Honda CB1000R Neo Sports Café Test & Review

  • The new Honda CB1000R is the flagship of the Neo Sports Café line-up.

  • It offers easy handling for the everyday rider.

  • New riders can learn on it and not outgrow it quickly.

The new Honda CB1000R Neo Sports Café takes over from its predecessor, also named the CB1000R.

However, the previous model featured some funky designed which polarized fans, although it did have a nifty single-sided swingarm. So, Honda reworked the model and initialized a new segment, called the Neo Sports Café.

The Neo Sports Café family of bikes feature stylings that combine the traditional with a new twist. The bikes have round headlights combined with unmistakably newer elements. Honda were clear in their description of the family not being naked sportbikes nor replicas.

The 998cc, inline-Four engine is typically Honda smooth and quiet without the gnashing or grinding sounds. Adopted from an earlier version of the CBR1000RR Fireblade, it offers more low-down and midrange torque. But the manufacturer didn’t just plunk in the engine: Their engineers reworked it almost thoroughly to feature forged aluminium pistons, larger valves, higher valve lift, larger intake ports, and new combustion chamber for better gas flow.

Other details include closer gear ratios optimized for street performance i.e. better acceleration and a slipper clutch.

On the electronics front, the bike uses a ride-by-wire throttle, opening up the inclusion of four riding modes (Standard, Sport, Rain, User). Additionally, there’s traction control called the Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC).

As for the chassis, the forks are fully-adjustable Showa BPF while the shock is adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping. A wide wheel shod with 190/55ZR17 tyre is fitted to the single-sided swingarm.

Ok, enough about the bike. Let’s see how it rides.

The engine starts up with a bassy vroom. The stock exhaust may not look the prettiest, but it sounded good and roars at higher revs.

The riding position was between all-out sporty aggression and everyday practicality. It’s just like its contemporaries in the open-class naked bikes.

But although the bike may sound like a beast on paper, it turned out to be supremely manageable. It rides like a pussy cat when you want to relax but turns into a panther when you decide to go bananas. Its straight-line acceleration gives your arms a good stretch but it doesn’t threaten to rip them off like a Doberman chasing after the postman.

The CB1000R has pretty good handling manners in town. It’s easy to ride in and out of a traffic jam, and you can use the torque to blast away. The brakes were fantastic too, offering a strong initial bite even from one finger.

Besides that, we liked the soft suspension, especially in the city. Bumps and potholes were taken care of admirably.

However, it’s exactly that softness to watch out for when riding fast on twisty roads. The forks are fine, since they are fully adjustable. But the rear shock will soon be overwhelmed by the type of undulating roads we have here in Malaysia. Many a times the rear end exhibited pogo-ing (pumping up and down). That’s not a problem for long-wheelbased bikes, but the CB1000R’s short wheelbase compounded that behavior, causing the front to push wide in corners.

But we soon learned to steer the bike into corners in smoother and more relaxed fashion. It doesn’t like to be flicked in late, so you have to set up your corner earlier.

Still, we found the CB1000R Neo Sports Café a good bike for beginners to the open-class category. It’s a bike that you could learn on, yet not get bored of it too quickly.



Wahid's lust for motorcycles was spurred on by his late-Dad's love for his Lambretta on which he courted, married his mother, and took baby Wahid riding on it. He has since worked in the motorcycle and automotive industry for many years, before taking up riding courses and testing many, many motorcycles since becoming a motojournalist. Wahid likes to see things differently. What can you say about a guy who sees a road safety message in AC/DC's "Highway to Hell."

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