Savannah, GA – During my time in Savannah, I learnt a heck of a lot about riding on Honda’s new 2015 CBR lineup. This fleet of bikes, from the 300R to the 1000RR SP, provided the perfect set of wheels to explore the track on.
I’ll start with the ‘baby’ of the group. That being said, the CBR300R surprised me with its aggression. As I was walking up to the group of bikes in the pit, I had trouble differentiating the 300R from the 500R; the styling on the 2015 model has been revamped to look a lot more powerful, insofar as making its rider feel like a true champion of the road. The changes from the 250R are substantial enough to warrant an explanation. Though the chassis underneath the fairings has stayed the same, the 2015 engine has a new crankshaft, piston, and connecting rod, which have allowed for an increase in displacement by 37cc to 286cc. The difference in power is easily noticeable. Pushing hard on the throttle, I found the amount of low-end torque surprising. The single-cylinder fires hard and responds well to the remapped fuel-injection system. On the track, the bike dips in to corners with great ease, flaunting its light wet weight of 357 lbs. The suspension is a touch too soft for track purposes as feedback is diminished, but this allows the bike to be incredibly forgiving for newer riders, which suits its purpose. The 2015 CBR 300R is a fun little bike, and will always be the special first bike I got my knee down on.
The 500R was basically a faster 300R. The seat height and the peg placement felt quite similar to the 300R: snug, comfortable, and mainly upright. The main differences between the two bikes stemmed from the more powerful 471cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin and the slightly stiffer suspension. Additionally, the ground clearance of the 500R is less than that of the 300R; I found myself scraping the pegs on almost every corner. With that in mind, I would most likely choose the 300R over the 500R as a dedicated, track bike. The 500R is ideal for those who are looking to upgrade to a middleweight from a sub-600cc street bike.
Moving up a class, the CBR650F was undoubtedly my favourite bike of the event. I had ridden the bike extensively on the street before, so there was a sense of familiarity in the saddle of the 650F. Honda claims that this bike was meant to fill the gap between the 500R and the 600RR, which I can attest that this bike does fully. A large step up from the 500R, the 650F pulls hard from a low RPM right through to 8k, after which the power starts to diminish. The throttle is incredibly smooth, and offers a manageable amount of precision. Leaning this bike down is easy and confidence-inspiring, and there is plenty of clearance to really exercise your lean angle. The suspension was perfect for my weight and novice skill level; I received just enough feedback to have a good idea of what my wheels are doing, while still being forgiving enough to cover up my smaller errors. The only qualm I have with this bike is the vibration in the handlebars after 8.5k RPM, but that is easily overlooked.
This event marked a lot of firsts for me, one of those being the first time I rode a RR model; this includes both the 600RR and the 1000RR. Right away, the seating position was extremely aggressive and angled. My knees pushed slightly outward by the girth of the tank, but this felt natural with the position of the footpegs. The throttle was incredibly precise and the steep rake provided sharp handling and an effortless lean. As a novice track rider, riding these bikes was an eye-opening experience. When I hit the straight for the first time on the 1000RR, I remember screaming with delight as I hammered on the throttle. It truly brought to light what a well-engineered machine can do. The amount of lean angle I could squeeze out of these bikes was phenomenal. My proudest moment of the event was when I felt my knee scrape the asphalt on the last corner of riding the 1000RR. That being said, I had to take it slow around the track with these machines, as I was simply not experienced enough to push myself on them. Furthermore, Honda’s lack of an electronics system on their RR’s is surprising, as all of the other major players in the racing industry have developed intricate electronics aid systems.
Honda’s 2015 CBR lineup contains a lot of fun track weapons that are just as much fun to ride on the street as they are on the track. My top picks from this event would be the 650F for daily use, the 600RR for a track blaster, and the 300R as a nimble track puppy. Now, if only I could own them all…
First Ride: 2015 Honda CBR Line Gallery