Motorcycles

Honda celebrates 25 years of the Fireblade with two track-ready SP versions

Honda celebrates 25 years of t...
The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 at the Intermot unveiling
The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 at the Intermot unveiling
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The 2017 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP sports completely redesigned, more angular costumes
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The 2017 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP sports completely redesigned, more angular costumes
The 2017 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is based on the existing model
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The 2017 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is based on the existing model
The new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is designed to help Honda become a WSBK title contender again
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The new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is designed to help Honda become a WSBK title contender again
An Ohlins TTX36 Electronic Control (EC) is the standard shock for the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
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An Ohlins TTX36 Electronic Control (EC) is the standard shock for the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
Four-piston monobloc Brembo brakes for the new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
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Four-piston monobloc Brembo brakes for the new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is fitted with a set of semi-active Ohlins NIX30 EC forks
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The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is fitted with a set of semi-active Ohlins NIX30 EC forks
The fairing of the new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is more aggressive and angular than the existing basic model
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The fairing of the new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is more aggressive and angular than the existing basic model
The swingarm of the new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is lighter with increased torsional rigidity
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The swingarm of the new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is lighter with increased torsional rigidity
The CBR1000RR SP celebrates 25 years of Honda Fireblades
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The CBR1000RR SP celebrates 25 years of Honda Fireblades
The frame of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is a re-engineered version of the basic model's design
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The frame of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is a re-engineered version of the basic model's design
The fairings of the new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP cover less area compared to the basic model
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The fairings of the new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP cover less area compared to the basic model
Although it looks completely different, the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is based on the existing design
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Although it looks completely different, the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is based on the existing design
The exhaust system of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is made from titanium
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The exhaust system of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is made from titanium
The 2017 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP leaves more of the frame in plain sight
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The 2017 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP leaves more of the frame in plain sight
From above the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP seems like a normal road-legal bike, but it is designed to claim the WSBK title
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From above the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP seems like a normal road-legal bike, but it is designed to claim the WSBK title
The airbox of the new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
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The airbox of the new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
The new digital display of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP hosts an abundance of information
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The new digital display of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP hosts an abundance of information
The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP has more or less similar dimensions with the previous model
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The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP has more or less similar dimensions with the previous model
The engine of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP has undergone extensive re-engineering 
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The engine of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP has undergone extensive re-engineering 
The semi-active electronic suspensions of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP explained
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The semi-active electronic suspensions of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP explained
The pistons of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2  have undergone heat treatment to strengthen the crown area and use shorter piston pins
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The pistons of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2  have undergone heat treatment to strengthen the crown area and use shorter piston pins
The riding modes of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP offer a variety of possible set-ups
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The riding modes of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP offer a variety of possible set-ups
The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 rolls on a special set of light Marchesini forged aluminium wheels
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The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 rolls on a special set of light Marchesini forged aluminium wheels
Comparative view of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP (right) and the previous model (left)
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Comparative view of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP (right) and the previous model (left)
Nicky Hayden while testing the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
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Nicky Hayden while testing the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
Nicky Hayden while testing the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
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Nicky Hayden while testing the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
If the logo sits on white background stripe, then it's the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP. If it's gold, then you're looking at the SP2
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If the logo sits on white background stripe, then it's the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP. If it's gold, then you're looking at the SP2
The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP (left) next to the previous model (right)
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The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP (left) next to the previous model (right)
Nicky Hayden while testing the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
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Nicky Hayden while testing the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
Nicky Hayden while testing the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
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Nicky Hayden while testing the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
Nicky Hayden while testing the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
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Nicky Hayden while testing the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 at the Intermot unveiling
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The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 at the Intermot unveiling
The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP at the Intermot unveiling
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The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP at the Intermot unveiling

In 1992 the CBR900RR Fireblade changed the superbike game, but a quarter century later Honda's production racing icon appears to be lagging behind the competition. The 2017 CBR1000RR SP and SP2 aim to turn the tables both on the road and the race track with a host of upgrades to the existing model.

Logic dictates that a sportbike should be judged by its efficiency in its natural habitat, the race track. In this demanding proving ground the latest generations of Fireblades found it quite difficult to fend off the fierce competition. The World Superbike Championship (WSBK) – the highest racing discipline for production racers – has been dominated by Kawasaki, carrying the torch after Ducati and Aprilia. Actually, the last time Honda challenged successfully the WSBK title was in 2007 with the previous-generation CBR1000RR.

Of course, the aforementioned line of thinking can be seen as a half-truth, since for many people a superbike is just their bike of choice for the road, and the current Fireblade proved to be quite popular as one of the friendliest available.

The 25th anniversary of the Fireblade offered Honda an ideal opportunity to take a step forward. Yet, instead of designing a brand new superbike from the ground up, the Japanese opted to develop the existing model. The new SP retains the same frame and 999 cc engine, but brings vast improvements in every aspect of the motorcycle. In terms of power, aN 11-hp hike brings the tally up to 189 hp and this maximum value is achieved higher in the rev scale at 13,000 rpm. It may still appear to be lagging behind the 200 hp nominal standard of the superbike class, but that's not the whole story.

The fairing of the new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is more aggressive and angular than the existing basic model
The fairing of the new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is more aggressive and angular than the existing basic model

The power-to-weight ratio is far more influential in any vehicle's performance than absolute horsepower, and Honda has managed to shed a whopping 15 kg (33 lb) off the Fireblade, announcing a kerb weight of 195 kg (430 lb). In order to achieve this, Honda went to great lengths, from re-engineering the frame wall thickness to fitting a titanium fuel tank. Should the numbers prove to be accurate, we could be talking about a potential game-changer here.

The other big news about the Fireblade SP is (inevitably) on the electronic front. This is the first ever CBR to ever employ a throttle-by-wire set-up; an addition backed by a big bag of electronic safety systems.

Led by a 5-axis Bosch MM5.10 Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), the SP's systems include five riding modes, selectable torque control, wheelie control, selectable engine brake, quickshifter with downshift assist, cornering ABS and the same Honda Electronic Steering Damper that was fitted to the previous CBR1000RR.

The frame of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is a re-engineered version of the basic model's design
The frame of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP is a re-engineered version of the basic model's design

On top of that, Honda has upped the ante with a set of semi-active electronic suspensions from industry leaders Öhlins. A Suspension Control Unit receives roll, yaw and lean angle input from the IMU, factors in information on wheel speed, engine rpm, brake input and throttle angle from the engine's ECU, and calculates how the 43 mm inverted NIX30 EC forks and the TTX36 EC shock absorber should offer the ideal damping result. The rider can choose from three active preset modes (Fast, Enjoy and Safety), or three manual modes that will allow for any adjustments to the suspension's set-up.

With all these changes to the CBR1000RR, Honda hopes to bring the Fireblade back to superbike racing stardom. Nicky Hayden, Honda's former MotoGP champion (2006) and current WSBK rider, will undoubtedly be very happy with the bike he'll be racing next year. This will not be the Fireblade SP though, but a road-legal homologation special version called SP2.

Nicky Hayden while testing the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
Nicky Hayden while testing the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP

Based on the SP, this has a couple of more tricks up its sleeve. The most obvious giveaway are the wheels, as the SP2 rolls on a lighter set of Marchesini forged aluminum rims that are said to reduce inertia by 18 percent at the front and 9 percent at the rear. Then there's a gold stripe on the fairing's sides that bear the CBR Fireblade logo.

The most important differences though are found inside the engine, with larger diameter valves, optimized combustion chamber shape and a more effective cooling system that mimics that of the RC213V MotoGP prototype. Although identical on the outside, the inside of the cylinder head incorporates minor changes that allow the fitment of high-lift camshafts. These will be part of two racing kits that will be available specifically for the SP2 – one for general circuit use and another for race.

So now we know which motorcycle Nicky Hayden will be riding next year: the WSBK-prepped version of the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2. Which coincidentally reminds us that the last time an SP2 was raced by Honda at the world championship, it won. Then it was the V-twin VTR1000 SP2 of Colin Edwards, now it is an in-line four with another American rider on board.

Source: Honda

1 comment
A'Tuin
Power to weight ratios for motorbikes are pretty tenuous at best. A large part of the mass when on the move, perhaps one third or more, is provided by the rider and this reduces the bhp/Kg figure considerably. Much different to a car where the driver could be contributing as little as 2.5% to the overall mass.