Honda undresses the Fireblade and creates new model family
Ten years after Honda last based a naked roadster on its superbike, a new CB1000R has broken cover at EICMA 2017. Evolved from the latest CBR1000RR Fireblade, it heads two new entry-level CBs with a family signature styled after the minimalist Neo Sports Café concept that Honda displayed at Tokyo.
For Honda, designing a naked Fireblade entails a lot more than simply stripping it naked, as clearly demonstrated in its two previous attempts, the 2001 CB900F Hornet and the 2008 CB1000R.
In fact, the 2018 CB1000R shares very few parts with the CBR1000RR, and even the four-cylinder engine has undergone an extensive makeover in order to adapt to its new role. Honda says it has retained the 998 cc motor's architecture and layout, but beyond that a lot has transpired in order to properly detune it from 189 hp (141 kW) down to 143.5 hp (107 kW).
The engine's electronics is an obvious first, but then there are also different valves (in size and lift), reshaped combustion chambers, plus new throttle bodies, airbox, ducts, air filter and a brand new exhaust system. The power produced by the engine is fed to a reworked gearbox, with four percent shorter ratios.
According to Honda, the end result translates to 16 percent more peak power and five percent more mid-range torque over the previous CB1000R, and with a wet weight of 212 kg (467.4 lb) it is lighter too. It is also claimed to be stronger in acceleration through the first three gears and up to 130 km/h than the current CBR1000RR.
The motor features an assist and slipper clutch as standard, and is handled via a throttle-by-wire system, equipped with three preset riding modes and one that's configurable by the user. Just like the Fireblade, the CB1000R also sports engine power modes, engine brake and selectable torque control (i.e. Honda's traction control), all adjustable to three levels.
Most importantly though, the reworked engine now hangs from a completely different frame. The twin spar aluminum design of the Fireblade has given its place to a new backbone steel frame.
Suspension-wise, Honda went for Showa's 43 mm separate function big piston forks (SFF-BP), a simpler variant of the big piston forks that the Fireblade uses. Originally developed for off-road racing applications due to its simplicity and lighter weight, the SFF-BP use Showa's big piston architecture, with hydraulic functions on one leg and spring action on the other. At the rear we find a Showa monoshock, similar to the one used in the Fireblade. Both suspensions are fully adjustable.
Honda completes the new CB with a series of official accessories, and will also offer a richer CB1000R+ variant that will come equipped as standard with heated grips, aluminum front fender panels and rear hugger panels, flyscreen with aluminum inserts, single seat cowl, radiator grille with CB1000R logo, and quickshifter.
Along with the announcement of the 2018 CB1000R, Honda introduced two new entry-level models, the CB125R and CB300R. Both are based on existing engine and frame packages, while adopting the distinctive new look and receiving some impressive equipment. Undoubtedly, many CBR125R and CBR300R riders will crave for those inverted forks and radial front brake calipers.
Which leads to the inevitable next question: how much longer before the CB500F and CB650F inherit the fresh family identity and replace the F with an R?