Wrist: Ari Henning
MSRP (2011): $3999
Mods: Catalyst Reaction suspension tuning
The last time I checked in, I had just retrieved the CBR from John Ethell at JETT Tuning. “Johnny Boy” pushed peak power up 20 percent over stock. But numbers are for bench racers, so we took the Honda up to Sonoma Raceway (previously Infineon Raceway) for the AFM races to see how our souped-up CBR would do against the class-dominating Ninja 250s.
As soon as I opened the throttle, I knew things would be different. The bike accelerated harder and made power all the way to redline. I could keep pace with most of the Ninjas on the straightaways, though the tuned Kawi’s were still able to pull a solid gap between corners.
The motor felt phenomenal, but the front tire chattered entering Sonoma’s three downhill turns, limiting my entry and corner speeds. Dave Moss of Catalyst Reaction Suspension (www.feelthetrack.com) was on hand and made minor tweaks to both the fork and shock in an effort to balance out the chassis. Dave nailed the setup just in time for Saturday’s 250 Challenge race, where I had a great battle for fourth place. In Sunday’s races I scored a fourth and a fifth, but not without difficulty. During hard braking, the Honda would shut off and wouldn’t restart until I’d cycled the kill switch. I lost positions because of it.
Even with the electrical issue (something we’re investigating alongside American Honda and John Ethell), my finishes were significantly better than the finishes I got at Thunderhill Raceway last time out—a sixth, a ninth, and a 12th. Part of the improvement was due to Sonoma’s advantageous track layout, but the added power and improved handling helped, too. We’re making steady progress with this bike. The podium is within reach!