So I just got back from a visit to Alabama with the people from Honda, where I had my first chance to ride the all-new 2007 CBR600RR (see our tech preview) at the world-famous Barber Motorsports Park. I need a day or two to collect my thoughts (and recover from jet lag) before I can give you a full ‘First Ride’, but I wanted to share a few quick first impressions.
Honda’s goal with the ’07 CBR600RR was to improve their middleweight’s on-track performance, while at the same time improving the machine’s streetability. Of course, that is probably the goal of every OEM with a bike in this class.
I can say for certain that Honda has successfully addressed track performance, in a big way. I recently had a chance to ride a track day on a 2006 CBR600RR, and believe me, the 2007 is a much more impressive track bike. Not that their was anything wrong with the 2006 model – which took second place in our 2006 Supersport Shootout, where we called it the best bike of the bunch for street riding.
The 2007 model retains many of the strengths of its predecessor, offering the familiarity and ease of use that is typical of Honda. Like every Honda 600 I’ve ridden in the past, you feel at home as soon as you swing a leg over the new RR, and it’s incredibly easy to ride. The new model, however, is a much more serious performer – the all-new, much more compact engine packs the most impressive mid-range of any 600 I’ve ever ridden, with electric-smooth power delivery that makes riding on the track a blast, and will certainly bring a smile to your face on the street.
The redesigned chassis has been the subject of thousands of hours of development and testing, and the final design packs sharper reflexes than the bike it replaces, without any loss in stability (helped by the latest-generation Honda Electronic Steering Damper or HESD).
So the new CBR600RR slices apexes better than ever before, but did Honda achieve their other goal – improving the streetability of this best-selling middleweight? I only sampled the new RR on the racetrack, so that’s a difficult question to answer, but I can put forward a tentative ‘yes’, pending further testing. The ergonomics are similar to the ’06 model (which was one of the more comfortable street bikes in our shootout), but the bars have been RAISED slightly and the seat was redesigned for greater comfort. Expect a full street test from MD soon.
I shouldn’t say much more now. Stay tuned for a second, much more thorough ‘First Ride (part two)’ within the next couple of days…