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Honda CBR 1000F
DON'T YOU JUST LOVE IT WHEN A PLAN COMES together? Case in point: the new Hurricane 1000, a showpiece sportbike that Honda is betting will be a huge success. The company's goal for the Hurricane 1000 is simple: Sell as many as possible. Honda is, after all, not in the motorcycle business or the automobile business; it's in the business of staying in business. Move the product, make a profit.
In an effort to reach that goal, Honda had to make the Hurricane appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Second, because buyers expect liter-class sportbikes to be technically innovative—and because such bikes are viewed as company calling cards that show off each firm's engineering acumen—the Hurricane had to be seen as state-of-the-art. And last but not least in this day of ever-escalating costs, the Hurricane had to be perceived as a good value.
Honda's designers started with the Hurricane's seating position in the quest to make the bike as mainstream as possible. The less-than-stellar sales performance of 1985's VF1000R had driven home the handicaps of a race-replica riding position. That bike was a rolling, red-white-and-blue testament to the ill will that aching wrists and a wrenched back can generate. On the other hand, Honda has not been blind to the success of the equally uncomfortable Suzuki GSX-R series, which has sold well and given Suzuki's sporting image a needed shot of adrenaline. With the Hurricane, though, Honda has eschewed the street-racer approach (although company spokesmen do hint that such a model could be in the pipeline for 1989), preferring to let the GSX-R1100 and the Yamaha's new FZR1000 duke it out for that prestigious, but limited, slice of the marketing pie.
That's good news for riders who aren't intent on stacking the fireplace mantel with club-roadracing trophies, who are instead looking for a sportbike built for the long run rather than the short spurt. To that end, the Honda's handlebars, clip-on style though they may be, are relatively wide, and high in relation to the seat. The width provides leverage, and the height takes weight off the forearms. The seat provides a soft perch, and is positioned so riders of average dimensions don't have to stretch unduly to reach the grips. In conjunction, these factors give the Hurricane a near-ideal sportbike riding position, a jimdandy place to sit and watch the scenery blur by.
Things would be even rosier, though, if the bike's footpegs were slightly lower; riders long of inseam may feel a little pinched after pulling all-day duty. Some of our test riders also complained that the calf-level bulges in the Hurricane's side panels limited leg movement.
Those bulges are part of a streamlining package that Honda hopes will give the Hurricane a high-tech identity. Indeed, Honda's ad campaign for the 1000 stresses—photographically and in words—the shape of the bike. Like the Cagiva-Ducati Paso, the Hurricane is completely encapsulated by plastic bodywork, although snippets of engine are still visible here and there. Even the fork tubes and the mufflers, of all things, don't escape the molded treatment. Honda's European press kit for the Hurricane (called the
Of course, there! is a functional purpose to the Hurricane's undulating contours, as well as a graphic one. Honda's PR types refer to it as "air-flow management," a term that speaks of the fairing's ability to split the atmosphere so the rest of the bike can pass through as efficiently as possible. Honda claims that the Hurricane has a very low coefficient of drag; but perhaps more important than how the streamlining affects the air flowing past the bike is how it affects the air flowing through the bike. Snouts at the front of the fairing direct cool, dense air to the airbox— similar to the systems employed by the Ninja 1000 and FZR1000 and thereby provide a small, but measurable, power boost. Twin "mail-slot" openings below the headlight aim air at theengine's oil cooler, mounted below the lower triple-clampj There also are large side vents in CBR1000 over there) espouses that the bike's body panels form a "continuous surface made up of natural, flowing, curved surfaces that transform the typically mechanical, hard-edged, intimidating image of the motorcycle into a pleasing 'soft' form."
Hype aside, while the Hurricane's body isn't as neatly done or as striking as the Paso's, it is nonetheless an effective conversation opener. The comments we heard were distinctly polar. Most observers thought our black-and-red test machine was beautiful, a view we suspect will be even more prevalent with the other color choice, an easier-to-see silvery-blue with black accents. Some critics were unswayed, however, feeling that the bike had a "fat" look to it. One fellow in particular took rabid exception to the Honda, saying it looked like "the world's fastest scooter." tended to duct hot air from the radiator out past the rider's legs, with the rest of the hot air being channelled toward the rear of the bike by the body panels.
In theory, all this redirection of air flow should keep a Hurricane rider fairly well insulated from engine heat. Unfortunately, we can't comment on the effectiveness of the system, since our test of the bike took place in the dead of a Southern California winter, with temperatures ranging from 30 to 70 degrees.
In truth, however, the Hurricane's body may be more important to the third part of Honda's plan for the bike-cost effectiveness—than as a styling trademark or an airflow manager. Simply put, the all-enclosing panels hide the Hurricane's engine, thus the engine need not be "styled." Compared to an engine that is even partially on display, the Hurricane's motor can be rougher-hewn, with no need for blacked-out paint treatments, polished accents or sculpted components. This has a direct and immediate effect on the cost of designing and manufacturing the engine: and the savings can be passed right along to the consumer.
Which is exactly what has happened. At $5398, the Honda is $250 less costly than Yamaha's FJ1200, $300 less than Kawasaki's Ninja 1000R and $500 less than Suzuki's GSX-R1100. In fact, the 1987 Hurricane costs only $100 more than the list price for a 1986 Honda 750 Interceptor.
That dollar-saving slab of an engine lurking beneath the Hurricane's plastic bodywork may not be much to look at, but it is a likeable enough piece, and its layout helps reduce the cost of the motorcycle even further. With the Hurricane series (a 250 and 400 are sold in Japan, and a 600 will join the 1000 in the U.S. and Europe), Honda has returned to the engine that put them on the performance-bike map, the ubiquitious inline-Four. This might seem like a curious move, especially after the company's much-ballyhooed introduction of V-Four powerplants just four years ago, but there's logic here. An inline-Four is less expensive to produce than a V-Four, which, among other complications, has two cylinder-head castings and twice the number of camshafts.
But don't get the idea that the Hurricane 1000 engine is strictly a blue-light special. Honda knows how to bolt together as impressive an inline-Four as any company; and although it breaks no new ground, the 998cc Four is tech- head cams, four valves per cylinder and semi-downdraft carburetors. Honda is quick to point out that every effort was made to keep the engine as light and compact as practical, and that a new digital ignition system is there to provide just the right spark.
Whatever the reason, the Hurricane's engine is a marvelous power producer, topping out at a claimed 130 horsepower. In effect, there is no powerband, just a steady, steamrolling rush that doesn't seem to end. Helped along by its prodigious torque and a six-speed transmission, the Hurricane is content to loaf along at an impressive back road pace using just its top two gears. A shift down to fourth or even third produces more engine noise and a touch more drama, but isn't really neccessary. In all but really tight going, just leave the gearshift lever alone and let the engine slide the road beneath the bike.
Given a chance to run free, the Hurricane's engine will propel the bike to a go-to-jail velocity of 156 miles per hour. That's three miles an hour down on the Ninja 1000, the fastest production streetbike this magazine has tested, and, frankly, a little disappointing, given the bike's power-pumper of an engine and slippery aerodynamics.
There's more cost-cutting afoot in the frame to which the Hurricane's engine attaches. You'll find no aluminum here; just mild steel, bent and welded into a perimeter-style configuration. The frame is not an aesthetic marvel, either in form or in construction, but it doesn't need to be: Thanks to the bike's bodywork, not a single frame tube is in sight.
The corporate bean-counters will also be pleased by the Hurricane's steel swingarm, the movement of which is controlled by a single shock, adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping. And leading the 1000 down the road is a simplified (read less-expensive) fork assembly that has no adjustments save for air pressure.
Thankfully, this display of efficiency in the chassis specifications hasn't hurt the Hurricane's handling one whit. With no air pressure in the fork and the shock preload on the standard (second of five) setting, the Honda is a supple highway cruiser. Go up to 5 psi in the fork and the No. 4 shock preload setting, and the Hurricane can handle just about anything a twisting country lane is liable to throw its way.
Helping the cause here are the Hurricane's wheels and tires. Unlike the wide-tired, 16-inch-wheeled Yamaha FJ1200 and Kawasaki Ninja 1000, the Honda rolls on 17-inch wheels and comparatively narrow tires. The advantages are twofold: The Honda banks into a corner with less effort and more precision, and is less susceptible to sit-up while braking when leaned over.
There is a disadvantage to this wheel/tire arrangement, however. Of all the current large-displacement sportbikes, the Hurricane is most prone to braking its rear tire loose while accelerating hard out of a corner. You really have to be scratching on the street to encounter this trait, but it's there. Upper-echelon riders, especially those who might go roadracing with the Honda, will want to mount stickier, and no doubt wider, tires, although this runs the risk of upsetting an excellent handling package for the street.
And, really, riders who are intent on pressing the Hurricane's racetrack capabilities are missing the point entirely. Honda easily could have built a racer to take on GSX-Rs or FZRs. Instead, it embarked on a path that led to a comfortable, distinctive, competent road machine that's as good as anything in the class, and hundreds of dollars less expensive.
It's nice to see that well-laid plans don't always go astray.
Source Cycle World 1987