There was a time not long ago, that Honda owned the liter-bike class. This 10th generation CBR seeks to return Big Red to the glory days with the 2017 CBR1000RR SP going full digital. As usual, engineers focused on synergy between each component, fostering the most intimate connection between man and machine.
The digital age of motorcycling is upon us, and Honda’s CBR employs a potent list of rider aids that would make any techie excited. Electronic suspension by Ohlins, check. Traction, slide, and wheelie control, check. ABS with cornering function, check. Engine brake control, a quickshifter (both up and down), and ride-by-wire, check — as you can see there isn’t much Honda left out of its premier superbike.
Already one of the lightest bikes in its class, the ’17 bike drops a whopping 33 pounds bringing curb weight to approximately 408 pounds, ready to ride. Most of the chassis geometry remains (including rake/trail, wheelbase, and seat height) the same, however the twin-spar alloy frame beams have been tweaked, as has the subframe and swingarm (more rigid).
Honda also bestowed the CBR with a titanium fuel cell – the first of its kind in a production road motorcycle. The design drops nearly three pounds alone from the machine, however capacity has been reduced by nearly 9%. It’s also 15mm thinner on each side making it easier to grip with the rider’s knees.
Both the battery and wheels shed some weight with a more modern (and longer-lasting) lithium-ion energy cell powering the CBR. The five-spoke wheels are cast aluminum, however the up-spec SP2 version gets lighter still, forged alloy rims. Both bikes are shod with Bridgestone’s Battlax RS-10 tires. Brakes are usually one of the CBR1000RR’s specialities and the new radial-mount monobloc setup is sure to continue the trend.
Bodywork is all new and considerably more slim. The upper fairing is 24mm narrower and LED lighting helps it stand out at night.
Although rich in mid-range torque, Honda’s CBR1000R has lagged behind the competition in terms of horsepower for years. Bore and stroke measurements are unchanged, however new pistons boost compression ratio by 0.7 to 13:1. The cylinder head has been tweaked as well with extra valve lift on both the intake and exhaust sides. The up-spec and limited SP2 variation also gets bigger valves designed to work with HRC’s kit ECU for competition purposes. Rev ceiling has increased from 12,250 rpm to 13,000 rpm, however that’s still 1000 rpm lower than most of the competition these days.
Nearly five pounds of weight was shaved off the engine alone via a magnesium ignition and aluminum clutch covers. Engineers also paid attention to the small stuff, eliminating weight from bolts, water hoses, and band ties. Even the radiator is lighter with a small reduction in capacity, too (30cc).
Both the cable-actuated slipper clutch and each of the six transmission cogs were re-designed to further pare weight down. Specifically, some of the clutch internals, including its cam parts are now stamped out of aluminum instead of steel.
The folks over at Termignoni assisted Honda with its prototype exhaust design and the new 4-2-1 design is just over six pounds lighter than the previous version. Like before, it continues to use a valve to modulate back pressure.
Honda isn’t saying that its updated Inline Four will be the fastest thing on the road — claiming a 10 horsepower increase from the 2012-2016 version. Expect between 159 and 164 horsepower at the business end of the Bridgestone tire.
Factor in what could be a class-leading power-to-weight ratio, and the Honda may be quicker than you think. MSRP has yet to be confirmed but expect the SP to carry a price tag of around 20 grand, while the limited-edition SP2 will be priced around $25,000.