Honda updates '09 superbikes
Launched locally over a year ago the latest version of Honda's Fireblade has significantly raised the stakes in the hotly competitive litre-Superbike class. Now Honda is hoping to shift the Fireblade another notch higher with a 2009 update.
The most significant addition for the new model year is the optional all-new electronically-controlled “Combined ABS”. One of the challenges the Honda engineers had to overcome with this ABS system is the fact that extreme braking is something that happens very regularly with a superbike, unlike your average commuting road bike where it is only used for emergency stops. This means the system has to allow the rider to brake very close to the limit, and when the ABS does kick in it needs to happen smoothly so as not to unsettle the machine or rider.
Another obstacle was the extreme forward pitching as a result of heavy braking. As the bike's weight shifts forward when you slam on the brakes, so the front wheel's braking ability improves, but in the process reduces traction on the rear wheel.
According to Honda the new Combined ABS system manages to successfully overcome both these hurdles and provides "the prevention of wheel lock, improved balance and easy operation" without compromising the bike's stability when the ABS is activated. Honda adds that sport riding performance is uninterrupted and that cornering feel remains the same and controllability is enhanced.
For 2009 the Fireblade also sports new rear indicators which are now styled in an oval shape with a clear lens and an orange bulb. Honda has also introduced two new Super Sports colour versions in the shape of a HRC tricolour and Honda Repsol livery.
Now in its fourth generation, the 2009 CBR600RR builds on the heritage of tyre-shredding performance and top-notch control set in 2003 by the first CBR600RR.
Among the changes for 2009 are updates to the CBR600’s compact engine with improved torque from 8 000 r/min to 12 000 r/min, an improved fairing, new colour schemes and the availability of the same Combined ABS that has been added to the Fireblade line-up.
For 2009 Honda has made some subtle changes to the CBR600RR's fairing with a new undercowl, fresher sculpting and new air vents added to create a more effective airflow at medium and high speeds. According to the company these changes result in better machine stability, especially in longer, highspeed corners.
Although these updates involved the addition of some material, the overall weight of this year’s CBR600RR remains the same as the previous model - an impressive 184kg kerb weight.
To ensure the CBR600RR retains its fresh appeal new oval-shaped clear lens and orange bulb indicators - an aftermarket favourite - are now fitted as standard and four new colours have been introduced.
For the standard version (non-Combined ABS) the main colour is a limited edition cool white base combined with striking electric blue while the main colour for the ABS version is a graphic white/red/blue tricolour. For something even more striking (and decidedly close to Kawasaki territory) opt for the lime green version or go classic with Graphite Black and contrasting Italian Red stripes.
The 2009 CBR100RR Fireblade retails for R147 999 and the CBR600RR for R118 999 (both prices include VAT).