Honda doesn’t want you to see these photos. I am pretty sure that there is a dark room somewhere on the Suzuka Circuit facility, possibly guarded by Yakuza henchmen, where they are keeping Steve captive for his misdeeds in bringing you the detailed photos we are about to show you. This is how seriously HRC is taking this year’s Suzuka 8-Hours. “Win at all costs” is the mantra being used by the Red Bull Honda team, which will field PJ Jacobsen, Takaaki Nakagami, and Takumi Takahashi at this year’s edition of the race. Their goal is simple: to restore honor to the company, and win the most prestigious race on the Japanese calendar. To do this, Honda has built a special machine. A one-off superbike, this Honda CBR1000RR SP2 was designed to race at only one race track, for only one race, for only three riders.
The 2018 World Superbike season will another American on the grid, as Jake Gagne has been announced as Red Bull Honda’s second rider for next year. The news comes after Gagne impressed with several wild card appearances throughout the 2017 season, as well as post-season testing stints. The move up from the MotoAmerica Championship to the World Superbike Champion is a big one for Gagne, and for American road racing, as it is the first such transition for the rebooted American series. Though for Gagne it means a great opportunity, 2018 will still certainly be a test for the 24-year-old. Not only will he have to contend with a grid full of world-class riders, and race at a number of unfamiliar circuits, Gagne will have to contend with the Honda CBR1000RR SP2 superbike platform.
Assen had been earmarked as a key round for Honda in its search for competitiveness in WorldSBK. It passed with more confirmation that the team’s struggles will continue. Nine points were all that Nicky Hayden had to show for himself at the end of a trying weekend at the TT Circuit of Assen. The Honda rider was able to show some signs of improved competitiveness at times during the weekend, but overall the same flaws of the Honda Fireblade have been exposed once again. Reliability and inability to bring competitive upgrades to the table cost Hayden dearly at Assen. The week before the Dutch round, the team tested a new engine specification in Portimao and the American came away disappointed with a lack of progress.
They say you should never underestimate the fight in a dirt-tracker, but after Portimao the dirt-tracker isn’t underestimating the fight ahead of him. After four days on the new Honda Fireblade, Nicky Hayden cast a downbeat figure at times, but the American is digging deep.
Armed with his renowned work ethic, the Ten Kate rider will be leaving no stone unturned in finding a solution, but after a troubled opening test, it went from bad to worse for the Dutch team.
“The first day was not a good day for us,” admitted Hayden. “I really don’t know how to sugar coat it any better. We’re really struggling with edge grip, the bike pumping, and not being stable on the exit of the corners. We never found a direction to go in and nothing really helped the problem.”
Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl had their first experience of the all new for 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP2 on the opening day of the Jerez test, and it was clear that there is still plenty of work to be done by the Ten Kate squad to get the bikes ready for the start of the season. With the Phillip Island opener only four weeks away, the Dutch team faces a race against time to be up to speed for the start of the WorldSBK campaign. Both riders made it clear that it is very early days for the project, and as a result were unwilling to offer definitive opinions – though initial impressions were positive.
I’m not sure if I missed the memo, or if Honda just didn’t make much of a fuss about it, but pricing for the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR and its kin are now showing on the American Honda website. Prices for the new Honda CBR1000RR seems to be only available in the USA right now, but early indications appear that Big Red is asking for quite the pretty penny for its freshly updated superbike. As such, current pricing is as follows: Honda CBR1000RR – $16,499; Honda CBR1000RR ABS – TBD; Honda CBR1000RR SP – $19,999; Honda CBR1000RR SP2 – $24,999.
With these themes in mind, we have a good conversation about the three homologation specials we saw from the Japanese manufacturers at INTERMOT: the Honda CBR1000RR SP2, the Suzuki GSX-R1000R, and the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR.
The conversation then turns to the neo-vintage models we saw in Germany, and how brands like Triumph and BMW are investing heavily in this trendy niche.
We finish up the show talking about motorcycle electronics, inertial measurement units (IMUs) to be specific. This game-changing technology continues to permeate through the motorcycle industry, along with other rider aids, so we have a good conversation about the rise of the IMU.
As always, you can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Enjoy the show!
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.
Honda is putting its best foot forward, when it comes to its superbike offering for the 2017 model year. As such, the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP shows a number of strong updates to the aged liter bike.
A 10hp increase, a 33 lbs weight reduction, and features like traction control, semi-active suspension, and cornering ABS all do well to make the Honda CBR1000RR relevant again in superbike discussions. For the race track, the Honda CBR1000RR SP2 should aid race teams under the tightening homologation rules.
One such rider to benefit from Honda’s hard work is Nicky Hayden – the American rider signing a two-year agreement with Honda on the promise of an updated Fireblade at his disposal for the 2017 model year.
In the video after the jump, we get out first preview of Hayden flogging the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP around the Valencia circuit. We think you’ll enjoy it.
The current state of the World Superbike Championship rules entirely encourage the adoption once again of “homologation specials” – production bikes whose sole purpose is to be used on the race track. While none of the manufacturers have adopted a radical approach with their homologation special designs, this year’s INTERMOT show has already seen several such machines introduced, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR, the Suzuki GSX-R1000R, and the Honda CBR1000RR SP2. For Honda, the differences between the SP and SP2 aren’t terribly radical, but they are more purposeful. The 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP2 does come with several visual cues that are different from the CBR1000RR SP model: carbon insert panels, gold striping on the tri-color paint scheme, and the more obvious Marchesini wheels.
The wait is over. The most anticipated motorcycle of the INTERMOT show is here, the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP. We have seen the spy photos of this new superbike, we have seen leaked details on this superbike, and we’ve mused endlessly about this new superbike. And now, we can finally replace that conjecture with fact. First off, the rumors were true. The 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP sheds a massive 15 kilograms off its bulk, which translates into a 441 lbs mass at the curb. Power has also been increased by almost 11hp, for a total of 190hp at the crank. Honda says that these two figures combined mean a 14% increase in the Honda CBR1000RR’s power-to-weight ratio. That’s pretty astounding, when you consider that under the new fairings is still mostly last year’s bike.