The Fireblade is a direct descendant of the RC211V Moto GP low-flying surface-to-surface missile as guided by the likes of Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa. It’s also a landmark for a new direction superbikes are now taking. While the past decade has seen Litre-class superbikes striving to get increasingly track-focused, with more peaky power deliveries, radical riding postures, sharpening handling and unforgiving road manners, the CBR1000RR breaks the mould and blunts its blade a bit.
Much of the 1000RR’s engine and curved radiator sit tucked beneath a distinctive fairing, while the bike’s frame exposes itself just below its voluminous tank. A highlight on the CBR is its striking low-set silencer, sitting just ahead of a substantial black swingarm that clamps in the bike’s large 190/50-section rear tyre. Visible above this is the 1000RR’s stepped seat, tail fairing and extended rear mudguard.
The CBR1000RR uses a 999.8cc, in-line, four-cylinder, four-stroke engine with 174bhp on tap at 12000rpm. This engine integrates its lower sump section and cylinder block, with sleeveless cylinders packed closely and bores plated by nickel silicon carbide. Electronic fuel injection is well sorted and experienced via a nicely weighted throttle, and the bike deploys a smooth, cable-pulled clutch and positive shifting six-speed gearbox.
Honda has achieved a lot with the latest CBR1000RR. And while most will agree it has been softened to some degree, the upgraded CBR is still as capable of devastatingly fast performance as any fiercer feeling rival. Except the Honda is so amazingly rider friendly, well-engineered, refined and useable that it sweats buckets and manages more of the hard work on its own to lift a lot of load off its rider’s back.