Our world first test of the 2009 Honda Fireblade against the 2009 Yamaha R1 is taking place in the South of France right now.
We took the first bikes in the country, strapped them in a van and drove down through Europe in search of biking nirvana.
We made it to the Route Napoleon in the Cote D’Azur to ride the bikes on dry roads and get some decent mileage under the belts of the new bikes so we could bring you the news first.
The new crossplane crank R1 is one of the most eagerly awaited bikes of the year, and so far our testers reckon it could be edging the FireBlade as the new sports bike of the year.
The Honda Fireblade is pretty much unchanged from last year except for the addition of the best paint scheme in motorcycling. The new HRC colours have got to be paintscheme of the year.
But despite the lack of changes (ABS is now an option), the FireBlade offers sublime handling and one of the best sports bike engines ever made.
Our early reports from our man Neeves who’s out in France suggest the R1 has the edge.
Direct from France, Neevesey said: “The Yamaha is like a Ducati on the throttle, a two-stroke off the throttle and a mad R1 when flat out.”
We’ll bring you more news on these two bikes as it happens. For the full story don’t forget to buy MCN on sale next Wednesday.