A couple of months ago, we reported about the rumors that have been going around of Honda’s plans to build a middleweight version of its CBR1000RR-R Fireblade based on the CBR600RR. Today, talks of the CBR600RR have been churning up the rumor mill even more with Japanese sources saying that an updated CBR600RR with Fireblade-inspired styling will be unveiled later this year.
According to insiders from the rumor mill, the bike will be an updated version of the existing model rather than an all-new model which will be paying much more particular attention to its styling and electronics to give the current CBR600RR a new lease of life thereby saving them a whole lot of money from a new clean-sheet redesign. The catch is, this could very well be the final update of the existing CBR600RR platform as it is now becoming increasingly difficult to make cost-effective 600cc four-cylinder engines that can meet today’s ever-stricter emissions standards without compromising with power loss.
While the bike’s platform and chassis will remain relatively unchanged, a major visual change to the 2021 bike could be expected with a new fairing that mirrors the developments seen on the new CBR1000RR-R Fireblade. We can expect the same downforce-generating aerodynamics and winglets with smaller headlights on either side of its central ram-air intake. The new ‘Middleweight Fireblade’ will still retain the current CBR600RR’s under-seat exhaust layout which makes it instantly recognizable as the bike’s signature look. The bike’s frame and suspension system were designed to conform with that layout in mind which would, in turn, be carried over to the 2021 model.
The new CBR600RR will be getting a slew of electronics upgrades with big changes to make it virtually a completely different machine. Its new inertial measurement unit will be the key to those major changes, including lean-sensitive traction control and cornering ABS to bring it up to speed with today’s expectations from sportbikes. Its new powerplant is expected to churn out around 115 hp, which is just about the same as the current CBR600RR despite the tweaks made to improve its emissions and extend the model’s life.
However, while the improvements on the motorcycle’s emissions will give the CBR600RR several more years of life in some markets, its refinements are still not expected to be good enough to make its way back into the European market. Significant changes to its engine, which dates back to its 2007 model, cannot be made without incurring extremely increasing costs for its development. The current Euro 5 emissions rules find it difficult for small, high-revving, high-performance engines to meet the standards without adding expensive technology into the equation. Among the other bikes that have been forced out of the European market in 2018 because of the current emissions standards include the CBR600RR and Suzuki’s GSX-R600 for being unable to meet the Euro 4 regulations leaving the Kawasaki ZX-6R and the Yamaha YZF-R6 as the only remaining 600 cc class sportbikes in the European market. Thus, it is highly likely that the next iteration of the CBR600RR would be the last of its kind to carry that badge.