Honda CBR600RR (2003 – 2006) | Used bike guide

Jon Urry
By Jon Urry
Experienced road tester, bike hoarder and all-round top bloke.

 

The Honda CBR600RR, in a nutshell...

Having always designed their CBR600F as an all-rounder with the potential of supersport success, in 2003 Honda went all-in and released their first track-focused CBR model. The CBR600RR was a radical departure for Honda (although they kept the CBR600F in the range for a few more years, just to be on the safe side) and in many ways started the beginning of the end for the supersport class as they became ever-more track focused and prices spiraled upwards...

 

CBR600RR_BikeSocial

 

The technology:

Engine:

Somewhat surprisingly, the RR’s 67mm x 42.5mm bore and stroke is exactly the same as the CBR600F model that it replaced, however that’s about the only similarities the two motors share. Considerably narrower than before to give the RR a greater lean angle, the motor is also far shorter to allow for a longer swingarm. By raising the main shaft 48.4mm above the case centerline, the RR’s designers were able to move the countershaft closer to the crank in a triangular layout, resulting in a 30mm reduction in the distance between the crank and swingarm pivot point. And it didn’t stop there, the motor was also positioned 9mm further forward and the exhaust ports tilted 30-degrees downwards to allow them to curve closer to the motor. New ‘slipper’ pistons saved 15g each, ‘nutless’ conrods (a design featured on the SP-2) also saved weight, a dual sequential fuel-injection system was added and a dual pivot cam chain tensioner helped banish the CBR’s old Achilles’ Heel…

 

CBR600RR_BikeSocial

 

Chassis

Where do you start? Styled like a mini-RC211V MotoGP bike, in 2003 the CBR600RR was like nothing else. But underneath the beautiful exterior it was all function. Thanks to the short motor, the Unit Pro-Link swingarm (which is constructed from nine different sections) was 43mm longer than before while the hollow die-cast frame (a two-wheeled world first) owed its design to the RCV and was 1.1kg lighter than the CBR600F’s unit. Tucked partially under the seat the new centrally mounted fuel tank allowed for a larger airbox and improved mass centralisation while triple-spoke cast aluminium wheels reduced unsprung weight. Honda basically threw the HRC kitchen sink at the RR – and more…

 

CBR600RR_BikeSocial

 

Suspension

Something of a bone of contention in 2003, the CBR600RR came with conventional 45mm forks where some of its rivals had inverted items. Interestingly, they were the largest diameter conventional forks Honda had mounted to a bike since the NR750 and were fully-adjustable. The Unit Pro-Link swingarm and shock copied the RCV’s design and was also fully-adjustable.

 

CBR600RR_BikeSocial

 

Brakes

No radial items here, just conventional four-piston Nissin calipers with 310mm discs. The rear is a single piston caliper with a 220mm disc. C-ABS didn’t arrive until 2009.

 

Electrics

Pleasingly, the RR retained the CBR600F’s fuel gauge, but the clocks were all-new and featured a huge central rev counter so you could easily see when you were bouncing it off the rev limiter! Honda’s HISS immobilisor system is standard fitment.

 

CBR600RR_BikeSocial

 

Riding position

It’s a race rep, and a very extreme one at that, and fans of the more relaxed CBR600F found it uncomfortable and cramped. The RR does exactly what it says on the tin and if you aren’t wanting a full-on supersport bike, and that brings with it a full-on supersport riding position, then buy the CBR600F or the older CBR600F Sport.

 

CBR600RR_BikeSocial

 

Can it carry a pillion?

The RR has a pillion seat, but unless your pillion is the size of a rucksack, it’s a fairly terrible experience for all concerned.

 

CBR600RR_BikeSocial

 

What's it like to ride?

 

Then...

The CBR600RR was a total revolution when it arrived in 2003, bringing genuine 250GP handling to road riders. The chassis was like nothing else, so light, precise and agile that it destroyed race tracks while there was little wrong with the suspension and brakes aside from lacking the latest ‘cool’ factor. But the engine was a bit of an issue and with Kawasaki launching the big-bore 636cc ZX-6R in the same year, the RR’s desperate need to be thrashed mercilessly due to a lack of mid-range did count against it. If the test involved track riding only, the RR ruled the roost. If the ride home was also taken into account, the cramped and rev-happy CBR struggled…

 

Now...

The RR remains a superb handling bike and while the motor was changed over the years, the chassis’ design stayed pretty much the same throughout the RR’s whole 14-year lifespan. It really was that good and well ahead of its time. But the engine can be a pain. Don’t buy the RR expecting a relaxed supersport bike, it simply isn’t that. The inline four needs to be revved and while a pipe and fuelling map can give it a bit more mid-range, you are always going to struggle. If you like an engaging machine that rewards spirited riding and loves to be thrashed, the RR rules. If you want a chilled out ride, buy the CBR600F or one of the older supersport rivals.

 

Check for:

Early RRs did have a bit of tendency to burn oil, so always check the oil level and listen out for any worrying noises from the motor. As with any supersport bike, give it a good inspection for crash damage and pay particular attention to the swingarm and fork legs as these often get scratched but not replaced. If either has covers or protectors fitted, assume they are hiding damage! The RR’s bodywork is a nightmare to remove and cracked or broken lugs are common, especially under the seat and around the headlight, so look for these and obviously be wary of a replacement fairing as this hints at crash damage. A lot of RRs have aftermarket accessories fitted, mainly cans and mini-indicators/tail tidies, so check the wiring and watch out for quickshifters, they can create gearbox issues. If the bike has an aftermarket can, check it has also had its fuelling corrected via a Power Commander or ECU reflash. Oddly, a lot of owners report the rubber-coated buttons on the dash like to fall out, so check they aren’t perished or loose.

 

CBR600RR_BikeSocial

 

Updates:

The CBR600RR was updated in 2005 when it gained inverted forks and radial brakes. Although the majority of the motor was unchanged, it did gain a boost of midrange through new pistons, narrower intake ports and a revised stainless steel exhaust system, while the RR’s look was slightly sharpened through a new fairing and seat unit and the frame lightened. It’s a small update, but this generation does have a slightly stronger mid-range.

 

Prices:

A tatty 2003 CBR600RR can be found for in the region of £2800, but you are better off spending a few quid more and buying a good one for £3500 from a dealer. The RR could well be a future classic, so a tidy bike that is in original condition (or has all its OE parts) is a good buy. Immaculate 2003 bikes go for £4500. Oddly, prices for the updated 2005 model in decent condition are about the same as the earlier model’s, so you are looking at between £3500 and £4000 for a good one. Is this the ‘future classic’ syndrome already in action, causing inflated prices for the original model?

 

Honda CBR600RR (2003-2006) Specification:

Engine

599cc (67mm x 42.5mm), liquid-cooled, 16v inline four

Power

115bhp @ 13,500rpm

Torque

49ftlb @ 11,000rpm

Weight

169kg

Seat height

820mm

Tank size

18-litres

Servicing intervals:

Minor: 4000-mile/yearly – expect to pay in the region of £150

Major: 8000-mile/ two-years – expect to pay in the region of £250

Valve clearance: 16,000-miles - expect to pay in the region of £450

 

 

Latest News from Bike Social

Latest News

  • Hickman on ‘relaxing’ TT vs BSB
    Isle of Man TT 2019: Hickman on ‘relaxing’ TT vs BSB
  • Bennetts BSB Round 3 Ticket Giveaway – Donington Park
    Bennetts BSB Round 3 Giveaway – Donington Park
  • Isle of Man TT 2019: Inside Dean Harrison’s workshop and mind
    Isle of Man TT 2019: Inside Dean Harrison’s workshop
  • Violent London scooter criminals convicted
    Violent London scooter criminals convicted