Own­ing a Blade SP Is there re­ally any­thing wrong?

Is there re­ally a prob­lem with the new CBR1000RR SP? Time to find out...

Motorcycle News (UK) - - NEWS -

‘The new Blade floats across all but the most bru­tal pot­holes’

In the weeks since a 2017 Blade ar­rived in my garage (with just 20 miles show­ing), Honda’s first elec­tron­i­cally man­aged sports­bike has be­come a big story. A worry even. TT fac­tory rid­ers John Mcguin­ness and Guy Martin have had high-pro­file crashes on theirs, with the bike very pub­licly with­drawn from the Se­nior race and even de­scribed by Martin on TV as a ‘Jonah’. It has been hope­less in WSB, too.

So­cial me­dia has loved it. Are the throt­tle maps to be trusted? Is the gear­box dodgy? Are the new elec­tron­ics rub­bish, or dan­ger­ous even? Ques­tions Honda prob­a­bly hadn’t an­tic­i­pated in what was sup­posed the Blade’s glo­ri­ous 25th an­niver­sary year.

In the ab­sence of an of­fi­cial re­sponse from Honda, the in­for­ma­tion vacuum has con­tin­ued to fill with more swirling con­jec­ture un­til you can’t help but give in and as­sume that there prob­a­bly is some­thing wrong with the Blade.

As I said, for those who’ve bought one, ei­ther the stocker or the SP, it’s a worry – and con­fus­ing too. But I’m glad to say that out on the M20, semi­tucked and chas­ing the Tun­nel train to Calais, things are def­i­nitely a lit­tle clearer. This, I tell my­self, is a Honda, and Hon­das haven’t gone dis­as­trously wrong since the choco­late camshaft de­ba­cle of the 1980s. Fur­ther­more this a not a race-prepped Fire­blade SP2 like Martin’s and Mcguin­ness’s su­per­bikes but a stan­dard road-go­ing SP. Right now my main concern is the Kreiga US-30 tail­pack I cun­ningly grafted to the sin­gle seat tail unit and whether it will still be there when I ar­rive in Spa Fran­cor­champs tonight.

Here I can shut out the noise and fo­cus on what the new Blade ac­tu­ally does – on the road I’m rid­ing. And de­spite a Force Six square on the Blade’s nose and only a slip of a fair­ing to de­flect the blast I am well bal­anced and will stay pain-free for 450 miles. It feels like a true Fire­blade should: light, com­pact and ag­ile, but with the rider’s needs put first.

Across the Chan­nel I fuel up with crois­sants and pull my sum­mer gloves out of the ruck­sack. Cruis­ing on near empty sweep­ers at a silky 100mph, and mak­ing me feel like any­where is pos­si­ble to­day, the Blade eas­ily man­ages 150 miles to the fuel light de­spite its 16-litre tank and is slowly re­veal­ing what it is: a drama-free, bat­shit-quick stealth bike. There are few wheel­ies and min­i­mal emo­tion as it ex­e­cutes its plan, while the steer­ing and the throt­tle – yes, I did say the throt­tle – are sim­ply pre­ci­sion on wheels. When I glance at the TFT dash’s speedo I go, “Oh­my­god, how did that hap­pen!”

Just like the first Blade in 1992, it’s the SP’S lack of ki­los that en­er­gise the ride. Ev­ery time I pull it up­right I am pleas­antly sur­prised while ev­ery round­about or corner is a min­i­mal­ist op­er­a­tion. The Blade’s en­gine is just as rau­cous as the orig­i­nal, too, but that’s where the sim­i­lar­i­ties fin­ish. As we head into the Ar­dennes, an area of heav­enly sweep­ers with a hellish sur­face, I cus­tomise ‘User 1’ mode to sup­ply full fat power with the EC Öh­lins set in su­per-com­pli­ant waft mode, and the new bike floats across all but the most bru­tal pot­holes like a 176bhp, 195kg com­puter con­trolled Gold­wing.

It’s a dream come true. An R1 is fast but it’s not as com­fort­able. A Panigale is com­fort­able and lights you up like no other bike, but roasts your legs and needs fuel ev­ery 120 miles. I don’t like the Blade’s agri­cul­tural gear­box or the dull reaction from the Brem­bos when the brakes are cold but I ar­rive in Spa as fresh as I can re­mem­ber af­ter a day’s ride. I love the SP’S light­ness and ef­fi­ciency – its own un­dra­matic and sump­tu­ous way of do­ing things very quickly. In fact, the only drama has been, of all things, a stick­ing mode but­ton. My SP has no prob­lems. O Next week in MCN: 25 years of the Fire­blade – ev­ery model rated.

The Blade turns tourer for the day

The Blade is a fast and ac­com­plished bike, ca­pa­ble of all types of rid­ing

Happy to stay in the sad­dle and take in the view of Spa af­ter a long day of rid­ing

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