THIS MONTH I HAVE MOSTLY BEEN…“Feel­ing drained...”

Fast Bikes - - LONGTERMERS -

The irony wasn’t lost on me. Just a day be­fore Evotech Per­for­mance kindly sent me a ra­di­a­tor guard for my Blade, a bloody huge rock de­cided to launch it­self di­rectly into my Honda’s cool­ing de­vice. I didn’t know a thing about it at the time; I was too en­grossed in what tran­spired to be my most en­joy­able ride of the sea­son. It was one of those im­promptu job­bies, trav­el­ling in a trio, when one of my mates de­cided to pull the pin and com­mit a hellishly long list of sins. I don’t want to go to jail so I’ll be scant on the de­tails, but need­less to say it was wholly con­sum­ing; the kind of ride where your brain tries to ra­tio­nalise your ac­tions, while si­mul­ta­ne­ously ac­knowl­edg­ing to­tal lu­nacy is run­ning the show. I was in my el­e­ment and so was the Honda. I’ve had this bike for half a year now and it’s grown on me with ev­ery ride. Ev­ery­thing’s so in­trin­sic, from the way it pitches into cor­ners, to the way it blips down gears so seam­lessly at the be­hest of an en­thu­si­as­tic left foot.

It doesn’t need more power. It doesn’t need fancier sus­pen­sion. It just needs com­mit­ment and faith. Ap­ply those two el­e­ments am­ply and you’re re­warded with an ef­fort­less rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that’s hard to fault. The Honda’s be­come my com­fort­able pair of slip­pers and on that afore­men­tioned ride I felt so in con­trol and so ca­pa­ble, to an ex­tent that I can’t re­mem­ber on the roads on any other bike. That’s a strong state­ment to make, but it’s also a true one. As street bikes go, it has proven year-long to be the per­fect spar­ring part­ner, with the ver­sa­til­ity to suit all sit­u­a­tions and speeds.

Hold back and it’ll oblig­ingly be­come Miss Daisy, but twist the throt­tle with earnest in­tent and it’ll trans­form into Do­rian Gray. That’s what’s be­come so bla­tant with the Honda; the way in which it can be­come what­ever you want it to be – it’s naughty and nice. And I love that. As we all know, there are faster litre bikes out there, but who ever takes a road bike to its po­ten­tial? When was the last time you were hurtling down your lo­cal B-roads wish­ing you had an ex­tra 1,000rpm in sixth? It’s just never the case, and it’s cer­tainly not on the Blade. On that ride there was al­ways more to come from the CBR’s silky smooth mo­tor; it’s just I wasn’t good enough to ex­tract ev­ery ounce. But that was ir­rel­e­vant, be­cause I was hav­ing the ride of my life.

Right up un­til the mo­ment I got stoned… so to speak. Iron­i­cally (again), a stone’s throw from my house. By the time I knew I was cov­ered in coolant, I was al­ready home; which is where the bike’s stood still for most of this month. I’m gut­ted about that, es­pe­cially so as the weather’s been half de­cent and I’ve not been able to ex­plore the bike’s po­ten­tial like I had planned. We’re at the end of the sea­son now. The time of year when man­u­fac­tur­ers start call­ing their bikes back home, but I’m hop­ing there’s still time to get the rad sorted and a few more blasts chalked up, be­cause I’m not fin­ished with this Honda. Far from it.

One tiny hole, one mas­sive pain in the back­side. Blade blood.

Bruce is get­ting good at re­mov­ing the fair­ings.

Time for a strip down.

If only this had ar­rived a day sooner.

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