Used Blade What does £3.5k get you?

‘When peo­ple say ‘dry-miles’ you don’t usu­ally ex­pect them to mean it but this time they did’ With new, 1000cc sports­bikes cost­ing close to £20k, what can just £3.5k get you? Quite a lot as it hap­pened

Motorcycle News (UK) - - THIS WEEK IN MCN - ped.baker@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

The 2002-2003 model Honda Fire­blade is a land­mark sports­bike. It was the last Blade to be penned by the orig­i­nal 1992 Fire­blade de­signer Tadao Baba, it was the last model be­fore mass cen­tral­i­sa­tion be­came de rigueur (and sports­bikes be­gan to shrink) plus it was the last model Blade to tip the scales at un­der 170kg (the 2017 model weighs 196kg). While it’s true that later mod­els are faster and more tech­ni­cally ad­vanced, they’re ar­guably less in­volv­ing and cer­tainly less prac­ti­cal.

The 954 was a land­mark bike for me too. For my 6ft 4in, 15-stone frame, it was the last four-cylin­der 1000cc sports­bike made for nor­mal­sized peo­ple. I just didn’t get on with Ja­panese sports­bikes af­ter 2002, they were all too cramped and track bi­ased for my taste, and there was nowhere to stash my wa­ter­proofs and sand­wiches!

So what would a 954 be like to ride and own to­day? I asked for feed­back on www.mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com and MCN’S Face­book page and re­ceived an im­pas­sioned re­sponse from cur­rent and pre­vi­ous own­ers. Comments such as: “Truly con­fi­dence in­spir­ing, fast and fault­less” and “the best bike I’ve ever owned” were the norm. I couldn’t find any­one who had a bad word to say about them.

With a bud­get of £4000, find­ing a clean 954 wasn’t hard. Af­ter see­ing a cou­ple of over­priced Ebay hor­rors we found the per­fect bike on www. mc­n­bikesfor­sale.com. All the bikes on the site come theft checked and, for com­plete peace of mind, the MCN Bikecheck ser­vice (www. mc­n­bikecheck.com) of­fers a full his­tory check on any bike at any time – in­clud­ing whether it has out­stand­ing fi­nance, has ever been writ­ten off or has mileage anom­alies that may in­di­cate clock­ing. An MCN bike check starts from £5.33.*

With just 9543 ‘dry’ miles on the clock, three own­ers from new and in stan­dard trim apart from a pe­riod Akrapovic end can and neat tail tidy, the bike looked very clean in the on­line ad but it was even bet­ter in the metal. When peo­ple say ‘dry miles’ you don’t usu­ally ex­pect them to mean it but this time they did. Even the ex­haust down­pipes are mint. A check with the DVLA’S on­line MOT his­tory con­firmed the low mileage as gen­uine.

The seller is a di­rec­tor of the bike ac­ces­sory firm Evotech Per­for­mance and the bike has spent much of its life tucked up in his of­fice. The tail tidy was the first prod­uct pro­duced by Evotech (sadly it’s no longer avail­able) and the bike also boasts Evotech crash bungs and bob­bins. The stan­dard end can is long gone but the orig­i­nal num­ber plate hanger and seat cowl were in­cluded in the deal.

The only flies in the oint­ment are some cor­roded front brake caliper bolts and odd chips in the frame paint. I’ve seen other Blades of this era with the same paint prob­lem and it ap­pears to be a man­u­fac­tur­ing is­sue rather than dam­age caused by a pre­vi­ous owner or ac­ci­dent. A good paint shop should be able touch up the dam­age. We shook on £3500.

Sports­bikes have fallen out of fash­ion over the past few years so the used mar­ket is rich pick­ings for clean, low mileage machines. If you’re pre­pared to pay a lit­tle over the av­er­age and ig­nore the bikes that have been ‘im­proved’ by well-in­tended but mis­guided own­ers, solid bikes like our Blade aren’t dif­fi­cult to search out.

Plans in­clude small up­grades that we know will work. First on the list, though, is a thor­ough ser­vice in­clud­ing en­gine, coolant, fork and brake flu­ids. Look­ing at the colour of the brake fluid I sus­pect it’s 2002 vin­tage. We’ll also check for grease in the sus­pen­sion and head bear­ings. With those jobs done the bike should be back to as close to new as we can get it.

There’s no way Ped can re­sist a tin­ker once he’s got a bike in the garage Ped bolts his cof­fee and bun be­fore get­ting ready to re­sume his Blade en­joy­ment

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