CHEAP THRILLS

The first litre Fireblade: huge per­for­mance for less than a scabby fox­eye 900

Performance Bikes (UK) - - CONTENTS -

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

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