Honda CB1000R – Brute Force


Honda’s naked urban weapon is here to enthral enthusiasts in the country. Adhish Alawani rides one hard to become a victim of this intoxicating machine

The main street just outside the BI office lane stretches for 400 meters before the first crossing. There is a four feet tall divider on one side and barren army land on the other, both of which ensure that nothing is going to cross your path on this small stretch. Coming out of the office lane at about 30km/h, I hit the main street, wrung my wrist hard and before I could start braking for the cross road ahead, I had already crossed the three digit figure on the small blue-backlit speedometer housed in a corner of the techy instrument console of the Honda CB1000R. The fact that this bike can so easily manage speeds in excess of 100km/h is a mind boggling reality indigestible for most people in a country where ‘fuel efficient’ bikes enjoy the maximum share of the market. However, times are changing and we are ready to take on these ruthlessly powerful bikes. At the same time, a thought crossed my mind. We, a few hardcore yet responsible bikers, are ready to exploit the abilities of the hundreds of horses packed on two wheels, but are such machines really practical in a country like India?

I had been baffled by this thought since the advent of big bikes in India. After a long wait, I have finally got an answer in the form of the latest offering from the Honda stable. The Japanese manufacturer recently launched a couple of their litre bikes in the Indian market in the form of the CBR1000RR Fireblade and the CB1000R. We tested the Fireblade a couple of months ago and found out how much power it packs in and how great a handler the bike is. We also learnt how clinical the CBR is and how we wished it was a bit more than just that. Or did we wish for a CB1000R? Probably!
Honda designed the CB1000R in Europe, more specifically in an Italian design house. The CB looks nasty, ready to attack everything that comes in its path. And it is meant to do so. The aggressive, urban street weapon has a striking design which yells out its European character. With the CB1000R, Honda has finally managed to shake off its conservative design philosophy and adopt something much more adventurous and exciting. The triangular headlight with a blue pilot lamp housed at the bottom is topped with a small cowl covering the futuristic instrumentation console. The edgy radiator cover gels perfectly well with the tank. The bike has a meaty front but tapers drastically towards the rear. The CB’s tail with the small LED brake lights is very narrow with a pillion seat for an extremely figure conscious girl friend. However, what catches your attention at first sight is the beautifully crafted four-spoke rear alloy wheel mounted on a single-sided swingarm. The stubby, state of the art exhaust on the CB1000R is simply fabulous and contributes a lot to the bike’s aggressive character. The upright stance of the machine furthers strengthens its street fighter appeal. The CB’s handlebar is not too wide, not too short and fits perfectly well in the seat-footpeg-handlebar geometry giving the rider a comfortable posture. Has Honda missed out on any of the design elements of the bike? I fear not. They have managed to pull out a bike that can put the Italians to shame and then they have launched it in India to kill a competition that doesn’t exist at all. By all means, this is a bike that will guarantee you a second look and maybe a third or fourth look from onlookers on the street.

Does that make it a poser’s bike? Definitely not! What Honda has done apart from the mind blowing design of the bike is that they have applied all their engineer brains in every possible manner while making the CB. They have taken the 998cc motor straight from the 2007 Fireblade, detuned it to 125PS and put it in the CB1000R. But hold on before you come to the conclusion that this bike is highly underpowered as compared to the Fireblade since it packs in almost 50 odd horses less than the CBR1000RR. What Honda guys have managed to do, in a flawless manner, is that they have brilliantly compensated the loss in peak power by providing a gain in low and midrange torque. Thus, the bike has become a lot more rideable in city traffic where it is likely to spend most of its time being a street fighter. Another reason why it becomes a lot more tractable in the city is its extremely linear and smooth power delivery. There is absolutely no hint of a sudden surge anywhere through the rev range which ensures a highly comfortable ride. Going at 2000rpm in the fourth gear you will be as comfortable as on any small capacity Indian bike. To add to that is the upright posture of the CB1000R which lends it an amazing flickability on congested streets. One has to really ride the CB1000R to believe that a litre class bike can be flicked around in the traffic and can be toyed around in the city. So while the low end grunt takes care of your lazy ride through the street, the midrange takes care of your urban assault. Go past 4000 revs and you are surely in for some serious fun. If that is not enough, go full blast past six and a half grand on the digital bar type tacho for those ‘front end floating’ moments. It becomes quite difficult to keep your front wheel on the ground under hard acceleration considering that the CB doesn’t have a front heavy posture. Does that hint to something called as wheelies? I doubt if I need to explain it in words when the pictures can do all the talking. The CB1000R is one hell of a machine to stunt on. Carrying those long wheelies at speeds in excess of 100km/h is no more a pro’s job. It is quite unbelievable the way the CB works itself up in the air with a slight clutch input in the second gear and continues to do so for as long as you wish and the road conditions permit. It hardly takes any time to get addicted to the immense amount of practical power offered by the Honda. Just one thing that I missed on the CB, considering that it keeps on lifting its front wheel every now and then when you are full on gas, is the steering damper. Even an expert might experience a heavy tankslapper if he is not able to land the front wheel properly.
While this is the story while city riding and stunting, I was not quite pleased with the Honda’s highway abilities. I am not saying that the bike doesn’t pack enough juice for the touring soul, but we have to accept the fact that every coin has two sides. The CB1000R with its upright posture does take care of your back on those long rides, but then you can’t go full blast on the highways either because of the same upright posture. The windblast starts disturbing you from 150km/h and the neck muscles start struggling to keep the head steady. I understand that 150km/h is in itself a very high speed over Indian highways, but then when the bike is capable of doing speeds in excess of 220km/h and can reach there within no time, you are not going to be satisfied with a ton and a half on the speedo. The CB will negotiate corners in a very stable manner and without losing its composure. But show it wet tarmac, and the tyres fail to instil even the slightest amount of confidence while leaning in corners.  
While this is the story while city riding and stunting, I was not quite pleased with the Honda’s highway abilities. I am not saying that the bike doesn’t pack enough juice for the touring soul, but we have to accept the fact that every coin has two sides. The CB1000R with its upright posture does take care of your back on those long rides, but then you can’t go full blast on the highways either because of the same upright posture. The windblast starts disturbing you from 150km/h and the neck muscles start struggling to keep the head steady. I understand that 150km/h is in itself a very high speed over Indian highways, but then when the bike is capable of doing speeds in excess of 220km/h and can reach there within no time, you are not going to be satisfied with a ton and a half on the speedo. The CB will negotiate corners in a very stable manner and without losing its composure. But show it wet tarmac, and the tyres fail to instil even the slightest amount of confidence while leaning in corners. 

m.salvi@nextgenpublishing.net'

Bike India Team – who has written posts on Bike India.



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