Honda’s ‘neo café’ CB1000R has hints of retro, yet packs the punch of a supernaked. PB seeks to clarify the situation...
Honda’s new CB1000R goes head to head with Yamaha’s benchmark MT-10
VARIETY AND CHOICE in motorcycling have never been greater. Sportsbike Britain is no longer a thing, but that’s not to say the spirit of it isn’t. In 1998, if you wanted proper brakes, suspension and top-end components, you bought a sportsbike. And it’d probably still have enough comfort and usability to do most things you’d ask of it. Now, a superbike is a piece of extreme engineering: built to go fast, with any other niceties absent or minimal at best. But the word ‘sportsbike’ encompasses other machinery, too. The most popular beneficiary of superbike heritage and development is the supernaked class: from the relatively inexpensive and simplistic (Z1000) to techno-fest, sit-up-and-beg race bikes (Tuono), with options bridging the extremes of road-oriented performance bikes. Honda, in their megacorp wisdom, haven’t slotted their reborn CB1000R directly into this scale of naked lunacy. It ticks many of the boxes: 145bhp, radial brakes, BPF forks, Fireblade engine and an electronics package. But it’s also on the fringes of the retro fashionista movement: swingarm-mounted numberplate, CB900F-esque tank, big round headlight... PB was confused: from the outside, it’s a half rice, half chips non-commitment to either genre. Only one way to find out, so we rustled up the glorious mid-point of the supernaked class, the MT-10, for a benchmark. Similar on spec, the MT-10 has delighted by being loads of fun with decent performance, for not a lot of cash. It also ploughed its own styling furrow: deliberately modern and controversial, rather than Honda’s familiar yet unusual ‘heritage’ approach.