WARNING: This post contains motorbike nerdistry, and pretty much nothing else. Non-bike people should feel free to skip it.
This week, while our beautiful tourer was getting a service, the nice folks at Jeffrey Honda loaned me an ugly, ugly little bike:
It made me very nervous at first. Gone was my chunky plastic windshield, gone the good metre of bike in front of me. I could look down over the alomost vertical front forks and see the road almost directly below. Spooky.
I have long held the opinion that I am a conservative rider. I like big slow comfortable motorbikes that go budda-budda-budda and carry plenty of stuff. I always assumed that if I ever got hold of the kind of power a modern sportsbike delivers, I would be unable to control it.
I have changed my mind.
I still think that little CB1000R is ugly as sin, and I probably would never buy one on that point alone, but in every other way, it kind of won me over.
It turns out I can control that much power. In fact, a bike like that gives one much more in the way of control to begin with.
But, at the risk of sounding like Jeremy Clarkson, the POWER! Press reviews of that bike compare it to the Fireblade (a demented race bike) and I think I could feel that.
I’m rambling. Time for bullet points:
- The complete absence of a windshield reminds me how warm and sheltered I am on the ST, but my helmet ventilation worked properly for the first time ever, and it feels so much safer to be looking straight at what’s in front of me without an intervening layer of plastic.
- Light steering is a good thing. The CB1000R weighs almost the same as the ST, but it feels lighter and more nimble than our old 250 (probably due to Honda’s Mass Centralization program) and it made me realise just how hard I have to work to filter through traffic on the wider, heavier ST.
- Modern instruments are soooo nice. The all-digital display on the CB1000R was a joy to read, even in the dark, in torrential rain. In a space the size of a banana, it provided all the same information as the ST’s generous dashboard. Things like optimal rev-ranges for peak power were very obvious.
- Commuting with a satchel bag is no great hardship, contrary to my expectations, even if ones wet-weather gear is stuffed into the side-pocket of said bag.
- Modern race-bred brakes are FANTASTIC. The ST is a big bike, and the one accident I’ve had on it can be squarely attributed to its mass versus my imperfect braking technique. I have become a lot better at braking because of that bike, so it came as a real shock when the loan-bike just stopped in half a length at a gentle pressure on the front brakes.
I can see the appeal.