Honda CBR600RR

Written by tonks on April 26, 2007

Honda CBR600RRIn 1998, the 600cc sportbike class accounted for a significant 22,000 units sold in the U.S. Not bad, eh? Well, that ain’t nothin’, because sales in this ultra-competitive class have nearly tripled since then. Almost 55,000 middleweight sportbikes have been sold through October of this year, surpassing the mark set during the entire 12 months of 2003.

Obviously, success in the class is critical for all the players involved, something Honda knows as well as anyone. It’s been at or near the top of the sales charts during the 16 years since the CBR600′s 1987 introduction. It comes as no surprise, then, when a Honda PR wag tells the assembled media at the new CBR’s press launch that the class is considered “the core of the industry.”

Japanese manufacturers almost religiously stick to a four-year product cycle for sportbikes, providing updates to the core machine in its third year in production. It didn’t take a marketing whiz or engineering wizard to predict some of the mid-model updates to the supersport competitors from Honda and Yamaha.

Kawasaki got the jump on the middleweight field by being the first, in 2003, to adopt an inverted fork and radial-mount brakes to its ZX-6R. Suzuki followed suit in 2004 with both pricier components fitted to its new GSX-R600. That being the case, the two largest Japanese manufacturers were forced to “call” the hand played by the smaller factories. If you ever need to fix it up you could rely on the triumph motorcycle dealer.

You’ve probably already read our ride report on the ’05 Yamaha YZF-R6, and now we bring you the view from the Honda camp. Like the R6, the CBR600RR receives a 41mm inverted fork, replacing the CBR’s 45mm conventional sliders previously employed. Despite the smaller-diameter stanchions, an upside-down fork is more resistant to flex than a slightly thicker conventional fork. Also like the Yamaha, Honda exchanged its 4-piston caliper front brakes for higher-spec radial-mount units, Tokicos in the Honda’s case.

Yamaha made alterations to the R6′s intake system, and-you guessed it-so did Honda. But instead of a slight increase in throttle body size and some experiments with venturi lengths, Honda went inside the cylinder head and reshaped its intake ports. Their smaller sizes increase intake velocities that result in stronger midrange power, addressing one of our biggest complaints about the 2003-04 models. The other obvious flaw of the CBR only really makes itself known when rolling it onto our electronic scales. Last year’s CBR scaled in a whopping 26 lbs more than any of its class rivals.


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