Test: TT Legends World Endurance Championship Honda Fireblade
TT Legends factory Honda Fireblade in the test
TT legend John McGuinness hardly drives on normal racetracks anymore, but since 2011 the 19-time Isle of Man champion has been pulling hard on the cable in the endurance world championship as well. PS drove his Honda Fireblade test.
Oschersleben, pit exit. Even before it rolls onto the slopes, the McGuinness Fireblade almost lands in the guardrail! The tester almost missed the left turn that leads to the circuit, because the Blade needs quite clear steering impulses to bend. A quirk that you definitely have to get used to. Things go better after a few corners, man and machine have adjusted to each other. The tactic: shift your weight before bending, literally heave on the handlebars and press the thigh on the outside of the curve against the side.
But one thing is already clear after a few laps: the drivers of the Honda TT Legends factory team, led by figurehead John McGuinness, which has been racing in the Endurance World Championship since 2011, must be made of particularly hard wood if they are to use the blade for up to 24 hours in five missions beat the various courses.
Öhlins SG fork, Nissin stopper, quick-change device for the front wheel: there are many special parts on the long-distance Fireblade.
One reason for the energy-sapping affair is certainly the tires. "In the World Endurance Championship, we have a special rear tire in the size 210 / 50-16.5", reveals a Dunlop technician. "That costs some handling, but the advantages outweigh the rest: more stability on the tire wall, more self-damping, more contact area. All in all, this increases security." In fact, the long-distance racer gives a lot of feedback when sloping and when powering out of the arches. In addition, it no longer seems so bulky and purposefully follows the targeted line.
The fact that the Endurance Honda is still a real men’s motorcycle is also evident when braking. In order to fold it properly, the pilot has to pull hard on the lever. The team rides with surfaces that they only change once in a 24-hour race. The rock-hard pads go to work accordingly cautiously. The normal can just manage to brake hard with two fingers. Guys like McGuinness do this to one: "all a matter of getting used to", thinks the Englishman." Logo, who thunders at up to 310 km / h over a lap of more than 60 kilometers on an island, holds the record there with an average speed of 212 km / h and with 19 victories the second-best brand in the more than 100-year history of the Isle of Man the load would probably stop with a bite on the brake discs!
TT Legends Honda Fireblade: Mandatory headlights, along with control units, electronics, expansion tank.
This exercise is carried out by the racing ABS brake system developed over several years. Honda TT Legends is the only team in the World Cup to use an anti-lock braking system. According to the manufacturer, it is now so mature that even the latest late brakes do not slow down better – not even when dry. And in the wet, the drivers are already vastly superior. "The system works so precisely that it does not regulate at all on routes with a lot of grip", explains a brake technician. In fact, neither journalists nor regular drivers made the indicator light blink. However, the system is not suitable for street bikes – Honda cannot rule out a rollover in extreme cases.
The same applies when accelerating for the back somersault. No wonder, because a vehicle with around 200 hp will automatically lift the front wheel sooner or later when the shower is open. Despite the lack of wheelie control, the wheelie inclination is within pleasant limits. The perfect power development of the motor with a strong center and very homogeneous rising punch also contributes to this.
TT Legends Honda Fireblade: fuel drum with quick tank device. Capacity: 24 liters.
In addition, the drive runs very smoothly. This is exactly how a long-distance propellant has to work: sufficient pressure, served in a way that is easy on nerves and strength. "Many series parts work in the engine", explains the chief technician, "we prefer to forego some performance and thus gain reliability." Another advantage: The Blade uses significantly less fuel than the competition. This saves the team two pit stops when working 24 hours a day, which means that it saves more than a minute of time. With the tip, which is often close together, it’s a small world.
The sitting position on the bike, on the other hand, is great cinema. Especially the stubs, which are turned far forward, take a lot of getting used to. The pilot holds the handlebars of the Honda like horns when riding a wild bull. Nevertheless, this is a compromise with the colleagues, because the TT-Champ would like to have the steering stubs even further ahead. As I said, the boys are tough as iron. Then a Guinness!
John McGuinness, now 40 years old, has just won his 19th TT.
Interview with John McGuinness
How does the driving style differ in a road race like the TT and a real racetrack??
With the TT you ride much more smoothly, you let the bike run more. In addition, you don’t have to hit your irons so hard there, you don’t bank as much and you don’t accelerate out of corners as strongly as on a circuit. Exceptions are two or three places along the entire route. To be really fast at the TT, you also need at least three years of experience.
What are the differences between the TT and the circuit Fireblade?
My TT-Honda has a higher disc, lower footrests and steering stubs that are turned further forward. That makes them very comfortable for me. It also has a little more power. It only has to survive a racing pace of just under two hours; at the World Endurance Championship it is up to 24. In addition, the gear ratio on the TT bike is much longer at 320 km / h. Thanks to a thumb brake, I can also keep both feet behind the fairing. And the spring elements are a little softer. However, because the fork and shock absorber puncture more often on the TT, they must not be too soft.
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