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Oct 20, 2016

2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP: Hayden Impressed By Honda's New Liter Bike

Nicky Hayden and the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP. Photo Courtesy Of American Honda.

Speaking from the MotoGP paddock at Phillip Island, 2006 MotoGP World Champion and current Ten Kate Honda World Superbike racer Nicky Hayden said that the new 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP streetbike is impressive, very light and better in some ways than the Honda he raced in the 2016 Suzuka 8-Hours held at the end of July.

“I got to ride the new CBR1000RR about a month ago at Valencia,” Hayden exclusively told “It was just for videos and photos, so there was a lot of turning around and riding it back and forth through the same corner trying to get the shot, but I did get to ride it hard enough to get a feel for it. It was a full streetbike with street tires and all that, but it was really nice.”

Hayden said the first thing the director of the shoot asked for was the highlight of the video: Footage of Hayden sliding the new CBR1000RR SP and laying down black lines of rubber on the track surface. But Hayden initially wasn’t very optimistic about getting the shot they were looking for out of the street machine.

“They showed me video from a real racebike,” said Hayden. “I told them, ‘I don’t know how easy that’s going to be. That’s a real MotoGP racebike in real race conditions laying down black lines. We’ll see what we can do.’

“But actually, the power on it was so smooth and the traction control switches were right on my thumb. So I could dial it down to where I still had a little bit to keep me out of big trouble but enough to be able to lay down some black lines for them.”

When asked what things about the newest CBR1000RR SP stood out the most to him, Hayden’s answer offered a very surprising perspective.

“I would say the thing that stood out the most for me was the electronic shifter and the fly-by-wire throttle,” he said. “For me, it felt like a real racebike and actually better than the bike I raced at Suzuka [8-Hours]. With the rules, the bike I raced in Suzuka, we weren’t allowed to use fly-by-wire throttle. So on corner entry you had to use the clutch and blip the throttle and do all that stuff I hadn’t done in years. But on this streetbike it did all the cutting for me on upshifts at corner exit and downshifts on corner entry. So I thought that was a huge advancement. And I would say how light it felt. It definitely feels light.”

Hayden says at this point it’s difficult to judge what the new Honda will be like in race trim, especially when compared to the heady competition in the FIM Superbike World Championship, but he and his team are looking forward to the opportunity.

“Everybody always asks me to compare it to my racebike,” said Hayden. “It’s really hard to compare it to my full racebike on race tires after doing a few laps for a photo shoot, but I was definitely impressed.

“Now it’s just a matter of letting the team get it as soon as possible. That’s really the thing that we’re up against now, because our season starts in February and at the moment there’s only prototypes. Ten Kate haven’t got their hands on it yet, and Ten Kate has to do it all. There’s no [ready-to-ride] racebike just showing up from Japan. They’re going to have a busy winter.

“We definitely hope it can help us be more competitive next year, but we know no one sits still. We saw that firsthand at Jerez. The time I qualified with this year would’ve put me on pole last year, but this year I was down in fifth. It’s clear that racing is like life: Nothing sits still, the target’s always moving.”