By Marissa Baecker
It has been referred to with a plethora of creative descriptions from street fighter to under cover supersport and after I rode the 2012 Honda CB1000R you can add one more to the list of cleverly concocted characterizations used to describe the bike – the Transformer.
Stand before the bike and the triangular shaped multi reflector headlight, neatly crafted within a matte black and gold mini-fairing, resembles the head of Megatron – leader of the Decepticons. Use your sci-fi movie imagination and the upper gold accents resemble eye brows, beveled hollows look like eyes, side signals could be ears, lower circular 7-bulb led light resembles a mouth and then add in the gold inverted 43mm front forks for fangs and you have yourself one mean looking robot on an ‘endless crusade for power and control.’
The signature of a transformer is its ability to compact all its parts and make it one machine. When I sat in the saddle of the bike, the ergonomics of this model fit my body perfectly and my knees practically snapped in either side of the tank, hugging the bike as though it was made just for me.
I was surprised to learn the bike had a 32-inch seat height because normally I don’t fit very well on lower bikes not to mention that the majority of sport bikes I have ridden have been too small to fit my body but this one was different. The wheelbase is 1,445 mm (56.9”). and this bike would fit just about every other sized rider as well.
I continued to investigate the bike from the rider’s seat and my imagination was fueled as I turned the key to view the digital display. Across the top – an rpm scale. On the left temperature and speedometer while on the right fuel, clock and odometer readings all clearly visible with a quick look even in the glare of the midday sun.
Gold coloured aluminum handlebars are positioned upright more synonymous to that of a standard sport bike style than a super sport but there is plenty of room to crouch down over the tank should you choose to escape the wind. The bike boasts an angular design positioning the rider slightly forward for a comfortable yet sporty ride. Gold-coloured rims and pin striping add stylish highlights to the matte black colour.
After starting the engine, I made some personal adjustments and discovered that the Honda CB1000R had the same design flaw I have experienced riding other sport bikes. Maybe it’s me but whenever I ride a sport bike, I get a great view in the side mirrors of both of my shoulders and if I want to see what is behind me, I have to lean one way or the other to move the vision impairing shoulder out of view. If I crouch down lower, the side mirrors are pretty much useless.
Pulling out of the parking lot and heading for the highway my first impression was that there was no shortage of torque – great for an experienced rider but a new rider could easily lift the front wheel off the ground unexpectedly if they were still refining their clutch/throttle control skills and could get a severe case of buck teeth and whiplash if they were unfamiliar with the different elements each style of riding offers.
This 998 cc fuel-injected four cylinder beauty was a fabulous ride. Heading down the highway I was facing a rather strong headwind but the bike remained solid with only a slight shimmy from passing semis.
As I moved my way through the close-ratio six speed transmission, just when I thought I had reached the top end, the bike would deliver a little more power before I pulled in the clutch. Compression ratio is 11.2:1 and releasing the throttle the bike reduces speed rapidly but even and consistent.
Gauging speed on a motorcycle is so much different than in a vehicle and specifically with sport bikes. They are designed for a track. Built for speed and agility and this one boasts a mere curb weight of 222 kg (489 lbs).
Keeping the weight down is the ‘advanced gravity-die-cast aluminum mono-backbone frame’ as well as the ‘magnesium cylinder-head and alternator covers.’
The CB1000R is true to track engineering. What feels like 80 km/hr is more likely to be 120 to 130 km/hr which is fabulous on a track but if your not paying attention to your gauges on the highway, the blue and red flashers will feel the need for an introduction. Hypothetically speaking of course.
Slowing down for a visual rest stop is equally effortless with the 310 mm dual radial-mounted four piston calipers in the front and single 256 mm discs in the rear. Add ABS and you will be confident to navigate your way around an unexpected broom top that flies off the landscape truck ahead of you on the highway – again, hypothetically speaking.
The key locked, 17 litre fuel tank offers a feature that I have not seen on any of the bikes I have ridden to date. There is a bar that goes across the nozzle entrance that prevents the fuel nozzle from entering the gas tank and thereby reduces the likelihood of over-fueling and spillage.
The low slung stainless steel exhaust gives the bike that race track sound and its boxy design falls in line with the sci-fi Transformer I first visualized.
Honda offers a one-year unlimited mileage transferable warranty with an option to purchase an extended warranty through Honda Plus.
MSRP (motorcycle.honda.ca) is $13,249.