The 1993 Honda CBR900RR that I’ve been writing about is almost too much of a unicorn. Low-mileage, near-perfect examples don’t exactly grow on trees. I want to preserve it. That doesn’t mean park it forever in the living room, but it does mean daily-rider duties are off the table. The bike doesn’t take up much room, so for the time being, I can justify this action. What I can’t justify is not being able to use it how it was meant to be used. So I did the only thing I could think of to fix the issue: Buy another one.
In my first write up on the ’93, I mentioned how these classic CBR900RRs never come up for sale. Well, lightning struck twice. Not long after I purchased the white bike, a black and purple 1994 came up for sale just 15 miles away from me. I took this as a sign—I had to at least go check it out.
It was listed with 40,000 miles on the odometer and was wearing its original fairings. The seller said it was in great running condition. Now, I didn’t want another collector-grade CBR900RR; I wanted one I could actually ride the hell out of.
This bike seemed to fit the bill perfectly. I figured it would probably need a little mechanical work, but with an asking price of only $2800, how could I resist?
When I showed up to look at the bike, I could immediately see that it was well-used. Those darn Craigslist pictures. However, this didn’t deter me; I didn’t want a museum-quality bike.
The CBR was dirty, the fork seals were shot and the tires were so-so. The bodywork was filthy and there was chain oil slung all over the place. But you know what? There wasn’t a scratch in the bodywork. I couldn’t believe it. The seller said he was the second owner, having bought it from the original owner just six months ago.
I couldn’t have shown up at a better time. This bike was at a tipping point. If it were allowed to go any further down the path it was currently on, it would be another classic CBR900RR that would have vanished. Neglect was setting in, and the price put it in reach of buyers who might treat it as a throw-away machine.
I had to rescue it. Unfortunately, the rear plastic fender was cut up and an aftermarket exhaust can was fitted. I looked past those items because overall, the bike was savable.
It also ran like a bat out of hell.
On the test ride I couldn’t believe how much power this old bike put down. The suspension was squishy, the brakes hardly worked, and the tires were sketchy, to put it lightly. But damn, bringing the front end up by just rolling on the throttle told me everything I needed to know: this bike still had it.
The transmission shifted buttery smooth with no false neutrals of any kind. The clutch felt strong and the exhaust note was addictive. The width of the gas tank and front fairing gives you this ‘muscle-bike’ type vibe when riding. It has the girth of a big bike, but at the same time feels nimble. I can’t get enough of that old-school bike charm. I had to have it.
I pointed out the mechanical issues to the seller and was able to work the price down to $2,500. If you ask me, that’s a screaming deal for such an awesome machine.
Riding it back home, the general filth and mechanical maladies wore away at my conscience. I simply couldn’t start using it as-is. Much like the white ’93 CBR900RR that I overhauled, I immediately started stripping the bike down.
I replaced and cleaned everything that needed it. New fork seals, chain and sprockets, brake pads, fluids, bolts and fasteners; you name it, it got it. All-in, I spent another $400 in parts which brought the cost of the bike up to around $2,900.
I still need to put new tires on it and I want to source an original rear fender that is unmodified. That fender will be a tall order because they aren’t made anymore and they rarely come up for sale secondhand.
No matter. I can finally ride, guilt free, on a classic Honda CBR900RR. No, it doesn’t have the iconic white, blue, and red bodywork, but you know what? It’s the same in all other ways. That powerful engine mated to a lightweight frame makes for a retro super-machine that can still put a huge grin on your face.
While newer bikes are loaded to the brim with power and technology, they have somewhat lost the plot of a fun, analog, road-going motorcycle. Bikes are supposed to evoke memorable emotions in the rider every time they jump aboard—and the rawness of the quad-carbureted, big-bore CBR accomplishes this feat with amazing efficiency.
You’re safe for now, low-mileage-white-CBR. This 1994 has got everything you have and one thing you don’t: worry-free rideability.