Performance Bikes (UK) - - Suzuka 8 Hours -

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.


Jack Miller had to ad­just his style to suit the bike, but had a blast at Suzuka

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