Model CBR929RR Engine 929cc liquid-cooled inline four-cylinder Bore and Stroke 74 x 54mm Compression 11.3:1 Valve Train DOHC; 16 valve Carburetion PGM-FI with automatic choke Ignition Computer-controlled digital with three-dimensional mapping Transmission Close-ratio six-speed Final Drive #530 chain O-ring-sealed chain Suspension Front: 43mm inverted cartridge fork with preload, rebound and compression damping adjustability; Rear: mono-shock with spring preload, rebound and compression damping adjustability; Brakes Front: Dual full-floating 330mm discs, four-piston calipers Rear: Single 220mm disc, single-piston caliper Tires Front: 120/70ZR-17 radial Rear: 190/50ZR-17 radial Wheelbase 54.9 inches Rake 23.8° Trail 97mm (3.8 inches) Seat Height 32.1 inches Dry Weight 374.8 pounds Fuel Capacity 4.8 gallons, including 0.9-gallon reserve Colors Pearl White/Red Pearl Yellow/Black
The new 929 incorporates a number of features that make it a remarkable motorcycle. The bike bristles with advanced bits and pieces everywhere that make this motorcycle a force to be reckoned with, even while parked on the side stand. For example, there are not only bits but literally blocks of titanium and magnesium used to help Honda achieve their goal of making the new CBR the "must-have motorcycle of the new millennium."
|Just about every engine internal, from camshafts to the crankshafts, lost weight in an effort to prove that indeed, "Light Does Make Right."|
|Light Makes Right|
|When Honda first introduced their CBR900RR in the spring of 1992, it set new standards for open-class sportbikes. At a claimed 408 pounds dry, not only was the bike 80 pounds lighter than its closest competitor, it was two pounds lighter than the CBR600F2. Honda has pushed the "Light Makes Right" philosophy throughout the CBR900 series' existence with numerous weight-saving, suspension improvements and an increase in displacement that saw the 1999 900RR measuring in at 918cc and about 400 pounds dry.
This combination, at least in America's large-displacement AMA Pro Racing class, has produced stunning results: After winning the AMA's GTO Endurance title by taking five out of twelve rounds in 1993, CBR900s went on to dominate the new Formula Extreme class. See if any of these names sound familiar: Pegram, Stroud, Barnes, Toland (who now works for American Honda in Product Development and PR), Bostrom, Nobles, Hayden, Roberts. All these racers made names for themselves aboard the 900RR, and the trickle-down effect was obvious. Even people who could never in their wildest dreams hope to exploit the bike's full potential felt the need to park one in their garage. For much of the 1990s, Honda's CBR900RR, along with the Suzuki GSX-R750, was the large-displacement sportbike of choice.
The new motor is fed fuel and oxygen via 40mm throttle-bodies that, with injectors spraying fuel at a rate of 50 psi, should combine with the electronic digital ignition in an effort to provide immediate throttle response in any gear. The injection system features an auto-enrichening circuit that eliminates the need for a manual choke. Part of this induction tract includes a gargantuan ten-liter airbox (last year's was 7.4 liters) and a narrow, 25-degree included valve angle (13-degree intake, 12-degree exhaust) that provides a direct path for the air/fuel mixture into the aluminum composite cylinder sleeves.
The motor is now more over-square with a 74 x 54mm bore and stroke. Combined with an 11.3:1 compression ratio, the new engine is able to rev a safe 500 rpm higher. The new crankshaft is 12% lighter and the new pistons, also weighing 12% less, are now forged instead of cast. Even the camshafts lost weight -- a significant 1.4 pounds for both. Reducing rotating and reciprocating mass provided the added revs and also made the engine faster spinning through the powerband, thus improving the throttle response.
|The HTEV (Honda Titanium Exhaust Valve) is routed in the exhaust system and is designed to increase low- and mid-range power without creating more pollutants. The HTEV allows the CBR929 to become CARB 2004 compliant, the first open-class sportbike to meet these standards.|
|Sticky, Stiff Stuff Or: 16.5-inch Wheels R.I.P.|
|Just because Honda mentions phrases like "engine also acts as a stressed member of the chassis," "pivotless frame" and "tuned-flex design" in the same breath, don't fret about upsetting the chassis by fitting sticky race-tires on the new 929. (Remember Honda's warnings about the VTR chassis?). This motorcycle was made for sticky tires, hence Michelin's awesome Pilot Sport radials wrapping around new 17-inch rims (Hurrah!) as stock equipment.
|A cast aluminum bracket below and between swingarm pivots allowed Honda to use pivotless technology on an inline four-cylinder machine while at the same time decreasing weight and increasing overall frame rigidity.|
The whole package is suspended by fully-adjustable Showa units both front and rear. The rear mono-shock utilizes Honda's Pro Link® linkage with a revised ratio, and the shock body now features a piggy-back reservoir that weighs 12.5-ounces less than previous remote-reservoir unit. Inverted telescopic front forks are a first for an open-class Honda street bike. The rear shock supplies 135mm of up and down wheel travel and mates with the 110mm of travel provided by the new forks.
|Inverted front forks -- the first on a Honda open-class sportbike. The new 43mm Showas weight 2.6 pounds less than the 900RR's. Even better, a 17-inch wheel is found in between. Woo-Hoo!|
With so many performance-oriented changes, don't think Honda left the 929 looking plain-wrapped, either. The all-new bodywork features a three-headlight, side-by-side design, a narrow-profile fuel tank (still retaining a 4.8 gallon capacity) and a one-piece tail section wrapped around a removable rear subframe.
|Through the whoops Brent Avis is known as "Half-Cut" ...|
About one hour later, the sun broke through the clouds and, despite chilly temps that hovered in the low-fifties, we were ready to ride. But, wait! There were 20-something riders and only seven 929s. This meant that three groups of riders would venture onto the track for only 30-minutes at a time with an hour of downtime between each session. Yuck. Even the two, one-year-old CBR900s Honda brought along for back-to-back comparisons in our downtime could only satiate so much nervous energy.
|... while leaned over through the chicanes we call him "Minime."|
|Neither nickname refers to his prodigious endowment ...|
No matter what, the new bike, it turns out, is very well sorted. The motor feels super smooth and the throttle response is, perhaps, the best we've ever experienced on a fuel-injected bike. Where many fuel-injected bikes -- and a few poorly carbureted ones -- transition roughly when opening the throttle mid-corner, causing the chassis to become unsettled, the new 929 accelerates smoothly out of the bend and onto the next straightaway as cleanly as any bike we've ever ridden. No muss, no fuss.
|... but rather to the fact that we already have a Brent at MO and we weren't sure what to call Mr. Avis.|
Needless to say, because of the high speeds we carried down the straights, we uncovered the 929's only significant flaw: the front brakes. They lack initial bite and don't start really slowing things down until well into the travel. We prefer something a bit more linear where two-percent more pressure equals two-percent more friction on the rotors. That's not the case here. Still, this is not to say the brakes are weak; they are not, although the rear brake was useless since while hard-braking into the corner it barely touched the track surface, if at all. The best approach was to just use a healthy amount of front brake and downshift smoothly into the next lower gear to minimize chassis pitch and keep things settled before bending the bike into the now not-quite-so-rapidly approaching turn.
|Trust us, one Brent is more than enough. Sometimes Brent is just so damn ...|
The gearbox was smooth-shifting and allowed the flexibility to keep the motor singing where it made the most power. The gearing is excellent with no gaps, and we never missed a cog during either up or downshifts despite a few frenzied moments that were due to our lack of talent more than any shortcoming on the bike.
|... Oh, hi, Mr. Plummer. The captions? No, I was about to write that you are "just so damn", um, cool. Yeah, that's it, you're just so damn (gurp) cool.|
Without back-to-back comparisons with the other open-classers, we can't yet say for certain whether or not this new CBR929RR will surpass the likes of the Kawasaki's ZX-9R, the Yamaha YZF-R1, or even the Ducati 996, which is often thrown into the liter-bike wars despite it's V-Twin disadvantage. Heck, we're not even sure if any of the aforementioned motorcycles surpasses Honda's new RC51.
What we can say with certainty, however, is that the new Honda CBR929RR is a well-designed and manufactured motorcycle, one that seems to meet all Honda's design goals. It'll be a close match, for sure; but there's no doubt that the new CBR929 will be in the hunt for top honors up to the very end.