Press Launches

By Roland Brown

July 3, 2017

Fireblade Tech

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Honda claims that 90 per cent of major components are fresh to this Fireblade, including much of the 999 cc engine, which is shared by the standard RR and the SP. Pistons, crankshaft, cams, valves and the cylinder head casting are all new. A new piston crown design allows an increased compression ratio of 13:1, compared to 12.3:1. Revised valve lift and timing allow the 16-valve unit to rev 750 rpm higher, to 13,000 rpm.

The intake system is also overhauled, featuring bigger throttle bodies, a reshaped airbox and a new four-into-two-into-one exhaust with a lightweight titanium muffler. Magnesium cam cover, sump and side covers help reduce the engine’s weight by two kg. There’s also a redesigned slipper clutch that weighs less and requires reduced lever pressure.

Basic chassis layout is unchanged, but the aluminium twin-spar frame’s thinner walls reduce weight by 500 grams, and the updated design allows 10 per cent more torsional flex, which Honda says gives a quicker-reacting chassis. A new aluminum rear subframe saves a further 800 grams, while Honda’s Electronic Steering Damper (HESD) ensures that flex doesn’t create unwanted instability.

Suspension is by Showa 43 mm Big Piston Fork up front, and the same firm’s similarly multi-adjustable Balance Free Rear Cushion shock. The front brake combines 320 mm discs with Tokico four-piston radial calipers, and incorporates Bosch’s cornering ABS in place of Honda’s heavier C-ABS system.

It’s in those suspension and brake components that the SP model differs most notably. In place of the Showas it gets Öhlins Smart-EC semi-active suspension, while the Tokico front calipers are replaced by Brembo’s radial Monoblocs. A titanium (instead of steel) fuel tank and lithium-ion battery instead of lead acid save weight to make the SP a kilo lighter despite its fancier systems. Alongside the suspension it also gets the two-way quickshifter that is an accessory for the standard ’Blade.