The new CBR1000RR is still the same platform that we have seen from previous model years, though it is also a big step for Honda, keeping the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer relevant in the superbike segment.
This mixture of old and new has certainly lead to some intrigue from the sport bike community, so in effort to answer some of the questions posed by our readers, we reached out to American Honda for some answers.
Why a Titanium Fuel Tank?
One of the more interesting technical aspects of the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR is its titanium fuel tank, a first in the production motorcycle realm. The answer of course is for weight, but that response itself begs more questions to be asked.
This is because a quick look at the periodic table will show you that aluminum is lighter than titanium, so why then pick a heavier metal if weight savings is the goal. The answer is a little counter-intuitive.
While aluminum is indeed lighter than titanium, the issue comes down to wall thickness and strength. An aluminum fuel tank isn’t as strong as a titanium fuel tank, when the wall thicknesses are the same.
Similarly, to achieve parity on strength, the wall thickness of an aluminum fuel tank would have to be so thick, that it would be thus become heavier than a titanium fuel tank.
From Honda’s point-of-view, the titanium fuel tank not only affords a weight reduction to the Honda CBR1000RR platform, but also keeps safety a priority.
There is roughly 500 megajoules of energy being stored between your legs when you hop on a superbike, that is not a fact that Honda engineers take lightly – pun only moderately intended. With weight and safety at a premium, it turns out that a titanium fuel tank is the optimal solution.
Will There Be a Base Model Honda CBR1000RR?
We already published a story about this last week, so the short answer is: yes, there will be a base model version of the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR. We don’t know too much about this variant, other than it will debut at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy.
Honda is tight-lipped beyond anything more.
What we can surmise though is that the bike will be cheaper (obviously), and sans some of the cooler pieces found on the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP.
As such, we can expect standard Showa suspension items instead of semi-active electronic Öhlins pieces, and likely not quite as much of a weight reduction as seen on the SP model. We would be surprised to see the titanium fuel tank remain for the base model CBR1000RR, for instance.
We don’t expect Honda to touch the motor, however. The titanium exhaust might be replaced with a heavier steel/aluminum version, but we expect the base model 2017 Honda CBR1000RR to make the same 190hp as its SP sibling.
What About the Race Kits?
Here, our information is more American-centric, and once again our European readers should rejoice in the fact that they seem to be getting the better end of the emissions stick.
American Honda is going to great lengths to be a good-faith operator with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We saw this with the Honda RC213V-S, which came to the US without its race kit, and thus with a very disappointing 100hp power limit.
Things aren’t quite as bad with the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP2, though you’re probably not going to like what you’re about to hear.
In the US market, American Honda will import the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP2 in very limited quantities, with a priority for these machines to end up in the hands of racers. The racing kits for the CBR1000RR will be even more exclusive however, and made available only to card-carrying professional racers.
American Honda is still working out specifics on all this, but the general impression I got from talking to them was that MotoAmerica racers, and long-standing top-level club racers will be the only people capable of ordering the HRC race kits for the CBR1000RR SP2.
The reason for this has almost everything to do with tightening emission controls by the EPA, and Honda’s admittedly conservative approach regarding how it views EPA provisions about emissions.
The EPA has gotten very serious recently about how actors in the motorcycle industry approach emissions, and American Honda and its lawyers are making certain that they remain on the correct side of the law, especially as those standards become more strict, and the scrutiny on the industry becomes more vigilant.
In terms of availability for the Honda CBR1000RR SP2, American Honda is still working out how the SP2 will be supplied to dealers, as only 500 bikes will be produced worldwide, with more bikes going to the European market, than to the American market.
It is possible that we could see the SP2 end up being available with only some sort of lease arrangement, where riders/teams lease the SP2 from American Honda, and it comes with the race kits parts already installed.
This is a common practice in the racing world, and speaks to how the Honda CBR1000RR SP2 is only meant only for professional racing efforts. With the SP2 not coming to the US until mid-2017, we still have a few more months for American Honda to sort out how it’s going to handle orders and delivery.
Why Not a Completely New Model?
Of course perhaps the biggest question for Honda regarding the new CBR1000RR is the Japanese manufacturer’s decision to evolve its superbike, rather than bringing to market an all-new design.
There is a lot that can be said about this subject, and we are reserving some words on it for when the base model debuts, to address this topic more appropriately, but we can give you Honda’s response to this inquiry now.
Honda’s argument is pretty simple: the current CBR1000RR is already one of the best handling production superbikes on the market, and Honda’s approach to this segment is best defined by the slogan “Total Control”.
Thus, the focus for 2017 was to add more control to the CBR1000RR, in the guise of sophisticated electronics. Power was increased by 10hp to help keep the Honda CBR1000RR inline with its competitors, but Honda’s goal isn’t to have the most powerful streetbike on the market.
Instead, Honda wants to deliver the superbike that riders can control the best, and in that regard Honda felt the chassis didn’t need much improving upon.
When you consider the reality of how many riders owners who can actually utilize the full capabilities of a 200hp superbike, then it’s fair to say that Honda has a good point.
I’m not sure I’m convinced by that point-of-view, but it certainly is a valid argument.
The electronics suite that’s on the new Honda CBR1000RR certainly seems to be on par with what we’re currently seeing in the superbike segment, and with a much lighter chassis, the SP model at the very least should be an even more astute razor for the race track.
Still, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the Honda CBR1000RR seems to simply meet the level already set by superbikes that have been out for several model years now…and it is still short of the headline-catching 200hp mark, which has become de rigueur for the space…more on this to come.
Source: American Honda