HONDA CBR1000RR SP2
Honda has had a tough year with the Fireblade for the most part, but the World Endurance effort stands out as an exception: they’ve been competitive more or less from the start. The Honda Endurance Team machine is typical of a regular championship contender, but the MuSASHI/HARC-PRO bike of Jack Miller is pure Suzuka-spec. One veteran Honda engineer who has worked on Blades for the past 10 years commented that the Suzuka machine was so different to any other example, saying: “From 20 yards it looks like any other Honda but as you get closer you see the geometry is different, the frame is different... but the biggest change is the electronics”
EXHAUST Money-can’t-buy HARC-PRO system is just one detail unique on the grid. The Honda Racing team uses the same Akrapovic system seen on WSB and BSB bikes, but HARC-PRO build their own in close association with HRC (they’re an HRC dealer in Japan). It’s titanium, naturally, and appears a touch longer than the Akrapovic item. Eventually, they might release a similar item as a retail part. You’ll need deep pockets and the means to buy direct from Japan, though.
ELECTRONICS This has been the SP2’s notorious bugbear: a programming issue blighted the road racing effort, culminating in an erroneous throttle blip sending John McGuinness over a fence and into long-term rehab at the NW200. The regular Honda entrant runs kit electronics (without issue so far: a three-rider team and more miles contributing to more development time), but the MuSASHI bike ran a bespoke system derived from Honda’s MotoGP system (from before the days of unified electronics). Miller, Takahashi and Nakagami had a team of electronics specialists on hand to perfect their cutting-edge system.
CHASSIS Those in the know identified unique geometry on the MuSASHI compared to even the World Superbike Fireblade. When this is combined with a modified frame the bike has a very different character to any other Fireblade on the planet. The frame has been strengthened with various rigidity options tested; a MotoGP-style triple clamp and a modified swingarm are some of the key developments.
BRAKES Honda Racing are a Nissin factory-supported team. But so are HARC-PRO, and they ran an even higher-spec four-piston radial caliper for Suzuka, as used on the WSB bikes. Note the anodised bracket on the fork lowers – they’re used to seamlessly mate the wheel with forks and brakes. Blue/red colouring matches the brake disc centres, so the wheel fitter throws the new front in the right way round.
ENGINE Honda Racing claim that they run stock Fireblade engines. But given that the stock bike is by far the least-powerful litre bike available in 2017, we’re not convinced by this comment: their competitiveness over the rest of the year suggests it’s at least a blueprinted motor, probably with some cams and other light fettling. HARC-PRO’s bike was right at the sharp end: they wouldn’t tell us anything, not even fibs. A punt that they’re running HRC development parts and fettling probably wouldn’t be far out: they’re running third in the Japanese Superbike championship against similarly trick machinery.
SWINGARM Honda Endurance run a stock swingarm, with new axle slots and rear section for quickrelease wheel mounts. HARC-PRO are a step ahead again: their swingarm is vaguely similar to standard, but with obvious added bracing. That rigidity will be welcome for MotoGP kid Miller.
‘ONE OF THE MAIN THINGS I HAD TO ADJUST TO WAS THE BRAKES. THEY’RE NOT AS POWERFUL AS WHAT WE USE IN MOTOGP’
Jack Miller had to adjust his style to suit the bike, but had a blast at Suzuka