2007 Honda CBR600RR

Why 2007, why not 2008? :-) the 2008 ones are pretty much lipsticked and puckered up 07s (cosmetic upgrades..), with little or no performance enhancements.

Hondas have always been on top of my favorites list ,and for almost a decade now, even with a virtually non existent Legal Market for Superbikes in India, they remain the most sought after, the most reliable, the most adored brand. Theres something about a CBR which endears you to it (even if its as horrendous an offering as the 954RR). My personal fave with the moniker has always been the Supersport version, the 600RR and its more friendly road-going sibling, the 600F/F4i. Regular readers might even recall a test I did a while back over HERE, and my general chit chat about CBRs over HERE.

Coming back to the 07 600RR though, the first thing that struck me about it was the RAM Air duct right on its nose, NAISH I thought, older Ceebers did lack a bit in top end grunt I felt, this one would obviously set that right. The second thing that struck me was how bloody good looking this baby is in real life. Its one thing to see a wallpaper on the interweb, a completely different to see, feel, touch one in real life, completely oblivious to the trouble it can get you in out on the road if you're not careful.

Most people complain about amounts spent for Racing R&D, but hey, isnt it good to have that tech transferred onto your road going machines? Apart from mere boast value it also offers cutting edge solutions to go fast, carefully. I wont delve deep into whats new on this or whats different on this compared to the other 3 Jap Supersports, (please use google, or motorcycle-usa.com to look for a shootout, and tech specs/jargons) suffice to say, the 2007 Honda CBR600RR can lap a race track faster than any other bike in the world. Yup, Mad Max said so. Its lighter, faster, better looking, smoother, easier to ride, than most other bikes I have sped on over the past decade or so, and it does so effortlessly. Go test one to find out why (the GSX-R600/ZX6R, might be faster, but they dont have the entire package wrapped up as nicely as the 07 Ceeber 600RR)

Its got the goodies - Unit Pro Link rear suspension, right off of the MotoGPs RC211V, PGM-DSFi (Dual Stage Fuel Injection System, as opposed to PGM-Fi of yore, for laymen), Honda Multi Action System inverted front forks (a thing of beauty is a joy forever, it feels nimble, no dives, steers like a dream), Honda Electronic Steering Damper, Fine Die Cast frame for even lighter weight and flickability, an LCD Panel display and believe me I could go on and on like a Duracell battery. All this though, is no big deal because even an R6/ZX6R/GSX-R600 would boast of similar race derived technology coupled with little things here and there for the road. Where Honda scores though, is in thought, an effort in which they have tasted considerable success. The people at Honda do give a fuck about who buys their machines, which is why they would give you storage options on a Sport Tourer, or a Centre-Stand on a 600F, little things which a buyer might appreciate. The 600RRs most endearing feature is the seating, its not old school (neck down, ass up in the air). The bars are raised (as I found out online), with no change in seat height/distance, which is probably why it was such a pleasure to ride out even in heavy city traffic.

Now the test, so much for its looks, its features and its antecedents. Whats it like to twist throttle?

A VERY, if I may add, VERY, sweet kid I know picked up an 07, and bravely gave me the keys for a test ride, with the words, "Please Dont Fuck it", added for good measure (my reputation is a bit, er, you know what I mean), if I remember correctly. At that point, me, the wife, and a couple of buddies were about to head into a Dhaba for a quick hot meal. As it were I got on it, turned the key, waited for the check, switched the kill switch and thumbed the starter, the machine purred to life, even without a Helmet it was almost impossible to hear a thing. I recalled my younger days when bikes used to be loud, heavy and fast. I can never cease to marvel at technology that allows a bike to go MUCH faster (present day Supersports are much faster/lighter than most of the erstwhile litres), without sounding, or feeling it.

I revved it a couple of times at higher rpms, still no howl, very typically Honda. Turned it around and started up the road, I could swear I heard the words "now its raped" being said to my lil bro (have to cross check on that one) while I was exiting the lane onto the main street. I didnt have much time to take in its striking looks, the wonderful graphics to go with a Pearly White skin on a moonlit night, the Under-seat exhaust and lamps split by the RAM duct adding to its handsome features, but passing the Dhaba entrance and seeing the dropped jaws reminded me that it looked bloody good too.

Up the road and turned right on an uphill towards Bangalore's Ulsoor Lake, the bike felt lighter than last years R6 (which is saying a lot!), and was steering like Harry Potters broomstick, on pure instinct. I was impressed already, any bike which was steered on instinct at 25kmph at a steep right hander, would do pretty much the same on a race track at 200kmph with considerable ease, with some skill thrown in of course. Not yet on open stretch, I had to wait a while before overtaking a few vehicles, the roads were wet, it had rained, the bike was new, didnt really want to push it more than required.

Low speed steering was not as much a strain as the litreclass/sport touring machines, and was certainly the best amongst all Supersports Ive tried thus far, (remember that part about higher bars?) the gearing though left something to be desired, like most Supersport machines, its nearly dead below 4000rpm, which can be a bad thing for a novice wanting to twist his way out of traffic finding the power less, because once past 8000 rpm (peak torque curve beginning around 6500) it shoots past everything like a dragon on steroids with a jet propeller fitted up its arse, a very small, light, dragon, if I may add.

I still recall being cosily ensconced behind the fairing in 3rd gear doing a paltry 60 kmph, twisting throttle slowly to see what the curve had in it, well for one it certainly wasnt flat (very unnecessary procedure to find that out, maybe something wrong with the programming on the Fi). Suffice to say if I hadnt instinctively dived behind the minimalistic wind screen, my neck would have been several kms away from the rest of me. I have rarely felt such drastic, exhilarating pull from a machine beyond 11000 all the way upto its claimed 15000rpm, with some grunt left in it. A Steep left hander had me shifting weight to position myself only to find the machine was one step ahead of me and already ready to attack the corner at 145 or so kmph (I didnt get a look in but it felt about that much), good sense prevailed and I braked hard leaning into the left hander (it was blind, wet roads, city traffic, didnt want to risk a brand new machine), feeling more and more impressed at this machines capabilities, progressive, and COMPREHENSIVE (theres one word you wont find in most motorcycle tests!!) are 2 words that come to mind to describe the smooth braking under heavy pressure on a wet road at good speed, the beauty of Tokicos.

A lil tip to future owners, dont let it dip too far below 8000 rpm because thats where the juice begins, you would need that to exit corners as fast as possible, and believe me, you can exit corners about as rapidly as you can on this little baby, its that good.

As much as I would have loved to ride and ride and ride and take it all in, stray drops of rain reminded me of my wife and buddies waiting patiently at the Dhaba for me to get back and eat (I was famished too in all honesty). I gave him back the keys, we took some pics (which explains the muck you see on the front and bit out rear too) and chatted on about what an exciting machine this was, and what havoc one could spread with an Akrapovic full system exhaust and a Dynojet Kit.... Thats right, more on that later.

All in all a very eventful dinner indeed, I couldnt stop raving about the bike, the wife was giving me looks as usual, but then I have to give a machine its due. The 2007 Honda CBR600RR, is simply, one of the BEST machines I have ever tested in my life. No 2 ways about it, it would have been the best save for one particular Hayabusa without the limiter. If Honda can actually translate this performance onto the 2009 1000RR, I'd be the first one queing up to get one for myself! (am not much of a SuperSport guy)