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"Fast Bikes", January 1, 2013

Honda CBR600RR

Suitably powdered, the Mamba then gets on with the job in hand

JOHNNY ‘THE GAWLER’ GAWLER

Like the Mamba, the venerable old CBR600RR may be far from the cutting edge, its best days may lay behind it, and its young rivals may have stolen a march on it. But unlike the Mamba, when it comes to it there are few bikes so rewarding as the CBR on a mission.

As standard the Honda starts so far behind the eight ball that you think you should be perennially snookered in the supersport market. In today’s company, the Yamaha and Kawasaki should run rings round it, but battles aren’t waged on paper...

The beauty of this bike is that it’s not had a major tickle. All that’s been addressed are the bike’s weak points, so we see an Akrapovic full system, releasing eight ponies throughout the range, a Sigma slipper clutch and a set of BST carbon wheels.

Its needs can be ordered as above. There’s no doubting that the stock bike needs more shove. Back in 2007 it still wasn’t ahead of the pack and since then Honda’s rivals have all had a coat of looking at since then. 110bhp brings it back in the game and restores some element of parity in a class where every pony needs to be rounded up and corralled into place.

It fuels very well, with finishing school manners right through the range. Given the pick up boost thanks to the BST wheels and the sheer dependability and progressiveness of the motor, the CBR shod with Pirelli’s Supercorsa tyres is a weapon that can do some damage on track. On the face of it this could be any CBR from the last five years – it just doesn’t perform like one.

It really is a roller skate round your favourite ribbon of Tarmac. It feels so small, compact and flickable that you only have to think and it responds to your will. Thanks to the stock leccy damper, it never becoming flighty, like the Kawasaki, and the handling remains forever positive – the neutral balance to the bike enabling you to exploit lines and speeds through turns. This bike will teach you everything you need to know.

With the BST’s installed at both ends, the bike never wanted to turn in too early, something the ZX-6R was guilty of. The partnership seems to work in tune with each other and the inherent accuracy of the Honda is only embellished further with the carbon rims. As ever, the suspension works a treat, offering feel by the bucket load and belittling the more de rigeur set-ups on offer.

The Honda certainly revelled in the conditions, offering a light touch, yet sure footedness to proceedings. With the excellent C-ABS system on hand to allow hard-as-you-dare braking into puddle filled entries, the advantages of the Sigma slipper clutch became obviously apparent. This is great kit, I’ve used Sigma since I was in short leathers; it gets the job done, getting the bike into the right ratio without missing your markers.

But ultimately, the Honda starts too far behind its rivals; it’s a mere Jack Russell nipping away at the big dogs’ wheels. A well modified bike it may be, but why bother when you can pick up as good as standard elsewhere? It wins the effort prize...

ENGINE

The lightest ever 600 engine is smaller than any inline-four 250 to date, moving the engine main shafts in the crankcase, whose casting weighs over 900g less. Lightweight aluminium forged pistons are treated with molybdenum for durability. The engine also has a knock sensor to monitor for pre-detonation and maintain optimum spark advance. New in ’09 are pistons, cylinder head and a refined exhaust.

CHASSIS

The frame is four castings. The wheelbase has shortened by 20mm to 1,375mm, the swingarm has gained 5mm (now 573mm) and the steering head was extended by 13mm (as measured from the crankshaft). The suspension is the same. The front uses a 41mm inverted HMAS cartridge-type fork, with Unit-Pro Link at the rear. The seating position has shifted rearward by 15mm. Combined C-ABS is an option, but is 10kg.

Highlights

BST carbon wheels

Akrapovic full system

Sigma slipper clutch

C-ABS braking

110bhp

155kg (dry)

TRACK 8

It does everything you wish

FAST ROAD 8

Now with added guts

HOOLIGAN 6

leave it to the young 'uns

NEW RIDER 7

A gentle introduction

DESIRABILITY 6

No more aces up its sleeve

DON’T BE FOOLED BY

Supersport racing. Once the CBR ruled the roost, now those days are long gone…

Verdict 8/10

The mods here have addressed the Honda’s inherent problems, but the game’s moved on even further…

+ POWER DELIVERY, BST WHEELS, SIGMA SLIPPER

- LACK OF REVS, BLAND LOOKS, NO X FACTOR

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