This could very well be the...
This could very well be the only CBR900RR with an underseat exhaust system in existence. Hyperflo slip-on pipes update the look from the old bike’s traditional side-mounted muffler.
It’s hard not to get nostalgic when thinking about your first streetbike. It may not have been the fastest, the slickest or even firing on all cylinders but the sensation it produced was unmatched. In a generation of electronic assists and mode switches, those fresh on the scene may overlook the joys of riding a bike with civility removed. But today we step back to the nineties and witness an explosion of raw performance lost with modern gadgetry.
In an era of one-uppers, Honda did its fair share of setting the mark. Case in point—the ’93 CBR900RR. At the time it weighed notably less than the competition and just a handful more than its 600cc little brother—therefore it hauled total ass. By today’s literbike standards, the OG 900 is more a relic of the past than cutting edge, but for those like Mark Tempesta of Breaklites Motorsports it doesn’t get much better—after a few choice updates, of course.
If ever there were an argument...
If ever there were an argument in favor of the stock CBR900RR’s big booty it was that it could hold enough supplies to last a week. The swap over to the more svelte CBR1000RR eliminated the massive storage space but improved the body lines dramatically.
The redesigned 1996 CBR900RR once again received accolades for weight reduction and mo’ power but that was then and well over a decade later a lot has changed. Nevertheless, the old Honda stuck with Mark just as an ’05 CBR1000RR motor (among other parts) lingered at the shop. The combination of old and newer spurred an idea of bin-bike proportions:
“I had these parts sitting around and I started looking into who has done a CBR1000 motor in a CBR900. I wanted a 900 just because I love those bikes and they fit my frame perfectly. I looked high and low and finally found one on eBay with a blown motor and clean title. I ended up winning the auction for like $610! This was the year, make, model and color of the first bike that I ever learned how to ride so it has always hit a real soft spot. The motor had jumped timing so all the valves were bent, the cylinder head was junk, and the pistons had holes in them so I pulled it all down and sold the crank, transmission, engine cases, front end and all the parts I wasn’t going to use and ended up getting 500 bucks.”
What appears to be a trick...
What appears to be a trick aftermarket swingarm is actually lifted straight from a VFR750. It’s nearly a bolt-on swap, but there were a few tweaks required when outfitting a fatter tire.
Already nearly breaking even on the initial bike purchase, Mark continued on a tight budget as junked and salvaged parts found their way into the build pile. For the most part, the shop mechanic’s hoarding ways saved the Breaklites crew cash while Frankensteining the 900RR back to life. The first order of business was stuffing the ’05 1000 motor into the space-limited frame. This meant lopping off the factory engine mount tabs and a portion of the frame rail:
“Starting in 2004 Honda used a stacked transmission on the CBR1000 so it kinda goes up higher. So on the right hand side of the frame we had to take a good 1.5” out and radius it so that the engine would fit. Then we had to rebox everything for strength—we made almost a new section for that part of the frame.”
In exchange for a 30-pack of beer, a friend machined new engine mounting brackets that a welder then secured in place as barter for some Harley parts. But before firing it the electronics needed an update, so on went a CBR1000 wiring harness. There was more work to be done before the first fire up though, including some custom tank fabrication:
It’s a little sad to see the...
It’s a little sad to see the original foam mounted gauges cast aside for the newer style. Those iconic gauges were the stuff that many aspiring 900RR owners dreamt about thanks to their aggressive, no-nonsense look. But in order for the 1000RR motor to function the matching gauges had to be used due to ECU communication glitches with the original—not to mention the nightmare involved with rewiring the setup.
“The problem was that the CBR1000’s airbox and secondary injectors were too tall for the 900RR fuel tank, so we chopped and cut the inside of the tank to fit that. We also figured a newer fuel pump would be a smarter choice so we took a dented Gixxer tank, cut the bottom out where the fuel pump sat and then cut the bottom out of the 900RR tank and made a new plate so the two fit together with the ’02 GSX-R1000 fuel pump in it.”
Power added, next came a handling update. The original 900RR brought applause for its exceptional handling. Mark felt ’06 CBR1000RR forks and an Aprilia Falco shock would better suit the road ahead however. The original swingarm was also scrapped for what at first glance looks aftermarket. The single-sided swingarm is in fact from a ’97 Honda VFR750, modified slightly to fit. Just above the sleek single-sider is an equally tidy tail unit that’s a far cry from the original bulbous booty. The subframe and tail come from the same make and model as the motor for a cleaner, more modern look (that unfortunaltey doesn’t fit a lunchbox in the trunk like the original).
What was once touted for its extraordinary power to weight ratio became a 900RR amalgamation with updated performance and serious nostalgia factor. Access to boxes of used parts, handy friends and an imagination amounted to a total build cost of under $3000. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to hold onto the past, especially if it wheelies, grunts and goes with more gusto than the present.
1996 Honda CBR900RR
Front end: ’06 CBR1000RR forks, rotor, caliper, switch housings and master cylinder, ’03 RC51 wheel, aftermarket steel braided line, ’03 954RR triple trees and clip-ons
Rear end: ’97 VFR750 modified swingarm and wheel, ’01 Aprilia SL1000 Falco shock, ’05 CBR1000RR subframe
Motor: ’05 CBR1000RR engine, wire harness and ECU, Hyperflo slip-on exhaust, Power Commander, ’02 GSX-R1000 fuel pump, ’96 900RR radiator
Paint: Breaklites Motorsports
Accessories: Roaring Toyz mirrors, CRG levers, HID kit, Gregg’s Custom front signals, ’05 CBR1000RR gauges, seat cowl and front seat (reupholstered), Zero Gravity screen
Builder: Breaklites Motorsports
Owner: Mark Tempesta