Look at the CBR(r)1000RR chassis and see Honda's hard-earned knowledge gained in the ferocious MotoGP wars. This all-new chassis incorporates the engine as an integral frame member, for example, and larger items such as the fuel tank and rider have been positioned carefully to sharpen the machine's handling response. These whole-machine concepts, pioneered in the RC211V and subsequently released to the riding public in the form of the 2003 CBR600RR, now incorporate Honda's latest strides in the CBR1000RR chassis.
Beginning with the styling of the CBR1000RR, which follows the lines set by the RC211V, the family resemblance is unmistakable. A sharp, aggressively angled nose transitions to a sleek, low-profile windscreen--all the better for track-going aerodynamics. The fairing's side body panels are of three-piece design for easier access to engine and chassis components--plus more of the aggressive look. And the distinctive fuel tank? It's actually a fuel tank cover for the underlying airbox and deep-reaching fuel tank. Experienced eyes will detect its shorter length, which allows the pilot to move forward. Again, this is part and parcel of the CBR1000RR's RC211V genetic lineage; a compact configuration brings the rider closer to the machine's center of mass to enhance quick steering transitions and neutral handling.
With handlebars set 1.8 inches lower and footpegs set higher and farther back than those on the CBR954RR, the 1000RR shows off more of its track heritage, yet there is still room for street-going niceties such as a detachable pillion seat that can be replaced with an optional color-matched cowl according to the hauling duties of the day. Underneath the rear seat area, there's storage room for a small U-lock, gloves and other essentials.
See the Unit Pro-Link in action...
See the Unit Pro-Link in action in this 500KB GIF file: Unit Pro-Link
Of course, the big RR takes full advantage of Honda's MotoGP-derived Unit Pro-Link(r) single-shock rear suspension design. In the Unit Pro-Link layout, the top of the shock mounts to the top of the massive, heavily braced aluminum swingarm rather than to a rear frame crossmember mounted up high. When the rear wheel travels through its arc, the linkage system compresses the shock from below. As a result, the frame remains isolated from rear suspension loads, and the central frame can now be configured for other uses, specifically, housing a major portion of the fuel load down low, in a position close to the bike's center of mass for better, more consistent handling.
Although this newest Unit Pro-Link setup follows the overall design first seen in the RC211V and later applied to the CBR600RR, the CBR1000RR's specific hardware is unique to this model alone. The swingarm and damper differ significantly in appearance with a new rear-facing shock reservoir that not only lends a striking appearance but also provides unfettered access to damping adjusters. As would be expected of a premium sport machine, the CBR1000RR shock offers adjustable spring preload plus rebound and compression damping adjustability, and there's a full 5.3 inches of rear wheel travel.
Aluminum Frame Construction
The CBR1000RR's aluminum frame and swingarm both tap into a variety of manufacturing techniques to accommodate the fine-tuning of specific components for strength, rigidity, shape, size and weight prior to final assembly. The steering head, for example, utilizes Honda's innovative Fine Die-Cast technology to create a structure that's strong yet features thin-wall construction for light weight. From there, large gravity die-cast sections extend down and around the engine, while other plates reach up and forward from the swingarm pivot. The solid-mount engine hangers are also gravity die-cast pieces. The short but large main aluminum spars wrap around the cylinder head in RC211V fashion, and these aluminum extrusions have been specially shaped so the upper side is narrower than the bottom, in part to create more clearance space for the handlebars and cylinder head.
The long hybrid aluminum swingarm, in turn, incorporates a cast center portion, while the left side uses extruded members and the right side features press-forged components to form the optimum balance in rigidity, shape and weight. Compared to the swingarm used in the 954, this new unit delivers an increase in torsional rigidity, while lateral rigidity was reduced to help the chassis settle into corners more easily. The center-up exhaust system is carefully ensconced within the lightweight die-cast aluminum subframe. The net result is an artful rendering of lightweight yet strong and rigid frame members carefully joined to yield responsive handling with exemplary feel and feedback.
The front suspension on the CBR1000RR features Honda's latest 43mm inverted HMAS cartridge fork, a stout, track-ready setup with spring preload, rebound and compression damping adjustability and 4.7 inches of travel on tap, up from the CBR954RR fork, which provided 4.3 inches. The new machine's steering angle of 23.45 degrees matches that of the 954, but fork offset was reduced from 30mm to 25mm, and as a result the new bike's trail length of 102mm shows an increase of 5mm. Wheel and tire sizes front and rear remain state-of-the-art in sport bike circles; the super-light aluminum-alloy hollow-spoke front wheel measures 3.5 x 17 inches, while the rear is a 6.0 x 17 unit.
The 1000RR front end sports a set of new four-piston Tokico radial-mounted brake calipers. Because these race-style units bolt onto distinctive turret-type mounts, the calipers can better resist shear forces generated under braking for less deflection and a stronger, more rigid setup. This new configuration also creates space for a centrally-located tightening bolt to help hold the two halves of the caliper together, and this new three-bolt design produces a more rigid caliper for improved stopping power, even pressure distribution and exemplary feel through the brake lever.
The brake pistons also undergo a special two-stage plating regimen with electroless nickel and chrome plating to ensure smooth operation and superior corrosion resistance for added longevity. With such superior performance on tap, the floating brake rotors could be downsized from the 330mm-diameter units used on the 954 to 310mm rotors--a change that also nets a savings in unsprung weight. In addition, a new single-piston rear brake caliper delivers excellent power while also providing a weight savings.
Along with these new radial-mounted calipers, the front brake system also features a newly developed vertical-piston master cylinder. First used on Honda's factory Superbikes, this system produces a superior leverage ratio at the front brake lever for higher braking efficiency with excellent feel and controllability. This layout permits the use of a longer brake lever, which means more braking force with less effort from the rider.
Like the CBR600RR, the 1000RR boasts Honda's new, low-profile Line Beam headlights with their compact yet high-illumination three-piece reflectors, and lenses only half the size of conventional systems. Brilliant illumination in a lightweight, downsized package--that's more of Honda's holistic engineering at work. Likewise, the 1000RR's compact and lightweight new instrument panel takes its cues from the RC211V's vaunted space-efficiency, with LCD readouts positioned around a large tachometer dial. The surrounding LCDs include a large-readout digital speedometer, odometer and dual trip meters, digital coolant temperature gauge and a clock.
Besides the usual selection of indicator lights, the instrument panel also features a new racing-inspired adjustable shifting indicator light, which can be set anywhere between 5000 and 11,600 rpm for an instantly recognizable indication of optimal shift points. This indicator can also be set for one of three settings--on, slow- or fast-flashing modes.
From the front brake lever to the frame to the swingarm and everywhere in between, the CBR1000RR chassis clearly reveals its racing heritage through and through. The DNA of the mighty RC211V can be traced in virtually every component within Honda's newest Superbike, a legacy that is certain to benefit all who ride the 1000RR, be it on the track or on the street.