Having Honda’s 2012 CB 1000 R around the RoadRUNNER offices has been a hoot. Designed after the urban streetfighter machines, this factory-built bruiser has been a true joy to flog both around town and on backroads. In recent years, streetfighters have come into their own as home built, or more accurately, “recreated” machines that have sprung from the wreckage of sportbikes that had one too many run-ins with taxis, ditches, sign posts, joy riding teenagers, or all of the above. As a result, pristine (not to mention expensive) plastic body work winds up more scattered, smothered, chunked, and chopped than a 3:00am plate of Waffle House hash browns, the clip-ons become clip-offs, and the larger pieces of the formerly DOT approved lighting ends up hanging ingloriously from the front of some homeless guy’s shopping cart. Yep, city life can be tough on a racer replica but underneath the carnage, a truly fine motorcycle often still resides. And, as any of us that have ever had our faces rearranged in a street fight will attest, a crooked nose or a missing tooth has nothing to do with ugly and everything to do with “character”. To a real rider, bikes don’t have to be beautiful; they just have to work beautifully, and in the CB 1000 R Honda has tapped into this visceral sense of function over form. OK, that’s all good and well, but how does this polished, well-trained corporate raider stand up in a real street fight? To find out, we took a little ride across the river, through the tobacco fields, and past Wayne’s “Mol asses For Sale” signs. I know where there’s a real streetfighter.
Yates recently came across a well-abused 1990-something Yamaha FZR600. Being a softy for all things neglected, he is rightfully proud of his collection of the odd and unusual. The battle scarred sportbike fits right in with the quasi-café racer Gold Wing, the nearly completed flat tracker project resurrected from a box of CR250M parts I’ve had since I was a kid, and even the three-legged cat named Spyder… get it? So, a while back, the Nissan Pathfinder with an odometer reading just a few hundred miles shy of a government bailout dollar figure developed another oil leak and Yates determined that he “just didn’t feel like fixing it”. As it so happened, Darryl had a police auction, salvage title FZR600 and no Pathfider while Yates had a Sawzall and no FZR600. Bye bye Pathfinder, hello FZR.
Body work? Scratched and broken, pitch it. Headlight and instrument cluster? Too ugly, it’s gone. Airbox and muffler? Yeah, right. Fenders? Well, you get the picture. If it wasn’t needed, it fell victim to the scrap heap, the Sawzall, or the cutting torch. Adding aftermarket pieces, ingenuity, and a “what the hell” attitude saw a true street fighter come together.
I thought it might be fun to compare the Honda and the Yam, but it really wasn’t a fair fight as both machines have equal merits. The CB 1000 R is brutish yet refined while the FZR is a pure kick in the crotch. I must say that Honda did a fine job recreating a factory streetfighter, but for my money, the real thing wins the cool-factor war hands-down. Granted, not everyone has the wherewithal to build their own, but if you do, it truly is all your own; sign me up. Does anyone out there know where I can find a wrecked sport bike?