Well, the new RR is different from the above successful family; it has been designed as race bike first, and shares technology direct from Val Rossi’s GP bike, the current MotoGP dominating RC211V. Take a look at the rear swinger – look familiar? That’s because it’s the same setup on the RC211V – more on that later. The new 600RR also shares a common fuel injection set up as the RC, with duel fuel injectors injecting.Now, lucky for us, Honda have seen fit to continue offering last years excellent F4i, to those who don’t need or want the latest and greatest race rep. However, if you want to be on the cutting edge of sport bike technology, this RR is for you. Sure, it’s not unusual to see racetrack technology trickle down to the street, but when was the last time you saw this years race innovations on this years street bikes? Never, my sporty and feisty friends – This bike is as advanced as it is focused.
Obviously this 600 class is a gossip filled cauldron and all I’ve heard over the last couple of months from the Supersport faithful is “inverted” this, and “radial” that. Sure upside-downies look good but Conventional forks can offer advantages over inverted types, especially when you’re talking about the beefy 45mm set on the new RR, up two mill’ from last year and the biggest on any production Honda 600. However the most innovative part about the RR is the rear shock set-up.
Honda have taken a complete 180 stance over this side of development, they realized that most problems with current motorcycle geometry come from the rear not the front. On a conventional rear set-up the rear compresses under acceleration, specifically whilst twisting the loud handle out of a turn, this compression is using valuable shock stroke and should you encounter a small dip or bump, loss of traction can occur. The result? Highside City, and you are the Mayor. An inverted fork set-up couldn’t possibly save you from this one, tough guy.
Honda’s answer comes in the form of a revised linkage that sees the top of the shock anchored to the swingarm, not to the frame. A few positive effects occur as a by-product of this thinking, the frame is less stressed and with a new manufacturing process that allows engineers to create hollow die-cast members that are lighter and airier, this less stress also results in less bracing, less bracing allows room for incidentals, like a lower gas tank, which in turn allows a bigger airbox. The knee bone is attached to the thighbone; the thighbone is attached to the hipbone…
Anyway, enough of this sleepy stuff let’s go ride one. The venue is Fast Freddie’s house of speed, Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I’ve been here a few times so less effort was spent on track orientation, more on going as fast as my motor-neuron skills would allow me. Dunlop was present and the bikes were fitted with the D208 ZR OEM street tires for the mornings sessions, Honda were the consummate host and had them wrapped in hot, sweaty tire warmers to help with the total opposite in weather conditions here in the Nevada desert facility.
The bike felt quite small in stature, and I felt perched nice and high looking down onto the redesigned instrumentation. The tachometer is now central with the fuel bars and idiot lights either side. As I moved into the open pit area, I immediately went into tire scrub mode and swept the bike side to side to scuff up the virgin tread. The bike moved so well that I nearly fell over and then repeated the same thing on the opposite side with my counter correction. The bike is absolutely effortless in side-to-side transitions both at speed and with my silly, potentially embarrassing, tire warming pit stunts.
Off into the racetrack the bike was all that was promised and more. The Honda staff begged (or was it egged?) us to get on the throttle as early as we dare to demonstrate the rear suspension action and traction. Nobody dares MikeE and I soon had the bike overpowering the street tires, especially when race warm and with the consequent slides, one at triple digit speeds, soon had me hiding at the back of the pit garage pretending that I was looking for something (my nerve?) I don’t remember being able to overpower the OEM tire on the last version, so let that be a strong indication on power difference. I was also dragging a peg in a couple of places so I had my personal technician (no, really) add a tad more preload, a smidgen of compression, and a dollop of rebound – all to thoroughly confuse the guy and impress him with my suspension tweaking vocabulary and cooking skills.
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