‘The base Blade is no softie’
As our panel of testers have shown, the standard Blade is far from being some kind of softie because it doesn’t wear an SP badge. In fact, this Blade’s teeth are so sharp it feels more of a racer with lights than the posh version.
While the SP’S electronic Öhlins are set soft and comfy until the time it needs to support itself under load, the stock machine’s Showa suspension is stiffer to cope with the whole spectrum of road riding conditions. This harder set-up makes the short, squat, lightweight Blade feel even pointier, nimble faster-steering and accurate than the SP.
The seat is 12mm higher, making it feel racy and its supposedly lower-grade Tokico calipers have just as much bite and power as the SP’S Brembos. They’re the best brakes to grace any of the current Japanese superbikes, even the top-spec ones.
Tuned to give a lot more mid-range grunt the Blade delivers savage punch when you tickle the new ride-by-wire throttle. The brute force of acceleration is seemingly never-ending. It might ‘only’ have 179bhp at the rear wheel (around 20bhp down on its rivals), but that’s more than enough. And boy is it loud. Euro4? Really?
As you’d expect from a 15 grand Honda, quality and attention to detail are superb, from the piercing white light of the LED headlights, to the distinctive mirror-mounted indicator running lights and the swish colour dash.
There are a few niggles. The Dunlop D214 tyres work fine, but for a machine with such performance stickier rubber is a must. Those graphics aren’t exactly inspiring and you can’t switch the electronics off, which will hamper it on track. But this base-spec Blade is simply brilliant. And the people who really matter – potential buyers - agree.
Six Blades, but there’s only one they all want to look at
Flash dash is easy to understand & use
Fully adjustable Showa suspension rocks
No quickshifter, but it’s a slick gearbox