suspension at all.
In many ways the 1000RR made us feel like pro’s, smooth reliable corner entry and exit lines were just a thought and slight push on the inside bar away. You start driving every turn harder and harder, braking deeper, leaning a little more and most of all accelerating hard out of every turn. It is a dangerous combination because the Honda lulls you into this false sense that it has it all together just point and shoot I will save you. Twice my co-scribe Andrew over shot the laws of physics, once producing a long power slide from the rear that he admitted made him feel like Rossi smoking the rear on fast exits and the second pushing the front end out about a foot that caused permanent stretch marks on his behind from the momentary pucker! Truth is the Honda saved us in both situations from certain embarrassment.
The 1000RR is very good, its fast stable and quiet in a good way, like when you wiz by the cops a little too fast but because its its so quiet they hardly notice you… It handles really well and is really predictable, plus nothing goes wrong and the build quality is as good as it gets. Don’t believe all that stuff about it being 7 pounds to heavy I defy you to really be able to tell how it slows this bike down. The problem is that it’s so good that you just sort of ride it real fast and race around and pass all your friends but you’re really not that engaged. The GSXR has this weapon feeling that you could BTK everyone near you with it that is totally exciting, the ZX 10 has this rough edge and brutal top end power that lets you know be careful or you will turn into a splatter mark on the next turns retaining wall. The Honda is within a second or two of those bikes on any track but you just don’t feel it. A bike without quirks, as the Italians call them, is faster because you can just focus on the road and certainly the RR eliminates nearly all mechanical distractions from the riders mind. It’s quite scary actually, as these modern machines, as with their supercar cousins have the performance envelopes of world champion race machinery a decade or less ago. By far the biggest compromise is the rider, who 99% of the time is likely only reaching 70% of the bikes true performance capability, if that! This allows for two situations to unfold. One where the majority of mature owners will enjoy unparrelled performance yet remain safely within their reasonable limits and the others who will become seduced by the bikes abilities and believe that they too are cut from world champion clothe. One will end in endless smiles – the other will certainly end much quicker!
I like the CBR a lot, we both do. It is really fast when asked and perfectly docile in the city it just does not get my blood boiling like the RC51 used to. Andrew thinks he maybe too immature for the RR and doesn’t know what’s good for him! Go to sleep on your silent bullet trains see if I care I will be the guy trying to surf the roof while screaming for help.
’05 Base MSRP $11,299
CHASSIS / SUSPENSION / BRAKES