Dear diary...

New Blade SP is be­ing put through its paces in a bid to find out if it’s proper!

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Garage - TIM THOMP­SON Rode the first Fire­blade into the UK in 1992 and had his mul­let blown off in the process. 25 years later, he’s hop­ing for the same tim.thomp­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

Just so we’re clear, a proper Fire­blade has to be six things: light, pre­cise, en­er­gised, use­ful, re­li­able and above all the most ruth­lessly ef­fi­cient sports­bike you can buy. Through six epic rides, six clas­sic race tracks and six months of daily grind, we’re go­ing to find out how proper the new SP is.

Day one

It’s here, and it’s tiny. Where the tank meets the seat it’s barely a stretched hand across and as nar­row as a Pani­gale. There’s not a fas­tener or weld, curve or colour on which my gaze doesn’t linger, and only the rub­ber brake hoses make it look less than fac­tory. Ap­pro­pri­ately, given the elec­tron­ics, it smells less like a bike and more like a lux­ury ap­pli­ance warm­ing up for the first time.

I find an old-school, printed owner’s man­ual in the tail unit and as ex­pected most of its pages are ded­i­cated to those elec­tron­ics. Reading through is hard work but I grasp the ba­sics: ba­si­cally, three pre-set com­bi­na­tions of power, trac­tion control, Ec-smart sus­pen­sion set­tings, en­gine brak­ing, etc, plus two to cus­tomise for my­self. The brains of the out­fit is a crisply ren­dered TFT dash, which is easy to nav­i­gate and beau­ti­ful. Crack­ing bike, so far. Might even start it up to­mor­row.

Week one

With just 20 miles show­ing, week one is about run­ning in. As the miles slip by I re­alise how I keep scrolling (on the move, though the throt­tle must be closed) to the sus­pen­sion set­tings (or ‘pa­ram­e­ters’?) in Mode 2, Honda’s elec­tronic idea of what a twisty road should feel like. This is the one that glides and wafts along bumpy B roads like a sports­bike shouldn’t, and I love it.

Week two

On the cold­est May morn­ing ever, and with 300 miles on the clock, we head 80 miles across Nor­folk to Snet­ter­ton, the Blade’s first track of the year, for an MSVT day. Snet­ter­ton is so arc­tic I don’t feel con­fi­dent enough to turn the Blade prop­erly, and even with the ‘torque control’ (trac­tion control to you and I) in track-fo­cused Mode 1 the orange tell­tale light flashes as it in­ter­venes and the power surges like the en­gine’s starved of fuel. I love the com­pact rid­ing po­si­tion and the steer­ing’s pre­ci­sion but to­day, even on OE Pirelli Su­per­corsa SPS, the vi­tal con­nec­tion be­tween throt­tle and rear tyre is lack­ing. Is the prob­lem the freez­ing tem­per­a­ture, or should I be mak­ing some elec­tronic ad­just­ments? Or maybe I should just have a word with my­self and get on with it! De­cent start, lots to think about.

Q MSVT track­days are friendly, slick­ly­or­ga­nized and with great coach­ing avail­able. Next date: June 24 (£105). www.msv­track­days.com

The Blade didn’t fill Thomp­son with con­fi­dence, but maybe he just needs to man up

Not an­other road bike in sight at Snett

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.