Today at Intermot, Honda announced the new 2017 CBR1000RR SP. On paper, at least, it looks very special indeed.
The project focus was to develop the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP to be much more precise and powerful. To do that, Honda has lowered the overall weight, reduced inertia by concentrating the mass to the machine’s center of gravity, increased the engine’s power, and incorporated a suite of electronic control systems that includes semi-active Öhlins suspension.
There are actually two 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP models—the SP and SP2. The SP2 is for race homologation purposes and comes with lightweight aluminum wheels. The HRC race kit for the SP2 will be available to qualified race teams.
Just about everything on the flagship CBR has changed. Honda claim 68 percent of it is new.
The photos do not do the CBR1000RR SP justice. This might be the most gorgeous Honda sportbike ever made by the company; the aggressive yet sophisticated lines are accented by a deep, liquid red/white/blue paint scheme that is both elegant and exotic. The beautiful new five-spoke wheels are slightly lighter than the six-spoke ones they replace.
The new SP is sharper, narrower, and looks more aggressive. The differences between the new and current model are obvious when viewing from the front.
The SP is around 35 pounds lighter than the current US-spec SP. Yes, you read that right—35 pounds! That is an almost unheard of weight reduction. It comes from items such as the world’s first production titanium gas tank that saves almost three pounds, strategically thinner sections to the walls of the frame and swingarm, magnesium used for the oil pan and ignition cover (saving 4.5 pounds), a titanium muffler (over six pounds lighter), and there li-ion phosphate battery.
The CBR1000RR SP will be much easier to ride. The current model is supremely light and flickable, but because the yaw moment of inertia has been reduced by 15 percent, and the roll inertia by 10 percent, it will translate to a lighter and more compact motorcycle that will move even more easily to the will of the rider.
The 2017 motor produces 10 more horsepower than last year. The rev limit is raised from 12,250 rpm to 13,000, and power to weight ratio is improved by a whopping 14 percent.
Öhlins electronically controlled suspension is high-end. This is the first Honda that comes with semi-active suspension, and it has three levels of adjustability. Fitted to the SP are Öhlins 43mm NIX 30 EC forks and a TTX 36 EC shock.
The 2017 CBR1000RR SP comes with a full suite of customizable electronics developed directly from the RC213V-S. All electronic functions are individually switchable on the fly. As on the RC213V-S, there are five preset positions with factory recommended configurations—two of presets are open and fully customizable by the rider.
Rider aids are abundant. The 2017 CBR1000RR gets nine levels of Honda Selectable Torque Control (aka traction control), and that includes Rear Wheel Slip Control. Wheel speeds and lean angle are measured using technology developed for Honda’s amazing ASIMO robot, and rear wheelspin and slide are controlled. There are 3-levels of engine braking control, from aggressive to mild.
Wheelie Control mitigates front-wheel lift based on the difference in wheel speeds. Despite using a Bosch IMU for pitch, roll, and yaw data, Honda chose not to use the pitch (back and forth) data for wheelie control. Although that might seem like an oversight to some, for me it is not. Wheelies are a complex phenomenon with some riders wanting lots of front wheel elevation, and others wanting very little or none. Personally, I like very little wheelie control, as I prefer to rely on my throttle control and/or back brake usage to keep the front wheel where I need it. So with this new CBR, it’s relatively easy to defeat the wheelie control by either grabbing a handful in the lower gears, or by cresting over Portimao’s two violent hill crests with too much throttle. For me, it was easy to control the machine with a little back brake, and the Honda reacts so well to rider input I was very satisfied. But make no mistake, this is an expert-level motorcycle and as far as wheelies go, Honda don’t nanny you–kudos for allowing us some freedom I say! In normal circumstances, with smooth throttle input out of slower corners, the wheelie control built into the 9-level traction control floats the front nicely in a low-height wheelie that allows maximum drive from corners. This system is inherited from the RC213V-S exotic that I tested last year, and that bike in turn got those electronics from Honda’s MotoGP machine. So it works well as designed; it aids rider control instead of interfering with it.
The CBR1000RR motor is now throttle-by-wire, and there are five levels of power. Level 1 is full power with each other level reducing both power and level of aggression. The system is, again, developed from the RC213V-S, and there are no cables to be seen; the throttle position sensor is in the twistgrip.
Intelligent ABS has been developed. The CBR1000RR SP’s ABS includes rear-lift control that subtly reduces braking force as rear wheel lift is detected. This allows maximum brake force without the SP becoming overly unbalanced. The ABS also allows for smooth, maximum effect braking on corner entry by controlling brake force according to lean angle. Hard trail braking right to a corner’s apex is claimed to be easier with this system.
The CBR now comes with a quickshifter that includes a blip-downshifter. The feel can be adjusted between three levels on upshifting and downshifting, and benefits include shifting up or down without the throttle or clutch, as well as reducing the load on the transmission during shifting.
The instrument pod is now a lighter full-color TFT liquid crystal display, and from the RC213V-S. Three selectable displays include Street, Circuit, and Mechanic.
All switches, except the start/stop, are now integrated into left handlebar switch module. This includes the lap-timer switch, while the mode and selector switches are moved from the instrument cluster to the left handlebar.
Honda accessories will be available. Street riders will be interested in tank and tail bags, a taller windshield, power take-offs, bar-end weights, and a rear tire hugger.
The 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SPs will not be as expensive as you might expect. Although final dollar amounts have yet to be announced, Honda claims the SP will be “under $20,000” and the SP2 homologation version will be “under $25,000”.
Contrary to the spy photos that have circulated for the past couple of weeks, the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP is completely and radically different from the current model. It is much lighter, more powerful, and it has all the de rigeur electronic goodies to help riders. The current model is an amazing motorcycle, despite forgoing any updating for several years. We look forward to finding out just how good the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP will be to ride.
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From all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!