Some bikes have a bigger impact than others. Some bikes mean more to some than others. But not many bikes have shocked the World like the first ‘Blade… Photography: Heather Ware
I was 17 and in year 12 at high school when the first CBR900RR Fireblade was released. I had an RZ250FN at the time and I’d just started hanging out up at the Mount White Café, Old Pacific Highway. One sunny I was wagging school as usual and headed up the Old Road on my RZ.
A guy in brand new Dainese white/blue leathers pulled up on a white/red/blue Fireblade. He parked it and walked into the shop to get a coffee. The bike was ticking and crackling. The Bridgestone B45 tyres were melted to the edges. Was this guy God? To me, he was… To ride THAT bike. I’d never seen anything so wild.
What made the bike so special? It had the fattest looking tyres I’d ever seen. And nothing. Exactly that. Nothing. I was literally in shock when I saw how minimal the bike was. The engine looked tiny and there were open gaps everywhere. I remember looking through the area that would normally be an airbox and I could see straight through to the other side of the bike. Just like a GP machine.
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There was nothing to the CBR. I also remember the tank looked so wide and the ‘bars and seat too. The holes in the front fairing made it look like a factory racer. I’d never seen anything like it at all.
Soon Two Wheels and Streebike came out with full launch reports on the cover, with Matho and Seddo in full flight, knee down, at Phillip Island. I reckon I read those articles 1000 times each. I still have the Streetbike one!
My mates, Simon and Mick, ended up getting one each. They were older than me, in their 20s maybe, and working full time. They ended up a stunt team and could wheelstand forever – top gear wheelies. And they could punt them so hard through the turns. I always thought to myself, one day I’ll own one…
Fast forward to 2015 and I was turning the big 40. My lovely wife, Heather, decided that she would buy me that original Tiger Stripe Fireblade I’d always wanted. The problem was finding one!
After months of searching and keeping an eye on the market, an original one owner 1994 Tiger Stripe came up for sale only 100km from home. I could not get there with a trailer fast enough! The issue was, I had a deal to wait until my birthday before I rode the bike, it sat in my garage teasing me for weeks…
I stripped the bike and detailed it, fitted new Avon tyres, changed the oil and filter and airfilter (DNA), fitted new spark plugs, checked the valve clearances, and rebuilt the CV carburettors. I also replaced the wheel bearings, brake pads and lines, painted the wheels black, greased the pivot points, changed the fork seals and purchased (another mission) an OEM exhaust (found one in Tassie that had been removed and stored since first service 1994).
For convenience I fitted a Ventura luggage system and taller clear screen and I also managed to buy a brand-new NOS top and side fairings from Honda Australia (the last parts in stock!), so by the time the birthday came around I was ready to go, aside from the exhaust which arrived later (so I ran with the Yoshimura one).
Was I happy? I think the pictures tell a thousand words. The Fireblade was everything I’d imagined it would be all of those years ago when I was a teenager dreaming about new bikes. It made me feel young again and is a real weapon even by today.
There are still some original Blades around, but they are so rare. Most have been raced or streetfightered or crashed. It’s been 30-years next year, so a first model 1992 Blade now is the equivalent to a 1962 Triumph was when the Blade came out!
Owning the Fireblade was a great experience. I even rode it to some race meeting, raced each day (not on the Fireblade), then rode home after a full day of racing, still happy! I also rode it to many bike launches and would still smile on it on the way home! A great bike, I wish I kept…