The SP Edi­tion First Ride

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As part of the in­ter­na­tional press launch of the stan­dard CBR1000RR, Honda also gave us an ad­di­tional hour of track time aboard the tricked- out CBR1000RR SP, which comes equipped with a ti­ta­nium fuel tank, Brembo monoblock brake calipers, semi-ac­tive Öh­lins (S- EC) sus­pen­sion com­po­nents, and a lithium-ion bat­tery, all in­tended for weight sav­ings and bet­ter per­for­mance. To tap fur­ther into the bike’s po­ten­tial, en­gi­neers also swapped the stan­dard-spec Bridge­stone Bat­t­lax RS10 tires for su­per-grippy Bridge­stone Bat­t­lax Rac­ing V02 slicks and sent us on our way.

Sim­i­lar to that of its com­peti­tors, the SP model’s Öh­lins sus­pen­sion has three Au­to­matic modes (A1, A2, and A3) that use spe­cial­ized soft­ware to break your rid­ing down into an event-based ap­proach. This means the sys­tem is able to de­ter­mine whether you are brak­ing, cor­ner­ing, or ac­cel­er­at­ing based on in­for­ma­tion gath­ered by the Sus­pen­sion Con­trol Unit (SCU) and ad­just to ideal damp­ing set­tings for each of those events. It also has three Man­ual modes (M1, M2, and M3) in which com­pres­sion and re­bound set­tings can be ad­justed in 5-per­cent in­cre­ments from soft to hard, tak­ing tra­di­tional sus­pen­sion click­ers out of the equa­tion. These set­tings, along with the Öh­lins Based Tun­ing In­ter­face found on the SP’S dash, make fine­tun­ing the sus­pen­sion eas­ier than ever.

I spent much of my time aboard the SP in the A1 mode (stiffest of the Au­to­matic set­tings), and it was clear the Öh­lins sus­pen­sion of­fers more feel through the stroke than the Showa bits on the stan­dard model. The semi-ac­tive sus­pen­sion is im­pres­sive, and the tran­si­tion be­tween damp­ing set­tings for dif­fer­ent events (brak­ing, cor­ner­ing, and ac­cel­er­at­ing) feels seam­less, al­low­ing you to push hard with­out the worry of the bike do­ing some­thing un­pre­dictable. Those changes in damp­ing set­tings pay div­i­dends too, specif­i­cally help­ing im­prove bump com­pli­ance at full lean with­out giv­ing up sta­bil­ity un­der hard brak­ing. It’s im­por­tant to note that the sys­tem now is more en­joy­able for race­track use than it was on other bikes we’ve tested, and it may help you achieve quicker lap times.

Brak­ing power and feel were also im­proved on the SP model thanks to the switch to Brembo monoblock calipers up front. The dif­fer­ence in power was very sub­tle and only no­tice­able dur­ing the ini­tial bite of the brakes, but it was enough to push brak­ing mark­ers far­ther and far­ther to­ward the cor­ner and slightly shave down lap times. An en­hanced feel through the pull of the lever was su­perb, though it was over­shad­owed by an overly in­tru­sive ABS sys­tem—funny, as it never ac­ti­vated on the stan­dard CBR. The sys­tem would pull back force half­way into the brak­ing zones send­ing the bike headed to the cor­ner un­com­fort­ably quick be­fore it would de­ac­ti­vate and al­low the bike to stop. While it never caused any off-track ex­cur­sions, it was quite an in­con­ve­nience on track.

If you have a lit­tle ex­tra cash and are de­bat­ing be­tween buy­ing the SP model or stan­dard CBR1000RR, I’d highly rec­om­mend jump­ing at the op­por­tu­nity to own one of these. The Öh­lins semi-ac­tive sus­pen­sion re­ally did make this bike en­joy­able to rip around the race­track, and it’s one bike I hope to be spend­ing a lot more time on in 2017. SR

The SP of­fers a boost in con­fi­dence through the semi- ac­tive Öh­lins sus­pen­sion that al­lows you to push hard and have more front- end feed­back than the stan­dard model does.

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