2012 Honda CB1000R: Matte Black Belt

Text: Chris Myers • Photography: Florian Neuhauser

Martial arts competition, like sport motorcycle riding, stylishly blends power and finesse with razor-sharp wits and the ability to quickly and effectively compensate for any move the opposition, or the road, throws your way. While Honda’s CB1000R certainly delivers black belt performance on the open road, it also packs a mean set of brass knuckles.

The Streetfighter genre of motorcycles is an interesting one. As the story goes, urban sportbike guys would crash their bikes (as urban sportbike guys are wont to do) and then rebuild their wrecks. But rather than drop hard-earned cash on new plastic, they simply tossed the broken bodywork in the garbage, sold the unharmed bits to some poser on eBay, slapped on a set of dirt bike–style handlebars, and called it good. And let’s face it, an upright seating position is far more preferable for picking lanes through traffic than is the “monkey humping a football” riding position of a traditional sportbike. Plus, stripped sportbikes just look tough.

Like all good fashion trends that sprout in the city, this one caught on and spread. It proved especially appealing to seasoned riders that pine for the performance of a modern sportbike without the chiropractic nightmares brought on by clip-ons and rearsets. 

Fortunately, motorcycle manufacturers have spotted this trend and are now offering streetfighter-inspired machines that don’t require crashing to achieve the look. For those of us who are a little past the track bike, not quite ready to go feet-forward, yet still relish a good, clean sparring match, Honda’s CB1000R comes out swinging and scores as a near perfect option.

Going the Distance

The bikes that inspired the CB1000R may have been born on the mean streets, but their urban ergos also shine long after the traffic is left behind. The wide, flat bars that serve so well dodging buses and Buicks also afford a comfortable, upright seating position. Surprisingly, stints on the superslab are near effortless affairs. I don’t know how, but that little fly-screen/headlight combo manages to knock an unexpected hole in the wind, keeping both rider and passenger bobble-heading to a minimum. The seat too is deceiving. It first appears flat and hard, but ends up being quite comfortable for the long haul. This is an especially nice touch considering many of us don’t have our favorite stretches of twisty asphalt just down the street.

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For the complete article of the riding impression(s) and technical specifications, please purchase the September/October 2012 back issue.