Up front the fully adjustable big piston Showa fork feels superb, and the cornering ABS that’s the same as the SP means you can trail the brakes deep into the turn. The front is excellent, as is mid-corner grip. Just because this is the base Blade you shouldn’t think this a poor tribute band and not the real thing – it is, it’s just missing the clever easier to adjust and navigate Öhlins semi-active suspension of the SP model.
Rake and trail remain 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.
The standard Blade and SP share an identical engine. To seek out every last ounce of performance the Honda engineers have had to work ovetime. 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 refelcts 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 onboard 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 £15,225 it’s a significant price jump in price from the old model, which now makes it one of the most expensive ‘standard’ 1000cc superbikes on the market. The price can be justifed though, as it’s also a big jump over the old bike, and is now littered with rider aids.
The previous model Blade was lacking any rider aids, but Honda have rectified this with a bucket load of electronics to help riders 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. The quickshifter/autoblipper is an optional extra on the stock model.