Honda CB1000R Review

998CC 123.4BHP 100NM

Street-nakeds tend to be the closest to the motorcycles we usually start riding on. Way more powerful, heavier and expensive but the body-bike relationship is pretty close. And that’s the first impression one gets on sitting astride a Honda CB1000R. We review the beauty and the beast in it…

Photos: Sundeep Gajjar / motoGrapher.com & Sandeep Goswami
Text: Sandeep Goswami

The riding stance is so generically motorcycle-like. Slightly rear-set foot pegs, a tank that the knees can easily grip, handlebars that need a slight forward rotation of the torso to reach comfortably with slightly flexed arms and the general feel of ‘riding’ astride a bike, neither on top of it nor ‘inside’ it.

Honda CB1000R riding, leaning
This feeling of easy familiarity and the unhurried intimacy it encourages between the rider and machine is carried forward by the engine and drive-train. This is a high-performance bike, no two thoughts about that, but not one that necessarily imposes itself on the rider. He can choose the facet he wants to reveal, the devil or the saint. And a simple flick of the wrist can transform it from one to the other. The ’07 Fireblade derived 998cc in-line 4, though supposedly de-tuned for a flatter torque curve, still remains potent enough to take the bike from stand-still to a 100 kmph in less than 3 seconds. Yet the engine with its spot-on fuelling and the right gearing allows the same bike to trundle at

Honda CB1000R
Honda CB1000R, left side

The street-naked, looking good is not just about good looks. It has to exude an attitude, ooze raw excitement and a perfect test for this is when it excites impromptu comments about its looks from the most poker-faced of onlookers. The CB1000R does all that and the comments keep flowing even if it passes by at a fair clip. Made by a company known more for perfection in its machines, they being perfect to the point of blandness and emanating those ‘good-boy’ vibes by the truckloads, the CB1000R sure is a pretty radical shift in Honda’s motorcycle design paradigm. The ‘crouching cat’ stance, the brilliantly effective triangular head-lamp with the underslung circular LED cluster, the massive single-sided swing-arm, those ‘sweeping’ spoked die-cast wheels and the unusual low-slung exhaust that comes from the ‘Blade are all strong visual elements that make for a pretty aggressive yet well-wrapped up look. Sit on it, especially after dark and see the instrument cluster glow a beautiful soft blue. A digital ‘strip’ tacho in the middle flanked by a digital speedo on the left and the tell-tale info stuff in the right display. Adding to this hi-tech impression is the Honda Ignition Security System (HISS) that allows access to the bike only through either of its two original chip-embedded keys, the system disabling the ignition in a manner that cannot be bypassed by hot-wiring in any way. In its entirety, the visual, aural, technological and tactile feel of the bike is a definite and firm intrusion into the established street-naked category ruled by the Triumph Triples and Ducati Monsters.

A good motorcycle is of course a lot more than mere looks and an engine between two wheels. A strong engine results in high potential speeds and so makes controlling the bike paramount. And the CB1000R shines here. A very rigid gravity-die-cast single sided swing arm in conjunction with an adjustable mono-shock does duty for the rear while an equally rigid inverted cartridge-type fork with 43mm thick stanchions anchors the front. The front is fully adjustable for pre-load, compression and rebound damping. The suspension set-up felt spot-on and the bike felt amazingly planted through any and every maneuver. Even though the swing-arm is a lot heavier than the set-up the Fireblade uses, the benefits, both in performance and aesthetics far outweigh the penalty imposed by weight. All this tech results in a bike that steers to perfection, right from a crawl to 200+ kph. Be it a blast through the twisties or a swift commute on the straights, the CB1000R does the job with almost boring exactitude.

Honda CB1000R headlight
Honda CB1000R instrument panel

The brakes, like the engine, are a straight derivative of those on the Fireblade but with slightly smaller discs. This and the fact that the CB is substantially heavier than the ‘Blade make the brakes feel just right for the bike’s purpose. Any supersports’ brakes, like its performance, can be intimidating and takes skills better than the ordinary to master. No such issues with the CB’s anchors and it goes for both front and rear. As a matter of fact, the rear has a better bite and gives enough feedback for the rider to use it with confidence, something that even most race-track bred ones cannot lay a claim on. The bike I rode had a slightly loose steering head bearing and so the front juddered a little under panic braking but I firmly believe it was more a case of an incidental and rectifiable fault than a design issue.

Handling the CB1000R is like handling a very powerful and somewhat heavy Karizma. Pretty neutral in its turn-ins, the bike leans just so much as the rider wants and feedback is virtually telepathic.

The low-slung engine results in a low center of mass and the fact that the addition of the rider into the equation does not result in a major shift in it makes the bike very flickable. And yet there was no discernible steering nod when riding at appreciable speeds through twisties that had a rippled surface, even without a steering damper. The rigid swing-arm of course takes most of the credit for this and so does the linear power delivery.

That the CB is unequivocally a street-fighter that cares primarily for the rider, the pillion being almost an appendage, is apparent from the seat design. The perch for the rider, though minimalist, is well designed and acceptably comfortable. But the same can definitely not be attributed to that for the pillion which gets the step-motherly treatment reducing it to a mere slip of a cushion that would make even the slimmest and shapeliest of the human rear-ends writhe in discomfort after some time on the road. But then this bike is not a tourer as such anyway. True, the torquey engine, splendid ergonomics, great handling and secure braking are all the ingredients needed to make a tourer but the lack of wind-protection and a relatively small-capacity fuel tank precludes its effective use as a real mile muncher. The low gearing penalizes fuel consumption further reducing range but then one wouldn’t really want to do 150 kph in first on a naked bike.

The CB1000R has been the most ‘rider-friendly’ litre-class bike I have ridden and also the most ‘natural’ to ride on. Not intimidating at all despite those aggressive looks (though a hard twist of that throttle does make ‘not intimidating’ a misnomer), it endears itself to the rider by becoming just what he/she wants it to be. It responds to its master like a superbly trained horse, switching between a leisurely canter and fast gallop with unimaginable ease and seamless fluidity. This is one bike that can befriend a rider quicker than any and keep that trust for as long as the rider desires. And yes, the Hornet finally has the sting, the wings and the looks to buzz terra-firma big time.

Technical specifications
* Engine Liquid- cooled 4-Stroke 16-Value DOHC inline 4
* Displacement 998 cm3
* Bore X Stroke 75 X 56.5 mm
* Compression Ratio 11.2:1
* Max. Power Output 92 kW/10,000 min-1 (95/1/EC)
* Max.Torque 100 Nm/ 8,000 min-1 (95/1/EC)
* Carburation PGM – FI electronic fuel injection
* Ignition System Computer – Controlled digital transistorized with electronic advance.
* Starter Electric
* Transmission 6-Speed
* Final Drive # 530 O-ring Sealed chain
* Dimension (LxWxH) 2,105 x 785 x 1,095 mm
* Wheelbase 1,445 mm
* Seat Height 825 mm
* Ground Clearance 130 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity 17 Litres (including 4-litre LCD –indicated reserve)
* Suspension Front 43 mm inverted HMAS cartridge –type telescopic fork with step less preload, compression and rebound damping adjustment, 120 mm cushion stroke.
* Suspension Rear Monoshock with gas -charged HMAS damper featuring 10 – step preload, compression and rebound damping adjustment, 128 mm axle travel
* Wheel Front Closed –section 4 –spoke cast aluminium
* Wheel Rear Closed –section 4 –spoke cast aluminium
* Tyres Front 120/70 – ZR17M/C (58 W)
* Tyres Rear 180/55 – ZR17M/C (73 W)
* Brakes Front 310 x 4.5 mm dual hydraulic disc with 4-piston caliper, floating rotors and sintered metal pads
* Brakes Rear 256 x 5 mm dual hydraulic disc with dual-piston caliper and sintered metal pads
* Frame Mono – backbone ;cast aluminium
* Caster Angle 25
* Trial 99 mm
* Kerb weight 217 kg (F: 106 kg; R: 111 kg)

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And don’t forget to check out the video when we took the Honda CB1000R to one of the world’s densely populated areas

Check out some more photos of the Honda CB1000R

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tags
CB1000R
CB1000R 2011
honda cb1000r
Honda CB1000R 2011

Vespa GTS300 Ridden

278CC 22BHP 22.3NM

Manga le Mele

Text & Photos: Sundeep Gajjar / motoGrapher.com

It has been wisely said that fashions and seasons always return. Something similar is stated by the idiom, ‘History repeats itself’. A new geared scooter with Vespa lineage, if introduced in the Indian market, would justify both the above quotes. And the Vespa GTS300, a Vespa with the largest engine capacity ever made, can carry the weight of both history and fashion on its capable shoulders. The scooter once dominated the Indian two-wheeler market and some forty years ago, Bajaj Auto was building the Vespa scooter under license from Piaggio. A split with Piaggio around 1970 saw Bajaj Auto go independent on both the design and engineering. But even then their design retained the monocoque chassis, a Vespa hallmark.

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Vespa is to scooters what Ducati is to motorcycles and Ferrari is to sportscars. It is an iconic brand and for well more than half a century, people the world over have been riding Vespa scooters and been happy doing so. The current crop of Vespa GT series traces its origins to the GT 125 that came up when the previous PX series was killed off by stringent emission norms across most of the globe. The GT series is characterized by liquid-cooled 4-stroke engines with CVT drives but with the characteristic monocoque chassis intact. The Vespa GTS300 is a recent upgrade of the GTS250 that has been selling well for quite a while. 278cc liquid cooled 4-stroke with electronic fuel injection developing 22 bhp and 22 Nm of torque at 5000 rpm. This scooter’s engine specs beat most of the motorcycles being made and sold in our country. It is actually capable of displaying 130kph plus on its clear analog speedometer, can sprint from standstill to 100 kph in 14 secs, can effortlessly cruise all day long at above 100 kph and do this for 25 kms using just 1 ltr of petrol. Tempting eh!

The Vespa’s have always looked like …well…Vespas. Pretty, retro and yet fetching. And so does the GTS300. Round headlamps, straight handlebars with instrument console, switchgear and headlamp integrated into it. The rounded ‘duck-wing’ side cowls that cover the sides and the usual single-piece seat with the fuel-filling point underneath. Scooters have evolved equally well as motorcycles on the handling and braking front and this is quite evident when you ride the Vespa GTS300. Its single sided front suspension and dual shocks at the rear (adjustable for pre-load) when allied with 12-inch wheels makes for a pretty sure-footed scoot. Hustle it through the twisties and its only the ground-clearance limits announced by the floor-board grinding away that stops you from leaning further. Bumps or tarmac ripples, even in the middle of a turn, cannot upset its line and it tracks true to the riders inputs.

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Braking is great, what with discs both up front and at the rear and their amazing feedback. The 130 section rear tyre provides a wide enough contact patch to handle traction loads on a rear-engined scooter. And the front 120 section is the perfect choice for light steering, great grip and wonderful braking. The wheelbase, at 1370mm, is about 20mm more than our homegrown Bajaj P220 DTSi, promising swell straight-line stability, even in strong cross-winds. The torque engine allied with low gearing (typical of scooters and CVT’s) makes for very peppy pick-ups and the rider can outpace virtually any and every element of traffic from stop-lights. And the high top speed, good stability, powerful brakes and comfortable ergos make the Vespa GTS300 a very strong contender for highway runs. Storage space is good, with enough space under-seat for a small bag (maybe a camera kit or something) and a smallish glove compartment up front. The seats are comfortable with the pillion being even better off than the rider. Lights are about adequate though the horn is weak, as is the case with even far larger bikes.

The Vespa GTS3000 would make for a very attractive scooter if introduced into the Indian market. And it would make a lot of sense too with lots of power, great handling, tubeless tyres, wonderful braking and those aesthetically pleasing ‘traditionally Vespa’ lines that define its shape. We still have scooters in our blood. It is just that we are waiting for something that bridges the retro and the modern the way the Vespa GTS300 does. Bring it on…..one in Montebianco white for me please!

The 300CC provided for a surprising amount of punch despite the gearless arrangement. I did half of the Great Ocean Road on the Vespa and back to Melbourne with a pillion managing to hit speeds of 100+ with extreme ease. The CoG was also good for a scooter and at speeds like those, and good braking was a boon. I was initially a little uncomfortable on bends but that gave way confidence a few turns later. There is hardly anything to say about the looks, it is an all time classic!

Specifications

ENGINE TYPE: Single cylinder, four-stroke, four-valve, electronic injection, catalytic QUASAR
CYLINDER CAPACITY: 278cc
BORE x STROKE: 2.95″ x 2.48″ (75 mm x 63 mm)
MAX POWER AT SHAFT: 15.8 Kw (22 hp) at 7,500 rpm
MAX TORQUE: 22.3 Nm at 5,000 rpm
MAX SPEED: 129 km/h
FUEL / TANK CAPACITY: Unleaded (9 litres)
MILEAGE: 24-26 kpl
COOLING SYSTEM: Liquid
LUBRICATION: Wet sump and chain-driven lobe pump; intake and delivery filters
IGNITION: Electronic (with inductive discharge, variable spark advance and three-dimensional mapping)
GEARS: CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) with torque server
CLUTCH: Automatic centrifugal dry clutch with dampers
CHASSIS: Load-bearing sheet steel chassis with welded structural supports
FRONT SUSPENSION: Single arm, dual chamber hydraulic shock absorber with coaxial spring
REAR SUSPENSION: Two dual effect shock absorbers with adjustable preload
FRONT BRAKE: 220 mm disc
REAR BRAKE: 220 mm disc
FRONT TYRE: Tubeless 120 / 70, 12″
REAR TYRE: Tubeless 130 / 70, 12″
LENGTH: 1941 mm
WIDTH: 755 mm
WHEELBASE: 1369 mm
SEAT HEIGHT: 790 mm
DRY WEIGHT: 148 kg
AVAILABLE COLORS: Shiny Black, Dragon Red, Montebianco White, Titanium

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tags
GTS300
VESPA
Vespa GTS300