BRUCE HONDA CBR1000RR SP
THIS MONTH I HAVE MOSTLY BEEN… “Dealing with the pain.”
Ihate goodbyes, but not as much as I hate road salt or snow. And while we’re at it, iced fingers (as in your digits, not the cakes) and chilblains can also ‘do one’. The last few weeks of riding have been pretty bleak to say the least, but before I go off on an embittered rant about the debilitating realities of winter, I’ll stop myself for the sake of you and I both. No one needs more moaning in their life. Plus, there’s always a positive to be found in everything if you dig deep enough, with winter providing the ideal time to reflect on the good, the bad and the unexpected times of this outgoing season, which I spent on my soon to be returned Honda Fireblade SP. If you’re up on your reviews and have taken in the many differing opinions from journos the world over, you’ll probably be left a little confused as to what to make of Honda’s esteemed flagship sportsbike. But take it from someone that’s lived with one all year; it’s a corker.
In reality, I think people expected the 2017 Honda to offer more. More power. More radical styling. More sophisticated. And because it didn’t quite hit some people’s box ticking criteria, it got poo-poo’d. But Honda never promised that. I was at Milan when this bike was unveiled, and the message there was very much associated with building a better road bike, designed to make everyday B-roads a blast and much more manageable… which is exactly what Honda’s delivered on. Okay, so maybe it’s the lowest claiming litre bike on the market but I’d be a liar if I said I ever felt I needed a few more ponies for an assault down my favourite twisties.
This thing is rapid, to the extent that you genuinely can’t get near its potential on the roads, unless those roads happened to be the TT course and your name is John McGuinness. We live in an age where people have got hung up on figures, but I’m much more of a fan of usability and the Blade ticks that box very nicely. The SP’s motor’s smoother than John Travolta when his wife’s not watching, offering bucketloads of bottom-end torque that allows you be sloth-like in your approach to riding, especially when combined with the SP’s standard fitment blipper and shifter.
My favourite feature on the Blade has to be the electronic suspension. It’s essentially what makes the SP different to the stock RR, and also cranks the price up by three grand. I’ve had loads of people ask whether it’s worth the extra dollar, and to be honest it’s a hard one to answer. Three grand will buy you a decent used bike, to put things in perspective, but it’s not as if I haven’t used the tech on every single blast. It’s been my go-to piece of tech and it’s definitely made the bike more enjoyable on some of the rougher stretches I’ve traversed this year. It is very much a luxury, which I’d happily buy into if I had the spare cash because I love how effortlessly you can alter the way this bike handles.
Continuing the tech theme, the dash is clear and easy to digest, and the ability to customise the coloured display is another bonus. Its lights are decent at night, though the one thing that’s got me chuntering is the layout of the horn and indicator switches. Maybe it’s just me, but I still can’t avoid looking to make sure I’m not moments from beeping some attractive young lady on the high street when I’m actually just wishing to indicate – honest!
The bike’s brakes have been great on the roads, but the ABS function has let them down on very heavy braking on track, because the system engages too easily. Likewise, the anti-wheelie system can be a little too harsh for my liking, but I’ve got used to it over the course of the year… and typically ride with it off anyway. The power modes have proved an asset in the wet and I’m also a fan of the torque control. It’s not a race system, but it does what you’d hope it would on the roads. I’d have liked to have banged in a few more miles on the Honda, but we’ve managed a decent few journeys this season. In short, it's not the most focused, all-out sportsbike on the market, and it’s for that reason the SP’s struck such a chord with me. It’s a great road bike. Suits me.
Bruce is always sprinkling flour on his driveway.
Beauty meets beauty.
There have been many stand-out and stand-up moments in 2017.