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Honda CBR1000RR Updated for 2012

Times are tough for everybody, which is why we’re seeing more OEMs lengthening the product cycles of even their most high-tech sportbikes. Honda’s CBR1000RR hasn’t seen a major update since its 2008 introduction, and 2012 won’t see a ground-up redesign, but to celebrate 20 years since the class-crushing CBR900RR was introduced, Honda’s flagship sportbike gets new suspension, wheels, instruments, body panels and other changes.

The big news is probably the suspension. In front, the 43mm HMAS unit is replaced with the Showa 43mm Big Piston Fork that we liked so much on the Kawasaki ZX-6R we tested in 2009. To match it, Showa and Honda’s engineers developed a new “Balance Free” shock for the Pro-Link in back. What does “balance free” mean? It means the rear shock now uses two tubes instead of one (one inside the other), which allows a larger quantity of damping oil and more consistent, smoother damping and travel, “particularly during the transition from compression to rebound,” as the press release puts it. It also puts the damping and rebound controls in an easy-to-access position on top of the shock—no more squirming around on your back finding that mung-covered rebound adjuster.

The motor remains the same, aside from some EFI tweeks to improve manageability, but there are some noteable cosmetic changes. The wheels are now a stylish, light-looking cast-aluminum 12-spoke design that Honda claims offers increased rigidity (and possibly more weight—the CBR’s claimed wet weight has crept up two pounds to 441, 467 for the Combined ABS version). The LCD instruments are also re-done, with a gear-position indicator, lap timer, adjustable shift indicator and four different modes for how the bar-style tachometer is displayed. Also, the fairing has been re-shaped for better cooling and aerodynamics. A 20th-anniversary red-white-and-blue paint scheme is available, reminiscent of that game-changing 1992 CBR900RR.

The bike will be in dealers in December—pricing is $13,800 or $14,800 for the C-ABS model. That’s a price increase of $401 for what seems like a whole lot of added functionality to an already very-good motorcycle. As always, we look forward to our first ride on the bike.


  1. Gutterslob says:

    It’s seems they’ve stuck to the “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” formula, which is a good thing in the case of the CBR1000/Fireblade.

    It’s a proven bike. I’m more of a Yamaha man (R1 revision was disappointing), but I’ll be the first to admit that the 2009/2010 CBR sh*** all over the competition. I’ve ridden one myself, and it’s just so damn easy to ride fast. I can’t make direct comparisons as I’ve not ridden every current 1000, but many “in the know” people have said the Honda is the most well-rounded of the bunch, even compared to the BMW and new ZX10R.

    Paint-job in the pic stinks of BMW though.

  2. Morris Bethoven says:

    It’s a nice bike, but not $15,000 nice.

  3. Yoyodyne says:

    If I was in the market for a litre sportbike this would be my first choice. Like MGNorge says, it can be thought of as a 600 with incredible torque. Sounds good to me.

  4. AFW says:

    Traction control should be standard on all liter bikes, no excuse for Honda to omit that technology.

  5. Denny says:

    Now, this is real charmer! Just wondering how ergos will work out; it look as Honda (at least visually) first time compromised on its famous ‘rider’s comfort’.

  6. Superlight says:

    Amazing to me how all the Japanese sportbikes tend to look alike, plus they show little to no overall design cohesion. The Italians make this (and the other Japanese machines) look like the half-hearted design efforts they are. No thanks.

    • Secret executive says:

      BUT the Japanese make the best overall machines in the real world that work for everyone…that is why they sell more bikes and have an awesome reputation and make more money…more reliable more comfortable more user friendly and more competitive bikes over a longer period of time…both as production and race bikes….

      I agree with you in the sense that as a design effort they appear to be homogenized to an extent….but there have been years when the Italians got it wrong(999) and the Japanese got it very right as the previous generation R1 citing example

      I have three Italian machines in my garage….and they are wonderful…but I also have a 08 CBR 1000 that is hands down the best motorcycle I have ever ridden…its no surprise they didnt change it much….

      • falcodoug says:

        I like the 999

        • Secret executive says:

          I personally really like the Terblanche 999 as well… but in Ducati’s mindset they felt they were better served with rolling back to something that took more cues from the 916

          the 999 works wonderfully and was even more successful on track

        • Ruefus says:

          So did mechanics and parts managers. Heck, anything Italian generally pleases these guys. I recall looking at a side stand bolt that was 43 bucks. Beautifully manufactured with Ducati on it.

          Guess that’s what cost the 40 extra bucks.

      • MGNorge says:

        How right you are. To dismiss this or other Japanese bike because it doesn’t match Italian flair is missing the point. Looks are subjective but I’d be willing to bet that especially over the long haul this would be a favored bike with few if any mechanical/electrical issues. Plus it’s bloody fast!

    • monsterduc1000 says:

      WOW! Really? You must have cataracts or something. All modern sport bikes look similar in some regard, but have you actually looked at these bikes. They are more different than ever.

      Personally, as much as I love Ducati, I thought the 10/1198 looked a lot like the ’04-07 fireblade.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Funny. I thought Ducati’s latest sportbikes look somewhat, ummm, Japanese in their design execution.

  7. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    As with the 2012 Yamaha YZF-R1:
    Enough changes to advertise that it’s new, but not a redesign like we used to see every few years.

    Personally, the 2012 model that has my attention is the WR-450F. 🙂

  8. Morris Bethoven says:

    Nice bike alright, but $15,000 is a lot to pay. You can pick up older 1000’s with nearly the same performance for a fraction of the cost. Oh well, someone has to buy these pricey new sportbikes so the rest of us will have something to buy on the secondary market in a few years. The bodywork is a bit more conservatively styled, not a bad thing.

  9. Ken says:

    Didn’t the 2011 version clobber an s1000rr around Chuckawalla Raceway at the hands of Steve Rapp? Hmmm, maybe midrange and easy to ride means something to people who really know something about motorcycles.

  10. Crazy Shamus says:

    Come on, what a week paint design…a 5th grader could have been more creative and come up with something better. Too bad, because it’s a nice looking bike.

  11. nick says:

    the sad part of all this is that honda is considering this bike a complete redesign, nothing special, and this is the bike we will see for a few more years also. Look at the 600 unchanged since 2007, six years… Again honda came out with something that would have been in demand and sold 4 years ago, with a price tag that is 4 years in the future. hey maybe they can just be a tax writeoff in 3 years and give them to some charity, like they did the dn01’s. what a joke.

  12. Norm G. says:

    is it me, or has this bike gone back to styling cues from older ’04 to ’07 design…?

  13. MikeD says:

    +1Million for the new wheels. I was sick and tired of looking at those Stagnant 3 Spokes from 2000B.C…I think i’ve seen that same design on the charriot of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in the inside walls of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

    These new ones look like some forged Carrozeria or some other high end design.

    Too bad i can’t say the same about the Pug Face…it looks better than when the 08 came out.

  14. Steve says:

    I own stock in Honda and I do not see much value in a bike that can approach 200 mph on the street. There is not much good that can happen above 100 mph.

    • Ruefus says:

      Then you’re not the target buyer.

      Simple as that.

      • Kent says:

        The target buyer is the insecure man who buys a bike to impress other insecure men.

      • Fred M. says:

        No, it’s not as “simple as that.”

        Either Steve is right, that “there is not much value in a bike that can approach 200mph on the street,” or most of the target buyers are wrong in their beliefs to the contrary. That a product can find buyers is not proof that the buyers are making rational purchase decisions.

        • MGNorge says:

          It’s always been the same, guys will measure small increases in top speed or horsepower and declare a winner. There is sooooo much more to riding a bike. But if that is all that matters to these guys I feel sorry for them. There are some very rewarding rides out there that aren’t even in the hunt for top speed or power ratings.

        • Secret executive says:

          I would hazard to guess that the targeted buyer…would know the need to be responsible and keep straight line speeds respectable(under 100mph or less) in order to keep from running a flat spot on a $200 rear tire and therefore use the power to run the bike cleanly through curves and on corner exits……a clean license and responsibility is what is required

          inexperience is the issue that needs to be addressed…that is the rational desicison

        • Fred M. says:

          @Secret executive

          I’ve probably got a lot more riding experience than you in miles, years, and number of bikes.

          You’re arguing about whether it’s possible to use the bike on the street and we’re talking about whether it makes sense to have a bike geared to approach 200mph on the street. We’re talking about whether it’s a good choice as a street bike and you’re saying that flat-centering tires is a result of going over 100mph in a straight line (How do guys on Harleys, scooters, and Ninja 250s end up with flat-centered tires? Is it all those 150mph runs?).

          • Secret executive says:

            @ Fred

            I have over 200 thousand Km’s experience on just liter bikes alone…however

            I was merely pointing out that using all the top speed potential of modern liter bikes on the street is of little relevance when there is so much more to enjoy about riding them on a proper twisty winding road….

            Flat centering tires is a reality on any bike yes…..but if you’ve ridden these 1000CC machines on a daily basis ….you’ll find you can strip the center out of a tire on a modern 1000 in a very short period of time……less than 1800 kms on the street

            I’m saying that anyone who rides liter bikes for any length of time cares little about top speeds and more about taking it easy before you get to the twisties….

          • MGNorge says:

            I look at the liter+ sport bikes, not as a way to test top speed, but similar to the 600’s but with more lower end torque. So riding is much the same except fewer gear changes and being able to motor out from turns rather than rowing the gearbox. I do not look at them as a means to rid me of my license or bench race horsepower and top speed specs. But it’s been this way for years, why stop now? The latest and greatest will become highly in demand while very capable bikes (and cars) are relegated to the dust bin.

          • Fred M. says:

            @Secret executive

            Souns like we have roughly similar levels of experience, at least in mileage/kilometerage. Sorry, but I took a bit of offense at what I (mistakenly?) took to be a swipe at my level of riding experience.

            In my 35+ years of riding, I have come to believe that the torque, tractability, and balance of V-twin sport bikes, combined with the lower RPM range in which they operate, make them a far better choice for street sport riding than I4 liter class bikes. Sure, my Buell is going to top out in the 160+ MPH range, probably twenty-some lower than the CBR1000RR, but I’m going to be faster on the Buell, on a twisty road, than I am going to be on the CBR.

            What flat-centers tires faster on liter-class bikes is not top speed. The center wears out first because acceleration, engine braking, and actual braking scuff rubber off the upright rear tire. Each time you downshift to engine brake, upshift and release the clutch, roll on the throttle or roll off the throttle, you will scuff the rear tire at the contact patch. The very fact that this wear happens on the street, on bikes that seldom go triple-digit speeds, is evidence of that. Generally, rolling at a steady state, it’s not scuffing and shedding rubber, which is why you don’t see front tires wear out at the same rate as rear tires, regardless of the top speeds attained.

          • Fred M. says:


            You wrote: “But it’s been this way for years, why stop now?”

            Because the performance envelope of the latest bikes is so far beyond the capabilities of the average buyer. You’ve got street riders who lack the fine throttle control of a racer trying to ride bikes that make too much horsepower at the high end and too much torque at the low end. These riders become herky-jerky and lack smoothness. As the day goes on, they tire out faster and ride even worse. What they need is not a 180hp bike — it’s a 120hp bike that revs slower, has a wider power band, and a flatter torque curve.

            Take the average rider on a liter-class state-of-the-art sport bike and put him on something like a Triumph Speed Triple, Buell 1125R, or Ducati Monster 1100 EVO and he’ll rider faster and better.

          • Secret executive says:

            @ fred

            I certainly share your enthusiasm for sporting twins….I have had a few RC51’s and a TLR at some point over 120,000 kms on those in fact…..and I wish the Japanese continued with them….but homologation is all they were interested in…however

            I would disagree however on your wider powerband suggestion on the basis of my experience…ie at least with RC 51 and TLR come on at 6500 and are into the rev limiter at 10,000rpm….modern inline 4’s are well into the good stuff at 75-8000 rpm and climb well into the 13 range…..but on I4 1000’s I really dont use much above 10 on the street…and they also seem to pull quite a bit smoother and without protest at 4-5000rpm….1000cc twins will flutter if you load them at those revs….I have always felt that from experience that the I4 sport bikes were much more civilized than 1000cc v twin sport bikes especially at parking lot speeds…..we all have opinions I suppose

            And on the center tire wear issue…..I work on bikes for a living…so I can say this to be true…a common scenario..a younger inexperienced person comes to the shop with his bike for a new rear tire….I ask him how my Km’s on it he says 3000kms…and its only worn at the center…
            conversely….I get older more experienced riders(like me) on the same type of bike..the tire is worn even right to the edges…all the tire is used…..the mileage 7800kms !! I good rider will always say……I watch my freeway speed..but I turn up on the twisty stuff…and it shows….in how the tire is worn and where…..this applies particularly with the recent crop of I4 sportbikes….with over 160 RWHP

            remember why the Daytona 200 became a 600cc venue ?? the faster a(any) bike runs under power in a straight line..the rear tire will always spin a bit faster than the bike is actually going..due to load and ever increasing drag this increases proportionally the faster the bike travels..they estimated at the time that at 200mph the rear tire was actually going 212 or more…..

            yes the braking and accel forces at any speed account for a good portion of wear on a street bike…..especially on a twin with its more pronounced off throttle characteristics

            but I will always stick to “be easy” on the top of the tire keep it cool….and use more throttle in the turns….

            I didnt copy this from a internet site BTW

          • Kentucky Red says:

            @ fred and 007.

            This is really great material guys; I love a good pissing contest.

            In case you’ve got your rulers handy: 10 years of experience, maybe 20,000 miles, no wrecks yet.

    • Tom says:

      I’ll wait another two years until the 210 mph version comes out. Or another five years for a 220 mph bike. If I wait any longer, I’ll be too old!

  15. harry says:

    What’s with all the white bikes?

  16. Chris says:

    The new bodywork is nicer looking. Still not IMO a good looking motorcycle, but better than the ’08 – ’11 version…

    No TC? That is kind of a surprise….

    26 lbs for ABS… Wow… Kawi and BMW have most of the sensors etc. already equiped since they offer TC pretty much as standard, but don’t their ABS systems add 7 lbs and 5 lbs respectively?

  17. blurgixxerninja says:

    wow. so i guess Honda weighed all the options and figure that doing a new motorcycle to compete with BMW and Kawasaki is not worth it. amazing. at least with the updates, they could have played around with the ECU, tweaked the engine, change the exhaust, i don’t know, anything to up the ante on the HP. the other tweaks are all find and dandy, but there’s no way to compete against the other two when you hold back. still, the Honda is a great bike in my opinion. i hope it does well against the powerful competition.

    • MikeD says:

      This is Honda we are talking about…(^_^ )…queen of BNG & Colors…what were u xpecting ? All the latest gadgets ? Guess again.
      W/E…they will have to eat what they grow…in the USA…i don’t care if they sell a gazillion 50cc Cubs or w/e is called…and make all their $$$ on 3th World Countries…they’ll scarred for life here.

      Now Kawi…Triumph…u guys carry on with the Flag held high…and show the others lost souls how is done…in a MF Recession…in the USA.

      • Fred M. says:

        Yes, this is Honda we’re talking about: The first company to put an airbag on a production motorcycle. The only one to ever offer an oval piston engine. The one that brought us a flat-four, flat-six, V4 street bikes, the first truly refined motorcycle ABS. We are talking about the Honda that is dominating MotoGP with their new transmission design.

        You might be all excited about Kawasaki and Triumph, but that doesn’t mean that their decision to release major redesigns in the middle of a “MF Recession…in the USA” will pay off. On the other hand, where are there MotoGP teams? Oh, that’s right, they don’t have them. Honda is pushing the technology envelope in MotoGP while they sit it out.

        By the way, I am not a Honda fan. I think Triumph rocks. I root for Erik Buell Racing. I think MV Agusta is uber cool. Aprilia is amazing. But I can’t ignore it when someone accuses Honda of not being innovative.

        • MGNorge says:

          ++1111 Refer to above response of those guys who only rate bikes on horsepower and top speed. Sad.

        • Doc says:

          Good points Fred. I am a Honda fan and have been let down over the last few years over their product offering and their racing success. Every company, no matter what products they sell, go through the same thing. Even though I like sportbikes, they are not my cup of tea. Whoever is styling these things, is getting it all wrong from the footpegs back. Now, you want me to buy a new bike? I’m waiting for the CB1100F! Probably be a long wait. By the way, that transmission concept is nothing new. I believe it was Cord in the 1930’s that had something similar. It was different in execution but the same result. They had the transmission control on the steering column and you could move the gear selector to the next gear without changing the gear you were in until needed or desired. Still a good idea though.

        • MikeD says:

          Yes, all true hard facts.
          I guess i went a little overboard when i tried to convey or xpress this… Honda…im so dissapointed of u lately (2005~now) and like me im sure many others FEEL this way.
          Put down the KOOL-LAME and do something…please (-_- )’

          P.S: Lay off Kawi, unlike Honda bikes is not one of their main $$$$ makers…The bikes division @KHI is like a flea on the back of a blue whale or like a weekend Hobby(it means almost nothing to KHI, no real financial impact on KHI, no real financial back up from KHI…) unlike Honda.

          Sorry, i don’t see how MotoGP sells bikes…last time i checked u couldn’t buy an RCV212V Replica yet nor does Honda uses anything from DIRECTLY from it on its street line-up. No real Impact.

          WSBK? maybe…

        • Fred M. says:

          @MikeD: MotoGP sells bikes because it showcases the engineering talent of the factory and provides excitement. If you think that MotoGP doesn’t sell bikes, then explain the Repsol Honda CBRs and the Valentino Rossi edition Yamaha R1s we’ve seen for sale.

          It’s also how trickle-down technology makes it into the bikes you ride on the street and that they race in Superbike and Supersport classes. Honda’s trick-new transmission from MotoGP will probably end up in CBRs in the future.

          I’ve got nothing against Kawasaki, or Suzuki, or Honda, or Yamaha. They all make great bikes. I’ve owned bikes by all of them. Now I prefer bikes that are a little less common — bikes that result in conversations with other motorcyclists who see them. I’m not Valentino Rossi, Max Biaggi, or Casey Stoner; the bike isn’t limiting me, I’m limiting it.

          • MikeD says:

            Fred M. says:
            If you think that MotoGP doesn’t sell bikes, then explain the Repsol Honda CBRs and the Valentino Rossi edition Yamaha R1s we’ve seen for sale.

            That’s just a fancy paint job for the feeble of heart. (^_^ )
            Fred M. says:
            Honda’s trick-new transmission from MotoGP will probably end up in CBRs in the future.

            I hope it happens before i become a weak old fart that can’t get a 1000 of it’s side stand…lol.

    • Stinky says:

      I don’t find all the new technology that important. Getting into a top this fight over power and top speed isn’t productive. The market for uberliter bikes is shrinking and from what I’ve read the CBR is one of the friendliest big bikes to sportride. When the performance that is available is unusable to 98% of mortals why shoot for more unusable speed. Most of the electronic traction control is mostly to let people ride it like the 600 they oughta be on.