What is the Lightest 600CC Sportbike?
Honda released information to the media this morning regarding a few of their 2007 models – the most notable of these being the CBR600RR. Honda’s middleweight sportbike has undergone a ‘clean sheet’ redesign for 2007, with Honda claiming the design team made reducing the 600RR’s weight their primary focus, saying “the pursuit of lighter weight everywhere was certainly the fundamental key to the new CBR600RR’s design…”. The result was a claimed 20lb reduction in dry weight over the 2006 model, from 361 lbs to 341 lbs.
In redesigning the CBR600RR for lighter weight and increased performance, Honda’s famed R&D engineers started at the heart: the engine. Honda claims that the completely new engine is the smallest and lightest powerplant in the 600cc class by a significant margin – its designers having used careful positioning of all internal components to achieve significant reductions in the motor’s length, width, and height, as well as reducing weight by 2kg (4.4lb) compared to the 2006 model’s powerplant.
While the new engine is smaller and lighter than it’s predecessor, it also offers increased performance, to the tune of a claimed 118hp (at the flywheel) at 13, 500rpm. At speed, that figure is claimed to be increased significantly by the highly efficient centrally-located ram-air duct in the bike’s nose.
Wrapped around this tiny but powerful engine is an all-new frame, significantly lighter, slimmer, and more compact than that of the ’06 600RR. The frame is produced using what Honda calls Fine Die-Cast (FDC) technology, which they claim allowed them to build a lighter frame without compromising strength or rigidity.
The reflexes of the new bike are sharpened by its 22mm (0.86″) shorter wheelbase, as well as by the designer’s focus on strict mass centralization. Despite the shorter wheelbase, the ’07 model’s swingarm is actually 5mm (0.2″) longer than that of the ’06, made possible by the more compact dimensions of the new bike’s engine.
The suspension of the 2007 model is carried over almost unchanged from the 2006 bike, with the same 41mm inverted fork in front, and Honda’s unique Unit Pro-Link rear suspension configuration damping the rear wheel. According to Honda’s press materials, the 2007 machine’s lighter weight and better chassis configuration allows the carry-over suspension to perform much better than it did on the old model. The new three-spoke cast aluminum wheels are also lighter than those on the ’06 bike, which further contributes to the enhanced performance of the suspension. The brakes feature dual radial-mount 4-piston calipers clamping twin 310mm discs up front, and a single-piston caliper squeezing a 220mm disc at the rear.
Hidden below the steering head is an updated version of the Honda Electronic Steering Damper (HESD) system, which we’ve seen in the past on the 600RR’s big brother, the CBR1000RR. This latest iteration of the HESD is claimed to offer faster response and more seamless operation than ever before.
The 2007 CBR600RR is an aggressive attack on the 600cc sportbike segment by the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer, and just how aggressive is obvious the first time you lay eyes on the machine. The smaller, sharper-edged new front upper fairing is dominated by the large central ram-air duct (which feeds the airbox through an opening in the steering head section of the frame), and is seperated from the sides of the fairing by a large gap, which Honda claims is for air management purposes. The tail-section is similarly smaller and sharper-edged, riding atop a heavily restyled under-seat muffler.