2007 saw a total redesign for Honda's very popular 600 cc sport bike, the CBR600RR. 2007 also marks 20 years since the very first CBR600F rolled off the line, which was christened the Hurricane. Since then the model has steadily evolved as a supersport 600 with a friendly and forgiving riding demeanor.
However, by around 1999, the competition started to up the ante by making more focused, race-ready 600 cc sport bikes. The last CBR600F model, the CBR600F4i was still a great performer but was overshadowed by the racier 600's from Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki. In 2003 Honda decided to take the fight to the competition and built the decidely more hardcore, CBR600RR. The 600RR had quite a bit of sales and racing success and Honda is hoping to continue that with the 2007 model which is the only bike in its class to get lighter while matching tougher emissions regulations and boasts the best midrange performance of the 600 cc supersport group.
Because the bike is all new for 2007, it will not receive any more major updates until 2009. However, it is expected than its big brother, the CBR1000RR will receive a redesign for 2008 following a similar design philosophy.
The CBR1000RR (known as the Fireblade in other markets) will receive a full redesign for the 2008 model year. No one knows anything about the specs of the beast but expect it to follow the formula of the 600RR's recent revamp: significantly less weight, vastly improved midrange, a bit more horsepower, better aerodynamics, and forgiving yet sharp handling.
Weight was the 1000RR's major enemy when it debuted in 2004 so weight will be critical to the new model's success. The 600RR achieved its significant weight reduction with a dramatically more compact engine, lighter frame with less welds, and a lighter exhaust among other things so the 1000RR should benefit from similar improvements.
As far as technical features the bike will probably be another inline four (as all of the Fireblades have been). The Honda Electronic Steering Damper that debuted with the 1000RR in 2004 is almost certain to return as well. Chances are that the 1000RR will not be equipped with a slipper clutch but may feature the same Intake Air Control Valve that is fitted to the 07 600RR. The IACV reduces engine braking by bleeding a small amount of air into the engine when the throttle is closed. This system was actually originally developed in Grand Prix racing.
While the 2008 CBR1000RR probably won't go on sale until the spring of next year, it should be unveiled to the public early this fall.
What it needs: Less weight, more power, sharp handling, styling that differentiates it from the 600RR more
What would be nice: Traction control (that can be turned on/off by the rider)
2007 will mark the 5th year of production for the 6th generation Interceptor and at this point the bike is increasingly under assault from new bikes from the other manufacturers. The Interceptor is generally considered to be one of the best sport touring motorcycles on the road but to remain the best it must continue to move the goal posts.
It is not clear whether a totally new Interceptor will bow next year but it is clear that it is overdue. The rumor for a long time was that the Interceptor would receive a V5 engine. However, its hard to say if this will
actually come to fruition. The Interceptor has always been Honda's technological flagship so it is possible, but I would have to say that chances are that the Interceptor will not get a V5. Still, one would expect that Honda will take the opportunity to show off some sort of new technology.
What it needs: More power, better styling
What it doesn't need: More weight, any gadgetry that interferes with the riding experience
The 599 is known as the Hornet in other markets and for 2007 Honda Italy was given a blank slate to make a stylish successor to this wildly popular bike. For 07 it received a modified version of the CBR600RR's powerplant that is tuned for more midrange power. With the increased power and torque the 07 Hornet also lost a bit of weight. Initial impressions from the European motorcycling press has been overwhelmingly positive so it looks like Honda has hit all the marks with the new bike.
It is unclear when the US market will get this bike. In the past it hasn't sold particularly well here due to the somewhat high price. The high price is mostly due to the fact that the the bike is manufactured in Italy so it is unlikely Honda will be able lower it much in the foreseeable future.
Its hard to say whether the redesigned 599 would sell better here high price and all but we won't know until Honda gives it to us now will we?
This has been an ongoing rumor for a few years now that just hasn't seemed to die. Motorcyclist magazine recently reported that V5 test mules are in fact running in Japan, awaiting a final green light for production. This bike would presumably be a high-performance, limited-edition bike that would slot above the CBR1000RR in performance, technology, and price. Think of it as the next generation NR750.
Speaking of which, it has been over 15 years since Honda made the exotic high-tech, oval-pistoned NR750. Unfortunately the bike didn't sell as well as they'd hoped so one has to wonder if they'd be willing to try the concept again now. Admittedly the NR750 was a bit heavy and low on power*. If Honda makes this bike light and very powerful it has a much greater chance of success.
Why a V5? Honda's Moto GP racebike for the last five years has been the V5-powered RC211V. The RC211V is now retired after having dominated the 990 cc Moto GP era winning 3 out of the 5 rider's titles, 4 out of 5 manufacturer's titles and 47 races. It would only be fitting to offer a road bike with the innovative powerplant to commerorate its success.
Honda's implementation of the V5 engine is basically a V4 with a 5th cylinder in the middle that is out of phase with the other cylinders. This results in a 'big bang' firing order where 3 cylinders fire very closely together, followed by a long pause, then the other 2 fire very closely together. This concept was originally developed in 500GP racing in the 90's with Honda's NSR500.
The advantage of big bang is that it gives the rear tire more time to regain traction between power pulses. The result was that it made the high horsepower, narrow powerband 500 cc 2-stroke GP bikes easier to ride and later helped the 990 cc 4-strokes put their prodigious power (~250 hp) to the ground. With a bike that could possibly be producing over 200 hp one needs all the traction they can get.
- more pistons + more valves = more power
- big bang firing order
- narrower than an inline four
- fabulous sound
What it needs: to actually become a reality
*Honda deliberately reduced the horsepower in the production NR750 to avoid the ire of European governments whom were openly critical of high horsepower motorcycles at the time.