Early Blades

Honda's game-changer is a true mod­ern clas­sic

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Contents - By Bruce Dunn MCN GUEST TESTER

Time to in­vest in a first­gen­er­a­tion CBR900RR

What we said then...

‘This is with­out doubt a knife-edge sports­bike with 122 horse power be­ing put to full use, not wasted drag­ging vast lumps of un­wanted weight around.’ Chris Dabbs, MCN 1992

What's it like now?

The Fire­blade de­fines the mod­ern sports­bike era, and these orig­i­nal mod­els have be­come in­creas­ingly de­sir­able in re­cent years.

Class-lead­ing light­ness was the Blade's orig­i­nal mis­sion state­ment and Honda achieved this by mak­ing it as spar­tan as pos­si­ble. Both vis­ually and me­chan­i­cally, there's very lit­tle that doesn't earn its keep. This phi­los­o­phy helped the CBR900RR come in at around 185kg when the GSX-R1100 and EXUP, tipped the scales at 231kg and 209kg, re­spec­tively.

Even to­day, these early Fire­blades still feel very light and al­though the weight dis­tri­bu­tion feels slightly top heavy com­pared to a mod­ern bike, the Blade dis­plays ex­cep­tional flick­a­bil­ity.

De­spite this, there are so many throw­backs to re­mind you that this is a quar­ter-of-a-cen­tury-old model. The choke knob, for ex­am­ple – they looked daft back in the day – like some­thing you'd see in your granny's car.

While it warms up, I check the tyres and am re­minded again that this is a ma­chine from the early 90s. The 16in front wheel was re­ally pop­u­lar with man­u­fac­tures at the time, with the idea be­ing that it gave sharp steer­ing.

This the­ory was cor­rect but there tended to be a trade-off with poor sta­bil­ity on some mod­els. That said, this Fire­blade felt very sta­ble – some­thing helped by its mod­ern tyres.

Al­though the 130/70x16 Bridge­stone Bat­t­lax BT-016S are not cut­ting-edge, they are miles bet­ter than what was avail­able when the Blade was new.

Al­though sta­bil­ity is fine, the ride was a lit­tle bit choppy over bumpy Cam­bridgeshire back roads and it was only when open­ing out on to smoother flow­ing roads that I was able to in­crease the pace. Open­ing the throt­tle on carbed bikes like the orig­i­nal Blade re­wards with an im­me­di­ate and lin­ear con­nec­tion.

Any prob­lems?

This bike, reg­is­tered in 1994, was prob­a­bly one of the last orig­i­nal 'round eye' mod­els to make it on to an 'L' pre­fix num­ber plate and shows signs of some hon­est age­ing. That said, there's noth­ing that amounts to dis­tress, and it can cer­tainly be re­ju­ve­nated. Some ar­eas of the chas­sis have lost that im­mac­u­late brushed satin show­room fin­ish, along with some of the an­cil­lar­ies, footrest hang­ers and swingarm.

Some of the plas­tic parts, switchgear and fair­ing in­ners have aged, too with 24-years-worth of the sun's UV rays. But, let's face it, Honda made this orig­i­nal Blade with so lit­tle in the way of su­per­fi­cial trim that there's not much to worry about.

Ver­dict

A quick blast on the orig­i­nal Blade only serves to con­firm its place in the sports­bike hall of fame. Even to­day, they still per­form bril­liantly and you'd be hard-pushed to tire of the ex­pe­ri­ence.

Our 1994 ex­am­ple is an un­re­stored bike that has had a fair bit of use, but still re­mains in good con­di­tion. Bikes like this can still be bought for a rea­son­able price, some­where around £3000, but you can eas­ily ex­pect to pay far more for lower mileages.

One thing's for sure, prices for these early Blades will only in­crease, so buy right and you'll not only have your own a very sat­is­fy­ing piece of his­tory, but you'll also have a lit­tle bit of an in­vest­ment on your hands.

With thanks to

Stevelin Mo­tor­cy­cles of Ram­sey, Cam­bridgeshire (01487 711513)

‘’ We the ❤ 90s… ’ Bruce gets all misty -eyed What's on the clocks? Prices for early Blades are climb­ing but you can pick up high mileage ma­chines at a fair price. We still adore that min­i­mal­ist ana­logue dash.

Run them reg­u­larly Don't just hoard it away in the garage. Bikes of this age need to be run reg­u­larly or the un­leaded petrol will gum up the carbs and jets. Gear­box woes Sec­ond gear is renowned for jump­ing out and caus­ing a false neu­tral, so if you can...

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