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Light, Powerful, Compact Sport Bike: Honda CBR600RR

By Arv Voss, May 8th, 2010

It's no secret that I'm a much bigger fan of standard motorcycles of the cruiser genre than I am of all-out sport bikes. Size is the culprit -- at least my size is. I'm 6'4" and the majority of my height is in my legs. It's not the fault of most sport bikes that I don't fit well.

Throwing a leg over the Honda CBR600RR is easy enough, but folding up my long legs to get my feet onto the pegs for takeoff requires some advanced level of gymnastics. Reaching the drastically down-turned handlebars necessitates leaning forward at an exaggerated angle over the fuel tank and holding my head up at an uncomfortable level, particularly with the added weight of a full-face helmet.

All that having been said, the CBR600RR is a beautifully sculpted and attractive bike that has a lot to offer in terms of performance. It is powered by a 599 cc DOHC, 16-valve, liquid-cooled inline four-cylinder engine with Dual Stage Fuel Injection featuring 40mm throttle bodies, Denso 12-hole injectors and computer-controlled digital transistorized ignition with 3-D mapping.

The bike's motive force reaches the final drive #525 O-ring chain rear wheel that is metered through a close ratio six-speed sequential manual gearbox.

What is unique on the CBR600RR is an exclusive, MotoGP-derived Unit Pro-Link Rear Suspension, a Dual Stage Fuel Injection System featuring two injectors per cylinder, and MotoGP-derived Honda Electronic Steering Damper. The high-revving engine redlines at 15,000 rpm.

The suspension consists of 41mm inverted HMAS cartridge forks up front with spring preload, rebound and compression damping and adjustability with 4.7 inches travel. Aft is a Unit Pro-Link swingarm HMAS single shock with spring preload, rebound and compression damping and adjustability with 5.1 inches travel.

The CBR600RR rolls on Dunlop Sportmaxx Qualifier radial tires (120/70 ZR 17 M/C 53W in front and 180/55 R17 75W out back), mounted on three-spoke, black painted, hollow spoke alloy wheels.

Slowing the Honda down and bringing it to a halt is handled by Dual radial-mounted four-piston calipers with dual 310mm discs forward, and a single 220mm disc aft, featuring Honda Combined ABS braking system.

The Combined ABS is a new advanced braking system designed specifically for supersport motorcycles. It is the most advanced braking system offered to the motorcycling public. Honda's Combined ABS represents the first use in a supersport street bike of a braking system that incorporates an Electronic Control Module to manage the system while providing accurate braking force distribution to both wheels, which ensures precise and predictable brake operation without concern for wheel lockup in straight-line conditions.

My test Honda CBR600RR sported metallic black bodywork including the full fairing and fenders with Charcoal and Silver metallic graphics. The base price was set at $11,599. If I were under 6 feet tall, Honda's CBR600RR would be a lot more appealing to me. It is an incredible machine that is great fun to ride.

Acceleration is blistering in any gear, and except for freeway stints, sixth gear is seldom necessary. The bike starts to come alive at around 7,500 rpms, but really reaches its full potential in the 11,000 rpm range. Redline comes at 15,000 rpm.

The ride quality is smooth and compliant and handling characteristics are immediately responsive with minimal input required for spirited riding. There are foot pegs for both rider and passenger, with storage beneath the removable passenger pillion.

Turn signals are not self-canceling, and the side stand must be up to fire the bike's ignition, deploying it with the engine running, acts as a kill switch.

The exhaust note was exhilarating, resembling that of a Formula 1 car when cranking the throttle full twist. Braking was exceptional, though I never needed the ABS function. It's advisable to employ full on braking only when traveling in a straight line or the laws of physics are sure to come into play -- something you don't want to experience.

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