On the subject of enhancing confidence, Honda—largely in response to European consumer demand—has made its excellent Combined ABS a $500 option. The system is linked back-to-front, so it only engages when the rear brake pedal is depressed. The front brake can be used alone. The base-model CBR’s single front caliper, mated to a 296mm disc, stops the lightweight bike well enough, though we would prefer a sharper response and less sponginess at the lever. Then again, perhaps a slightly delayed response is less dangerous for a newbie. The lightweight CBR gave no hints of instability, even at interstate speeds, withstanding the windblasts of passing commercial trucks without worry. The budget-minded IRC Road Winner tires gripped well enough and didn’t wander in freeway rain grooves. There was plenty of fuel left in the 3.4-gallon tank when our ride concluded, suggesting this will be a miserly commuter, even if you’re spending a long time near the 10,500-rpm redline. It’s a smooth ride, too—that gear-driven counterbalancer eradicates virtually all vibration below 6000 rpm, and just the littlest bit transmits through the handlebars beyond 7500. More annoying was the seam where the tank and seat meet, which irritated my inner thighs during aggressive riding.