‘The base Blade is no softie’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Feature - BY MICHAEL NEEVES, SE­NIOR ROAD TESTER

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

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