‘My wife made me go day-glo’
It’s a familiar tale: boy has bike, boy meets girl, girl hates bike, boy gives up bike. But once the confetti’s stopped fluttering and all the wedding cake has been eaten, boy and bike usually find a way to get back together. “My wife hated bikes,” says proud Blade owner Justin Peel, “but all my mates were bikers and I really missed it, so we struck a deal that if I bought the loudest, most day-glo helmet possible, she’d be happy with me riding again.”
After 17 years out of the saddle, Justin bought a light-up Shark Skwal lid, took his full test then bought a Honda CBR600RR. He then enjoyed 12 happy months gaining experience on his 600 before getting his head turned by a 2013 Fireblade.
“I’ve always loved Hondas,” says Justin. “I just love everything about them; the riding position, the smoothness and the build quality. When I bought the 13-plate Blade, the salesman told me that the allnew Fireblade would be coming soon, so I was waiting and waiting for news about it. It was at the NEC show in 2016 when I finally clapped eyes on it and I thought wow, I’m having one of those! So in spring of last year I finally bit the bullet and bought one. But because I got a custom paint job as part of the deal, I had to wait over two months before I could ride it.” Justin soon made up for lost time, though. Here’s how his first year’s been…
No test ride required, I was having that new Blade! Trouble was that none of the standard paint schemes floated my boat: the matt black one picked up too many greasy marks and I found the others a bit boring. North West Honda in Blackpool were offering a package deal on a custom paint job on the new Blade, so I signed up and chose to get a Jason O’Halloran BSB replica done.
My first ride was up to Rivington Barn. It got plenty of attention, perhaps too much; as soon as my back was turned people would try to sit on it! Things have calmed down now that most people know me. Out on the road, though, you also get people who think I’m some sort of superbike rider so they want to try to race you. I’m not a racer, far from it!
To run it in, I just put it on its lowest power mode and cruised around for 1000 miles so it didn’t really take that much discipline on my behalf. Then I took it back to Blackpool Honda for the first service, which I think they did for free. They also put a protective covering over the paintwork to stop it getting scratched or chipped, which they also threw in for free.
I added a Racefit can, but it made the bike run badly so I swapped it for an Akrapovic. But even though the bike was running sweet, I didn’t like the look of the Akra so I bought a Leo Vince, but I got bored with the looks of that one too. So I sold the Leo Vince and bought this Austin Racing one, which I’m really happy and has helped boost the power to 192bhp.
‘We went to the TT and the Blade was awesome’
It came on Bridgestone S21 tyres and they were finished by about 2000 miles. Then I switched to the Pirelli Diablo Rosso IIIs and I’m really impressed. They manage to be really grippy in all conditions and are hard wearing too. They’ve done about 5000 miles now so I’ll probably put a new set on when I get the bike back out after winter. I really rate them.
Honda’s Jason O’Halloran signed the tailpiece for me. My mates and I took a ride out to Oulton Park BSB and I showed him it while he was on a pit walk. He was impressed with it and said it was a pretty good replica, although the team have slightly changed their race colour scheme for this year and O’Halloran’s not with them for 2019. Oh well. The autograph’s been protected by a piece of clear film.
I bought an SW Motech rack and adapted it to take a topbox, then loaded it up and went all the way up to John O’ Groats then rode most of the west coast of Scotland. A lot of people don’t like touring on a sportsbike, but with me not being very big I found it fine, with no aches or pains although I did find the seat a little on the hard side by the end of the trip.
We went over to the TT and the Blade was simply awesome and so stable at high speed. The bike’s capable of going much, much faster but you’ve got to keep a lid on it. The Mountain section kept getting shut because too many people were trying to ride like Guy Martin. The quickshifter and autoblipper does make you feel a bit like a racer though.
Two months ago I took a test ride on the BMW S1000RR and I thought it felt a bit dated compared to my Blade. But I’ve just seen that they’re bringing a new one out so that might get a test ride at some point next year. That said, I don’t think I’d be very popular with my wife after the money I’ve spent on this one. No, thinking about it now, I’m definitely not selling it.
Austin Racing can has raised power to 192bhp
Justin has splashed out on accessories
Justin’s Blade is kitted to carry luggage