Fireblade proves perfect partner for bornagain track rider’s star-studded comeback
On track with MCN’S aging legend
When we purchased the 954 Fireblade for the long-termer fleet back in March I promised myself I’d steer clear of trackdays. You’ve probably heard the expression ‘the older I get, the faster I was’? Well it’s been 15 years since I last rolled down a pitlane, and I was in for a shock.
Michelin offered us the trackday place for just £49 on their Power Day at Brands Hatch (see separate story. below right) as we’d fitted a set of Power RS tyres to the Blade the month before. The chance to ride the Brands GP circuit with its fast and flowing woodland section was just too tempting to pass up.
I rode down to Brands Hatch from Peterborough taking the A1, M11, M25 and M20. Not the most inspiring two-hour journey on a bike that’s loved for its ability to turn quickly! Unlike many newer sportsbikes, the Blade isn’t too cramped, and with a standard screen the windblast on your chest keeps all the weight off your wrists, at least it does if you’re over six foot tall. Vibration isn’t a problem at constant speeds either, as it can be when riding fast and twisty roads. Higher revs introduces vibes through the bars leading to pins and needles after an hour or so of riding.
Superbike and endurance racing legend Terry Rymer is a really nice guy. Along with the Guildford Tyre Company (GTC) Terry runs the Power Days on behalf of Michelin, and was available throughout the day to talk about the tyres, give track tuition or just talk about his vast and varied racing past. GTC also bring a stack of spare Michelin tyres and tyre-changing equipment, should you need it.
Track time is shared between other groups but we were only out on track with the Michelin group. As you need to buy a tyre from Michelin’s Power range to qualify for the day the level of the riding ability is predictably high with many track-only machines, tyre-warmers and seasoned riders.
The sighting laps seemed pretty fast to me. I’d ridden the Brands Indy circuit before but the GP circuit and it’s fast woodland section was all-new. I wobbled round the first session and breathed a huge sigh of relief when the chequered flag appeared.
But the Fireblade is a great bike for novice trackday riders, with nimble, confidence-inspiring handling, decent brakes and a broad spread of power that means you don’t always have to in the right gear. It just works.
After a chat with Terry in the paddock he gave me some useful advice on the circuit and for the rest of the sessions my learning curve was steep but by the end I could just about remember where I was supposed to be!
The majority of the other riders clearly knew where they were going, buzzing past me and clearing off into the distance at a rapid pace. It was all well-mannered though and no-one came too close or forced me off line.
The most useful part of any trackday is learning more about your bike and I learnt more about the Blade in a day than I’d learn in six months on the road. Not just in performance terms but also how the bike feels and responds to lean angles and speeds that you rarely see on the road. It was a total revelation and a further insight into just how blindingly brilliant the 954 Fireblade is as a used buy. Find a good one and you won’t regret it.
‘You’ve heard the expression: The older I get, the faster I was...’