September 14, 2005 The supersport category is a key category in motorcycle sales in most countries, creating a chicken and egg relationship with Supersport, Superbike and more recently Superstock racing. Since 2003, the emphasis has increasingly been focused on 1,000cc models and in 2004, all four of the big Japanese manufacturers launched new 1000 supersport bikes for the 2005 model year.
All have sold well, though the biggest sales went to Suzuki due to the company’s early season dominance of World Superbike Racing and its success in the American Superbike Championships. For 2006, all but Suzuki will again offer completely new machines and this article covers the specifications of the first two to be made public - the Yamaha and Honda.
The evolution of the 2006 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade makes an interesting story – it is a lighter, faster and more visually refined machine than the current machine. The surprise though is the Yamaha 2006 R1 SP – this is a special very exclusive, limited edition bike with special Ohlins suspension, lightweight rims and a host of refinements designed to ensure the bike wins on the racetrack. Suzuki's contender will be unveiled in the next few weeks but is essentially a new coat of paint. And Kawasaki's new beastie can be seen in fine detail here.
In 2004, all four of the big Japanese manufacturers launched new 1000 supersport bikes and all sold well, though the spoils went mainly to Suzuki due to the company’s early season dominance of World Superbike Racing and its success in the American Superbike Championships.
From its initial conception, the CBR1000RR has featured strong visual and technological ties to Honda’s famed RC211V MotoGP race machine.
For its new second generation, the Fireblade’s bodywork has a new look that more impressively expresses its sense of speed and winning performance. Front and side cowls have been redesigned with a sleeker, more curvaceous and more aggressive look that still maintains strong bloodline ties to its MotoGP racing predecessor. Detailed changes include a more pronounced indent in the front cowl and a slight redesign of the shape of the RR’s distinctive ‘Slimline’ headlights that combine to project a more aggressive forward visage.
The fairing’s new side cowls also feature more compact and rounded lines to lighten and accentuate its aerodynamic look as well as its high-speed handling, giving the Blade a stronger look of high performance. Moreover, the lower exhaust ducts in the side cowls more effectively draw air through the radiator to greatly reduce the rider’s exposure to engine heat for enhanced riding comfort.
The changes are not just about ‘good looks’, however as considerable attention has been focused on reducing the engine’s weight while achieving a notable increase in maximum power output. This increase was achieved not with any single improvement, but rather with a collection of detailed modifications that add up to a significant boost in performance.
A new cylinder head boosts power throughout the rev range along with new intake valves actuated by a more aggressive camshaft profile. New double valve springs also replace the single coil items on the previous model and the compression ratio has been increased from 11.9:1 to 12.2:1.
The ram-air intake and exhaust systems have also been made freer flowing.
The compression ratio has risen due to slightly smaller combustion chambers in the new head, with the rpm scale increasing from 11,650 to an amazing 12,200rpm.
The crankshaft is also stronger thanks to the use of a stronger new steel alloy while the camshafts have had 450g shaved through the use of thinner shaft walls. The fuel injection system has been recalibrated to suit the changed engine characteristics with a 3.4% increase in top end power.
Other areas of weight saving have been realised by a lighter ECU, radiator, hoses and a new magnesium generator cover.
In fact, the 2006 model is 3kg lighter than before at 176kg which, along with the boost in power, provides a 3.3% increase in the overall power-to-weight ratio.
Additional refinements include the final drive ratio which has been changed to suit the higher revving engine with a 42 tooth rear sprocket replacing the previous 40 tooth item.
Other changes inside the crankcases promote further durability with new gears for the six-speed cassette gearbox, and the clutch now rides on new needle bearings that enhance engagement off the mark.
A shorter swingarm and a slightly steeper steering head rake all add up to a reduction in wheelbase, whilst the under seat exhaust system has also been shaved in weight.
The Fireblade’s formidable braking power is further improved with larger front disc rotors along with a pair of four-piston Tokico callipers whilst the rear caliper is also smaller and lighter than before.
Honda continually looks for ways of making their rides as smooth as possible, and the suspension has therefore been revised with new front and rear valving. The Pro-Link shock also features a revised linkage to aid traction. And to cater for those who want more ‘bottom’ comfort in their race performance bikes, the seat foam has been thickened slightly.
The new 2006 Fireblade also continues as the only motorcycle on the road equipped with its highly advanced Honda Electronic Steering Damper (HESD), the revolutionary electro-hydraulic unit mounted directly atop its steering head that helps maintain its smoothly predictable high-speed handling.
2006 colours include Winning Red (with Graphite Black) and Iron Nail Silver (with Force Silver Metallic and Graphite Black). Honda fans can expect the new Fireblade to be available in Dealers around early April of next year.
Of course the Yamaha YZF-R1 has been significantly revised for 2006, with a special SP version involving a number of changes all designed to create a motorcycle that will be very expensive and extremely competitive in Superstock and Superbike racing.
The following changes have been made to create the 2006 Yamaha YZF-R1 SP
1) Boost in power output by maximizing intake/exhaust efficiency
While maintaining the same liquid-cooled 4-stroke, DOHC, 40-degree forward-inclined, in-line 4-cylinder 5-valve fuel injection engine format and specs including the bore-stroke, the compact combustion chamber, high-lift cams, the 12.4 : 1 compression ratio and FS connecting rods, a thorough pursuit of further intake/exhaust efficiency has produced a significant boost in power output compared to the existing model due to increased intake air volume. Compared to the existing model, the max. power output has been raised by 3PS to 175PS at the same rpm level of 12,500 rpm
2) Optimized frame balance The Deltabox V (Victory) frame designed through a process of structural analysis and repeated testing based on the concept used for the MotoGP competition model YZR-M1, has been further revised to achieve optimum rigidity balance for improved handling. The portion of the main frame where the forward engine mounts are located is made from layers of cast aluminum and aluminum plate (sheet metal) and the thickness of the cast aluminum piece that forms the inner layer has been reduced by 1 mm in some places for optimum balance.
For the YZF-R1 SP, additional changes have been made in the attaching portion of the engine mount area to achieve a setting that contributes to even better handling in cases such as high-speed circuit riding. Optimization of the connecting point rigidity in line with the chassis concept has helped achieve excellent handling characteristics to answer the needs of a variety of circuit riding situations.
Furthermore, the rigidity and shape of the under-bracket for the front fork has been revised along with the rigidity balance of the outer tube. The combined effect of these changes is an ideal rigidity balance in terms of the amount of "give" in the frame during cornering. The result is smoother response characteristics from the frame from the point of entering a turn until you begin to accelerate out of it, which contributes to this model's outstanding cornering performance.
3) Longer wheel base and longer swinging arm The upside down truss shaped aluminum rear arm maintains basically the same structure while being lengthened by 16 mm in the front-rear direction. The resulting increase in distance between the pivot and the rear axle contributes to reduced interference to the chassis resulting from chain tension during cornering, while also providing a good rigidity balance for achieving strong traction performance. This further improves the YZF-R1's excellent secondary steering performance. The resulting lengthening of the wheelbase is also 16 mm than the existing model.
4) Slipper clutch In order to further increase the capability for smooth approach into the turns, a slipper clutch has been adopted. This clutch has a mechanism that controls the amount of torque being transmitted from the rear wheel to the crank.
5) Ohlins suspension front and rear In order to provide excellent cornering performance in circuit riding, Ohlins suspensions have been adopted front and rear. These suspensions have been developed by Ohlins staff, who are highly experienced as MotoGP machine setting crew members, working together with highly experienced Yamaha machine development staff through repeated road tests. The suspensions are characterized by the capacity to work up excellent settings based on the desired concept and provide a high-level balance of circuit performance potential as well as the qualities needed for use on public roads.
6) Forged aluminum Marchesini wheels
In order to further improve on the excellent handling characteristics of this model, lightweight forged aluminum wheels have been adopted for the best combination with the new frame spec. Adopted for the first time on a Yamaha production models for use on public roads, these wheels have been jointly developed by Yamaha and Marchesini engineers according to Yamaha manufacturing standards and are specially manufactured by Marchesini. In appearance they have the same "Y" shaped spokes as the YZR-M1 MotoGP machine's wheels. The two wheels combine to give a weight reduction of about 400 g compared to the existing model's wheels.
7) 17-inch radial tires front and rear for outstanding performance In order to provide the best match with the new frame balance, the new YZF-R1 adopts as its standard tires OEM models with new internal structure (same existing outer tread pattern, Dunlop "D218" / Michelin "Pilot Power") that ensures excellent handling and traction. As for the "YZF-R1 SP," the Pirelli "Diablo Corsa" is set as the standard tire for outstanding performance in circuit riding.