Click above image to view gallery of the new CBR1000RR.

If you're a fan of sportbikes, you're faced with more quality choices now than ever before. While that means that no matter what you choose you're not likely to be disappointed, it also means that researching your decision is also harder than ever before. Yesterday, we took a look at the new BMW HP2-Sport, which faces tough competition for your hard earned dollars from the Big Four Japanese manufacturers. Starting with Honda, which is the largest of the Japanese motorcycle companies, we have a brand new CBR100RR. Known as the Fireblade in Europe, Honda launched the bike last week at the Paris Motorcycle Show. Take a look at our gallery, and you are likely to have some strong opinions on the styling. The front end looks eerily similar to the new Ducati 1098, but much of the rest of the bike is a departure from the sportbike norm.

While many companies are featuring very edgy design themes, Honda seems to be smoothing out the lines of their newest liter-bike. The most controversial item is likely to be the new exhaust system. Following in the footsteps of the innovative Buell brand, most sportbikes are relocating their heavy exhaust cans to the underside of their bikes, which centralizes that mass. It also keeps the heat away from your posterior, which has been an ongoing problem with the underseat muffler designs. Honda has chosen to integrate the exhaust into the bodywork, likely making it difficult for the aftermarket to offer systems which improve on the performance of the factory system without degrading the finish. So, if you hate the exhaust... perhaps you should look elsewhere or you'll be stuck with it.

[Source: Honda, Motorcycle-USA]

Related Gallery2008 Honda CBR1000RR

Moving past the superficial, the frame has been formed using a new technique which Honda claims allows for very thin wall construction and only four castings to be welded together. Besides the frame, Honda has whittled down the sidestand (really!), front brake hoses (double-really!) and rotors, battery and wheels in an effort to reduce weight. Redlining at 13,000 RPM, the 999cc inline-four engine features titanium valves and an enlarged bore with a corresponding reduced stroke -- this engine could be a bit more top-heavy in its power delivery. A new ECU delivers two separate revised maps sending the fuel and air mixture to be squeezed tight by the 12.3:1 compression ratio. Of course, ram air is offered and the scoops and airbox were enlarged and redesigned. All of that equates to a claimed power output of 178bhp at 12,000rpm.

One of the most noteworthy features is the slipper-clutch with its unique center-cam-assist mechanism. We'll have to wait for a test ride to see how well it works in real-life downshifting scenarios. Returning is the Honda Electronic Steering Damper (HESD) which has been revised this year as well.

Standard colors are Red/Black, Pearl Yellow/Black, Candy Dark Red/Metallic Silver and Black/Metallic Silver which bring the bike to $11,599. For another $200, 500 bikes will be offered with the limited-edition Black/Metallic Grey color scheme. If you want one of the uber-cool limiteds, we would suggest contacting you dealer yesterday. For the rest of you who are loyal to Big Red, looks like Honda's given you serious reason to consider an upgrade. Unless, of course, you hate that hockey-stick of a pipe hangin' off to the right. We wouldn't hold it against you.