Interview: Fireblade Firebrand

Honda’s CBR1000RR project leader reveals all about new Blade.

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As Honda unveiled their stunning new Fireblade SP and SP2 in Cologne last week, MCN grabbed Masatoshi Sato, Project Leader for the revitalised superbike, to get under the skin of the bike’s development. 

MCN: Why was now the right time to totally overhaul the Fireblade?

MS: “From 2008 we have been making steady progress through a series of regular upgrades. However after its last update in 2014 we needed to think how to bring it up to the next level and what we actually wanted to do with the next generation of Fireblade. On the race track our results weren’t where we wanted them to be and so we knew we needed a radical evolution to bring it up to the next stage of performance.” 

MCN: Traditionally the Blade has avoided electronics – why the complete change of thinking for the new bike?

MS: “A large part of taking the Fireblade to the next stage meant making it a lot lighter, but also an equally important part was to bring the electronics in. When we thought about how to make the bike even more enjoyable to ride we thought the time was right to bring in electronics in such a way they support the rider without interfering too much in the riding experience.”

MCN: How has the Fireblade SP’s weight loss been achieved?

MS: “We have taken 15kg off the bike in total. Some was lost through changes to the ABS, but also the titanium silencer, titanium tank and battery. But that is only half, the other half is about redesigning and lightening virtually every single part of the bike. Fasteners, nuts, bolts, even the drive chain is now lighter, we went through and redesigned almost every component.”

MCN: Why hasn’t the Blade got 200bhp?

MS: “If we decided to make a bike with 300bhp we could. If we wanted to make one with 200bhp we could. But to be honest, you couldn’t use a 300bhp bike and people can’t use all of 200bhp! What aspect of a bike do you feel the first time you lean it over? Its agility. A 15kg weight reduction makes a bike that is far more fun than a bike with 300bhp. We are convinced this new Blade will be far more fun than if we had just been fixated on a power number in order to simply match rivals.”

MCN: What was the hardest part of the project to realise?

MS: “From a technical aspect, working with titanium to make the silencer and fuel tank was very hard, but overall the hardest part was getting over the effects of the earthquake in Japan. In April this year the factory and R&D area was hit and had to overcome a huge amount of damage to get the Blade project back on track. It was a massive achievement by the whole team.”

MCN: We have seen the SP and SP2, where is the standard model Fireblade?

MS: “Please give us one month, then you will know…”

Read more on MCN's Intermot coverage here.


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Jon Urry

By Jon Urry

MCN contributor, original 916 & R1-owner, human labrador