Ringleader: Aaron Frank
MSRP (2008): $11,599
Average Fuel Mileage: 41 mpg
Accessories & Modifications: Four quarts of fresh Motul
I've been smitten with Honda's latest-generation CBR1000RR since the U.S. press intro at Laguna Seca in January '08. A lot shorter and some 25 lbs. lighter than its predecessor, the redrawn RR carved the legendary Corkscrew like its 600cc little brother, and still compressed the space-time continuum like only a 160-bhp literbike can. A few weeks later, the RR posted the quickest quarter-mile and lap around the Streets of Willow to win our "Class of '08" sportbike shootout and our MOTY Sportbike of the Year title. The '08 RR established a new benchmark in literbike performance, and I needed one in my garage.
As the miles piled up over the next 21 months, Honda's alpha sportbike continued to impress. I subjected it to everything from commuting to track days, trucking it to Road America, Grattan and even Barber.
The RR was killer on a closed circuit, especially after installing a Bazzaz Perform-ance Z-BOMB to derestrict power above 10,700 rpm. Adding the Bazzaz Z-Fi fuel-injection module along with an FMF Apex exhaust produced an astounding 170 bhp at the rear wheel. Bazzaz's traction-control system and re-valved suspension from RG3 helped put that power to the tarmac.
This long-term test went off without issue, maintenance-wise. The engine did gulp oil (as much as a quart every 1000 miles) and the HESD electronic steering damper sometimes seemed confused, but otherwise the bike proved a perfect companion.
I'm typically bored with long-term bikes before the test ends. Not so the CBR1000RR: I'm actually sad to see it go. Even though it's now three model years old, it's still one of the lightest and fastest sportbikes on the market.