HONDA CBR 1000 RR
Honda has given Fireblade fans a reason to smile. With its classy Öhlins suspension, Brembo monobloc brakes, blueprinted engine and drop-dead gorgeous HRC paintjob, the SP is the most desirable Blade in its 21-year history. With its improved handling, braking performance and grip, the SP is destined to be a faster-lapping, easier-to-handle track day bike than any previous model. And all the sexy bits make it a far better road bike, too, thanks to its smoother engine, plusher suspension, stronger brakes and taller double-bubble screen.
Some of the changes to the 2014 Blade models are so minor you would be hard pushed to notice them back-to-back, but the SP gives you so much more confidence and feel through the rear tyre when you are at full lean. When you are flying along, wide-eyed and pumped full of adrenalin, you really notice the things that make the SP special: the new suspension, brakes, tyres and a bigger screen to hide behind down the straights. The 2013 Blade was always a nicely balanced, easy-to-ride superbike – with the SP there is all this and more.
The standard old Blade’s engine is a little gruff, so at low speeds you really notice the beautiful smoothness of the SP’s blueprinted motor. Then there’s the engine’s easy grunt, flexibility, the typically glassy-smooth Honda throttle response and the way the Blade SP rolls obediently into corners with the lightest touch on the wider, lower, bars. Did I miss the lack of rider aids? Unless you have the talent of a top racer you are never going to get the Blade to misbehave and you never miss not having electronic aids, although a quickshifter would be nice.