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Review of the CBR1100XX and the VFR800

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by Wanderer, Aug 29, 2006.

  1. Well today I test rode both the Blackbird and the VFR. Thought I would drop a few thoughts on these from the persective of a rider new to "bigger" bikes. Before I do I'll give you some idea of what I was looking for and why to give a bit of background. The last two years or so I have been riding a 2004 VTR250 - mainly for commuting and just a lazy bit of riding. But recently (and yes I am slow!!!) the VTR has been getting a little "small" for me and I wanted to upgrade. So basically I was looking for a bike to commute on (about 20,000km a year) and something I can ride around on when the weekend hits for fun - not really into the twisties or track days just yet - but do like some corners like the GOR - something with a view. For the purposes of the review I am 6'4" and 100kg.

    Anyway, to the reviews. Firstly I took out the CBR and oh man what a bike. It had already been started and was just waiting for me to jump on and ride it. I was really worried at first about the weight and power of this bike - let's face it I was jumping on a bike about 100kg more than mine and about 900ccs bigger!! And talk about wide - the bloody thing is as wide as a tank - or at least that is what it feels like the first time I sat on it.

    Anyway, being conscious of the power of this beast I was pleasantly surprised to find that a light touch on the throttle was enough to get it moving and then I was all smiles.

    The bike is remarkably smooth, and the power curve seems to be remarkably smooth as well. And once I took my first breath - which was about 5 minutes after getting on it (I think my face must have been as blue as the model i was riding) I took a breath and opened her up a little. None of this sudden lurch and delay and then pickup for this baby - you wind the throttle on and she just goes. As I said no big jump but just pure unadulterated power that was smooth as silk.

    I thought I should try out some corners and manouevering and thought what the hell and tried a U-turn - the bike is so heavy and well-balanced that corners, although wider than a more nimble bike, are a doddle. A little more cornering and then I felt confident to take it through its paces a little more on some windy roads I found near the dealer. And that is when I fell in love - this bike feels like it is glued to the road and "looks after you" in corners. That is the best way I can describe it. The only thing I would say is that you lean into corners more than throw the bike into them - well as if I could throw 220kg anyway!!

    I was warned to watch out for the weight and balance when stopping but this bike is as good as stopping as it is at going. And although it is heavy the brakes pull it up well.

    Because the bike is so heavy you seem to get less travel when you accelerate or brake, and for my mind this bike is one piece of well thought out riding pleasure.

    Down one long straight road I opened her up and the pickup and pace is just unbelievable - yet it seems restrained too - it is almost like the bike knows it has so much power that it holds some back to make sure you are ok. But I think once the bike grows to respect you - then there will be just so much more fun to be had.

    Got back to the dealer and jumped on the VFR. By now I was a little less worried about big bikes, but as soon as I sat on the VFR I thought how comfortable and how much more narrow it felt than the Blackbird. And once I cracked open the throttle to get it moving I had to wind it on a little more - I think I had been spoilt by the Blackbird already.

    Pretty much did the same riding as I did on the Blackbird, but while the VFR had nice peg height and a little more upright position, it just felt a little "tinny" to me. It was fun to ride but felt nothing like the CBR with its unbridled power and road stickiness. So I won't say too much more about the VFR because like all things the VFR would be great for some, but for me it just didn't feel right. Actually this is going to sound dumb but the VFR actually felt slightly more comfortable, but in all other respects the CBR just felt and sounded and moved just right.

    I liken the VFR to a solid show horse, well-behaved and mannered and a little posh, but the CBR is a young stockhorse- not as pretty or immodest as the racers, but just as powerful and over time I bet just as loyal as a bloody good stock horse can be.

    I am sure many will disagree with my thoughts and I am sure many will agree, so take from it what you like, but while the VTR250 was my first love of riding, I see in the CBR the next stage........

    Now for the important question - black or silver?
  2. They look heaps better in black...

    see example...

  3. Black black black looks very cool and will match any coloured leathers :LOL:

    Great write up. My short list now consists of:

    Blackbird black
    Vrod black
    BMW F800ST silver

    So will my head rule my heart and I get the Honda, time will tell.
  4. Hi Wanderer

    IMHO, VFR vs Blackbird sort of like comparing a six cylinder Vectra to a V8 Commodore

    Why didn't you compare the Firestorm to the Blackbird?
  5. go black...... is there really any other choice? Guess you could ask those safety freaks and they will tell you yellow but hey riding a bike isn't the safest hobbie anyway go black!!! :LOL: ;)
  6. Sorry - some more info. I actually did try the 'storm before and again there was just something not quite "right" about it for me - nice bike, just didn't feel as good.........
  7. You taking the piss, buster? :furious:
  8. The Firestorm is definitely closer to the sportier end of sports touring. Much more over the bars seating position and feels a lot smaller. In an ideal world I'd have both.
  9. Hey Wanderer, your description of the BBird is spot on. She's fast but she'll look after you. :cool:
  10. Nice write up.

    I wasn't considering the blackbird, but I will now add it to my list.

    What is a reasonable length of time for a test ride?
  11. Bogus,

    For me half an hour was pretty good - but this weekend I am out for about 45 minutes to an hour just to make sure. I think for me it is a good idea to ride it twice at least to make sure it isn't just my impuliveness getting the better of me!!!!
  12. I took a 2000 model blackbird for a test ride a few months ago. Very, very sweet piece of machinery. And if you think a step-up from a VTR 250 is big, try going from an 88 XT250 to a Blackbird :)

  13. Its a Blackbird so its gotta be black. Otherwise Itd be a silverbird. :LOL:
  14. Hey Wanderer, I thought that was a really good review to read. I think the Blackbird (given it's years of production reaching about 9 - 10 now) is a well sorted package, everyone speaks so highly of them. They are outstanding value for money, new or used.

    I've only ridden a Blackbird once when I tested it back to back with the Hayabusa, after selling my first VFR800F.

    What I didn't know (seeings the weather good on the day of the test ride), was the Blackbird is REALLY good weather shield. At the time, I found the Hayabusa more fun on the road in the end, (OMFG the power after Dyno tuning was just amazing too) and bought it, even though I thought it was a little top heavy (And it was lighter than the B8). Next winter, I got wet as hell on the daily commute, making me think teh BB would've been the better all rounder choice.

    Good luck with your next big bike step :) RN.
  15. Hey wanderer, great choice and good write up.

    I just bought a silver one - sorry to all the 'black' colour lovers, but they can get lost on the road and blend in with other black bikes. I prefer yuppie silver ;-)

    If you get a chance, ride a ZX-14. Bit more expensive but a great comparison - I just wrote a review on them as I was impressed. Probably a bit more manouvrable but $5K is $5K! And wvwn if you don't like twins, try a Ducati 999. Addicitive!
  16. Well another update after taking another test ride of the Blackbird today. Went down to New World Honda and met the salesguy Rob and also a bloke from spares. More about that after.

    Anyway, took the bike out from the shop and headed up the Monash from Berwick to Glen Waverley. And this time I knew what to expect a little more and was more confident and comfortable riding it.

    I still hold to the fact that the Blackbird is a bike that looks after you. I still think it is bloody heavy, but because it is so beautifully balanced you can do U-turns, tight low speed turns and other manouevres and it feels as easy as on a smaller bike.

    When I opened her up a little on the freeway, well that is now why I understand why people love faired bikes. Coming off the naked VTR250, you really notice the difference in wind buffet on the 'bird.

    Rode for about an hour and half today and when I got back to the shop was convinced this was the new bike for me.

    Started the negotiations, and after spending about three hours in total on the ride, the talking and the negotiating, and ended up walking out a deposit poorer and ready to pick up the new bike next weekend!!

    Now I really can't wait to get the new baby.......
  17. Congratulations! :grin:
  18. Mate congratulations..
    I agree with everything you have written, including the colour. :grin:

    Bought mine from Red Wing about a week and abit ago.
    Was exactly the same feeling, fark this is a big bike, god damn this is a heavy bike.

    Then as soon as you take off, the weight just seems to sit perfect, its so stable on the road and I found myself walking in and slapping down a deposit.

    And it just seems to get better, as you get more and more used to it, it just becomes easier to ride. Although, if you forget about the weight and stop on say a gravel driveway.......almost an oops :)

    All in all a great writeup :)
  19. Congratulations Wanderer

    Have enjoyed reading about your latest addtion :cool:
  20. I know I'm late but being new to netrider and a 'bird' owner I thought I would make a comment! Good review.... I felt exactly the same when I first took one out.. I was looking for a bike that would fit me and my needs. I like the power and handling and unlike some I like my bike to be a bit on the heavy side..I suppose I feel more secure (psycologically speaking!) It felt like a well worn and comfortable pair of shoes the moment I threw a leg over. I instantly (almost) purchased her the moment I dismounted but after chasing up the neccesary muller she was mine a short time later. I've had no regrets since. You're right the more you ride the more you fall in love.... I've called mine 'Jezebel' as she just likes to be ridden and by all accounts she doesn't care by who!! Unlike yourself I was already into big bikes and after destroying my pride and joy (GSXR1100) I decided upon the bird... mostly due to all the positive bike reviews and other rider's comments! If you're into eating the miles or just commuting then you can't go past this machine. Besides, what else do you need from a bike that can send you into warp speed and then cruise gently around town without raising a mechanical sweat.... God bless the Honda designers...Thank goodness they didn't mess around with the design and engine too much over the years.... no matter what pressures were brought to bear by critics. Long live the BIRD!! I think I will go out to the garage now and tuck her in!! probably end up in there for hours.....