The Honda CB1000R doesn’t look like anything else on the road. Epic. That’s how I would describe my time with it. The look, the feel and the fun you’re getting… You cannot compare it to anything else on the market.
A warm introduction
A lot of things about the CB1000R came pleasantly unexpected. After riding it for 5 minutes, on the very first stoplight I wasn’t expecting (my passenger either) that the bike would pull up the wheelie. With so much power (144HP and 77 lb-ft), even with an extra weight on the back it took little to no effort to pull the front wheel up from the ground until traction control cut the fun off.
This hyper naked, “tiny” bike feels light and wickedly fast. Honda called it neo-sports-cafe but we think it’s very futuristic and more sports-oriented than most of the bikes in this class. To be on par with the CB1000R, I’ve signed up to the local gym and started counting calories. When your bike is always “in shape,” why don’t you take an extra mile?
Impressions inside and out
Overall fit and finish totally justify the $13K price tag, it gives you the value you would expect for it. The CB1000R is sophisticated enough in order not to try to be the most powerful in class. You can see great attention to details throughout the whole bike’s appearance – from its lines to silver accents – not plastic, but actual brushed aluminum. Headlights add up to the unique look, providing an upgraded, distinguished feel from the previous generation. The Honda CB1000R came out of a partnership between Japanese engineers and Italian designers, and you see this character throughout.
At first sight, the CB1000R feels smaller than it actually is, because you’ve got almost no fairings. My first real challenge was to get used to the tiny gas tank that’s harder to squeeze with your knees, especially when it’s got higher footpegs and shorter grips. You will have to lean forward more than on most of the other bikes from the same class because otherwise it pops up the wheelie as soon as you get to the sweet mid-range RPM power band.
The dash is extremely informative and keeps the rider up to date with everything regarding the bike, from RPMs and riding modes to the more basic info like your trip data, gas mileage, etc. Very easy to read, and it gets even brighter when you have direct sunlight coming from behind. The only thing I didn’t get is why they’ve replaced the “pass” button that’s usually used to flash your headlight with the traction control switch when all other settings (like riding modes) you can adjust using “SEL” (menu selector up and down) on the dash.
The CB1000R is filled with electronics, including traction control and ABS. In my view, the latter is overall “the best in business.” No matter how hard you would try to brake, it keeps the tires from locking and allows you to initiate an “emergency stop” a lot smoother. The 310mm 4-piston Tokico front brakes are very smooth and progressive, providing you with a safe setup you need on the road.
Traction control works not only when your rear catches dust on the road or when you’re pulling out from a gravel paved driveway. It also gently cuts the power when you’re accelerating.
The CB1000R offers a variety of riding modes that you can change “on the go” while riding. Thanks to the ride-by-wire technology you’ve got four of them: Sport, Standard, Rain and User. All are very simple and straightforward, with User being even a customizable one. There are three settings for engine power, three for engine braking, and four settings for traction control (fourth belongs to those who can manage to find it and shut it off completely).
Honda managed to make the CB1000R great not only for experienced riders (to make things easier) but also for someone who’s trying it for the first time, or switching from the smaller displacement. Using less power and more traction control (like in Rain mode) you can take “baby steps” into the world of “ultra fast” without scaring yourself.
Suspension and handling
In short, this is where the CB1000R truly shines. The front 43mm Showa fork is fully adjustable, and on the back you get spring-preload and rebound-damping. Pair it with the massive, wide Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S21 tires (190/55×17) that make cornering easy, and you’re getting the full potential of a supersport bike while having a very good amount of grip, allowing you to lean all the way through the corners. Quick shifter makes things even easier and also smoother.
I wasn’t a big fan of the “shorty clutch lever pulls” until I spent some time with this one. Exhaust system is very quiet until you pass 6-7K RPMs. It “opens up” more raw sound when you push it, and overall provides the bike with a very nice exhaust note.
When you’re thinking about using the 2018 Honda CB1000R for mostly commuting, you have to remember that it’s very sports-orientated. I’ve taken some longer trips (like 150-200 miles at once) and I wished for a bit more comfort and a bit bigger gas tank. On average, you can put about 100 miles before refueling and I won’t recommend riding with a passenger for more than a few blocks down.
“Ultimate wheelie machine”
Yes, it’s the ultimate wheelie machine that provides you with a perfect combination of the legendary past and the hi-tech future. It’s got the supersport engine combined with rider aids and throttle-by-wire. It’s got that unique futuristic look and it can be either raw or smooth; it can go fast or cruise around the town.
The Honda CB1000R is your perfect “entrance” to the world of supersport bikes where you don’t have to be scared. It’s giving you all the fresh air this world has to offer, while also combining it with a truly epic experience.
Yes, Honda has a higher price tag in comparison to the rivals but when it comes to performance and tech – nothing can touch it. The new CB1000R is built for fun and I was surprised to see this character from Honda, but loved it every single time I was getting on it. Experience it for yourself!
Special thanks to the Motorcycle Division of American Honda Motor Co. for providing the 2018 Honda CB1000R for review.
Check out our review of the all-new Honda Gold Wing here.