Multi-coloured swop shocks
Ped’s 2002 954 feels narrower and scalpel-like compared to my original. The engine is more responsive, and the chassis a pure delight, much more of a track tool than I imagined. Everything feels lighter and tighter – at £3500 it’s incredible value for money.
Tim’s 2017 SP is a thing of beauty; the whole bike reeks of HRC. I’ve read negative reports about it but now that I’m on it I can’t believe how good it is. The engine spins quicker than anything I’ve experienced before, its weight feels negligible… you just look where you want to be and it’s there. As I get used to stiff but exotically plush suspension, I find myself getting giddy again, flirting with time and space. Please can I have my old bike back before I’m well and truly committed?
Chippy’s 1992 original feels long and fat. The bars are wide and far away from you, encouraging you to stick your elbows out and wrestle the bike through the turns. The power is surprising and the engine still feels eager and tight, just slightly dull, like the brakes are dragging (they could be!). The seat is so well padded it’s as deep and lush as a Gold Wing saddle.
Tim’s SP is l-o-u-d! Through the fast Lincolnshire sweepers I’m holding the bars almost by my fingertips. Modern engineering exudes precision and that’s how the bike demands to be ridden. It’s a NASA supercomputer compared the flint axe of the original-model Blade. The bike is narrow-waisted under me and small, but surprisingly is more comfortable than the other two. I know my 6ft 4in frame looks ridiculous on it, as Tim mentions several times, but it’s comfy.
Chippy’s classic clicks over to 25,000 miles within the first minute of my ride, so I pat its fat tank and pin the throttle. The engine feels the smoothest, as if it was hand-built all those years ago with perfectly matched pistons and rods, and still responds beautifully. It’s still an incredibly macho ride. When I rode the first Blade in 1992 it thrilled me with its lightness and agility; now it’s dense and slow to turn.
Ped’s 954 is my all-time favourite. The one I ran in 2002 turned with more zest than any bike of its generation. Ped’s bike isn’t quite playing ball today, and while it’s a delight to drop into bends, it doesn’t hold its line like it should. Power builds along an arrow straight curve, while the LCD speedo and analogue tacho combo captures its era almost as well as the bloody alarm that keeps going off.
In all other respects it has hardly dated at all. If you have one of these, hang on to it!
‘The new SP is surprisingly comfortable’
O What changed? Compression adjustment was added to the forks and the ‘foxeye’ headlight arrived. O Tell us about it: Honda added a touch of refinement through upgraded suspension in an effort to calm the often lively Blade. But never taking an eye off the Blade’s ethos. It lost 1kg, and gained 2bhp. O Should I buy one? If you can find one, buy the Urban Tiger.
1994/5 CBR900RR Fireblade (R/S)