Honda’s previously best-selling CBR600RR sports bike will make a surprise return to British roads in 2024 after the company unveiled an updated version at the recent EICMA motorcycle show in Milan.
The CBR is one of the most successful sports bikes of all-time, selling in large numbers and dominating production based supersport racing for over a decade from the early Noughties, however a change in tastes in recent years has seen 600cc sports bikes fall out of favour, with most manufacturers dropping their once important models.
Now Honda is trying to reverse that trend, introducing an updated version of the venerable CBR600RR to European showrooms for the first time since 2017. The new bike gains the latest electronics, with a six-axis IMU and the exclusive RC213V-S’ ride-by-wire throttle facilitating a suite of rider aids including nine-level traction control, a standard quickshifter and three riding modes, with further options to customise the power, engine braking, traction control and anti-wheelie settings.
The 2024 model also gets restyled with new bodywork along the lines of the Fireblade superbike, including aerodynamic wings like those found on the RC213V MotoGP machine. The 599cc inline four-cylinder motor puts out a claimed 119bhp in standard trim, with an HRC race kit available for those who want to take the bike on the circuit.
While it’s unclear why Honda is bringing the CBR to Europe, it’s possible they see some demand among racers. An updated CBR600RR was introduced in some Asian markets in 2021, allowing the updated model to be raced in the Supersport World Championship, where former British Superbike Champion Tarran Mackenzie won a solitary wet race in an otherwise disappointing campaign, where the bike appeared underpowered and underdeveloped. Despite this, supersport racing remains popular around the world and an updated model may well find favour with racers looking to replace their aging machines.
No price has been announced yet for the new CBR, and we would expect that it’s likely to sell only in small numbers to race teams and the occasional road rider who appreciates the more accessible performance offered by 600s.
CBR1000RR-R Fireblade updated for 2024
As well as bringing back the CBR600RR, Honda has updated the flagship CBR1000RR-R and higher specification SP version for 2024, with a number of small changes under the skin which should see the machine more competitive in superbike racing.
The Fireblade has been dominant in the British Superstock Championship, where limited changes are allowed, but it has struggled to make much of an impression in the more prestigious superbike championships, where more modifications can be made to the race bikes.
Both models get a new swingarm, derived from the limited edition RC213V-S, which is likely to help the bike in racing trim, as should the split throttle bodies, which will help improve engine braking characteristics. It would appear that frame rigidity has also been modified, an invisible but important upgrade which should help make HRC’s world superbike machines more competitive.
Changes to engine internals include new valve springs, a lighter crankshaft and a higher compression ratio. Electronics have been improved and suspension uprated, with the SP model becoming the first motorcycle to feature Öhlins’ Smart Electronic Control (SE-C3.0) 43mm NPX (SV) forks and TTX36 (SV) rear shock.