Last month Honda unveiled two stunning new Fireblades, the SP and SP-2, which left us asking the obvious question: where’s the standard version? Well, here’s the answer.
This is the bike MCN grabbed spy shots of two months ago, clearly boasting non semi-active suspension, and a black painted frame and swingarm. It looked like a decent evolution, but inspired many to shout about there being too few changes, despite many significant ones being rather obvious.
- Entry-level Fireblade
- 9-level traction control
- Showa BPF & BFRC suspension
- Three rider modes
- Full-colour TFT dash
- Seat height 832mm
There’s a lot to go at, even in this more standard form – with 90% of the 2017 model being brand new. Power to weight ratio is improved by 14% – reaching the best level ever for the Fireblade thanks to a 15kg weight reduction and 10.7bhp power boost. It’s also equipped with a plethora of electronics that were so obviously missing from previous Blades. Central to the system is the 5-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), which measures exactly what the machine is doing, in every plane. It works the 9-level Honda Selectable Torque Control traction control (HSTC) that 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 – all dragging the Blade into this decade.
And that’s not all. There’s a frankly dazzling amount of settings to choose from, with three rider modes, five levels of power delivery, three levels of wheelie control, and three levels of engine braking control. Thankfully you can make simple selections that allow you to ride away in under 15 minutes, too.
Like the RC213V-S the Fireblade uses a full-colour TFT liquid crystal dash to clearly communicate information to the rider. It automatically adjusts to ambient light, and features three modes: Street, Circuit and Mechanic, each with the information most relevant for that particular usage.
There are three preset riding Modes, Track, Winding, and Street that offer different combinations of HSTC, Engine Power and Engine Braking level. Track mode gives full power, with linear throttle response, and low HSTC and EB intervention. Winding mode controls output through first to third gear, with fairly moderate power increase, medium HSTC and strong EB. Street mode controls output through first to fourth gear, with moderate power increase, high HSTC and strong EB. In the two USER modes all parameters can be combined and adjusted to the rider’s preferences.
Chassis-wise, thinned frame walls save 300g, and while transverse rigidity is unchanged, the frame is 10% more flexible in the torsional plane, which is claimed to give a faster-reacting chassis. Yaw moment of inertia has been reduced by 15%, and roll moment of inertia by10%. In other words, it’s more flickable – while the Honda Electronic Steering Damper (HESD) makes sure it never gets too lively at the bars.
It may be devoid of the SP and SP2’s top-end suspenders, but there’s nothing to bemoan about the Showa 43mm Big Piston Fork or Balance Free Rear Cushion shock on this base model Blade. Both offer fully adjustable spring preload, rebound and compression damping, and we know from experience that both are highly capable units.
There’s no Brembo here, but the front end hosts a pair of new Tokico four-piston opposed radial mounted brake calipers, and the aluminium wheels are a new five Y-shape design, being 120/70 R17 up front, and 190/50 R17 at the rear.
Peak power is 189bhp at 13,000rpm, with peak torque of 85.6ftlb. All lighting is LED, with the twin front headlights offering high/low beam on both sides.
For all the mind-boggling options available with the new Blade, it’s odd that this Victory Red and black paintscheme appears to be the only one on offer – thankfully, it’s rather nice, and slightly redolent of the Honda Britain design of the late 1970s.
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