CBR1000RR First Ride

Well, the bike has been sitting in the garage since January.  Today is March 29, it was the first day this year with temperatures in the 60's.  I'm thinking OK, how do I get out of work so I can bring nearly three months of anticipation to a end.  But of course I couldn't, leave early that is, so the next best thing was to leave at a reasonable time, which meant when 4:30 rolled around I was headed out the door.

This is not just a first ride on the CBR1000RR.  It's also the first ride of the spring, first ride on a full bore sport bike, and first ride on a Honda in over 20 years, and it's the break-in.

I got home, said hello to the kids and wife (hug hug, kiss kiss), got changed, jumped on the internet and checked the weather (still in the 60's, overcast, but only 20% chance of rain), SWEEEEEEET...  Dinner? Forget dinner.  I pulled the helmet and gloves out of the closet (crud look at all that dust), went in the kitchen, got some wet paper towels, wiped the helmet off, wiped it dry, go to the other closet, pull out the leather jacket, put it on (still fits good, like a glove), shoes... "You going riding now?"... "Yup."... "OK, Love You, have fun..." (my wife understands me)... "OK, Love You, bye."... Out to the garage.

What the heck, who moved the dirt bike, trailer, snow blower... that David, I'm going to ring his neck... Put his dirt bike back... move the trailer... move the snow blower back... uncover the bike... disconnect the battery charger... put the helmet and gloves on the trash can for now...  insert key, turn... everything lights up... turn key off... maneuver bike back and forth to get it turned around and on the driveway... turn key back on... clutch in... neutral (check)... punch the starter... crankcrankcrak... Wroooom... IT's ALIVE!!!!

First impression is that it was running kind of rough.  But, after sitting three months, what could I expect.  Plus it only has .5 miles on it, so it's not like it's broken in.  While it warmed up I quickly got my helmet on, gloves, zip, buckle jacket around neck.  Ready.

Sit on the bike... position... clutch in... side stand up... shift down... CLUNK!  Geeeezzzzzz... you'd think a Honda would engage a little smoother...  hmmmm... maybe because it's still idling kind of high...  warming up.  I eased out the clutch and went down the drive way.  Hmmmmm  impressive... it didn't rip my arms out of the sockets (well, that's all you hear about these liter bikes)... look both ways (no cars)... go left... revs rising... clutch in... shift... clutch out....JERK... LERCH.... LASH...  what the heck! ?

The first thing that was obvious is that the bike has no flywheel... at least none to speak of, because the revs drop like a rock between shifts... That's where the JERK... LERCH... came from.  I was expecting them to drop relatively slowly.  But this thing revs down as fast as it revs up.  It took me a bit of time to recalibrate my shifting to the point where I was reasonably smooth.  I was also use to short shifting like on the BMW, but this thing wants to be revved.

Next impression was that it really doesn't have a lot of torque, at least it didn't feel much torquier than the BMW.  It felt like a sewing machine. 

I tooled around the side streets for a while just to get a feel for it.  One thing for sure, it's very light feeling and balanced.  A world of difference from the BMW, which at lower speeds feels heavy. 

I pull out onto a main street and give it some revs, a few clicks, and holy crap I'm doing 70.  OK, you definitely don't feel like you're going as fast as you are.  3rd gear, not revving much, and it's up to 70?  Time to recalibrate the internal accelerometer!  It's a different world!

Next impression is that there's a lot of wind coming over that fairing and hitting me in the helmet.  I've tried fairings on a couple of my bikes, but I didn't like them for that reason.  They increase the amount of air hitting my helmet and make more noise.  Unless of course you're looking through the shield, which is annoying in it's self.  Ear plugs may be a good idea.

Hmmmm temperature seems to be kind of hot, running in the 190's... I checked later and the thermostat is completely open at 194, so I guess that made sense. 

Idles at about 1200, which seemed kind of high, but the book says 1200 +/- 100.  So it's right on.  Seems fast compared to the BMW, which idles somewhere around 750... I think.  Or, maybe it just sounds like that cause there's two less cylinders.

Well I made my way through some traffic and got out to Route 83, which is an open road that runs through the forest preserve.  Guess what?  I'm stuck behind a truck... OK time to see how this thing accelerates.  OK, truck plus three cars in front of him... where's the passing zone.  Here it comes... Crank the throttle... I'm gone... Wow.. 100 just like that.  I didn't even downshift... did I?  Slow down... still doing 70... slow down!  I don't need a ticket my first day on the bike.  Wow! I've never passed anyone that fast in my life.  But it didn't really feel that fast.

I'm slid all the way up to the tank.  I try ot slide back, but that doesn't work.  The seat slopes forward and forward is where I'm going to stay.  Geeeezzzz... I feel like I'm out over the front of the bike.  Hmmmm.. there's a lot of weight on my arms... I try to grab the tank more with my legs and loosen up on the bars.  I feel like I'm sitting on a postage stamp of a seat.

The other thing that it's really hard for me to get use to is the damn turn signals.  On the BMW to signal right you poke a button by your right thumb, to signal left you poke a button by your left thumb.  To cancel poke a different button on your right.  Seems strange at first, but it's become very intuitive and I don't have to think about it.  The Honda has the left/right switch on the left and it's kind of high so it's difficult to reach if you have the clutch pulled in.  I have to keep looking down to find where it is.  Also, the push-in-to-cancel seems kind of awkward.  More distraction then I needed.

When I find myself going one speed for a while I upshift and downshift to keep the revs varied.  Seems no matter what gear I'm in, if I crank the throttle the bike picks up and goes.  Geeezzzz... Every gear is too fast for the street!  What gear am I in... with six of them it's hard to keep track... I need a gear indicator...

I come up to a road that's a hard left then up a hill then a hard right then another left.  I think it, and the bike just goes around the corners.  I come up to a point where a road T's in and I slow down to do a turn around.  Wow, it's really easy to balance, even with the handlebars at full lock.  Much better than the BMW.

I played around with the brakes a little as I approached stopping points.  That front end dive is going to take some getting use to.  I didn't realize how well the BMW's anti dive front end really worked.  By comparison the Honda feels mushy.  Like I'm going to go flying over the bars if I stop suddenly.  One thing for sure, I don't think you could ever do a stoppy on a BMW, but I can see how you could do one on a sport bike.

Hmmmm... the bars seem small in my hands, like I need them to be bigger in diameter... the clutch lever engages a little too close to the bar, and the brake lever is too close... I'll need to adjust those so they're further away.  But the clutch is much nicer than the BMW.  The hydraulics make a big difference vs cable actuated.  I need to pivot the clutch down a bit if I can...  It would be nice to have the bars a couple inches higher.

I end up near the express way... I55, but I take the frontage road, so that I can go through the curves that run parallel to the on and off ramps.  I don't really notice a turn-in effort, it just goes.  And mid turn line corrections are no problem.  It seems to steer at higher speeds just as it does at low.  I later played around with counter steering effort and response, and it seems really good.  Much easier than the BMW.

One thing I do notice is that my left wrist is taking some pressure, and my left knee feels kind of folded up... and dang this seat... It's definitely not a touring bike, nor is it for tooling around at low speeds.  You need some wind to take some of the pressure off the wrists...

Well, I managed to find my way back home... 40 miles later.  What do I think?...  I think I need another ride to get used to those turn signals... I'm going to go out to the garage to just sit on it and let it soak in...