Mini - Review
My current sports/tourer, the Suzuki GSX-1250FA motorcycle is great to ride and it cuts through the wind and rain on the motorway like a knife through butter but it lacks that 'full on' sports handling on the twisty roads, especially as it weighs in at a hefty 257kg with a basic suspension system. My bike delivers 108Nm peak torque at 3,700rpm so it is a very fast motorcycle, especially if you drop her into 2nd gear at around 30mph and let her loose.
The 2016 Honda Fireblade SP ABS weighs in at 210kg and is a fantastic looking bike, especially in tri-colour with gold wheel rims. The other day (8th April 2016) I had the opportunity to take out the Fireblade SP for a test ride which was totally awesome except for a couple of wrinkles.
The seating position on the Fireblade was ideal for a super sports bike with my knees forced upwards and tucked in against the tank sides but it would have been nice if it had a couple of Tech Spec SS Snakeskins fitted to the tank sides to stop my knees from slipping forward during heavy braking. The brakes were fierce with massive stopping power at high speeds using a couple of fingers slightly pulling on the front brake lever.
The handling and cornering grip of the Fireblade was par excellence and the throttle control and engine braking proved faultless although the acceleration only became 'full on' alive at around 5,000 revs when I felt that 'sudden' massive surge as the bike rocketed forward. However, the throttle control when moving off proved a serious problem for me in comparison to my own motorcycle. I was told by the Honda Rep' that the throttle of the Fireblade was standard cable for the first small section of use and the main part thereafter was electronic. Well, I just could not get the hang of it, I must have stalled the bike about 5 or 6 times during the test ride because every time I 'slowly' moved off, I was struggling to get the feel from the throttle due to that unresponsive cable section. Anyway, by the end of the test ride, I was starting to get the hang of it.
During the winter and in preparation for test riding sports motorcycles, I have been exercising to strengthen my back muscles, especially the lower back. The Fireblade was the first super sports motorcycle that I have ever ridden and it proved interesting. The stock seat was very comfortable and even after 40 minutes on all sorts of road, my rear did not feel sore in the slightest. My lower back was fine but in-between my shoulder blades was starting to hurt and my wrists were sore. I admit I was fairly tense riding the Fireblade as that £1,000 insurance excess for accidental damage was at the back of my mind and when heavy braking my knees could not get a grip of the tank, so my wrists, arms and shoulders took most of the G forces.
The excellent handling of the Fireblade cannot be overstated because even without traction control the tyres (dry road test) stuck like glue. At one point, I entered a corner at around 60mph and suddenly saw potholes and gravel on most of my half of the road. I immediately moved over to hug the centre line whilst maintaining my speed and the bike went round the corner on my side of the line like it was on rails. The Fireblade was easy to flick around which brought a huge smile to my face but I could see how the bike could encourage you to become too confident.
If you open the throttle, the Fireblade SP exhaust has that gorgeous roar which rises to a crescendo when passing vehicles, especially on country roads. It is not over the top but no matter how fast you go in those higher revs, the exhaust note keeps up with you. When cruising in lower revs in higher gearing, the exhaust note is relatively quiet and certainly does not spoil a gentle cruise through the countryside. The Fireblade is delivering it's peak torque of 114Nm at 10,500rpm but it is still able to cruise along in 6th gear at relatively slow speeds. I expected the Fireblade to be 'low gear hungry' due to the torque peak but this was not the case and boy the sheer joy when you drop down the gears and open her up beyond 5,000 rpm.
The build of the Fireblade is in a different league to many of the motorcycles I have ridden so that renowned Honda build quality is well founded. The controls are well placed as you would expect and the instrument panel and the manual gear shifting was effortless, up and down the box at all speeds and acceleration. I honestly cannot fault the Fireblade SP and although it may be slightly below the performance of the new and emerging super sports motorcycles, I cannot see why you would require any more performance on public roads.
The 2016 Honda Fireblade SP ABS motorcycle costs a hefty £14,499.00 vat inclusive in the UK and I would shell out some extra cash for slide 'crash' protection which could take the overall cost to nearer £15,000.
I still have a few super sports motorcycles to test but the new 2016 Fireblade SP will prove hard to beat.
It is extremely unlikely (in my old age) that I will be purchasing the the Fireblade for racing on the track. However for those who might, Honda make a bold statement - "The new CBR1000RR Fireblade SP takes the Total Control philosophy and re-engineers it for the track. By adding Öhlins front and rear suspension, Brembo mono-block front brakes, a single seat unit and unique Tricolour livery it creates an exclusive machine focused purely on cutting lap times – nothing else".