2022 Honda CB1000R Review: A Comfortable Naked Sport Bike With the Wrong Torque Map

It took a fast and winding road for us to finally click.

byJonathon Klein| PUBLISHED Oct 13, 2022 11:00 AM
2022 Honda CB1000R Review: A Comfortable Naked Sport Bike With the Wrong Torque Map
Jonathon Klein
Share

I vividly remember once riding the Honda CBR1000RR, its liter motor piercing the roads of Los Angeles with a psychotic wail, recalling Formula 1 V10s of old. That honed weapon sent shivers everywhere. While I consider myself a good rider, its capabilities were well beyond my own. Extracting even three-quarters of what was possible sadly required a MotoGP super license. 

It was a special motorcycle, and I loved every harrowing second. What I love more are motorcycles that are approachable, fun, or actively trying to send me to jail for some spurious claims such as stunting up and down the street. “I swear, officer, I was absolutely not popping wheelies.” In other words, I love well-rounded bikes that don’t require the gate keys to Circuit of the Americas just to have fun. 

On paper, Honda’s tamer version of the CBR1000RR—the 2022 CB1000R Black Edition naked superbike—seems like the right amount of dialing back from its sportbike sibling. It lost its clip-ons in favor of a set of regular old handlebars. It features a more upright seating position, fewer ponies prance through its rear wheel, and no front fairing encases you. According to Honda, it has a more street-focused demeanor. It’s something many superbike manufacturers have done to their most anti-social machines and something Ducati perfected in the Streetfighter V4 S, a motorcycle I bonded with immediately. 

Jonathon Klein

The connection took longer with the Honda CB1000R Black Edition. It’s a great motorcycle, as is the CBR1000RR, but it required a couple of hundred miles of riding, an incredibly fast and swooshy mountain road, and me accepting Honda’s factory torque tune isn’t quite the tune I’d load for me to start enjoying this motorcycle. 

It’s a great bike, but I need a laptop and an engineer to make it perfect.

2022 Honda CB1000R Black Edition Review Specs

  • Base price: $12,999
  • Type of motorcycle: Sport naked
  • Powertrain: 998-cc liquid-cooled inline 4-cylinder | 6-speed sequential manual | chain drive
  • Horsepower: 143 
  • Torque: 77 lb-ft
  • Brakes: Dual four-piston Toxico (front) | single caliper Toxico (rear)
  • Suspension: Spring preload, rebound, and compression damping Adjustable Showa forks (front) | Spring preload and rebound damping Showa shock (rear)
  • Seat height: 32.7 inches
  • Tires: Michelin Power 5
  • Curb weight: 466 pounds
  • Range: 160 miles 
  • Quick Take: Feels superbike quick, but lacks the low-down torque a naked should have.
  • Score: 7/10

That’s the Same Picture

To be blunt, there’s not much separating the CB1000R from the CBR1000RR. The 998-cc inline-four is just as wild and sounds just as good as the CBR1000RR’s. That’s because it’s the same damn engine. The aluminum chassis is the same, as are the brakes, suspension, display, and tires. It’s very much a case of Pam’s two “different” pictures. Noticeable changes don’t appear until you get to the motorcycle’s ECU, its body cladding, and atop the front forks in the rider interface. 

Gone is the front fairing. Only the headlight remains. There’s no windscreen or deflector to protect you, but that isn’t a problem until you’re well into extra-legal speeds. Also gone are the clip-on handlebars putting you into the stereotypical sportbike hunched-over seating position. Instead, you get more upright bars that give your back a break. 

Digging beneath the motorcycle’s surface and into its brain, you’ll find a retuned heart. The CB1000R has to make do with just 143 horsepower and 77 pound-feet of torque, compared to the CBR1000RR’s 189 hp and 84 lb-ft. Honda changed the torque maps so that power comes in lower in the motorcycle’s rev range, but that’s where my issue with this motorcycle lies: the updated torque map. 

Where’s Our Groove?

I was beyond stoked to get seat time with the CB1000R. I haven’t had much in the way of sporty offerings since we moved to Utah two years ago. 

Jonathon Klein

I chose a tight and technical 20-mile path for our first dance. The road climbs from 5,500 feet to 8,000 feet, drops back down into a valley, and then rises again to a staggering 11,000 feet at the base of a towering granite mountain. It rose and fell, all while coiled like a Burmese python ready to strike at its prey. I feel very comfortable riding this particular road and have taken each and every single motorcycle I’ve tested in Utah through its serpentine paces. 

There was just one problem. I just couldn’t get into a groove with the CB1000R. 

Compared to its superbike kin that you had to rev the hell out of to get it really going, the CB1000R’s power and torque are more immediate for better rideability. Yet, I still found myself waiting for the bike’s torque to arrive. I’d lean into a low- or medium-speed corner in what I thought was the right gear and just wait for the torque to appear and send me on my way. The high-strung four-cylinder would lazily climb in the revs until the cams finally were ready and then surge forward with urgency. At that point, I’d jump on the brakes to make the next corner that had magically appeared. Maybe VTEC kicked in?

I spent the next handful of weeks playing with settings on the dash and putting on as many miles as I could steal from workdays (don’t tell HR). At first, I thought I was limited by the bike’s traction control, but I found that wasn’t the case after riding with it turned off. I messed with the power settings and the four riding modes: Sport, Standard, User, and Rain. I went to all my favorite haunts, as well as mountain roads I’d never seen. The bike and I just never clicked. 

And that was in the face of the CB1000R being extremely comfortable, both from a seating standpoint, as well as its suspension. As you’d expect from Honda, the adjustable Showa shocks are extremely well damped from the factory. On smooth pavement, as well as the rutted gravel road that leads from our house to the asphalt, it never felt too stiff or softly sprung. It made cornering a breeze. The bike’s Toxico brakes are stunningly effective, too, as people have seemingly lost their ability to drive a car without nearly causing an accident every few meters. Please see me, Toyota Camry driver. 

Jonathon Klein

Through it all, the motorcycle and I never united. That is until I found the right road. 

Go Fast, Then Go Faster

On a whim, I snagged another afternoon to take the CB1000R out for a ride. I still wanted to find the groove with it. Honda’s not the type of manufacturer to build a bad anything, so I kept hoping our union would come. It did, but the insight I derived makes me think Honda needs to retool the torque map. 

A few miles away from my home is another glorious mountain road. It encompasses a nearly 200-mile loop that hits green valleys and high alpine forests before dipping into farmland and across red-rock desert complete with sagebrush, coyotes, and cacti. It does all this while tracing a very squiggly path. The difference between it and the roads I’d been exploring earlier, however, is in the openness of the course’s turns. 

Jonathon Klein

Unlike those other roads, this particular stretch is fast and flowing. My speed increased as did the revs, the Honda and I dancing with each other instead of against. This bike loves high-speed corners where your tachometer reads 9,000 to 11,000 rpm. It yearns to rev, just like its sibling. We blazed through the countryside, the bike yowling through the canyons, passing slow-moving logging trucks and leaf peepers alike. I dropped my knee and throttled up when given the chance. It finally came alive. I could’ve run this loop on repeat until my body gave out.

I burned a lot of premium gas and killed a metric ton of flying insects with the bike, my helmet, jacket, and gloves. I smiled so hard my face hurt. However, the speeds I had to achieve for the CB1000R to speak to me were too excessive. There were many pucker-and-pray moments during my ride. Even at those speeds, I wasn’t getting everything out of the bike. This is a motorcycle that requires someone 80 pounds lighter who’s been riding since they were 3. Oh, and a track.

Sleek Honda Seeks Torque Tuner

The disconnect I felt in those earlier runs was likely because of its naked superbike appearance. I expected something more akin to the Streetfighter, KTM’s 1290 Super Duke R, Yamaha’s MT-10, or even Aprilia’s Tuono RSV4. Those torque monsters could pull a freight train and handle low-speed stuff just as well as high speeds. This is a motorcycle that, at its core and despite retuning, is based on Honda’s high-revving four-cylinder. Torque, however, is the name of the naked superbike game. 

Low-down twist gives you a fun naked superbike around town, pulling wheelies, and going off for a quick ride. You don’t need open country and your eyes fixated on the horizon for law enforcement and errant deer. Those motorcycles are as much fun at 20 mph as they are at 140, but the CB1000R is too reliant on high revs, just as its sibling is. 

The Honda does have one ace up its sleeve: value. Priced at $12,999, the CB1000R is drastically less expensive compared to my all-time favorite naked superbike, the $25,495 Ducati Streetfighter V4 S. The standard Streetfighter V4 starts slightly lower at $19,995. It’s also priced better than the KTM 1290 Super Duke R ($19,599), Kawasaki’s Z H2 ($18,500), the Aprilia Tuono V4 ($15,599), Yamaha’s MT-10 ($13,999). Its price is only beaten by the Suzuki GSX-S1000 ($11,299). 

From my three months with an MT-10 a few years ago, the month I spent with a Ducati, my love affair for the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, and what I’ve heard of the Aprilia from friends and colleagues, I’ve learned that while there’s a lot to love about the Honda, I’d take one of those motorcycles over the CB1000R. 

Jonathon Klein

There is a silver lining to this issue, however. Honda got the bike’s chassis, brakes, suspension, riding ergonomics, and tech perfect. There’s a great motorcycle here. And changing the torque to come in lower in the rev range should be an easy issue to fix. It also remains my only complaint. 

Honda doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel. All it needs is a new map. Let’s get in there, Honda, and take this bike on one more ride. 

Rider Gear

Got a tip? Email tips@thedrive.com