2024 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP review | More track-focused, faster, roomier and easier to ride

Highlights

  • 215bhp, uprated engine and gearbox
  • Split throttle bodies for smoother power
  • New-gen Öhlins suggests perfect preload settings

At a glance

Power: 215 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.7 in / 830 mm)
Weight: Medium (443 lbs / 201 kg)

Prices

New £23,499
Used £23,500

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Honda have gone to town with its new £23,499 CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP. Engine, chassis, aero and electronics upgrades have sharpened the superbike, but it has one party trick to make your head shake in disbelief.

It’s not that it’s so rapid it’s hard to get your head around, but because the inline four has two fuel injection throttle bodies instead of one. Usually, engine mods like this work away in the background unnoticed, but the system makes the Blade gurgle like a WSB racer.

From a pure entertainment point of view the unusual racket it makes when it accelerates out of a corner is magnificent. Its roomier riding position is far more pleasant if you’re tall and its clever new suspension takes all the guess work out of set-up.

2024 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP front static on stand

Gearbox ratios now make sense, the flexier chassis has more feel and brakes are no longer a weak point. It’s beautifully built and more superbike than any road rider or trackday fiend will ever need.

But Honda didn’t go to all this effort to change the Blade just for us, it’s to win races. Granted, race teams will dump the semi-active Öhlins, ABS system and upgrade the electronics, but the engine and chassis mods and most of all, the split throttles should help its chances on the track, from Superstock 1000, through to BSB and the ultimate goal of winning WSB.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
5 out of 5 (5/5)

It handles better than ever and turns with the blink-of-the-eye precision of a race bike with huge feel through the tyres. Trying to find the Blade’s limit is futile unless you’re a pro. Honda have removed internal bracing from the twin spar aluminium frame for more flex.

It’s 960grams lighter and has 17% less lateral and 15% less torsional stiffness, but it also has another trick up its sleeve that comes from the new third generation Öhlins suspension fitted to the SP (the base Blade is now dropped from the UK line-up).

As before the rebound and compression damping can be set to be semi-active or electronically adjustable and fine-tuned via the dash or pre-set through the riding modes. Now it feels even more like racing suspension with incredible support and feel through corners.

2024 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP tested for MCN by Michael Neeves

It also helps you out when it comes to setting the preload for the forks and shock. You still need to spanners to adjust them, but by telling the system how much you weigh (via the dash) it advises the precise amount of turns to add or subtract.

The suspension is set for a 75kg rider in standard trim and suggests an extra half a turn of rear preload for an 80kg Michael Neeves with leathers. The next time out on track the SP steers more crisply and the shock gives more support hard on the throttle out of corners.

The ABS system’s Standard and Track modes are joined by a new ‘Race’. Not only does it delete the lean-sensitive element of the ABS it disconnects the rear ABS and rear wheel lift function altogether.

2024 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP on track rear

With fewer electronics standing in the way of what happens when you yank on the lever, braking performance is up there with the best superbikes. Just like the power the engine makes going forward, the new Brembo Stylema R calipers are just as brutal and further test your ability to hold on, even after a handful of laps. That said the actual braking feel is still slightly spongy compared to some of the Honda’s European rivals.

16mm lower pegs and bars that are 19mm higher and 23mm closer to the rider make it easier to get on with for taller riders than the previous model and roomier to move around on track.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
5 out of 5 (5/5)

With its split throttle bodies the Honda rumbles through corners, which is frankly brilliant. The thought of it making the same noise around your local roundabout, or through town is just delicious.

Of course there’s a serious reason behind this. When you’ve got a bike with so much power you need to control it somehow and the Blade has a lot: 215bhp to be exact and even more when you fit a race pipe or tune it, which many owners and race will teams do.

The tricky bit is delivering all those bhps to the rear tyre when the bike is leant over. Soft engine mapping helps, as does traction, slide and wheelie control, but spitting the throttle bodies and having them work separately takes things a step further.

2024 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP engine

The system was developed in MotoGP and WSB but outlawed in superbikes unless the road version had them fitted. That’s why they’re now on the Blade. BMW also use split throttle bodies on their latest S1000RR, but unlike the Honda they’re only activated with a race loom and ECU. And of course, being a V4 the Ducati Panigale V4 has two throttle bodies by default.

When you turn the Blade’s twistgrip only the throttle butterflies for cylinders one and two open first. At that point it’s effectively running on two cylinders and that’s where the gurgling sound and gentle vibration comes from (nicely complimented by the pop and bang of its slick up/down quickshifter).

While it’s grumbling away the power delivery is smooth and controllable, so there’s less chance of the tyre spinning and either setting-off the traction control or slewing you sideways. Open the gas more and the other two butterflies come into effect, blending in more power and off you go at warp speed into the sunset.

2024 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP on track left side

Off the throttle the system waves its magic wand again. It cleverly balances engine braking by opening the throttle butterflies on cylinders three and four in conjunction with closing the exhaust valve. That leaves the rider free to bang down through the gears and let the electronics control any rear wheel hop.

If you want dial in more engine braking the system will facilitate that, too. On top of that there are new traction control strategies and anti-wheelie that works beautifully here on the undulating MotoGP circuit. A powerful superbike wants to take off over the rises and the fourth gear, 150mph ramp going on to the start/finish straight. The electronics reign in the power, even with the throttle wide open and the Blade’s new wings help keep the front wheel down, too.

The net result of all the electronics buddying up is the Blade is easier to ride fast. That won’t so much be music to the ears of road riders where you could only ever use a fraction of its power anyway, but it will be to hardcore trackday riders and racers in Superstock 1000. The Honda already dominates BSB’s cutthroat support class and the changes will make it quicker still. And of course, the Blade wouldn’t be pumped full of HRC tech if it wasn’t for their desire to win WSB, or BSB.

2024 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP left side static

Electronic aids are well and good, but with such blistering performance the Blade is far from a pussycat. Despite what you read in comments sections, superbikes like this don’t ride themselves. If you want to get the most out of one the simple fact is it’s hard to hang on. The first of our two 20-minute sessions here at Portimao is a blur and it’s only during the second one where the brain can make sense of it all.

On top of engine mods to bolster midrange power the gearbox ratios are shorter and that adds up to more thrust under hard acceleration. It adds extra urgency on track and should be useful on the road. The 2020 Blade had a tall first gear and little power below 6000rpm, making it more like a two-stroke to ride. The ’22 model addressed it slightly and the ’24 should feel more natural still.

2024 Honda Fireblade engine tech

Honda have thrown the kitchen sink at the engine for ’24. It makes the same 215bhp and 83lb-ft of torque, but the upgrades are designed to give it more oomph in road trim and make it come alive as a racer.

2024 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP engine

Starting at the top, the compression ratio is up from 13.4: to 13.6:1. Inlet ports are reshaped and the valve timing revised. There are new three-stage progressive oval-section valve springs, lighter, redesigned inlet valves and 20gram-lighter titanium conrods.

Moving down, the crankcase is 250g lighter and the crankshaft 450g lighter. Unlike the ’20 Blade that did a million miles an hour in first gear, the ’22 model went some way to address that problem with shorter gearing and now it’s better still. The ’24 model has shorter gearbox ratios throughout and a shorter final drive.

There are now two separate throttle bodies feeding the engine: one for cylinders 1&2 and the other for 3&4. The throttle valves in cylinders 1&2 open at low rpm for more precise control, followed by 3&4 as you ask for more power.

2024 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP left side action

When the throttle is closed on the way into a corner, 3&4 stay open and the exhaust flap closes to control engine braking. All rider modes and aids have been tweaked to suit the new engine character and gearing. Honda have also enlarged the Akrapovic end can by a litre and it’s 5dB quieter, which will be good news for trackdays where the old Blade struggled.

An HRC Race Kit is also available, containing an ECU, wiring harness, head gasket, clutch, quick release rear spindle and race exhaust.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Our online Owners’ Reviews show no major issues with this generation Blade. It’s reliable, well put together and built to last. They’re especially popular for club and Superstock 1000 racing so check for track use if buying used.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Superbikes are out of reach for all but the fortunate few nowadays. The Blade isn’t cheap but more affordable than some and its spec and performance won’t leave you feeling short changed.

The ‘special’ rivals include: £21,300 Aprilia RSV4 Factory, £18,610 BMW S1000RR Sport, £27,995 Ducati Panigale V4 S, £25,799 Kawasaki ZX-10RR, £24,660 Yamaha R1 M.

2024 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP right front static

Equipment

5 out of 5 (5/5)

No longer is the poor relation to European superbikes, it’s as well equipped as the best of them with semi-active Öhlins suspension, Brembo Stylema R calipers and electronics including adjustable riding modes, an up/down quickshifter and traction/wheelie/engine braking/wheelie control.

It also has new wings that are positioned further forward. Honda says there’s 10% less yaw movement, making it less effort to turn through fast corners. The bellypan extends to smooth air over rear tyre and the Fuel tank capacity rises from 16.1 to 16.5 litres.

It’s reshaped to help the rider grip better with their knees under braking and cornering. Honda claim 42mpg and a 153-mile range.

2024 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP TFT dash

Specs

Engine size 1000cc
Engine type Liquid cooled 16v inline four
Frame type Aluminium twin spar
Fuel capacity 16.5 litres
Seat height 830mm
Bike weight 201kg
Front suspension 43mm Öhlins forks, semi-active damping, electronically adjustable preload
Rear suspension Single Öhlins shock, semi-active damping, electronically adjustable preload
Front brake 2 x 330mm discs with four-piston Brembo Stylema R radial calipers. Cornering ABS
Rear brake 220mm disc with two-piston Brembo caliper. Cornering ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 200/55 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 42 mpg
Annual road tax £117
Annual service cost -
New price £23,499
Used price £23,500
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 215 bhp
Max torque 83 ft-lb
Top speed 186 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 153 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2020 – Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP launched. A new direction for the Japanese superbike. Short stroke 214bhp engine, revised IMU-controlled rider aids and colour dash, a new longer-wheelbase chassis, bodywork, keyless ignition and MotoGP-inspired wings. SP comes with semi-active Öhlins and Brembo Stylema calipers.

2022: Updated with shorter gearing, smoother traction control and quickshifter settings, reshaped airbox and intake ports, shorter intake trumpets for middle cylinders, lighter throttle return spring. Also 30th Anniversary version available featuring 1992-inspired paintjob, 30th Anniversary logos and ‘Ring of Fire’ dash animation on start-up screen.

2024: Same power and torque, but HRC-developed engine upgrades for extra grunt and more tuneable for race teams. Split throttle bodies, shorter gearbox ratios, quieter exhaust can, uprated brakes and electronic suspension, featuring electronically adjustable preload. More spacious riding position, bigger fuel tank, revised aero and wings.

Other versions

£26,749 Honda CBR-1000RR-R Fireblade SP Carbon Edition. Limited 300 run (numbered) with 45 coming to UK. Carbon hugger, wings, fairing sides, bellypan, mudguard, tank cover.

MCN Long term test reports

MCN Fleet: The Honda Fireblade SP finds a permanent home

MCN Fleet: The Honda Fireblade SP finds a permanent home

Maybe it’s the ‘Lockdown Effect’, or perhaps it’s what’s known as a mid-life crisis (they’re not just for men, you know?) But whatever the reason, the result is I’m now the proud co-owner of a 2020 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP. My time with MCN’s long-term test Fireblade has basically been a ve

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