Honda CB1000R | Bike Tests | Latest Tests
How good has the big-bore nakedbike battle for supremacy been over the past few years? Well, not as good as it could have been, and that’s because here in Australia a major player has been missing – Honda. That changed for 2018 when the CB1000R returned to our showroom floors.
On paper, the big naked looks to have the goods; its 998cc inline four-cylinder engine is the same design that powers the previous-generation Fireblade, albeit re-tuned for a fatter midrange. It’s got an eye-catching single-sided swingarm, all-LED lighting, gorgeous styling, Honda’s typical build quality and a mid-$16K price tag. What’s not to like?
On the first rotation, all the test riders had glowing praise for the power delivery from the four-pot engine.
“I absolutely love the engine, and brakes on this bike,” Matt said. “That inline-four is just sensational. The ride is very similar to the CB650 we tested recently, just a lot more brutish.”
Josh Evans also praised the level of workmanship. “You’re getting a good-looking and well-made bike with easy-to-use electronics,” he said.
Having the LED indicators illuminated all the time was not much of an issue for anyone riding the bike, but anyone in front of the Honda found it distracting. “Every time I looked in my mirrors I thought someone had left the indicators on,” Alex said. “But the idea of having them flash quickly under heavy braking could mean the difference between being rear-ended on not, that’s a nice safety touch.”
Inevitably, during the second rotation of MoTY machinery is where the test team begins to get into the nitty-gritty of each machine, and for the Honda it was no exception.
Matt singled out the suspension as the Honda’s Achilles’ heel: “The only area I feel Honda has skimped a bit is on the suspension, especially at the rear,” he said. “Following the bike, the rear-end does not appear to be offering a great deal of support.”
Paul Treverrow felt this attributed to the vague feeling in the bike’s front-end, especially on the wet road surface.
“What this bike needs is stiffer suspension and a quickshifter,” he said. “As a 2018-model supernaked, it should have a quickshifter, and not having one does play against it.”
Once the roads dried and the front-end feeling returned, the big CB loved nothing more than to attack the twisty ribbons of bitumen on our test route, and it does not matter if you have the tachometer hovering around 5000rpm or racing past 10,000rpm, the engine feels like it has plenty in reserve. Those blessed with the skills to pop a decent wheelie will think the Honda is Christmas.
There’s a saying we often use for Honda and that ‘it does exactly what it says on the tin’, and this was evident in the voting where the Honda scored sweet-spot fives right across the board, a strong score that proves buyers are getting what they pay for. The CB1000R fell short in the all-important X-factor required to take the crown in this sort of company.
Second opinion – Matt O’Connell
Honda’s inline four looks fantastic when it’s naked, it’s got big header pipes out front and the overall styling is muscular and ready for action. This is more than just a naked ’Blade.
There are several riding modes, and I’m impressed by how easy it is to switch between them. A few simple button presses is all it takes, it’s intuitive, no instructions required.
To feel the difference between riding modes you need to get the bike up and moving because the power curve is most active in the mid-range and top end, and what a beautiful mid-range it is. The power stays smooth through the rev range, topped off by an intoxicating exhaust note as you reach the red line. The transmission is light and precise –but in 2018 a supernaked <i>needs<i> a quickshifter. The chassis has that Honda neutral feeling we all love and in the dry the front felt stable tipping into corners, but it was easily unsettled at the rear when the pace quickened. A quality fully-adjustable rear shock would be top of my shopping list if I purchased this bike. Build quality is excellent with typical Honda attention to detail.
One of these machines has been crowned the 2018 Motorcycle of the Year!
Ducati Panigale V4 S $37,490 (+ORC)
As appeared in AMCN Magazine Vol 68 No 12
Read the full test AMCN Vol 68 No 10
Total 106.10kg (wet)
12-month fully comprehensive
Estimated based on a 50-year old Sydney CBD resident who has held a motorcycle licence for longer than five years, has had zero at-fault claims and has completed an accredited riding course
A Seat height: 830mm
B Peg to seat: 490mm
C Peg to bar: 920mm
D Bar to seat: 680mm