THIS MONTH I HAVE MOSTLY BEEN… “Blitz­ing along back roads.”

Fast Bikes - - LONGTERMERS -

Like an ad­dict that’s been gag­ging for his next fix, these past few months have not been easy. It was way back in Jan­uary that I first cocked a leg over Honda’s new Fire­blade, and it had me hooked there and then. The power, the han­dling, the tech; I loved what I found and af­ter promis­ing the world in the most pa­thet­i­cally grov­el­ling tone, Honda gave in and said I could run an SP as a long ter­mer. Re­sult! The only caveat was an ex­pected de­lay in its avail­abil­ity.

Four months to be pre­cise. But hey, just like Christ­mas, that day even­tu­ally came round and just 48 hours ago a spank­ing new Blade found it­self a home in my garage. It had just 19.9 miles on the clock, was clean enough to eat your din­ner off and was ripe for some rag­ging – 7,000rpm style rag­ging, that is. I’m not a fan of run­ning bikes in. It’s te­dious, mind numb­ing and feels the equiv­a­lent of get­ting a strip tease from the fittest bird you’ve ever met and hav­ing to keep your eyes closed. That be­ing the case, just like hav­ing to clean the bath­room when you’ve got guests stop­ping over, it was a chore I couldn’t get out of.

The Honda’s first ser­vice is at 600 miles. Af­ter that it’s game on, so the in­cen­tive to get those early miles smashed hung over me like a can of Stella would to Gazza. A plan was hatched; wake up early, get dressed, ride bike for 600 miles. Ge­nius. And to make the ex­pe­ri­ence even more stom­ach­able, I planned to do it all on my favourite roads.

I’m now back from that trip, hav­ing blitzed through five dif­fer­ent coun­ties and drained four tanks of fuel. It’s 8pm. It took me 12 hours pre­cisely, and I’m ab­so­lutely buzzing from one of the best days of rid­ing I can re­count in a long time. Why? Well, the sun was out for starters. But it was mostly down to the Blade be­ing an ab­so­lute hoot.

When I rode it at Por­ti­mao I had no idea how it would cut it on the roads. Sure, it was a weapon around the track, but that didn’t guar­an­tee it’d have skills aplenty for Blighty’s best B-roads. But now I know the truth, and this is no one trick pony. While at no point to­day did I get the mo­tor singing like a good ’un, its torquey de­meanour meant I never needed to. At 4,000rpm you’re do­ing 60mph in sixth, and if you wind that throt­tle back a tad fur­ther, you’ll find this beauty will pull an ef­fort­less ton at just 7,000rpm. To put that in per­spec­tive, you’ve still got an­other 6,000rpm to go be­fore you’re even brush­ing the red­line. Mad­ness, but of the very best kind! The mo­tor’s a stonker, but there’s so much more to the Blade. They’ve al­ways been great han­dling bikes, but the elec­tronic Oh­lins sus­pen­sion has taken things to a whole new level. It’s some­thing I want to ex­plore the po­ten­tial of when times per­mits, but as de­buts go, it re­ally im­pressed me with its ab­sorbent and pre­cise na­ture. What­ever came our way, the Honda just sucked it up and never once got all slappy. I’m run­ning out of space now, but the other thing you should know is that the bike’s comfy.

My back’s fine, my legs don’t ache and my wrists are good for ten rounds with Tyson. Well, maybe eight. Yes, that screen is small. Yes, those pegs are sportily placed. But the ac­tual rid­ing po­si­tion is pleas­antly up­right. Don’t get me wrong, I was ready to stop, but if needs must I reckon I could’ve done a good few hun­dred miles more. Be­sides, there’s scope to make the bike even com­fier. A screen’s got to be up the top of that list; a big one at that. But that’ll have to wait un­til af­ter SBOTY, be­cause this bike’s be­ing loaded onto a lorry to­mor­row. Next stop, Por­tu­gal.

Crappy sur­faced roads couldn’t spoil the fun of the SP.

She’s a sexy lit­tle thing.

You can get around 160 miles from a tank be­fore the low fuel light comes on.

Su­per­cor­sas grip like the prover­bial.

Fancy electronic sus­pen­sion is awe­some on the roads.

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