When the orange and white Honda CBR600RR turned up at our offices, the motorcyclists on the team couldn't help but smile. It not only looks spectacular in this colour scheme, but that 15 000 r/min red line seemed more inviting than ever before.
I have a soft spot for 600 cm3 superbikes. Compare it to cars such as a Renault Clio RS or Lotus Exige: light, compact and begging to visit the red line as soon and often as possible.
0-100 km/h in …
The 599 cm3 in-line four-cylinder engine develops 88 kW and 66 N.m of torque, the latter from 11 250 r/min. It is a very revvy and peaky motor. According to Honda, it will hit 100 km/h from a standstill in three seconds and, after spending a couple of the days with the bike, the figure seems achievable.
If you aren't a regular biker, it takes some time to flow with the machine. You also have to choose the correct roads to really experience and appreciate this motorcycle; preferably roads with many corners and a few long straights.
Despite winter tightening its grip on Cape Town's mornings, the mid-morning sun and some thermals under your leathers is enough to make the urban commute bareable before reaching the perfect bike road: the road leading from Gordon’s Bay to Rooiels (R44). Not only is it a perfect piece of tarmac running along rock cliffs, it has several types of corners.
The riding bit
I have to admit that, at the beginning of this road, I was short-shifting between 6 000 and 9 000 r/min; the bike felt fast enough at these speeds. This allowed for constant throttle openings through the corners, making for a relaxed and easy ride. The CBR has always been that kind of a machine: infinitely useable, bordering on neutral in its handling.
Up the ante to 11 000 and 13 000 r/min and things heat up. The engine reacts even quicker to any twist from your right hand. But the CBR remains light and flickable, and is never nervous. It seems that you can remain relaxed, despite the increase in speed, and shift quickly from ratio to ratio. This won't always be necessary thanks to the gear ratios. First gear will get you all the way to 118 km/h, second to 170 km/h and third gear will only top out at 200 km/h.
The CBR600RR is fast enough at lower revs but, once you pass that magical 9 000 on the tacho, it transforms. The exhaust note becomes high-pitched and the needle shows no sign of hesitation when spinning to the red line. The CBR600RR is light, nimble and eager enough to please. As I said before, it is the Lotus Exige of the Honda motorcycle line-up.
Warranty: 2-year/unlimited km
Service intervals: 6 000 km
0-100 km/h: 3,0 seconds (according to Honda)
Kerb weight: 184 kg
Power: 88 kW at 13 500 r/min
Torque: 66 N.m at 11 250 r/min
Gearbox: six-speed sequential manual
Price: R121 999