Honda’s ‘neo café’ CB1000R has hints of retro, yet packs the punch of a su­per­naked. PB seeks to clar­ify the sit­u­a­tion...

Performance Bikes (UK) - - CONTENTS - Words CHRIS NEW­BIG­GING Pho­tos SI­MON LEE & HONDA

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.

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