Make no mistake, the new 954RR rocks. Baba-san's newest creation is nearly as flickable as the F4i, and the motor's added midrange punch lets the new Honda squirt through the tighter stuff like no other open-classer; a pilot on any of the competition's bikes will be working a little harder to keep the same pace. The slightly revamped brakes are some of the best I've ever experienced on a production motorcycle--excellent feel and power, with good progressiveness and modulation.
The 954RR's chassis can get a little excitable in the fast, bumpy sections, however. A by-product of the chassis' highly agile geometry numbers and weight distribution, the CBR requires a bit more attention to the front end when the going gets speedy and rough. And that can be taxing after awhile, both physically and mentally.
And then there's that little ol' question of 130 horsepower vs. 143 horsepower--can the CBR squirt out of the way before Tyrannosaurus GSX-Rex gets into his stride? We shall see....And then --KentKunitsugu
I think Honda has done the right thing by shying away from an all-out horsepower war with Suzuki and the GSX-R1000. When the 929 was introduced, it seemed to me as if it was the only open-classer that delivered big horsepower in a 600-sized package and that adding 15 horsepower would only upset that balance. The 954 has that extra spunk in the midrange though, right where you notice it most. This makes it seem a lot quicker than the 929, and the bottom-end injection has been cleaned up a whole bunch also. With the smaller tank, the new bike has even more of that compact 600 feel.
That's what I like about the 954, but the added friskiness comes with a penalty. I find in many ways the bike is almost too responsive, requiring a lot of concentration to ride at even a relaxed pace. Hair-trigger throttle (with a touch of RC51-itis over bumps), ultra-quick steering, and stiff suspension make it more of a chore to ride than the 929 and other open-classers. I'd make some direct comparisons to the GSX-R1000, but prying that thing away from Kent so I could actually ride it (rather than just swap tires) is like taking a puppy's favorite bone.
I wouldn't be sweating it if I owned a 929, but the 954 is a big-enough step forward that the big-bore shootout is going to be a lot tougher to call than people think. Can't wait.--Andrew Trevitt