Honda Fireblade SP in the PS driving report

Honda Fireblade SP in the PS driving report

The best Fireblade ever?

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According to the motto "Good things take time" Honda finally brings the new Fireblade. The manufacturer is burning off a whole firework of technology in the SP version of the superbike. We are facing the best blade of all time?

E.The morning silence in the pit lane of the Portuguese Autódromo Internacional do Algarve breaks into a hard and aggressive sound. Wow, quite a powerful voice for a motorcycle that is subject to the restrictive Euro 4 regulations. The new Honda Fireblade, known internally as the SC77, sounds aggressive! While the Honda slowly warms up in idle and the tire warmers bring the Bridgestone slicks (V02 in a soft compound mixture) to operating temperature, there is time for a meticulous tour of the slim thousands. The processing quality is apparently at the highest level. Regardless of whether it is about weld seams on the frame or the accuracy of the gap dimensions. Nothing wobbles or rattles, everything is spotless!

Honda Fireblade SP in the PS driving report

The best Fireblade ever?

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Video: First impression of the new Honda Fireblade in Portimao

Honda Fireblade SP with titanium tank

In the noble SP version, the Fireblade presents itself as a single-seater in HRC colors with golden wheels, the latest generation of semi-active Ohlins chassis and monoblock brake calipers from Brembo. The standard equipment includes an automatic switch with a blipper function. In the light of lightweight construction, the Honda Fireblade SP has a titanium tank that is supposed to help save 1.3 kilograms in weight compared to the aluminum component of the standard version. A lightweight lithium-ion battery pushes the weight further. When fully fueled, the Honda Fireblade SP should only collect 195 kilograms. With the help of a set of scales in the pit lane, we can check the information: it is correct. Overall, the mass reduction compared to the previous model amounts to a whopping 15 kilos. From a purely visual point of view, the machine looks well-trained, wiry and as if it were made from one piece. In addition, 90 percent of the most important components are completely new. The engineers and developers scraped off the pounds at every nook and cranny. In the end, even with shorter bolts, screws and thinner plastic, wherever possible.

Looks balanced through and through

The optical lightness of the super sports car is reflected in the driving behavior. Other machines of this caliber are sometimes brutal on the demanding course of Portimão, straining the pilot’s nerves and sucking the power out of the muscles. Not so with the Honda Fireblade SP. It offers its driver a neutral seating position, arrows lightly through the combination of curves and looks balanced through and through. Interestingly, the technicians kept the chassis geometry data of the previous model of steering head angle and caster one-to-one. However, the rigidity of the main frame was minimized by slightly thinner frame walls (minus 500 grams). The result is a ten percent improvement in flex behavior, which should be beneficial to the driving experience when shooting at the limit. In contrast to the previous model, the weight of the aluminum swing arm was also reduced by 100 grams, but the rigidity is higher. The rear frame was completely redesigned. It weighs 800 grams less and, like the new titanium exhaust system (minus 2.3 kilograms), helps centralize the masses.

Chassis offers endless adjustment options

After getting to know each other for the first time, it can be praised that the overall package of the Honda Fireblade SP consisting of chassis construction, semi-active Ohlins suspension and slick tires (the machine rolls on Bridgestone RS 10 or Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP as standard) works very satisfactorily. The chassis alone offers endless adjustment options. Configured appropriately, it can do even more than previous semi-active systems from other manufacturers. It knows three semi-active or automatic modes (A1, A2 and A3) as well as three manual (M1, M2, M3), which work conventionally with "clicks". In the semi-active modes there is the possibility of influencing the damping behavior depending on the situation (the submenus for this are called General, Brake, Corner and Acceleration) on a scale from minus five to plus five.

For example, after a few fast laps, we notice that the Honda Fireblade SP is fed up and, despite the minimalist wheelbase, also shows high cornering stability. But sometimes the SP twitches briefly with the handlebars when switching quickly from one deep lean angle to the next if a shift comes in at an inconvenient moment. The perfectly functioning electronic steering damper HESD gets the situation under control immediately, but the phenomenon still occurs briefly and annoyingly. We therefore set the damping of the general setup in A1 mode to a higher level – the unrest in the front disappears when it is folded. A little less damping in acceleration mode increases the grip on the rear wheel when accelerating out. A little less damping in brake mode means that the Honda Fireblade SP turns more readily on the brakes and makes tighter turns.

How about the power?

After a 45-minute, wild session, the running image on the rear tire looks tip-top and absolutely even. It’s great how the system works from the first impression. Driving out an optimal setup is definitely worth it, but it requires a lot of effort and will certainly keep us busy in future PS tests. In general, the mechanical components of the Swedish chassis (NIX30 fork, TTX36 suspension strut) work fine and simply swallow bumps. At one point on the course there is a nasty edge lurking in an uphill passage in the middle of the compression, which is taken in a juicy angle. No problem for the Honda Fireblade SP, the machine stays calmly on track. But what about the power? With a nominal 192 hp peak power, Honda was able to improve the power-to-weight ratio of the SC77 by 14 percent compared to the previous model. For those interested in history: Compared to the original Fireblade from 1992, the increased power-to-weight ratio corresponds to an increase of 65 percent.

The SC77 takes over the bore / stroke ratio from the previous model. The well-known engine was equipped with a new crankshaft, different cam profiles and valve timing for higher maximum speeds of up to 13,000 rpm. Revised pistons allow higher compression. There is also a completely new intake system with throttle valves two millimeters larger. The water cooler, including cooling hoses and clamps, is narrower and lighter. Magnesium parts such as the engine cover and oil pan also reduce the weight of the inline four.

From 7,500 rpm at the latest, the Honda Fireblade SP swings the war club and marches tightly, definitely more powerful than the previous model. The deep, hard sound at high speeds turns you on! Before the braking zone at the end of the start / finish straight, the wind pulls the driver at a good 280 km / h according to the speedometer. Crouching away behind the puny windshield is the order of the day.

In the opinion of Honda, it is not brute power that makes a superbike successful, but its rideability. For this purpose, the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer developed an electronics package under the motto “Next Step Total Control”, which in part uses the technology of the RC 213 V-S Production Racer. The basis for this is an IMU with five-axis gyro sensors from Bosch. The flood of assistance systems consists of the nine-stage traction control HSTC (Honda Selectable Torque Control), which can be switched off, a wheelie control that works depending on this, three firmly defined riding modes (track, winding and street) and two freely configurable user modes. Power, traction control and electronic engine braking can be combined as desired in the user modes. E-gas and ABS with lean angle and rear wheel lift detection (cannot be switched off) are also part of the game. What may sound like complicated handling, Honda has put into a well thought-out system with easy-to-understand menu navigation using just three switches on the left end of the handlebar. Well done!

The gearshift assistant also deserves recognition. The blipper works great in the Honda Fireblade SP! The control behavior of the traction control is usually fine on track. On the other hand, the wheelie control lets the front wheel rise so far over hilltops that the driver prefers to slow down the gas himself. The response behavior gives cause for criticism. At first, the throttle-by-wire should implement the command more smoothly when the gas is pulled up.

If you look at the price, 22,590 euros are not a stick-out, but still almost a thousand flakes less than Yamaha calls for an R1M. As long as we haven’t been able to try out any of the 500-piece limited SP2 models, the new Honda Fireblade SP definitely deserves the title "Best Blade ever"!

Ohlins Smart EC system


Honda CBR 1000 RR Fireblade SP.

SP chassis: Over the past three years, Ohlins and Honda worked closely together to develop the chassis for the Fireblade SP and the SP2, which is limited to 500 pieces. The hardware consists of a NIX30 fork and a TTX36 shock absorber, the damping valves for the rebound and compression stages are controlled by mini servomotors. The five-axis gyro sensors provide the necessary data every ten milliseconds. A1, A2 and A3 as well as M1, M2 and M3 are the names of the programs in which the chassis works. Levels A1, A2, A3 take into account the track, winding or street premise and automatically change the damping (semi-active). In addition, the damping in each A mode can be preset on a scale from minus five to plus five for a specific driving situation, thus influencing the behavior of the machine. These presets are called General, Brake, Corner and Acceleration. M1 to M3 are manual modes. Here, the damping setting works conventionally via "electronic clicks".

Standard Fireblade

It can also be cheaper. The standard Honda Fireblade costs EUR 17,990 at least EUR 4,600 less than the SP version. In addition to the red version, there is another one in a matt black shade. The wheels of both standard versions are black. The main differences to the more expensive SP sister relate to the chassis, brakes, tank and tires. The Fireblade contains a conventional, fully adjustable BPF fork from Showa and a fully adjustable shock absorber from the same manufacturer. Tokico contributes the brake calipers and the tank is not made of titanium like the SP, which is why the RR weighs an extra kilo (196). In addition, the single double R in the original equipment rolls on Bridgestone S 21 tires in size 190/50. The Japanese give “weight” as the reason for the 50 cross-section.

The RR and the SP version share the motor and electronics package with full adjustment options, from traction and wheelie control to the electronic motor brake. Only the automatic switch has to be ordered separately.

The Fireblade also collects plus points in handling. The compact machine sweeps through the curves with super light feet. The RR rider still has to accept significant compromises when it comes to the chassis. As expected, the Showa spring elements respond less sensitively than the electronic Ohlins suspension of the SP, and the RR is less full. Whether it always has to be the high-end product for pure country road use is another question.

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