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2002 Honda CBR954RR: Press Intro

Just back from Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and the introduction of Honda’s 2002 CBR954RR. After many laps around the former AMA National Superbike track, I came away very impressed with Honda’s latest open-classer.

I am too tired to go into great detail this evening, and a full report will follow next week after photos of the launch become available. I will say that the new bike has dramatically increased mid-range power and torque when compared with the 929RR (which was also available at the track for comparison purposes).

I also spoke with Tadao Baba, the chief engineer of the latest iteration of the revolutionary machine he created roughly a decade ago — the original CBR900. Baba also put in a few laps himself (he is an excellent rider — always a good thing when you are a motorcycle engineer). We talked about some of the unique design features of the new machine — more details about this next week.

Changes to the 954′s brakes (including piston compound — now steel instead of aluminum, and new pad material) have taken the already excellent 929 brakes to a new level of power and feel.

The torque generated by the new engine demands far greater respect while exiting corners. The 954 now has a mid-range feel more like the R1 and the GSX-R1000. Those bikes, of course, were not available for comparison, and further judgments will have to be reserved. Suffice it to say that getting on the gas exiting corners was an exercise requiring much greater precision than it did while riding the 929. It also allowed the 954 to be ridden a gear higher without losing drive exiting corners.

Stay tuned for a full ride report and technical review based on the press intro next week.