The local launch of the new Fireblade was held recently at Redstar Raceway. The President of Honda in SA, Toshiaki Konaka, reaffirmed the Fireblades flagship sportbike status, reminding us that the Fireblade legend started in 1992. The new ‘Blade’ is true to the mission statement of the original bike, namely, excellent power to weight, handling, cornering and balance.
For all intents and purposes, the new ‘Blade’ is a totally new bike, sharing only 10% of its parts with the previous model. Power is up to 141kW @ 13000rpm, with 114 Nm of torque @11000 rpm. The new chassis is lighter and tighter, improving aerodynamics with a reduced frontal area. The ‘Blade’ sports a slipper ‘assist clutch’ with 17% less lever effort required. [Everyone seems to have discovered this ‘assist’ technology, as it is vogue on many new bikes. However, I have never seen or heard complaints about heavy clutch pull before, but whatever!]
Wheels are lighter 5 spoke Mags, and the exhaust is now titanium. The SP has a titanium fuel tank and a 1kg lighter lithium-ion battery.
Electronics include a fly-by-wire throttle, various power modes, ABS, traction control and even adjustable engine braking – technology that has trickled down from the mighty RC213V-S.
The throttle has a conventional return spring to give the rider the familiar ‘cable’ feel. Wheelie control keeps things tidy and works with the traction control. The SP comes standard with a bi-directional quickshifter, (optional on the double R).
Suspension is electronic, adaptive Ohlins on the SP and fully adjustable Showa on the RR. The Ohlins have settings for Track, Windings Roads and Street and adapts the damping characteristics to suit.
Colours are HRC Red, White and Blue for the SP and Victory Red (with black and white accents), as well as a sort of Graphite Black, for the RR. All the colour schemes are stunning, however, the SP in HRC colours and gold Ohlins forks, is breathtaking.
Visually, the new ‘Blade’ is truly beautiful. Sleek, small and tidy, every styling element hangs together to create a bike that is as satisfying to look at, as it is to ride. The Fireblade, from the first 1992 model, has flattered the rider’s ability but this ‘Blade’ takes that flattery to a new level. Simply stated, it puts you in control. Accelerating, turning, braking or strafing sweeps, is all achieved effortlessly. I rode the RR and really enjoyed it. Despite feeling more like a 600 size-wise, I found the riding position reasonably comfortable for my 6’2” frame. Not ‘tour-to-Cape Town’ comfortable but rather ‘breakfast run’ comfortable. At around R240,000 the RR offers fair value in this day and age.
And the SP? How am I going to put this in a way that you will ‘get it’? Both SP and RR are gorgeous to look at and lovely to ride. However, if these bikes were identical twin supermodels, the SP has read and applies the Kama Sutra! Everything the RR does, the SP does better. The sheer quality of the Ohlins suspension package elevates the SP to another level. The standard quickshifter is superb. Ride only the RR, especially on the road and you will probably want one. Ride the SP on a track and you will have to have one! – the extra R60000 suddenly seems small change.