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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Yesterday I spent a few hours with my friend, who has two Honda 2004 CBR600RR's. He and I often go out on weekends and tear up the mountain highways around British Columbia. We'll be doing a local track day together next week, and then off to Seattle in September for a NESBA track day.

Yesterday's time together in his garage gave me a chance to better understand the CBR600. In that time we changed out his race tires and did some minor tinkering. Afterwards I took his two bikes out for separate spins.

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The stock red/black bike is his street bike, while the other is completely track-modified. The track bike is a stock CBR600 with all plastic replaced with fireglass body panels, and a little bit of carbon-fibre armour around the engine. Of course, the bike is stripped of signals, lights, horn, and mirrors. Primary bolts and caps are wired-in. All the system components (brakes, shocks, muffler, etc) are still stock; the only substitution is DOT race tires (feels like bubble gum). We were swapping out his tires because after one previous weekend of racing, they were now toast - tread worn down and rubber rolled off.

Here is my review of the comparisons of the three bikes: FZ6, CBR600/street, CBR600/track:

------------------------------------------------------------------------- Suspension
FZ6
- None adjustable front suspension.
- Stock suspension is tuned for moderate road duty.
- Suspension is too soft and slow for very agressive twisties and track days.

CBR600/street
- Stock suspension but dialed up to be medium stiffness.
- Adjustable suspension copes well with both general road duty and agressive riding.

CBR600/track
- Stock suspension but dialed up to be very stiff.
- When this suspension is so fully dialed up, it is wonderfully stiff. Marvelously suited for accommodating very agressive braking.
- When I slammed on the front binders, there was very little front end dive. Nice!

In summary
The FZ6 has very good stock suspension for general road duty, and offers good value for its price point. At a higher price point, the CBR gives a much better suspension. It is better not so much in the responsiveness, but in the ability to adjust spring preload tension to accomodate very high braking rates.

------------------------------------------------------------------------- Tires
FZ6
- Bridgestone BT020.
- Oval shaped, tracks a straight line best of all.
- Long life, good traction.

CBR600/street
- Bridgestone BT014.
- Oval/round shaped, tracks adequately with willingness to roll into turns.

CBR600/track
- Metzeler Rennsport.
- Round/vee shaped, unstable tracking with eagerness to roll into turns.

In summary
The oval shape tires of stock FZ6 makes for easier and more relaxed riding on the street, while the more rounded or extreme vee shaped tires are better suited for twisties and track days.

------------------------------------------------------------------------- Brakes
FZ6
- Brakes fully engaged with medium amount of lever travel.
- Lighter amount of pressure required on brake lever.
- Sense that brakes have only 5 increments of brake pressure points.
- Rear brake peddle locks up tire with light pressure applied. Not good.

CBR600
- Brakes fully engaged with larger amount of lever travel.
- Heavier amount of pressure required on brake lever.
- Sense that brakes have 10 increments of brake pressure points.
- Rear brake peddle locks up tire with heavy pressure applied. Very good.

In summary
The brake lever action was more comfortable to operate on the FZ6 with its lighter required pull force. Conversely, the CBR600 had a more graduated response on its brakes - like it allowed for twice as many pressure zones than the FZ6. In short, the FZ6 is easier for the street, while the CBR is more controllable on the track.

------------------------------------------------------------------------- Clutch
FZ6
- Engagement occurs at beginning of clutch lever travel.
- Engagement zone is narrow and responsive.
- Bike stops rolling with clutch lever only half retracted.
- Loud clunking noise when 1st gear is engaged.
- Substantial drive train lag (jerking) when clutch is released in 1st.
- Gear shifting is perfect: requiring light foot pressure, and quick - flawless.

CBR600
- Engagement occurs at ending of clutch lever travel (keep your other fingers away).
- Engagement zone is wider and smoother.
- Bike would crawl forward unless clutch lever fully retracted.
- Medium clunking noise when 1st gear is engaged. Quieter.
- Modest drive train lag (jerking) when clutch is released in 1st.
- Gear shifting is adequate: requiring heavier foot pressure.

In summary
I prefer the FZ6 clutch lever action over the CBR600; the FZ6 was easier and quicker to slip the transmission in and out of gears. Equally important, the gear foot lever was ligher and more exact. However, I preferred the CBR600 clutch box better as it is partly responsible for the reduced drive-train lag effect.

------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ergonomics
FZ6
- This is a sport/touring bike, thus having a more relaxed riding position.
- The saddle is adequately shaped and padded for the street and medium touring.
- This is one of the best looking sport/touring bikes. Looks very sporty for a tourer.
- The CofG (center of gravity) feels slightly lower on this bike, which makes it feel more stable.
- Smaller turning radius makes for easier maneuverability in city driving.

CBR600
- This is a super sport bike, thus having a more agressive riding position.
- The saddle is less comfortable to handle medium touring.
- This is one of the best looking pure sport bikes. Note similar undertail exhaust.
- Undertail exhaust sound similar but slightly more rumbling than the FZ6.
- The CofG feels a tad too high (say by 1 inch). However, this may assist in high speed stability.
- Turning around in a back lane required a 3-point turn cuz of the shorter steering stops.

------------------------------------------------------------------------- The ride
FZ6
- Very comfortable for general riding, but too upright for agressive riding.
- Medium ability to act agressive.
- Tracts well at low and high speeds (ie: rake, trail and tires).
- Easy flickability at low speed. Medium flickability at high speed.
- Very fast.

CBR600
- Less comfortable for touring, but good ergonomics for agressive riding.
- High ability to act agressive.
- Tracts poorly at low speeds, but improves at medium and higher speeds.
- Easy flickability at low speed. Quick flickability at very high speed.
- Faster still.

In summary
Ah, lets not go here. These are two different types of bikes. One is a sport/touring and as such is one of the best in the 600cc class. The other is a super sport bike, and one of the best in its different 600cc class.

On our rides through the mountain twisites together, the FZ6 and I stayed with or at least close behind the CBR (and bear in mind the CBR is ridden by an intermediate ranked racer).

Where does this leave me. You know already my vote goes to the FZ6. But in all fairness, I would choose the CBR for pure track days and for short hauls through twisty roads. But give me back my FZ6 for any longer rides (1+ hours) through the twisties, and ALL other road riding (which is 95% of most riding time).

"Viva la difference!"

:80500 :02mgp
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Go, Skeleton, Go!
 

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skeleton said:
FZ6
- Gear shifting is perfect: requiring light foot pressure, and quick - flawless.

CBR600
- Gear shifting is adequate: requiring heavier foot pressure.
I found that interesting.... I took a test ride on an '05 F4i in May, it had 1800 kms on it and the shifting was butter smooth, almost too smooth since I wasn't always sure if the next gear engaged or not. Anyway, the pressure needed was ridiculously low. Maybe it's bike-dependent, oil-dependent, or whatnot.

Nice comparo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
OK, OK. I was overly zealous with,

"Gear shifting is perfect: requiring light foot pressure, and quick - flawless."

Or rather, I feel the foot shifter and its behaviour is fine. What does need some improvement is the clutch box.

Also I would like to see some tweeking of the ECU to cope with the binary throttling at the low rev's of the FI system. The CBR600 had much more linear response of the throttle - also a FI bike with only 10% more torque. It almost makes me think this was deliberate by Yamaha to prevent potential engine overload (stalling) at low rev's should the rider roll on too little throttle and fully release (not slip) the clutch.

Perhaps someone can shed some light on why it must otherwise be difficult for Yamaha to smooth out the throttle response (isn't this just a software issue with the ECU)?
 

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It could be ECU. It might be the group injection setup. I read that the fz's injectors fire a dead pulse(opens the injectors while the valves still closed) for a fraction of the total injection time, then opens again for the actual intake valve opening. In my mind this could cause some interesting engine responses at lower rpm.

Anyway, That was a pretty consise review Skeleton. You don't happen to write for a cycle magazine or anything do you?? Cause I could use a better job :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Wisper:

Your comments make good sense. When I read about the Group FI system, I suspected this was going to be poor news for the FZ6.

Thanks. I write alot of engineering reports after doing just as much analysis.

(I don't read cycle magazines. But do read motorcycle texts.)
 
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