“If you have enough dust, you can build a mountain.” That’s a Japanese saying that roughly equates to what Honda has done in creating the new CBR1000RR SP. As in, little things mean a lot.
So after reinventing the four-cylinder sportbike back in 1992, Honda has spent the past 21 years building on a legacy by constantly improving and subtly enhancing what for most of that time has been the world’s best-selling maxi-sportbike (with more than 400,000 sold globally). In all that time, Honda engineers have been fanatically focused on not betraying the CBR’s heritage - carefully evolving it to keep pace with the competition without sacrificing its unique selling proposition, which sees exceptional performance and handling combined with accessibility and practicality.
Honda’s achievement with the CBR has been to create the most balanced such motorcycle available – one that’s able to extract the very best from every rider, while delivering ride-to-the-mall usability. As such, successive generations of sportbike owners continue to choose the CBR en masse over glitzier, more track-focused models, both Japanese and European, all of which offer a greater array of digital rider aids than the electronics-lite Honda.
But the CBR1000RR hasn’t exactly disgraced itself on the racetrack, winning 37 World Superbike races to date, as well as 21 Isle of Man TT races and eight Suzuka 8-Hours, plus the 2007 World Superbike title.
Now Honda has responded in its own special way to the increasing demand for track-day friendly hardware by subtly improving the standard CBR for 2014, but then adding an SP version on top of that with several track-focused enhancements.
Most notable of these changes is the adoption of fully adjustable Öhlins suspension front and rear – the first time that any Honda streetbike has ever come fitted with something other than Showas, and the culmination of a development process that started in 2009, according to the Swedish suspension firm’s technical boss and former World Superbike ace, Anders Andersson.
To read more of our review of the special-edition Honda CBR1000RR, click here