2 Cars, 1 Bike
by Khiem Dinh
Khiem Dinh is an engineer for Honeywell Turbo Technologies at the time of this writing. All statements and opinions expressed by Khiem Dinh are solely those of Khiem Dinh and not reflective of Honeywell Turbo Technologies.
Different jobs require different tools. What makes a tool great for one job can be the same characteristic that makes it difficult for another. What is said about tools can also be applied to motor vehicles as a metaphor. The three jobs we are gonna talk about are: track work, romping through the canyons, and daily driver duties. The three tools we will compare are: A 2005 Evo VIII, a 2005 Honda S2000 and a 2005 Honda CBR 600RR (I guess 2005 was a good year?). We’re going to take a look at which of these machines is best suited for each of these duties, but first let’s do a quick run-down on each vehicle.
The Evo is the AWD turbo monster. AWD makes for unbeatable traction and the turbo makes gobs of mid-range torque; just put your foot down anywhere above 3k rpms and the car goes. The Evo is blessed with one of the best steering racks of any car, period. It has an extremely fast steering ratio and supreme steering feel; I describe it as holding the tie-rods in your hands. Power mods consist of a K&N drop-in panel filter, WORKS 3” downpipe, high-flow cat and stealth muffler. The tweaks I made to the stock maps using Ecuflash and Evoscan resulted in a power bump to ~280whp on 91 octane from ~245whp, and ~300whp on 93 octane. The minor suspension mods include WORKS adjustable camber plates – which I used to dial in -3 degrees of camber up front. The rear trailing arm bushings were replaced with Whiteline urethane parts and a Whiteline rear bump steer kit was also added.
The S2000 has the classic front engine and rear wheel drive sports car layout giving it a perfect balance. The engine is naturally aspirated with a very high specific output, and that generally means it’s all top-end with no mid-range or down-low grunt. If you’re anywhere below the 6k rpm VTEC crossover point, you’ll have a tough time getting out of the way of a Prius. The transmission is a close ratio 6-speed designed to match the narrow top-end power band of the engine. You can read about the specific mods here: Project S2000. No power mods (yet…), so figure on about 200whp stock from the rated 237 crank hp.
Finally comes the CBR 600RR, the two-wheeled track-ready terror straight off the showroom floor. Just take off the mirrors and license plate and you’re good to go for the track. They make about 200hp/L naturally aspirated, which far surpasses the best production automobile engines that come in around 120hp/L (S2000 with the 2.0L F20c and the Ferrari 458). Like pretty much every sport bike, it comes with dual adjustable front fork and rear shocks straight from the factory. 600cc sport bikes are characterized by their peaky power bands requiring a lot of revs to make power. Again, close ratio 6-speed transmissions are used to get the most out of the engine.
Being gear heads and driving/riding enthusiasts, So Cal is an oasis of fun. Of course, there are the downsides of dealing with LA’s notorious traffic and busted roads during daily driving, but back to the good stuff – the race tracks.
The track is where the pair of high strung Hondas shine. On the race track, it’s all about shifting at redline, getting that perfect downshift, clipping the apexes just right, and feeling those Gs load up as you’re working your way around the corners. The adrenaline rush comes from pushing the machine as hard as possible and becoming one with the machine.
|The track is the only place to safely twist the throttle wide open. I’m bumming this picture from Jerry of Orgussphoto. Jerry is a rider himself and takes great track pics!
For the CBR, the race track is the only safe place to fully exploit the bike’s limits. 600cc bikes have decent “oomph” at 6k rpms for street riding, but don’t really start to move until about 10k rpms where they then screams to over 15k; on track, anything below 10k becomes slow. I think the 600cc sport bike engine is the best sounding engine you can buy short of a flat plane crank V8 Ferrari. The thing about riding a motorcycle is that rider body position can greatly affect available traction. When you only have two tiny contact patches of rubber providing the grip, maximizing traction is critical. Furthermore, when the bike is at maximum acceleration or braking, the number of tire contact patches drops to one because the other tire is off the ground. Just watch the pros race and how much they move around on the bikes. When they’re hard on the brakes, that rear tire is just skimming the surface. When powering out of a corner, that front tire is often off the ground with the rear tire sliding around scrambling for grip while laying down black strips of rubber. The whole time the riders are shifting their weight around and working the bike to get traction. It’s a huge challenge pushing a bike to the limit requiring a lot of physical involvement from the rider, which is what makes it so damn fun!
The S2000 is sometimes described as a sport bike with four wheels. Why is that? The S2000 has that top-heavy power band like a bike and its even weight distribution allows it to rotate quickly and flick from side-to-side much like a bike can. To get the most out of the S2000 you really have to work it like a bike. If you want to be fast, you can’t be pussy footing it around.