Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Riding impression: Carlos Checa’s WSBK Honda CBR1000RR

According to Motociclismo, Checa's Honda Fireblade feels neutral and has superb electronics...

The guys at Motociclismo are one seriously lucky bunch. In the last few weeks, they’ve already ridden Troy Bayliss’ World Superbikes Ducati 1098R and Noriyuki Haga’s Yamaha R1. And now, they’ve got their hands on Carlos Checa’s Honda Fireblade, which they rode on the Portimao circuit in Portugal. Here are some excerpts from what Randy Mamola, who tested the bike on behalf of Motociclismo, has to say about the bike:

The TenKate team has, clearly, done an impressive job – they’ve managed to make the Fireblade easier to ‘understand,’ and evened out all the rough edges, making the bike more cohesive, more consistent all around. Perhaps more than ever before, the Blade is a very powerful, effective track tool…

On the move, the first that draws your attention is that the riding position is quite comfortable and easy to live with. Some other WSBK bikes, like Troy Bayliss’ Ducati, make you feel more ‘squeezed.’ The Honda’s handlebars are also more ‘open’ and let you move around on the bike, which, it seems, is what Checa likes.

The sounds that the Honda’s four-cylinder engine makes are simply intoxicating. Its power delivery is tamed only be the bike’s on-board electronics, which work very well indeed – perhaps better than most other WSBK bikes.

Open the throttle and you’ll feel there’s a direct link between your right hand and the engine’s fuel injection system – response is instant, immediate. Remember, this engine is making more than 215 horsepower, in a bike that weighs around 162 kilos. At least there Pirelli tyres grip very well, and there’s traction control to get you out of trouble if you gas the bike a bit too hard…

Checa likes his engines to feel similar to the two-strokes of yore hence the Fireblade is electronically programmed to deliver it best at high revs. Yes, you need to really rev this engine to get the best out of it.

In terms of handling, the TenKate Fireblade feels completely neutral. It isn’t as easily flickable or intuitive as the Yamaha, but it goes exactly where you want, and feels very well controlled at all times. Mid-corner stability is excellent, and the Showa suspension flat out works. On the flip side, the CBR’s Nissin brakes don’t feel as strong as the Brembo units of its rivals.

Overall, the Ducati 1098R feels more sorted, more consistent, and the Yamaha R1 feels more manageable and a bit more exciting to ride. However, the Honda is more neutral, the engine feels very powerful and the electronics are, perhaps, the best. Now all that remains is to see just how well Regis Laconi’s Kawasaki works…

TenKate Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR: Tech Specs

Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16-valve, 999.8cc inline-four
Power: In excess of 215bhp
Transmission: 6-speed
Clutch: Multi STM in oil bath, with anti-lock system
Chassis: Aluminium twin-spar
Front suspension: 43mm WP USD fork (RCA 4800), fully adjustable
Rear Suspension: WP 4618 monoshock, fully adjustable
Brakes: Twin 320mm discs (front), single 220mm disc (rear)
Wheels and tyres: 120/65 ZR 16.5 (front), 190/65 ZR 16.5 (rear)

For the full riding impression, visit the Motociclismo website here

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