The new 215bhp Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade is gunning for all-out superbike glory in 2020.
Sitting at the heart of the 2020 Fireblade isn't the V4 some were anticipating, but an all-new, ultra short-stroke inline four-cylinder 999.9cc engine with the same 81 x 48.5mm bore and stroke as the RC213V-S (the old Blade was 76 x 55mm).
It also happens to have the same bore as the 998cc Ducati Panigale V4R and makes almost the same power as the 217bhp Italian, which shows just how much Honda mean business.
The new bike has been put through its paces on the track by eight-time world champion and Honda MotoGP rider, Marc Marquez who got to try out the SP version.
"My first impression was the power, I just thought, 'wow, this is a street bike?' because even on the circuit you can really feel the power," Marquez told MCN.
"But the next thing I noticed was that even as a street bike with street tyres, the stability in the corners was incredible. Maybe it is the new aerodynamic parts, but even though the power was there the stability was impressive.
"You feel the difference with the new wings at speed. At corner exit, the anti-wheelie was working to keep the front down but in high speed corners and at top speed you can feel it.
"When you have a good aerodynamic set up on a MotoGP bike you are able to open the gas and just relax because you know the bike will follow the line. I was able to do the same with the Fireblade."
Marquez was also impressed with the relative freedom he was allowed by the new and improved electronics.
"I rode the bike in a very safe mode. Of course I like to play with the traction more on the MotoGP bike so I have the electronics set quite far because I like to have the control in my hand.
"Although the bike was in its safest mode, the electronics would cut in in a good way. Sometimes with electronics when you slide they cut in very aggressively and this creates a movement in the bike.
"But with this one I was able to lean on the electronics but also keep the slide. This was great because I was able to hold the slide for the photo but feel safe."
2020 Honda Fireblade specs
- 999.9cc inline four
- 215bhp @ 14,500rpm
- 83ftlb @ 12,500rpm
- 201kg wet
2020 Honda Fireblade: What's new?
First published 05/11/19
The motor has a new top end, including a swap to finger followers and DLC (Diamond Like Coating) cams, which reduces friction and improves durability. There is also a clever new patent-pending semi-cam gear train, which is just code for ‘shorter cam chain’.
The bottom end has been worked over too. The con-rods are now forged from a titanium alloy, the small ends are coated with Beryllium copper and the piston skirts are Teflon-coated.
All of this reduces friction, allowing Honda to rev the engine like mad and achieve the big power figures they’ve clearly been chasing for track success - it’s got a whopping 26bhp more than the outgoing model.
This obviously hasn’t been without its difficulties – the new engine has an intricate cooling system to prevent bore distortion while at high rpm the pistons are sprayed with oil to cool them down.
Helping to shovel as much air as possible into its gaping maw is a new air intake, which apparently is so direct Honda had to ditch the ignition barrel and fit a keyless system, aping the RCV213V-S.
A new exhaust features a silencer made by Akrapovic, which has been designed with a load of funky valves and pipe work. These not only push it through Euro5 without too much kicking and screaming but also help reduce the size of it by a third. Having said that, overall wet weight is up from 195kg to 201kg and some of that could be down to the extra catalysts in the exhaust.
The Blade has always handled sweetly in road trim, but as a racer Honda must have felt it needed improving. Its aluminium frame looks similar to the outgoing machine's, but its weight balance and rigidity have been revised and there's an RCV-style 30.5mm longer swingarm.
The wheelbase has been increased by a whopping 48mm for stability while the crank is further and higher from the front wheel, for a higher centre of gravity and easier high-speed turning.
The suspension is as adjustable and fiddly as you’d expect (the SP version bags you new Öhlins electric bits) while the brakes are stronger (fancy Stylemas on the SP, originally seen on the Panigale V4 in 2018). Honda has also ditched its old-school 190/50 x 17 rear tyre for a modern 200/55 for more side grip.
Already updated for the current model at the beginning of 2019, its electronics are the same for the most part with small updates. The throttle has been updated for faster response at part throttle, while launch control comes as standard.
The IMU now works across six-axis rather than five for more accurate measurements, which has allowed Honda to add ‘slip rate control'. This is just a fancy way of saying that the rear wheel losing traction as you turn (affecting the front/rear wheel diameters) no longer confuses the bike’s brain. ABS has Sport and Track modes, for the first time.
The Blade has always had the least-racy rider aids of all the superbikes, so it will be interesting to see how these new electronics will work on the track.
Honda have based the ‘inner fairing winglets’ on the aero set-up seen on its MotoGP RC213V racer. They claim the road bike’s wings provide a similar level of downforce (which will be more of a benefit at high track speeds), while also making the Blade the most aerodynamically efficient of all the superbikes out there.
The new Blade’s fairing is completely redesigned with the fuel tank now 45mm lower than previously and a new screen, replacing the ridiculously low item on the current machine, claimed to smooth out airflow over bike and rider significantly.
The lower fairing has been extended and shaped to channel air downward. This has two effects: in dry conditions, less air hits the tyre, lowering drag while in the wet, less water hits the tyre, improving grip.
To let air flow around the rider’s feet with minimum resistance the sides of the rear hugger are carefully shaped while its upper side is cut-out to vent air that channels up from underneath either side of the swingarm, decreasing rear lift. Honda claims a best-in-class drag coefficient of just 0.270.
It looks like Honda have got bored of being beaten by its rivals on road and track and have pulled out all of the stop to create a far sharper Blade.
Keep an eye on MCN for our full 2020 Honda Fireblade bike review once we've ridden it.
More from MCN
Video shows 2020 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade testing on track
First published - 25/10/2019
A video emerged online on Wednesday, 23 October, appearing to show the 2020 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade testing on track.
Lasting just 11 seconds, the short film comes in the same week as a number of still images of the disguised machine, which is decorated in a form of camouflage to hide its features.
Although no details are available, the clip does show a front end shot of the bike, potentially revealing a set of active aero wings, which are thought to be included on next year's bike.
Judging by the X-Lite helmet and Dainese leathers, complete with a nod to the late Nicky Hayden on the hump, the rider appears to be Honda test rider and former Moto2 world champion, Stephan Bradl - further suggesting this could be next year's superbike.
MCN will bring you more details about the machine as we get it.
Spied: it's the 2020 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade testing on track
First published: 23.10.19
Images have surfaced on Twitter showing what appears to be the 2020 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade undergoing back-to-back track testing with the existing 2019 Blade.
In the shots we can clearly see the bike features venting that looks consistent with active aerodynamics, which should keep the new bike's handling in check and help deliver more power to the road.
And with that in mind, while it's not clear exactly what engine is in these images, the Fireblade is due an upgrade if Honda hopes to keep up with the best in the sector - bikes like the Yamaha R1, Ducati Panigale V4 S and BMW S1000RR. The existing Fireblade SP's 189bhp is down on all of its main competition.
The bike in these pictures appears to be ridden by German Honda MotoGP test rider Stefan Bradl, judging by the 69 on the hump of the leathers, which famously pays tribute to the late Nicky Hayden.
There's no word on pricing for the new Fireblade, but we're hoping to see the new bike for the first time at the Milan motorcycle show, Eicma, in November.
Keep an eye out for more details and the 2020 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade review coming soon on MCN.
More from MCN