Honda CB1000R (2018) | Review

Michael Mann - Web Editor, Bike Social
By Michael Mann
MannOnABike BikeSocial's Web Editor. Been riding bikes since 1984 and writing about them since 2013. Commuted in Central London for 10 years, fast and smooth road rider, does a reasonable job in a track day quick group. 6 ft and 14 st.

 

Ten years ago, Honda told the motorcycling world about their CB900F Hornet replacement, yep you’ve guessed it, the CB1000. Back in the day it was powered by a 998cc, liquid-cooled, 4-cylinder detuned 2006 Fireblade engine making 109.44bhp.

Fast forward to today and the evolution has created a revelation. Still using the same old motor as its base but with some key updates, the new CB1000R and ‘+’ sized model offer 143.5bhp. And that’s just the start of the impressive improvements as BikeSocial’s Michael Mann found out at the recent International Press Riding Launch in a rather chilly southern Spain.

 

2018 Honda CB1000R review BikeSocial
VIDEO: first riding impressions of Honda's CB1000R
Straight off the bike and in front of the camera, Michael Mann gives you an intro to the bike and his first impressions

 

Introducing the new Honda

 

I’m a reasonable guy and don’t mind admitting to being wrong. When I first caught a glimpse up close to the CB1000R at the annual Milan show back in November I was certainly turned on by its appearance but when I learnt it didn’t have the 2017 Fireblade engine and ‘only’ produced less than 145bhp my attention switched to something else that was shiny and new nearby. Probably the Monkey concept.

I’m glad to say that having smashed through 130 miles of the stunning Ronda road and nearby privately-owned race track of Ascari, that I was wrong to not coo and drool for longer back in Milan. The largest of the three machines in the ‘Neo Sports Café’ range (three words that I’ll bet you didn’t expect to appear together to describe a bike style), along with the CB125R and CB300R is eye-catching. Some will base their arguments on the complete tosh that the exhaust is too big or the number plate hanger looks rubbish but I’m afraid those are the laws by which Honda and all other manufacturers must abide including Euro 4. Nevertheless, appearance and stylish as the CB is in my eyes, the differences between it and its predecessor are enormous. The new one is lighter, faster, more comfortable, more economic, better suspended, stronger, growlier, engineeringly advanced with a decent smattering of easy-to-use electronics.

Interestingly positioned, the Honda sits in between the realms occupied by the mad-as-a-box-of-frogs supernakeds such as an Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 or KTM 1290 Superduke and the more sedate café racers from Triumph or BMW. Equally it’s superior in terms of build and ride quality than a Suzuki GSX-S1000 and Kawasaki Z1000. If we were to run a group test then I’ve picked my nearest three below but feel free to let me know your thoughts.

The ‘+’ model brings some extra toys to the party with factory-fit heated grips, aluminium front mudguard panels and rear hugger plus fly screen, single seat cowl, radiator guard and the all-important quick shifter – up and down the ‘box.

 

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Price

 

The CB1000R is £11,299 and is available in three colours: Matt Bullet Silver Metallic, Graphite Black or Candy Chromosphere Red while the Honda CB1000R+ is £12,299 but comes only in the black. Both models are available in dealerships from early May.

On a PCP deal with a £2,300 deposit for the standard bike or a £2,700 deposit for the + then your repayments over a three-year deal at 4,000 miles per year are £139 / £149 per month.

 

2018 Honda CB1000R review BikeSocial

 

Power and torque

 

Like I said, a SuperDuke or V4 Tuono-beater it isn’t but a stylish and gutsy naked it is. Honda’s newest litre naked has 143.5bhp to play with and a healthy torque figure of 76.7 lb-ft (104Nm) which peaks at 8,250 rpm, at the top end of the crucial 6,000 – 8,000rpm band that Honda’s engineers have focussed on.

Roll-on acceleration from the mid-rev range point is strong for the overtakes and the gearing is such that the first three are short, snappy and make light work of standing starts beating most two or four wheeled vehicles away from the lights, while cruising around in 6th is so much of a doddle that you’ll think you’re in 4th.

Three selectable pre-set riding modes: Rain, Standard and Sport which control power, engine braking and traction control.

 

2018 Honda CB1000R review BikeSocial

 

Rain naturally offers the lowest power and torque setting in the first three gears, a medium amount of engine braking and the highest level of traction control. Standard mode reduces power in the first two gears and a medium amount of engine braking and traction control while Sport offers 100% power through all six gears, maximum torque and just a minor intrusion of TC. The User mode allows for a bespoke set-up choosing personal preferences from the three available options.

Chasing the clouds on the magnificent Ronda road north of Marbella was the perfect playground for the CB. Long, fast, smooth and sweeping bends around the mountains are mixed with some tighter corners ideal to tap down few gears using the ‘+’ model’s quickshifter that works ideally for the road both up and down. I say ‘road’ because it takes a dedicated effort rather than some of the more delicate or sensitive track-focussed systems I’ve used.

Our merry jaunt ended in even more spectacular fashion at the Ciruito Ascari Resort – a privately-owner super circuit designed mainly for rich car owners to thrash around in but our base for photos. The CB isn’t a track bike but an energetic three laps behind former British Supersport and TT racer champ turned commentator, Steve Plater, showed its athleticism and hunger for revs. Unfortunately, we’d found the clouds by now so the track photos look a little washed out.

 

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Engine, gearbox and exhaust

The headlines might all sing about how the new 2018 CB1000R is theoretically a Fireblade beater from 0-80mph, through the first three gears and that’s all tremendously cool if that sort of thing floats your boat, but how did Honda manage it?

The 998cc DOHC four-cylinder heart of the bike is a revised 2006 Fireblade engine tuned to offer maximum torque and character in the 6-8,000rpm range, boosting low-mid rev range grunt compared to the Fireblade’s thirst for high speed performance and track-like agility. Primarily a longer stroke and narrower bore result in better low/mid torque which is why the older Fireblade engine was used as the CB1000R’s base as opposed to the 2017 CBR1000RR which has a shorter stroke and wider bore for more top end torque.

 

2018 Honda CB1000R review BikeSocial

 

Other enhancements on the new bike’s engine include forged pistons rather than cast as per the old CB1000R, much like the 2017 Fireblade SP. An 8mm larger (vs. 36mm on the old CB) diameter throttle body feeds larger diameter inlet ports, the combustion chamber shape has been revised, a new airbox and filter reduce pressure loss while valve list is higher and gas flow is improved through and out of the cylinder head.

Despite the size of the end can, the not-easy-to-miss 4-2-1 exhaust design is remarkably 4.5kg lighter than the previous model and comes fitted with a “tuned exhaust note” that becomes deeper and more raw after 5,500rpm – coincidentally and crucially the point after the Euro 4-related measurements.

A high red line of 11,500rpm with an equally lofty peak power point of 10,250rpm where the full 143.5bhp is available are evidence of a character-laden four-cylinder. The ride-by-wire throttle is among the engine refinements and offers a very smooth (especially for a Japanese-four) power delivery. The only thing to look out for here is the low speed city traffic negotiation while in Sport mode – it’s a little excitable but just a little.

 

2018 Honda CB1000R review BikeSocial

 

Handling, suspension, brakes and weight

The minimal look and feel of the new Honda is complemented by its lush build quality and detailing. A new chassis with minimal bodywork and a short and rather tidy looking tail look the business with brushed aluminium catching the eye. In fact, there are just 6 plastic parts on the entire bike.

It weighs 12kg less than the outgoing version at just 212kg ready-to-ride giving a power-to-weight ratio increase of 20%. The focus has been to design a bike that is simplistic yet classy without losing any performance or comfort benefits and Honda’s back must be patted for achieving such a feat.

The wheelbase is slightly longer while the bike is lower in height and has a shorter tail section and stubbier nose changing its overall look. Naked bikes aren’t supposed to be this smart. Some won’t like the large exhaust muffler but like I’ve mentioned, it’s not something Honda, or indeed any manufacturer, can help. However, The Big H have been clever with their approach, making sure the system works in their favour by adding a link pipe between the two main exhaust pipes as they blend from 4 to 2, they’ve also given the final muffler section two chambers and two exit pipes to help with torque and sound. Overall, the system weighs 4.5kg less than the 2008 model.

 

2018 Honda CB1000R review BikeSocial

 

Fully adjustable upside down Showa ‘Big Piston’ forks and an adjustable rear shock give a smooth enough ride which becomes a little choppy at the rear on some bumpier surfaces at the more interesting speeds.

The double 310mm floating discs and 4-piston radial Tokico callipers do a credible job of getting you stopped. The brake lever travel is minimal and the reaction is very sharp. ABS judders into action when you need it and there’s even a nice touch of flashing indicators when braking hard to warn following vehicles.

 

2018 Honda CB1000R review BikeSocial

 

A set of Bridgestone Battlax S21 R’s garnish the new 17” 10-spoke cast aluminium wheels and performed commendably on both road and track, it’s nice to see some high quality OEM tyres.

The CB1000R got lobbed from side-to-side up and down the suave Spanish roads and the package in terms of tyre, chassis, suspension, weight, engine combo for a performance-based ride is a very entertaining one. It turns and then settles quickly before begging for another spoonful of revs and another gear.

 

2018 Honda CB1000R review BikeSocial

 

Style and Comfort

 

An 830mm seat height comes with plenty of ground clearance with its high foot rest position though that negates concern when you see the long hero bolts on the pegs. The seat itself is fairly thin and therefore a little hard which won’t be to everyone’s liking but it’s slim at the waist making it nicely accessible and the pillion seat step-up is easy to slide back to push against when the ride becomes, let’s say, more spirited.

The rear mudguard that holds the number plate is bolted to the swinging arm so can easily be removed to neaten the appearance which is slightly Divael-esque. The sharp Neo-Sports thing is way to link the 125, 300 and 1000cc bikes together under one styling cue, and presumably to get a good deal on a job lot of paint! Brushed aluminium and black bodywork is always going to look classy and even the smaller bikes in the range look gown-up. I like it though only having one colour option for the ‘+’ model is an oversight.

 

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Equipment

 

Happily, Honda’s CB1000R project team didn’t go overboard with the array of goodies with those on offer…though a couple of extra bits would have bought the spec up to some of those aforementioned supernakeds such as cruise control, cornering ABS, keyless ignition.

The diminutive back-lit LCD instrument panel is easy-to-read except in bright sunlight and is neatly packaged doing well not to obstruct your vision - plus it looks a whole lot better surrounded by the fly-screen that comes as standard on the ‘+’ model.

It has a flashy light thing to one side which theoretically acts as a rev limiter, shows if you’re in eco mode or which riding mode you’re in by the power of colour. It’s not necessary in my eyes.

Operational via the up-and-down rocker switch and a ‘Mode’ button on the left bar it’s very simple to manage. The mode button allows access to either the two trips or the primary riding mode option screen. From there use the rocker switch to toggle and if a new rider mode is required just press and hold the Mode button, a quick throttle close (if changing on the go) and it’s done.

The up/down quickshifter and 5-stage toasty warm heated grips are standard on the ‘+’ bike and are well worth the extra money alone.

 

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2018 Honda CB1000R Rivals

Originally I was going to plum for the main three Japanese rivals but the Suzuki GSX-S1000 was a little too far apart from the Honda, especially at over £2,500 cheaper. The Ducati Monster 1200 S or BMW R nineT Pure could have easily made an appearance on this list too, as perhaps could Kawasaki’s Z900RS. However, I’ve opted for the closest that Triumph, Yamaha and Kawasaki have to offer in terms of price and power, which is of course open to debate:

 

 

Honda CB1000R+

Triumph Speed Triple S

Yamaha MT-10

Kawasaki Z1000 R

Engine

998cc, liquid-cooled, in-line 4-cylinder

1050cc, liquid-cooled in-line 3-cylinder

998cc, liquid-cooled, in-line 4-cylinder

1043cc, liquid-cooled, in-line 4-cylinder

Power

143.5 bhp (107kW) @ 10,500 rpm

148 bhp (110kW) @ 10,500rpm

158.2 bhp (118kW) @ 11,500 rpm

140.1 bhp (104.5kW) @ 10,000 rpm

Torque

76.7 lb-ft (104Nm) @ 8,250 rpm

86.3 lb-ft (117Nm) @ 7,150rpm

81.9 lb-ft (111Nm) @ 9,000 rpm

81.9 lb-ft (111Nm) @ 7,300 rpm

Weight

212kg (wet)

189kg (dry)

210kg (wet)

221kg (wet)

Seat height

830mm

825mm

825mm

815mm

Fuel tank

16.2 litres

15.5 litres

17 litres

17 litres

Price (from)

£12,299

£11,350

£11,299

£11,599

 

2018 Honda CB1000R verdict

Mercifully, it far exceeded my expectations. The attention to detail with the build mixed with some proper thought into how it looks, sounds and rides has been time and money well spent. Even with 30bhp less than some supernakeds, the CB1000R doesn’t waste any of its power and torque, laying it down in a smooth yet characterful and dare we say, a non-Honda manner. If there are any sub-50 mile journeys going on then this is the bike for you. Fact. Especially if smooth yet twisty roads are involved. It’s an evolutionary revelation, pouring a heap of spice into the ingredients of the outgoing model and Honda should be proud. I really want a ‘+’ sized model.

 

2018 Honda CB1000R review BikeSocial

Three things I loved about the Honda CB1000R…

• Engine character and mid-range torque

• Agility mixed with stability

• Build quality and styling

 

Three things that I didn’t…

• + model only available in black

• No cruise control

• Daft multi-coloured flashing light thing to the side of the instrument panel

 

2018 Honda CB1000R review BikeSocial

 

2018 Honda CB1000R specification

PRICE

CB1000R: £11,299

CB1000R+: £12,299

Engine

998cc, liquid-cooled DOHC, in-line 4 cylinder

Bore x stroke

75 x 56.5 mm

Compression ratio

11.6:1

Power

143.5 bhp (107kW) @ 10,500rpm

Torque

76.7 lb-ft (104Nm) @ 8,250rpm

Carburation

PGM-FI

Transmission

6-speed

Clutch

Wet, multiplate clutch

Frame

Steel mono backbone

Front suspension

Showa SFF-BP USD fork, adjustable for pre-load, compression and rebound

Front wheel

10-spoke cast aluminium, Bridgestone Battlax S21 R, 120/70 ZR17

Rear suspension

Pressurised Separation Type, adjustable for preload and rebound

Rear wheel

10-spoke cast aluminium, Bridgestone Battlax S21 R, 190/55 ZR17

Front brake

310mm double disc

Rear brake

256mm single disc

Dashboard

LCD

Wheelbase

1455mm

Caster Angle

25°

Trail

100mm

Steering lock

34°

Fuel tank capacity

16.2 litres

MPG

48.5mpg (claimed)

39.2mph (on test, inc. track use)

Wet weight

212kg

Seat height

830mm

Max height

1090mm

Max width

789mm

Max length

2120mm

 

For more information the 2018 Honda CB1000R, CB125R and CB300R, click here.

To insure this bike, click here

 

Photos: Zep Gori, Francesc Montero, Ula Serra

Video: Dom & Chris Read-Jones

 

2018 Honda CB1000R review BikeSocial
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