The wait is over. I recently attended the world launch of the new Fireblade at Portimao to test out Honda’s latest heavily updated for 2017 offering.
I personally have been waiting for the new model Fireblade for a few years now and I know from the reception the bike has had across social media and the web in general, it has been highly anticipated and welcomed by many people.
I am pleased to report it has been worth the wait, what a bike Honda has built. The new Blade still feels like a Blade, it still has the characteristics of a blade, but now it’s on a new level, the bike feels much smaller between your legs, it turns unbelievable and the power increase is noticeable straight away.
The Fly-by-Wire has smoothed the engine out and the electronic aids are a nice addition, it just feels right when you are out on track. I had a massive smile on my face after my first exit because I knew straight away that this bike is what we have been waiting for.
I started the day on the standard RR model with road tyres and to be honest I have never been massively comfortable on road bikes on road tyres at the track, but I had an absolute ball on this machine.
The connection I had with the throttle and ass to seat connection was something I haven’t had on road going bikes before. The electronic aids were noticeable straight away, the anti-wheelie and torque control where evident from the start and for a system on a bike you roll straight out of the showroom it’s very impressive.
There are a bunch of variations possible with both aids and it’s personal preference to where you want each set, plus you also have three levels of engine braking.
One of the biggest differences you feel is the size of the bike – not only between your legs but the body work is also noticeably smaller and the Blade honestly feels like a 600 with big bike power.
After spending the morning on the RR I had the chance to test the SP model of the new Fireblade, this time fitted with Bridgestone slicks, so we could push a little harder and see what the SP had to offer.
I was blown away by the SP. I have been lucky enough to race for Honda for a very long time, I raced the 2007 model Fireblade at the start of the 2008 season, I then moved onto the new Fireblade at the time (the 2008 model) when it was ready to race, then the SP in 2014. I have raced the SP all the way through to its final season of racing in 2016, so I have a lot of experience on the Honda.
The SP is honestly one of the best bikes I have ever thrown a leg over, from the power increase over the previous model, the noticeable weight reduction, smoothness of the Fly-by-Wire, the way the anti wheelie and torque control was set up, even the ready to go quick-shifter and blipper is just incredible.
I turned over 30 laps on the SP and one of the biggest things that stood out for me was how noticeable the setting changes where. I started to play around with the torque control, anti wheelie and engine braking settings to see what I could feel and for a system of this level to be on a road bike that you guys can go out and buy is impressive.
On a personal note I am now extremely excited to start testing for the 2017 season. We have been waiting for a new model Fireblade for a few years and we now have what I believe can take me from being a podium guy each weekend to a winner.
The bikes are currently being turned into BSB-spec superbikes and we will commence our testing program in the South of Spain at the beginning of March.
In the meantime I will be heading back to Australia to catch up with my family and continue my preparation for the 2017 British Superbike Championship.
I will check in with you guys after my first test on the SBK in about a months time.