Did they mention why they liked the Honda.
Sean -- The un-deniable rightness of the CBR 1000RR was further clarified when I rode it at Buttonwillow. Its brilliant HESD steering damper and neutral handling allowed me to set the fastest lap of the day on it, while feeling the most relaxed and transferring the smallest amount of stress to my newly broken hand. Sure, it's an unusual way to evaluate a motorcycle, but it is hard to argue with the results. I had no idea that I was going that fast on the Honda. Several bikes felt faster at the racetrack, but in hindsight that must have just been a function of the Honda's superb engineering.
Where the un-dampered Kawasaki would wag-away and the well-dampered Yamaha would do two cycles of the bars, the HESD equipped Honda would merely do 1/2 of a cycle, then return-to-center, as if nothing ever happened. It was an uncanny experience, seeming more like a video game, than an actual 100+ mph trip over uneven asphalt. I'd bet my next two paychecks, that the average street rider would be faster at a track day on the big CBR, than on any other bike in this class. I also suspect that the R1 and especially the ZX-10R, would be faster for expert racers riding on custom-tuned suspensions, (due to their lighter weight and higher horsepower). However, we are not testing tuned racers here, we're testing bikes that YOU can go to your local dealer and buy today. The same things that make the CBR so friendly on the racetrack, transfer directly over to the street, where the outstanding brakes, brilliant steering damper and solid chassis keep things drama-free, well at least as drama-free as you can get on a 150+hp motorcycle. Therefore, it is without reservation that I give my vote to the Honda CBR 1000RR as best Open Class Superbike of 2004. Did I mention that it does magnificent 80mph, 2nd gear roll-on, power wheelies?
Martin -- Even though it's close between my top three votes, there is little doubt in my mind as to which is the winner. The CBR1000RR is simply the best sportbike I have ever ridden. It is an amazing machine that does everything well. It was also, by a wide margin, the easiest bike for me to ride fast, straight out of the gate. The CBR1000RR is trick, fast, stable, silky-smooth, comfortable, confidence inspiring in the extreme and just oozes sophistication. There isn't a part on this bike that doesn't feel solidly connected to something else. There is not a bit of slop anywhere. The RR feels amazingly lithe and is deceptively fast. All of this, mind you, from a bike that the spec sheet tells us is down on power and way heavy. There is a lesson in this my friends and it is that you don't ride a spec sheet down the road. Actually, there are two lessons, the second being that people on motorcycle websites who hammer bikes they haven't ridden are usually full of poopie.
I can feel the spec sheet weenies out there racing to their keyboards, to give me the business. How can a bike that ranks fourth in both horsepower and weight come out on top? I've noticed that there is seemingly no dearth of magazine wielding citizens out there eager to rip this bike because of its perceived pork and lack of horsepower (as if a 150+ bhp bike can be thought of as " lacking" power). Well I'm here to tell you that unless you've thrown a leg over this bike you have no idea what you are talking about. I have not only thrown a leg over it but also ridden it, hard, back-to-back with the other bikes in this test on the street and on the track and the unmistakable conclusion is that the Honda simply kicks ass.
It's apparent right off the bat, that the CBR1000RR borrows heavily from RC211V tech: frame, tank, exhaust, Unit Pro Link suspension, and bike. However, the 1000RR is much more than a bunch of tech slapped together for tech's sake. Being the owner of a CBR954RR, I can confirm that the new CBR is a revolutionary rather than an evolutionary upgrade. Thumb the 1000RR motor to life and you'll also notice that the noisy HTEV clatter of the 954 has been replaced by a mechanical symphony even sweeter than that of the Triumph. (No streetbike sounds as sweet as the 955i's triple -- Sean) is slightly more radical and a little more cramped, but in every other way the bike is superior to its predecessor. Especially in the area of stability, where the 954RR was known for nervous manners inspired by T1 like feedback from the road, the 1000RR just plants itself in corners and goes where you will it to. The trick HESD absolutely puts the clamps on any antics this bike might be prone to at speed. Even though the 1000RR is a good deal heavier than the 954RR, you'd never know it from the saddle and it feels much more compact. I didn't think that it was possible put together a brake system better than the 954's but the radial Tokico four-pot binders controlled by a race-spec master cylinder clamp the 310mm rotors with total authority. These are the best brakes I've ever used, hands down. They are crisp, modulate incredibly well, don't fade and will easily stand the bike on its nose if you want to with one finger. Brakes just don't get any better.
The weight of the 1000RR is a complete non-issue thanks to low, compact dimensions and mass centralization that is more than mere PR hype. It is very easy to ride, because nearly all the power that the big CBR makes is quite usable, thanks to a supremely stable chassis, a long swingarm, confidence inspiring suspension and righteous brakes. My laps on the track were not timed (thank goodness) but the fast guys: Sean A., Will T. and Mike E. turned-in some very fast laps on the CBR, verifying my feelings about the fast-out-of-the-gate nature of this bike, So there you go, in my book, the CBR1000RR is the literbike of 2004. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Let the flames begin!
Mike E. -- The Honda was a gem in most situations. You say you're worried about its weight? Don't be, it's really not an issue. Street or track, those extra 20-odd pounds always seem to disappear. I must admit, I was left with a so-so taste after the press intro in Arizona. Sure, the bike was good, but it didn't light a fire under my arse. A month or so ago after a street ride with Honda's urban terrorist, Doug Toland, my mind set was changed. I really think this is the most perfect streetbike that I have ever ridden. The weight is low and the mass centralized. Turn-in is pinpoint precise and I could adjust my line at will, regardless of speed. This will scoop you (and me) out of trouble should you have any mid-corner problems. The front-end feel on this bike was absolutely superb and I felt as though I could run it in deep and still have reserves left. The street ride endorsed just how good this bike was in real world situations. I felt so at home on the seat of this bike, with its adjustable levers (clutch and brake) I never felt taxed in any way. At the track however, it just didn't really inspire me, although the bike was just as composed as the street ride. The steering damper is really, really remarkable and totally unobtrusive in fast or slow maneuvers. HESD should be compulsory on all open-classers.
This was taken from the conclusion of the shootout.
Looks like a great bike to ride.