The spectacular overhaul of the CBR 1000 RR did not allow it to oust its competitors. But it gave it back a formidable vigor and a leading electronic package. It is precisely this arsenal that monopolizes all the 2019 evolutions.
– The HSTC torque control has been adjusted to be more consistent and precise, making its intervention smoother. It now takes into account the profile of the rear tire
– The anti-wheeling and the HSTC are now adjustable separately. In addition, the nose-up control has been recalibrated to make "landing" of the front wheel. Three levels of intervention are available.
– The ride-by-wire accelerator reacts more quickly and allows, when gas is released, a reduction in engine speed reduced by 45%.
– The torque delivered during acceleration from mid-range has been increased.
– The ABS intervention level has been revised downwards, for sharper and more efficient braking.
Still no serial shifter, unfortunately, which is very surprising given the very sporty pretension of the machine.
The large CBR thus confirms its development in electronics, for the benefit of more precise piloting efficiency. Not yet enough to dominate the category but more than enough to have fun. Honda has done what it takes for that: this chapter is one of the most salient of the saga. The manufacturer took the design seriously and turned it into a racy, intimidating motorcycle with a face on the prowl. The Fireblade seems to be tucked into his shoulders, strained with hatred and at the height of the wait to bite hard. It gives off a feeling of wild beast, stealth machine and combat frigate. Compared to the previous generation, it is as if the engineers had cut in the fat to leave only the nerves on a layer of muscle. The fairing undergoes a clear cut in order to highlight the important sides of the frame. The gathered gaze houses full LED lighting.
Its design also marks the end of the period when the engine guard was apart. Now, the dress is slender, and we see, as on other machines, the return of a muffler taking its quarters along the rear wheel.
It’s not for style. With ever more draconian anti-pollution standards, space is needed to accommodate the catalysts, and that the breath can escape without holding back performance. This is one of the key points on which the CBR 1000 absolutely had to do a big job. Prior to 2017, its 4-cylinder spit out 181 horsepower, while the competitors established their bases on the 200-horsepower frontier. A chasm of gap.
A heresy for a manufacturer who has gleaned an impressive number of victories in competitions of all stripes. So the engine manufacturers got back to work. With a simple equation: how to find horses without developing a whole new block. The solution is to optimize everything possible. Well, we start by increasing the compression ratio, from 12.3 to 13: 1. Then, the moving parts: the crankshaft, the distribution and the transmission are made of better materials than for the previous block. Pistons, rings, timing and valve lift are reviewed, while a drastic reduction in weight occurs everywhere. The ignition cover is made of magnesium and the clutch cover is made of aluminum. Honda has even gone so far as to eat up weight on the length of the screws, the cooling system pipes and the hose clamps..
Thus, the 999 cm3 with unchanged ribs gains a good ladle of 11 additional horses. Honda’s hypersport now announces 192 horsepower at 13,000 rpm, and maximum torque unchanged at 11.6 mkg. However, these values are obtained at higher speeds than before..
Power fans will be critical: a big wait, a big redesign, and finally, the CBR 1000 RR does not join the club of "200".
Dropped? Not so sure. Honda has always preferred the best compromise over pure power. And it’s not just the watts that count. If the Fireblade is more powerful than its previous version, it is especially much lighter. With 15 kilos less, it drops below the 200 units mark. Let’s take a look at the weight / power ratio and we will better understand the evolution. With 14% improvement, the difference in performance shows a real leap forward, standing at 1.02. With this ratio, there are only two competitors who can claim better, the Yamaha R1 and the Ducati Panigale..
Already, the situation is not the same. But how did Honda gain so much weight? The priority was to transfer his homemade ABS, as light as an anvil. By adopting a Bosch system, it is already at least 9 kilos of gained. Then the exhaust. The titanium silencer saves 2.8 kilos. Engine side, with the improvements already mentioned + a more compact radiator and 100 grams lighter, it is still 2 kilos that fly away. Where is there still mass? The framework ! Thinner walls, it is 300 grs; for the swing arm, ditto; a new rear buckle, more rigid and lighter, it is 600 grs; and for the Tokico radial calipers, we will find 150 grs; new rims to destroy another 100 grs. And voila, we have our 15 kilos.
"Light is right". I will never tire of quoting Colin Chapman’s motto. However, this is no longer enough in today’s world of hypersports. It takes multiple controls to channel power and optimize dynamics. Until today, apart from a PGM-DSFI injection, the CBR was the most stripped down in electronics. The situation changes, with a massive ingestion of chips and sensors. Be careful, we go from the desert to Las Vegas between two generations of Fireblades.
OK, Honda switched its ABS to fit a Bosch, but not that. There is also the IMU box, capable of analyzing the movements of the motorcycle on 5 axes – The manufacturer did not seem to consider it appropriate to equip itself with 6 axes like some rivals. Thus, the Fireblade largely optimizes its braking: you can press like a piglet without the rear wheel taking off the ground, and avoid mess bowls with the system that modulates the braking force according to the angle taken.
Then it’s full control to gain engine and traction efficiency. A ride-by-wire throttle and APS throttle position sensor improve right-hand response and sensitivity. The arrival of the power is then delivered via a Power Selector offering 3 different characters: the 1 releases all the gniak on all the reports; the 2 moderates the potato on each report in order to offer a certain sweetness; the 3 tempers as much as possible to favor safety.
The CBR 1000 offered itself traction control, which Honda defines as "HSTC torque control". Thanks to the ABS sensors, the system intervenes if it detects an acceleration of the rear wheel or a deceleration of the front wheel. If so, the system reduces engine power. It can be set to 9 positions and be deactivated as needed, or as desired.
Another intervention technique but this time with deceleration. The pilot can intervene on the engine brake thanks to the SEB (that’s good). Adjustable on 3 levels, it allows "hold on" the engine on 1, relieves it more in 2, and even more in 3.
A shifter Up&Down is also part of the game but only as an option on the Fireblade. To have it in series, it is necessary to type in the more advanced versions SP or SP2.
Active ABS, Ride-by-Wire, Traction Control, engine brake, anti-wheeling, 3 engine maps – The CBR has refueled. And to facilitate the management of all these people, the pilot has the choice between 3 driving modes called RMSS.
It happens at the level of the dashboard. It refers to the rank of sympathetic memory the previous LCD block with multiple information. Here, it is a color TFT screen that adapts to the ambient light and offers 3 display modes. The mode "City" to have access to the RMSS sub-modes, the "Track" to add some information (lap time, laps completed, and difference from the best lap), and the mode "Maintenance" where a digital tachometer, the gear engaged, the throttle opening, the engine temperature and the battery voltage are displayed.
Let’s take a closer look at "City" to see how the RMSS accommodates the different piloting aids. The CBR 1000 RR can be driven according to the laws "Track", "Pleasure" and "City". The names overlap but you will understand.
In mode "Track", all the power is there, with linear acceleration and minimal traction control and engine brake intervention;
In mode "Pleasure", the system models the power in the first 3 gears, has little effect on traction control and more consistently on engine braking:
In mode "City", the pilot is entitled to an increase in average power on the first 4 gears and a strong intervention on the traction control and the engine brake.
These 3 modes might not satisfy. Fortunately, Honda has it all covered. There are also 2 modes "Users" which allow you to make your own combinations of settings and configure each level of intervention to your liking. All this is controlled on the handlebars from the left stalk.
Let’s go back to this screen for a moment, to see what it can display. While many still appreciate the hands of yesteryear, we cannot ignore digital technology. We can now see the engine speed, the gear engaged, the water temperature, the distance traveled as well as 2 daily totalizers, the instantaneous or average consumption, the consumption on routes A or B, the average speed and the time elapsed since switching on the ignition, the quantity of fuel remaining after the reserve warning light has come on, the distance remaining to be covered in reserve, the gear change settings, the throttle opening angle, the battery voltage, the date or a previously defined text. We can see the speed too, and the time incidentally. There are also some warning lights around, for the turn signals, the shiflight, the ABS, the Traction Control, the Neutral, the engine oil and the W symbol for the Wheelid Contol. Phew !!!
Strongly enriched in electronics, the Fireblade could not ignore technical fundamentals. A "Maverick Top Gun" silicon will not make you go faster if the bike is dragging a chassis. This is not the case with the big CBR, with each generation praised for the quality and the homogeneity of its part-cycle..
Apart from the thinning of the walls, its frame retains the same aluminum structure and the same geometry, but it is 10% more flexible on the torsional level; this decreases inertia. On the other hand, the swinging arm is stronger on this side..
For suspensions, Showa responds again. The inverted fork is still a 43mm BPF but revised for smoother damping. At the rear, no change for the BFRC mono-shock absorber, with double tube technology for more progressiveness and more consistency between the phases of rebound and compression. Each element is fully adjustable. For this big redesign, we would have liked to see the new BFFF fork with separate cartridges, as on the ZX-10R and the GSX-R 1000 R, just to gain even more efficiency.
The steering damper remains the electronic HESD element. To have better, even the big top, you have to ogle (again) on the SP editions, with suspicion ÖBrembo hlins and brakes.
And those of the standard CBR? Classic and efficient: Tokico (lighter) radial 4 pistons with more efficient pads. For the rear, a caliper with single piston.
25 years after its appearance, the Fireblade has offered something to return to the best seats in the segment. The aura of victories in the Tourit Trophy was no longer enough. More powerful, lighter, very well equipped in electronics, the Honda CBR 1000 RR can produce the best hypersports on the market. While displaying its new philosophy, the "Next Stage Total Control", following the "Total Control" dear to Tadao Baba, the designer of the first 900 CBR of 1992.
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CBR 1000 RR Fireblade 2018
Model marketed in
about 300 km / h
The technical aspect
2019 Honda CBR 1000 RR Fireblade
- Tank: 16 liters
- Width: 720 mm
- Height: 1,125 mm
- Wheelbase: 1,405 mm
- Weight in running order: 196 kg
- Train before
- secondary by chain
- Rear axle
(76 x 55 mm)
at 13,000 rpm
at 11,000 rpm