Frame, swingarm and Ohlins semi-active suspension is identical to the SP, but the lightweight forged aluminium Marchesini wheels make all the difference to agility and steering lightness on the road and track. The SP2 goes and stops like it should, doesn’t miss gears, goes like stink and handles like Blades always have. It’s pointy, but stable and has more than a feel of RCV DNA coursing through its veins. The low screen and high pegs take their toll on a tall rider s eventually, but the SP2 is so refined, smooth and light the cockpit is an easy place to be for hours on end.
The 189bhp, 999cc inline four-cylinder motor is based on the SP and base model and has the same power, but the motor’s top end is more robust, ready for tuning. It has stronger pistons, more room in the cylinder head for high-lift cams (à la ZX-0RR), revised shape and angle intake valves (1mm bigger) and exhaust valves (1.5mm bigger), elongated spark plugs and like the RCV213V MotoGP machine, a new water jacket wraps itself around the reshaped combustion chambers.
Free-revving and packed with lots of usable grunt and power the SP2 may not have headline-grabbing bhp figures, but its power-to-weight ratio is formidable. But a loud standard exhaust means you’ll only be welcome on the noisiest of trackdays.
Road bikes are completely different to competition machines, of course, so some of the problems plagued by Honda’s high-profile racers at the beginning of their development don’t live here. Gear changes are crisp and throttle response consistent and predictable.
Honda’s ‘Torque Control’, fitted to the whole Blade range, trims power when you slide or wheelie on the road. It activates once and then releases its electronic grip, assuming the rider would have let off too. That’s fine for the road, but means on the track you can’t ‘lean’ on the electronics like you can with the best traction and wheelie control systems.
You get around this by fitting sticky tyres, so you don’t set the electronics off in the first place, or turn the Torque Control right down, or off.
Build quality and attention to detail is flawless, as you’d expect from a flagship Honda sportsbike and it’s all topped-off with that classy HRC paintjob. The Blade has been around long enough now for mechanical problems to have been ironed out, so don’t expect any nasty surprises.
The exclusive SP2 only costs two grand more than the standard SP, but it could arguably be more special, in the spirit of the homologation superbike specials of the late 80s and 90s. But Honda have thrown the kitchen sink at it anyway, so what more could you actually want?
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Lightweight wheels aside the SP2 has the same generous level of equipment as the SP, so there’s Ohlins, Brembo, torque, traction and engine braking control, an up/down quickshifter and riding modes.