2013 Honda CBR600RR TestHonda’s CBR600RR celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2013. And since its introduction in 2003, the sportbike has dominated in the ultimate testing grounds for such a performance-bred motorcycle – the World Supersport Championship, where the 600 took eight titles.With such dominance, Honda didn’t do much with the Honda CBR600RR since its debut. The last major revision arrived in 2009, when Honda updated the fairings a bit, and tweaked the motor for a three-percent increase in torque.Things have changed for 2013, though, with the CBR600RR receiving an upgraded ECU, relocated Ram-Air system, a new 41mm Big Piston Fork, and MotoGP-inspired bodywork.We finally got our hands on Honda’s latest supersport last week during the launch of the 2013 Honda CBR600RR in Malibu, Calif. During the launch, we tested the bike on Decker Canyon, which features some super-slow corners and multiple switchbacks, and Mulholland Highway with its fast sweepers, several hairpins and many blind turns.These areas provided perfect grounds to test 2013 Honda CBR 600 RR, areas where smooth power delivery is needed, along with a chassis that can handle quick transitions.Following a day of canyon carving, Ultimate MotorCycling’s President Arthur Coldwells says “the bike feels exceptionally easy to ride. It’s compact, as is every 600, but the controls are in just the right places and the riding position is comfortable and yet not cramped (Coldwells is 6’ tall with a 33” inseam).“The bike feels well balanced with plenty of weight on the front, and that weight translates to exceptional confidence at corner entry. It’s easy to carry mid-corner speed and still complete the exit without running wide.”Suspension plays the biggest role here. For 2013, Honda ditched the 41 mm inverted HMAS cartridge fork offered on previous models. In its place is Honda’s 41mm Big Piston Fork with spring preload, rebound and compression damping adjustablility. Out back, the Unit Pro-Link HMAS single shock gets a revised setup for improved performance.Speaking of 2013 Honda CBR600RR’s new suspension, Coldwells says “The 41mm BPF (Big Piston Fork) handles bumps superbly and dive is definitely reduced when you jump on the brakes. The rear shock is revised and works well; I didn’t try different settings as the stock settings were ideal for street riding and my 185 lbs. weight. Riding up through the tight Malibu canyons the 600RR gripped well at the rear even over rough pavement and not once did it get knocked off line or spin up the rear.”As stated earlier, Honda also revised the 2013 CBR600RR for optimal power delivery. Starting with the induction, Honda relocated the Ram-Air Intake System to a more central location for better performance. Honda also recalibrated the ECU and Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-DSFI) settings for additional mid-range power and enhanced throttle response out of the 599cc DOHC inline four.Coldwells says “the improved mid-range and better throttle response are very noticeable. I got to ride the 2012 back-to-back with the 2013, and although the 2012 is smooth enough in mid-rpms, the 2013 is noticeably stronger, especially on slow, low-rpm corner exits where it’s possible to pull a taller gear than you’d think.“Despite the Honda’s willingness to rev to the moon, it was actually unnecessary; the 600RR engine delivers strongly and smoothly in the 6 to 8000 RPM rev range and so that’s where I spent most of the time.”For 2013, C-ABS (linked) is again offered as an option. But in the tradition of Honda, only one color is available with Honda’s C-ABS – Red. The bike is also available in Repsol Honda livery (think Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez in MotoGP) and a White/Blue/Red combo similar to the Honda factory colors used in 2012 World Superbike.Speaking of Honda’s C-ABS, Coldwells says “This braking setup is the best out there. Although there’s a weight penalty (432 lbs. vs. 410 lbs. of standard bike), it’s well worth it. The rear pedal brings in a little front brake too and that’s been reduced on the 2013 for better track feel. The brakes on the 600RR are superb and fortunately the ABS never had to cut in.”Coldwells sums up the 2013 Honda CBR600RR: “The 600RR just keeps getting better and better. Although it’s so track focused Honda have managed to make it a sanitized, capable street bike too. Although it’s a compromise it doesn’t feel like it, and it operates brilliantly at both opposite ends of the spectrum.”Coldwells’ entire review of the 2013 Honda CBR600RR will be published in the May/June issue of Ultimate MotorCycling. For subscription services, click here.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.