2008-2009 honda Cbr1000rr - living with the motorcycle

Honda Cbr1000rr

The 2009 Honda Cbr1000rr Fireblade is an awesome bike to live with. This super-sport motorcycle has a wide range of uses, from commuting to work daily to racing it on the track. The Cbr1000rr had a big redesign for 2008 where the looks/style, engine and chassis of the bike were changed dramatically. The only difference between the 2008-2009 models was the introduction of an optional factory fitted e-CABS (electronically controlled anti-lock braking system) so the 2 model years are basically the same even though they are considered the 9th and 10th generation. This article contains my personal experiences living with the 2009 Honda Cbr1000rr (ABS) model, from commuting to work each day to riding the mountain roads on the weekends and the occasional track day.

There’s plenty of information around in regards to the specs of the motorcycle and reviews from when it was first released, but the most important information can only be discovered from spending plenty of time with the motorcycle, from its positives to the negatives and everything in-between. Hopefully this article can provide you with a bit more substance than a new bike review as it is written more than 10 years later.

Stock Specs

Engine

Engine type – liquid cooled In-line 4 cylinder 4 stroke fuel injection chain drive

Engine size – 999cc

Engine torque – 71ft-lbs

Bore x stroke – 76 x 55.1mm

Compression ratio – 12:3:1

Gears – 6 speed, one down 5 up

Chassis

Frame – Aluminium

Front suspension – 43mm adjustable inverted telescopic fork

Rear suspension – Unit pro-link with gas charged damper, adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping

Front brake – 2 x 310mm hydraulic disc with radial mount 4-piston calliper’s

Rear brake – 1 x 220mm hydraulic disc with single-piston calliper

Front tyre – 120/70-17

Rear tyre – 190/50-17

Dimensions

Seat height – 820mm

Weight – 199kg

Wheelbase – 1410mm

Fuel capacity – 17.7 litres

The re-design for 2008

The 2008 model Cbr1000rr Fireblade is an all new 9th generation 999cc inline 4 engine redlining at 13,000rpm with titanium valves and an enlarged bore. The engine sits on a new lighter aluminium frame with the under tail exhaust relocated to the right hand side for a more centralised weight distribution. The engine has a new cylinder block, head configuration and crankcase with lighter pistons and a new ECU. The bike is lighter with a more centralised weight, and has a new slipper clutch fitted to improve stability under deceleration. In 2009 the 10th generation was fitted with a new ABS prototype which is a factory fitted option.

Potential problems of the 2008-2009 cbr1000rr

Crankshaft issues

In 2011 Honda issued a service bulletin extending the warranty another 5 years from the original purchase date for abnormal crankshaft primary drive-gear noise. This noise is very recognisable by a whir/whining noise coming from the engine, caused by deformed crankshaft primary drive gear teeth from severe or abrupt clutch engagement. Honda says it doesn’t affect the performance or reliability of the engine. I was very aware of this issue when purchasing my Cbr and made sure my bike wasn’t whirring or burning oil through using this 8 step test riding checklist.

Oil burning issues

This is something that I was very aware of when looking to purchase one of these bikes. I went for the 2009 model compared to the 2008 because through my research I found that the 2008 model bikes could burn more oil than normal if they weren’t broken in properly from new. Although basically impossible to prove, I agree with the logic. Some owners complain of huge amounts of oil being burned and having to top up every 500-1000k.

No gear indicator – not that this is a big problem but I thought id include it in this section dude to my frustration. Seriously I don’t understand how this was overlooked during the design process!

Personal positives and negatives discovered

Positives

  • Big power
  • Big brakes
  • Optional factory fitted ABS
  • Good adjustable foldable mirrors with plenty of vision
  • Slipper clutch is amazing
  • Loves to corner
  • Easier to ride than other 1000cc motorcycles
  • Sexy ageless looks
  • Plastic tank cover

I love the feel of this bike on the road. The power is insane, while the bike feels light and super nimble for such a big machine. This bike loves being tipped into corners. The mid-range power is very impressive, with heaps of pull throughout the rev-range in all gears, even 6th! Its a much easier 1000cc bike to ride compared to its competitors, that doesn’t demand as much from the rider, making the transition from a smaller bike to a 1000cc much easier and less scary – at least for me it did. The e-CABS brakes (electronically-controlled Anti-lock braking system) which I have on my 2009 model is great for the street, letting me grab the brakes as hard as I want in an emergency and giving more confidence with braking in the rain. Just keep in mind the ABS brakes are not great for the track because you want full control over them when braking hard into corners, so avoid the ABS upgrade if your focus is more towards the track.

Negatives

  • Long gears
  • Quiet exhaust
  • Big back mudflap/number plate display
  • Hard Seat
  • No gear indicator!
  • Lacks electronic aids
  • Race positioning can wear on the body on long trips

The biggest negative of this bike besides the risk for oil burning or crankshaft noise issues is there is no stock gear indicator, which is a huge oversight from Honda. This is definitely not a deal breaker, and can be solved with an aftermarket part but would have been so easily incorporated in the digital display…super frustrating. As with all 1000cc motorcycles an aftermarket exhaust is definitely needed due to noise and pollution limits in some countries restricting stock pipes. The stock rear number plate holder/mudguard is extremely ugly in my opinion, and was the first thing I changed. The fact that this motorcycle has basically no electronic aids, besides from the optional ABS or the electronic steering dampener can be viewed as both a positive and a negative depending on the rider. There is no wheelie control or power modes with this raw motorcycle, which I absolutely love. Personally I feel much more connected with the bike, and if you need wheelie control on the street, your riding way too hard! 

When i purchased my bike my biggest concern was the oil burning issue, and I made this known to the dealer (the crankshaft issue is very easy to recognise). So I organised 2 seperate very long test rides days apart where I could really check the oil levels to make sure it wasn’t burning oil and made sure it wasn’t topped up by the dealer behind my back. As long as your aware of the issues, test the bike properly, and only trust yourself and your judgement, there shouldn’t be any surprises. 

Commuting

Any motorcycle can be used for commuting, though some bikes are more comfortable than others. Commuting on a super-sport motorcycle like the Cbr1000rr is an awesome experience, there’s is plenty of power at the fingertips, powerful brakes with ABS and the bike sounds like a beast, especially with an aftermarket exhaust. This is because I absolutely love super-sports. The common issue I run into is with constant braking through traffic, my hands and wrists take the brunt of the pressure, especially when I’m concentrating on traffic and not consciously holding the bike with my core. I found that tank pads for my knees help with this problem, and its a problem that I fixed over time. When heading to and from work I need my laptop, lunch and various other things, which on the Cbr1000rr requires a backpack. Honda says you can fit 2 700ml water bottles in the rear compartment which is technically true…but don’t count on fitting much in there! The headlights can’t be turned off to help with visibility from other road users and the blinkers are mounted in the front mirrors which is a cool feature.  

Mountain riding – The twistie’s

This motorcycle really wants to lean into corners. Its very easy to tip in and gives me heaps of confidence when leaned over, even if I’m carrying a little bit more speed than I should through a corner. The bike makes you feel like a better rider than you are because of this, definitely something to be mindful of when pushing hard.

It feels very light when manovering around, feels more like a 600cc until you jump on the throttle. The acceleration out of corners is absolutely insane, and great care needs to be taken when entering corners because they come up fast! The natural race position on this motorcycle makes it the perfect fit for riding the mountain roads.

Road trips

For covering long distance and spending loads of time on the highway, the Cbr1000rr is not a good choice. Don’t get me wrong, it can be done, and i have personally spent plenty of time on highways putting down the miles. After about an 1-2hrs of highway riding, your body starts to get very tired. Your butt will be sore and numb, your legs will start to cramp and need a stretch-out, your back with get sore from leaning down and you will be sick of being slammed in the face and chest with loads of air pressure. This is not a motorcycle designed for riding in a straight line for hours. In saying that I’ve done many road trips without replacing the stock seat or purchasing a bubble windscreen so it can’t be that bad.

Mods done vs stock

Basically any new motorcycle purchased these days needs an exhaust upgrade like I mentioned above, so ditch the large quiet can and add a new slip-on exhaust (or full system exhaust if you have plenty of cash) to improve sound quality, cut weight and maybe get a few extra hp. Here’s a list of mods I’ve done to my bike without going over the top:

  • 520 chain conversion
  • Yoshi slip-on exhaust
  • Quick-shifter
  • Numberplate holder
Future upgrades planned

  • New more comfortable seat
  • Bubble tinted windscreen
  • New fairings (the tank is actually hidden under the plastic on top!)
  • Levers

In my opinion basically the only difference between the newest 1000cc motorcycles (minus the electronics) and the 2009 Cbr1000rr is a quick-shifter – a luxury that is definitely not needed on this bike and could be considered overkill. The numberplate holder upgrade on the rear really cleans it up eliminating that huge ugly mud flap covering the rear tyre. The 520 chain conversion makes the power much more usable on the street in my opinion, eliminating the taller gears and allowing you to flick through the gears a little more with the quick-shifter. If done your speedo will be way off and require a speedo healer for more accuracy (something I haven’t done due to laziness).

The 2008-2009 Cbr1000rr is still an excellent bike even 10 years later. Theres plenty of them around in good condition and they are very affordable compared to the later model bikes. Unless your a true professional racer there is no way you will find the performance of this bike lacking compared to the latest 1000cc motorcycles on the market. It is an absolute pleasure living with this motorcycle, and I will continue riding it until the day it dies (knowing Honda it might last forever).