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Fireblade still the business

2010-11-18 07:44

Dave Fall

BLACK MAGIC: Back in the early 1990s the Fireblade was known for its lurid colours. Today it is renowned for its stupefying performance.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Honda
Model CBR 1000RR
Engine 4-cyl in-line 999cc, liquid-cooled
Power 131kW @ 12 500 rpm
Torque 112Nm @ 8 250 rpm
Zero To Hundred 2.5 sec
Top Speed 300km/h
Fuel Tank 17.7l
Weight 199kg
Price R141 999
For my sins (and I may have mentioned it before), I’ve never owned a Honda motorcycle — after riding the latest CBR 1000RR Fireblade, I’m even more incredulous as to what I’ve been missing down the years.

In recent times I’ve got my “jollies” by owning and maintaining a succession of superb but elderly BMW boxer-type twins.

Before those came along a succession of British iron in the form of indifferent Triumphs, over-engineered Velocettes, best-forgotten BSA’s and dreary Matchless machines.

These British bikes ensured I would not only remain a pauper in my twilight years, but one with incredibly strong legs and arms to push them home all too frequently when they broke down.


Being a semi-retired motoring journalist means that I’m still lucky enough to sample some of the current crop of assorted bikes that come my way for evaluation.

As such I’m slightly perplexed to place on record they have mostly been Hondas during the past four months, for which nevertheless I’m truly grateful.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not really complaining about the lack of two-wheeled machinery for testing.

This particular column isn’t some backhanded swipe at motorcycle PRs in their ivory towers who either, though it seems, they can’t be bothered to make sure their individual press fleet(s) timeously reach the Mother City for evaluation purposes.

So it’s all kudos to the Honda marque who really go the “extra mile” to ensure that you, the reader, get to know more about their generally excellent wares than some of the other big players...


When first launched back in 1992 the original Fireblade was “just” 893cc, boasted 92kW of power and weighed around 185 kg — about the same as competitors’ 600cc machines. Every couple of years more power was called for and Honda duly obliged.

Year in and year out the Fireblade became the superbike of choice among real aficionados, while in 2004 Honda upped the stakes by offering a one-litre version of the ’blade. Much the same machine as the one currently available but with several DNA mods emanating from their celebrated, race-bred RC211V motoGP bike.

Getting back to the current Fireblade it might surprise you — it certainly did me on reading through my notes, that I had spent a total of three hours one Saturday morning recently riding the Fireblade, with just the one coffee break taken in the picturesque village of Franshhoek. Look at images of the bike and you might think it looks uncomfortable to ride for any length of time but nothing could be further from the truth...

CRUISE MISSILE: Despite its epic performance potential, the Fireblade’s 820mm seat height and foot peg/handlebar geometry make for quite a comfortable ride.

Weighing in at just 199kg and with its huge power potential (131kW) I knew the Fireblade had to be quick, but I didn’t realize just how quick.

In reality it’s almost as brutal as the Honda SP1 — a bike that perhaps a little unfairly was to become known as the widow maker (a good friend of mine in KZN about 10 years ago lost his life on one — thankfully, he wasn’t married yet.)

And yet I needn’t have worried unduly that memorable, sunny, wind-free Saturday — rather concentrate on the need to watch out for the idiots in “tin boxes” who all seemed to be on the N1 at once heading north as I was.

It’s actually quicker, I reckon, to travel in the nearside lane, and I’ve proved this point time after time because no one ever uses it!


Turning off just before the tunnel in the direction of Franshhoek I was finally able to safely “open up” the bike.

I’m not — or ever have been — one for getting my “knee down” but that day I felt like Isle of Man TT winners’ Jim Moodie, Philip McCallen and Joey Dunlop all rolled into one.

The Fireblade felt so stable, agile, and thankfully slightly forgiving occasionally, as I tried to emulate those stars of yesteryear by covering the biker-friendly R301 from the N1 through to the junction of the R45 at a brisk rate of knots.

Maybe it’s finally time to dispel those deep and reserved thoughts about shaft drive transmissions, or the trio of panniers and big, comfortable, high-rise handlebars behind rather large windscreens — we pass this way but once so perhaps it’s time to live a little on the wild side!


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