Arguably, this is one of the most popular sport bikes of all time and going in to 2013 I had high expectations for this bike. So, did it live up to my expectations?
Performance – Although it looks completely different this year than it did in 2012, underneath the new body is the same 600cc engine developing around 100 hp to the wheel, which is the least amount out of the big 4 Japanese sport bikes (R6, GSXR-600, ZX-6R). Despite its lack of ponies, the engine feels very lively thanks to its liner power delivery. Well, “linear” for a sport bike which is not the same as a street bike. The engine rpms pick up very quickly from as low as 3000rpm and they just keep going to its 14,700 rpm redline where a new ECU update for the 2013 model has helped increase the engine performance at the high end.
The frame has also remained the same for the 2013 model year but slight changes in the mount of the engine and gearbox and other components has helped lower the overall center of gravity of the bike. The bike feels very light, almost like a 250cc, when weaving and switching from left to right through corners and this excellent handling characteristic more than makes up for its “lack of power”. New big piston Showa front forks and rear suspension provide good feedback through the handlebars without sacrificing the ride comfort over rough city streets. One thing I didn’t like too much in terms of performance is the clutch. It’s fine when the bike is moving but when setting off, it is hard to slip. I found myself having to rev the engine to 3-4000rpms when setting off from a dead stop and by the time the clutch was fully engaged the rpms dropped so much that the bike always felt like it wanted to stall.
Comfort – This is where I may get some hate from fans of the CBR because a lot of people say that Hondas are the most comfortable sport bikes around but I actually didn’t find it that comfortable. I am 6’5” (yes I know, I am a freak of nature in terms of height) and any other tall people may find this bike just as small as I did. Every time I had to look at the instrument panel, I ended up looking at it through the windshield. I couldn’t get into the fully crouched position without hitting my helmet on the windshield and it didn’t matter how far back in the seat I was. Speaking of the seat, I’m not much of a fan of the “heated seat” feature, i.e. undertail exhaust. Also, there was a lot of heat being dissipated from the engine around my inner thigh and shins area which made me ride half the time, when testing it, with my legs off the tank just so I can cool off a bit.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, as I’ve stated earlier, the ride is pretty good for a sport bike and … ummm…. oh, the mirrors had excellent visibility to the rear and sides.
Odds and Ends – The 2013 cosmetic redesign actually serves a purpose by reducing the overall aero drag and improving wind protection for the rider. Although it is an improvement in terms of functionality, I prefer the looks of the 2012 model more… that’s just an opinion. Also the 310mm dual front discs offer very powerful braking but don’t worry if you overdo it because ABS is an option for $1000 more, a bit pricy and it does add extra weight but for some it’s worth it.