No introductions are needed when it comes on the Honda Fireblade, now in its 21st year it has been restyled and suped up to compete with the best superbikes of 2016. The styling and performance are on point, however, the focus has remained on rider control and competitive racing.
The fireblade itself is phenomenally successful. When it was launched in 1992 one in three superbikes sold was a Honda fireblade
The fireblade SP is the first track orientated superbike Honda has produced. And on the surface this bike looks like any other. However close inspection on the level of workmanship and detail is far superior than the average understated Honda.
The top line additions include, Ohlin’s front and rear suspension, front brake callipers made by Brembo, Pirelli super causer tyres, forged yoke, super lightweight pistons and sub frame, and a C – ABS system unique to the fireblade settings.
When pressed, Honda will tell you that the suspension is not the off-the-shelf variety, but a heavily engineered variety unique to the fireblade SP
The front forks have a 1 mm bigger outer tube making the bike more stable on the braking. This is not all when it comes to the front of the bike; the front axle shaft is also 50% lighter while the steering stem has been strengthened.
The rear shock has also been highly modified to suit the bike, the pre-load adjuster being shifted in order to suit the reach and movement of the bike.
This is no ordinary bike, and the changes continue with a slipper clutch fitted for track riding. This makes for a smoother, safer and faster ride.
We tested the bikes with the Pirelli super causer SP tyres that come standard on the bike. This was spread out over two days at the track in Welwyn Garden City. The bikes were also set up with the settings for track found in the user manual. This is essentially a few clicks stiffer on both the front and back.
The track we tried the bike out on is deceptively fast, with wide flat corners that are easy to lean into while carrying faster than normal speeds.
Once you get going on this bike it is easy to go north of 160 mph as you approach the braking markers. There is plenty of
power in the braking system bringing a write-down on each corner to a manageable 60 mph. The bike feels composed under pressure and only ever gets a little hairy when I decide to break not morning 3 m at most. However the bike responds and I’m suitably impressed with how it responds overall.
The motor on the fireblade is a masterpiece. Zero to 60 in less than five seconds and able to drive out of hairpins in first gear. Such is the position of the throttle and flawless delivery of power that with a couple of laps under my belt I had full confidence in launching myself into every corner with abandon.
There is no traction control on the fire blade and neither does it need it. The lack of traction control on the bike is a basic statement from Honda exclaiming “This bike doesn’t need it.!” The brake-by-wire system employed by Honda involves it making the decisions on your behalf. In my experience I had no problems with the system, the front was never lost on the brake, however, I did find it possible to lose the rear under heavy pressure.
I found the tyres were satisfactory, but I did find that once I built up speed I wasn’t totally in my comfort zone going fast. I have previously ridden on these tyres around the twisty circuits in Leeds and found them to perform much better under these conditions.
Overall I was very impressed with this bike. Everything is refined apart from a few gear changes particularly when you’re shifting up or down out of the corner, the bike can fill a little bit clunky, but these are minor considerations in terms of the overall ride and feel of the bike.
The top-of-the-line suspension which features a crazy amount of different variations and customisations means that you can tweak the feel and responsiveness to your taste. Coming in at just under £15,000, the Honda fireblade SP faces some stiff competition but has a strong following with track fanatics and Honda aficionados. Started 21 years ago the Honda fire blade has always been at the top of the charts when it comes to the best superbikes to buy, and I believe will continue to do so however it faces strong competition from the likes of Pirelli and Yamaha in the superbikes arena.