If you read publications from our colleagues in Europe, then you will know that Honda must surely have plans for a new CBR600RR for the 2019 model year. The proof that they offer is that the recent CARB filings by American Honda show a CBR with a significant weight drop for next year.
First spotted by our friends at Nieuwsmotor, the CARB filings quote a 10kg (22 lbs) weight difference between the listed Honda “CBR600RA” and Honda “CBR600RR” motorcycles, which makes it seem like a lighter and more focused supersport is on the way.
It is an interesting dream – and a funny one for European journalists to spot, since the CBR600 series is all but dead in Europe. But what is the reality of this discovery?
The Preferred Nomenclature, Dude
First a quick primer on Honda’s model name scheme. The Honda CBR600RR is the Japanese brand’s 600cc supersport offering, and in the United States, it comes without ABS.
The ABS model goes by a different designation, both internally and in filings with the US government. It is called the Honda CBR600RA – in fact, all of Honda’s ABS-equipped machines use the “RA” designation.
What is important to know though is that the CBR600RR and CBR600RA have a roughly 25 lbs curb weight difference, when listed on the American Honda website.
We asked Honda about this, and the answer was pretty interesting. It isn’t so much that the ABS kit itself weighs 25 lbs, and thus accounts for the difference in curb weight, but in fact the two bikes have slightly different specs in equipment.
For instance, they differ in rear shocks, since there is a clearance issue between the RR shock and the ABS unit. Other subtle changes abound, and the total mass difference of all these differences, plus the ABS unit, amount to 25 lbs in extra weight.
A Different Weight, A Different Measure
In the 2018 CARB fillings though, we see that the CBR600RR and the CBR600RA are measured with the same EIM (equivalent inertia mass) – 280kg. EIM is a bizarre measurement that takes the total vehicle weight, and applies a formula that includes a rider weight.
The EIM weight that the CARB filings show are fairly useless to us in absolute terms, but they do provide an interesting relative comparison.
Things get interesting with the 2019 CARB filings though, with the CBR600RA continuing to have a 280kg EIM, while the CBR600RR drops 10kg, with an EIM of 270kg.
Margin of error in the EIM formula? A typo? A more accurate accounting of the bike’s two differing masses? Or, something else?
What We Know, And Don’t Know
The answer to those questions is “we don’t know” – but we have some interesting pieces to the puzzle already.
We can see from the 2018 and 2019 CARB filings that the bikes all have the same emission results. This rules out any changes to the inline-four engine, its exhaust, intake, and its emission control systems.
The thought process then, and the opinion taken by our European colleagues, is that the Honda CBR600RR is about to receive a mid-life refresh (again), similar to what the Honda CBR1000RR received for the 2017 model year.
The CBR1000RR saw a massive weight decrease for 2017, and the CBR600RR is set to follow, or so the thinking goes. It is a plausible theory, and one we cannot deny. But that isn’t where our sources are taking us…
The Bothan Spy Network Is Strong
The rumor that we are hearing is that Honda does indeed plan a revival of the CBR600RR supersport, but the Japanese brand is waiting for the Euro5 regulations to kick in for the 2020 model year.
As such, at next year’s trade shows we expect Honda to debut TWO new CBR600RR models. One will be a 600cc race machine, with the sole purpose of racing in the supersport category. It will have all the latest electronics, and make a bucket of horsepower by revving to the moon. And, it will not be cheap.
To complement this true homologation machine, there will be a road-focused counterpart. It won’t adhere to the 600cc limit imposed by the FIM, and it will follow what Kawasaki has done with the 637cc displacement on the ZX-6R. As such, we are expecting a displacement in the range of 625cc to 650cc.
Power will be equivalent to the 600cc model (or thereabouts), but it will be more applicable for a street application, and thus less peaky in its delivery.
The 2020 Effect
We expect many brands will be holding off on new models during this year’s new bike season, since 2020 will play such a pivotal role in how new motorcycles are built.
The Euro5 emissions standards will likely keep new models away for the 2019 model year, though it should be noted that existing models will not need to be Euro5 compliant until the 2021 model year, so there is some incentive to bring out new bikes ahead of the 2020 year mark.
In the supersport category, we expect MV Agusta to be the first OEM to bring an inertial measurement unit (IMU) to the category. We also expect to see a new Suzuki GSX-R600 as well as a new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R debut for the 2019 model year.
We know that we won’t see a Triumph Daytona 765 for next year, though the British brand says “maybe” about a potential future model. Meanwhile, Honda and Yamaha seem content to wait until 2020/2021 to bring out new supersport machines.