The first litre Fireblade: huge performance for less than a scabby foxeye 900
Why you need a 2004-2007 Honda Fireblade in your life (and garage).
THE USED BIKE no-man’s land between modern classic and plain old modern bike offers few greater bargains than the underseat pipe Fireblade. Measured 180mph performance, one of Honda’s first mass-centralised modern chassis and proper quality for the same (or even less) than a mid-1990s CBR900RR in a Division 2 paintjob.
They shouldn’t be that cheap – they were the pick of the class for 2004, offering a genuine improvement in performance with some early adoptions of MotoGP tech. They had plenty of grunt, decent brakes and a chassis that goaded you into loading it more and more.
The Blade’s main issue is beyond Honda’s control: the GSX-R1000 K5. Something of a high water-mark for Suzuki sportsbikes, its enduring legend keeps prices high, regardless of whether the hype now exceeds the reality. They were great, but they weren’t the be-all and end-all...
The Fireblade will probably have aged better, too – it was always better built and more robust, and you’ll pay at least a grand less than an equivalent tidy K5. The Showa forks and shock are good quality and easy to improve further. The radial Tokicos are decent enough, or there are plenty of inexpensive retro-fit options to fit the same mounts. The motor responds well to a pipe, air filter and fuelling work, which plenty have already had.
What’s the catch? Well, the 2004 bike was a typically efficient Honda, to the point where some might find it bland. That’s why the inferior-quality, harder to ride ZX-10R from the same year is worth more: purely on assumed grin factor, not logic. But a liberating exhaust and shorter gearing goes a long way to giving more life to a bike that’s just about all the sportsbike anyone could want.
It might be typically efficient, but it’s arguably all the sportsbike you need