The SP comes with clever semi-active Öhlins suspension. The system is so simple to use and can be adjusted in four main settings: General, Brake, Corner and Acceleration. Within each of these categories displayed on the full colour dash you can change to plus 5 or minus 5. For example if you want improved braking support you add, if you require better acceleration add again. Or if you want less, then simply select less – and if you muck it up completely, you can revert to the standard Honda settings. Corner mode helps the bike through fast direction changes; again you can go plus and minus. You can change these settings whilst on road or track without having to stop.
And for those who still want to adjust conventional compression and re-bound, Honda have created three standard modes; M1 Track, M2 Winding and M3 Street. You can add and reduce compression and rebound in 5% increments, and again there is a default setting if you get it wrong. But if you’re in the manual mode the suspension is more conventional and not semi-active, but can be changed electronically on the move by the rider.
Rake and trail are 23°/96mm but the hollow die-cast twin-spar aluminium frame’s rigidity balance has been significantly adjusted to improve steering response, feel and stability. The frame walls have been thinned to deliver a 500g weight saving, rigidity is unchanged, the frame is 10% more flexible compared to the old model.
The standard Blade and SP share an identical engine. To seek out every last ounce of performance the Honda engineers have had to work overtime. The result is an additional 11bhp compared to the outgoing model, the loss of 2kg and raised rev ceiling to 13,000rpm, 750rpm higher than previously. Peak power is now a claimed 189bhp @ 12,500rpm, with peak torque of 81.79ftlb @ 10,500rpm. Bore and stroke remain at 76 x 55.1mm, but the compression ratio is up from 12.3:1 to 13:1. The 2017 Blade is the first inline four-cylinder engine from Honda to use a Throttle by Wire control and is driven by an Acceleration Position Sensor integrated into the right handlebar switchgear.
The build quality and finish reflects the relatively high price tag. Take the very clever clocks, for example. Like the RC213V-S, the Fireblade uses a full-colour TFT liquid crystal dash that automatically adjusts to ambient light and features three display modes; Street, Circuit and Mechanic – so you can choose what you see. Street mode displays riding modes, plus the settings for Power, HSTC, Selectable Engine Brake and Suspension. The on-board computer calculates instantaneous and average fuel economy, trip fuel consumption, average speed and time after last ignition plus remaining fuel after RES light and more. Circuit mode adds a lap timer, number of laps and difference from the best lap, while Mechanic mode displays the digital tacho, gear position, grip angle, coolant temperature and battery voltage.
At £19,125 is a big some of money for the most advanced Blade ever.
Semi-active suspension comes as standard on the SP. Additionally over the standard model there’s also a quickshifter/autoblipper as standard, and Brembo radial calipers replace the Tokico items on the stock bike. The fuel tank is still 16litres, but for the SP it’s constructed in titanium (rather than steel) saving a further 1kg. The now old Blade was lacking any rider aids but Honda has rectified this with a bucket load of electronics to aid the rider on the road and race track. As with many other models on the market, information is gathered from a five axis IMU which measures exactly what the bike is doing. The IMU works in partnership with the 9-level Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) which precisely manages rear wheel traction via the FI-ECU and Throttle By Wire (TBW). The new Bosch ABS braking (also managed by the IMU) offers Rear Lift Control (RLC) and Wheelie Control. On paper this is an impressive array of rider aids, but there is more: There are three rider modes, five levels of power delivery, three levels of wheelie control and three levels of engine braking.