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. 


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Tuesday, March 01, 2011 4:46 AM
so, why not have both? :D
Hey Guys
Hey Guyslink
Tuesday, March 01, 2011 5:37 AM
I would really love to see you guys turn the Evo into another project with the goal of improving the weight distribution. Was the Evo one of the cars you moved the batter into the trunk for the battery relocation article?
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Tuesday, March 01, 2011 5:53 AM
You could always put a street bike motor in a convertible like the S2000.....oh wait, that would be Miatabusa ! :)

I have to agree Khiem, it's nice riding a bike or driving a car that sounds like something out of F1. Those high RPMs are a BLAST!
Tuesday, March 01, 2011 9:26 AM
Good article man. Love the title. ;)

blue- I think budget had something to do with it. ;) I almost tried to trade him my S2000 for his Evo a few years ago, but just couldn't bear to part with it!
Tuesday, March 01, 2011 8:31 PM
@Hey Guys, I'm not sure there's much you can do for weight distribution on a street car. You can relocate the battery to the trunk, but that's about the only reasonable thing to do. Other options would be to get lighter parts on the front.

Obviously, a forward weight bias car such as the Evo can be made to haul serious ass. Just look at the SSE Evo :) Without lots of aero, the suspension would probably be more set up like a FWD race car where loose is fast. So pretty stiff in the rear to get the rear to rotate. And then you use the beauty of AWD to pull the car out of the corners. I don't think that'd make for too fun of a street car however.
Wednesday, March 02, 2011 11:23 AM
a Great place to ride on the east cost is the tail of the dragon:
(US129 in Tennessee and North Carolina)

However the same rules apply:
1) stay in your lane
2) don't cross the yellow line (see 1)
3) if some one behind you is obviously faster pull over and let them pass.

It's a great place to drive / ride:

local photographer:
Wednesday, March 02, 2011 12:12 PM
I don't know....
I am all about function and zero comfort (sometime I pay for it though, lol).

Talking about the EVO 8; aside from relocating the battery in the trunk, as mentioned above, I would eliminate the A/C and its amenities. Who needs stinking fresh air during hot blazing SoCal summer? Roll down the window and eat an ice cream while driving :)
I would also remove the PS along with all the lines. For a car than has 300ish hp torque steer is not a big deal. Grow some guns !
After driving my brother's mildly stock EVO 8, I understand the comment about the glorious steering rack and steering feel/input, just phenomenal.
I've never driven a car that has such a quick-perfect steering feel. That's what I loved the most about the EVO 8. With that said, removing the PS would add more feeling and connection with the road so to speak. Removing those two things should net a drop of 50ish lbs from up front.

Anyway, if I were to chose among these three I would have to pick the S2K for its great weigh distribution.
Just my .02
Wednesday, March 02, 2011 3:24 PM
I know the Tail of the Dragon having grown up on the east coast. I have a group of friends that have gone a few times on their bikes, but I unforutnately never got the chance.
Daewoo Of Death
Daewoo Of Deathlink
Thursday, March 03, 2011 6:42 PM
Sounds like the best compromise is a rear engined car with a high revving motor. That way you get near AWD traction, normal car amenities and space, decent gas mileage (no parasitic loss and weight from the AWD) and really good brakes.

Oh wait, I know a somewhat successful sports car exactly like that!

Saturday, March 05, 2011 8:28 AM
You forgot about the sr16ve n1 which made 200hp from the factory.
Monday, March 07, 2011 10:38 AM
Traction control on a newer model S2000 is nice. Off for the track, on for street driving. When something catches me off guard it can save me from embarrassment or worse. It doesn't interfere with normal driving since I don't slide around excessively on the street.
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