Review: 2014 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
File under Honda Product Review
Author: Loïc Depailler
Location: Paris, France
Since this is a translation directly from French, some of the colloquialism may seem a bit strange at time, for which I apologize. It's not easy to translate. Any mistakes below are mine, and mine alone.
An Easy Girl
The SP version of the Fireblade pushes the concept of Total Control dear to Honda to a climax; that is to provide an ultra efficient and disarmingly easy motorcycle. Mission accomplished but you will need to pay the price!
Honda's Fireblade is a special motorcycle in the Honda range. Since the appearance of the first model in 1992, the Japanese manufacturer has always strived to deliver motorcycles sticking to the Total Control concept. Understand by this, a motorcycle that is both efficient AND easy, capable to bring out the best rider that hides (or not) inside of us. A relevant concept since Honda has sold more than 200,000 units in the space of two decades. Of course, sportsbikes are no longer booming in the charts and the golden age when manufacturers totally overhauled their motorcycles every two years are gone. However, world's leading manufacturer does not stay in a status quo and for 2014 delivers a SP version destined for the circuit and refined in detail with Ohlins suspensions, a guarantee of quality and precision. Given the winter period, Honda sent us in Qatar on the Doha track to test its new bike.
A good idea since even in the South of Spain, the thermometer barely passes the 10°C.
Before talking about the SP version of the CBR 1000 RR we need to look at the standard version for 2014. Based in the 2013 model, Honda proceeded with a refresh of its hypersportsbike.
On the side of the engine, the inline four-cylinder sees its power increase from 176 (12,000 rpm) to 178 hp (12,250 rpm) while the torque increases from 112 Nm (8,500 rpm) to 114 Nm (10,500 rpm). Do not be fooled by the values above, the torque curve is much more fulfilled between 4 and 6,000 rpm. This performance increase is mainly achieved through improved flow streams at high revs at the intake and exhaust. The intake pipes are now beveled, the conduits now have curvatures in the soft lines and the valve seats have been redesigned. The exhaust has also been completely revised: reduced diameter of 38 to 35 mm, the addition of an interconnecting tube between the cylinders 2 and 3, a catalyst of a larger cross section ahead of the silencer, new plenum chamber .. Everything is obviously associated with a complete reconfiguration of the power plant, managing the sequential double injection PGM DFSI.
On the side of the chassis, the Japanese engineers have worked to improve the feedback by improving the flexibility at the junction between the frame and swingarm. According to Honda, this change was initially developed for the Ohlins suspension equipped SP version but has also been extended to the regular version as it has proven beneficial to the handling and traction. Finally, the riding position has become slightly more aggressive. The straps are farther apart (+ 34 mm) to improve the lever arm and the angle opened by + 5° and lowered by - 5 °. The footpegs themselves have been brought back by a centimeter. Finally, the 2014 version is entitled to a few refinements as practical to everyday use than useless to an average biker frothing at the corner boozer: a new windshield with a double curvature improving the protection of the biker (at least when the biker is pressed against the fuel tank), fuel tank cap redesigned to improve ventilation and even a new ignition key, safer and shorter to limit unfortunate holes in the pockets of your trousers.
To this batch of the changes, Honda has added to the SP version whatever it takes to make it a queen of the timed lap. The engine benefits from a original metrics via a more drastic selection of its moving parts. There where Honda usually allows a tolerance of 3 grams on the selection of its rods and its pistons, the tolerance on the SP was reduced to only 1 gram! And then of course there are the Ohlins suspensions. At the front, there is a 55 mm in diameter NIX30 (54 mm for the original Showa) designed specifically for the SP, both at the tubes and the fork. The junction with the frame was also entitled to a lot of improvements. The ties as well as the column shaft went from aluminum to steel to improve the rigidity and the upper triple clamp, and the contact surface is no longer cast but forged (always for the same reasons for those who know nothing about metallurgy). Without transition, let's move to the rear with a magnificent 36 TTX. The press kit is not very talkative about the amplitude settings but it is known that the hydraulics, typical for the "track", will be less comfortable on deteriorated asphalt. Let's move on to the brakes with Brembo monobloc brakes with asymmetric pistons (30 and 32 mm) and special pads designed to maximize the feeling when braking at high speed. Quite a program ... As a track version requires, the SP is a strict single seater allowing it to adopt a lighter rear. On the scales, this results in a weight of only 199 kg for the version without C-ABS (+11 kg). And then there are the "socks", Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa "SP", suitable for a mixed-use road/track.
In The Saddle
Before going onto the track we are presented with our luxury baby-sitters who will mentor us. With that, Honda has gone heavy, even very heavy, with the Haslam family (the old Ron and the younger Leon), Sebastien Gimbert (Note: top with his integration into the Honda Endurance team and FSBK 2014) who has as many wins in the Bol d'Or as with the 24 Hours of Le Mans, that I have the t-shirt at the bottom of my cupboard (I have many!), as well as the enormous John McGuinness, 20 times winner of the Tourist Trophy.
But let's get back to the ride-of-the-day. On the side of the finish quality, it's Honda "Made in Japan" all over. Everything is beautiful, perfectly snug without nothing out of place. In short, quality stuff made to last.
Once in the saddle, we have all parts of our feet on the ground starting at a height of 1.70 m but little else.
And once in motion, the position is certainly more sporty than in the past, but it is still a far cry from the radical Triumph Daytona 675 or a Yamaha R6. Nothing to report either on the ergonomics of the various controls, everything is well placed as it should be. Probably a bit of a quibble, but we would have liked to see a micrometer screw to adjust the brake lever guard rather than the traditional eccentric with 6 positions. As for starting the 4 cylinders, the SP is discrete (for that matter, higher in the revs) but then Honda France delivers the SP with an Akrapovic silencer which is probably louder - and lighter - than the original.
On The Track
The first sessions are done with the original tires, Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa "SP", destined for mixed usage track-road. Despite the fact that the tire pressure was too high (we only discovered that afterwards), the SP is tamed without any issues.
This is good because the Losail circuit is relatively difficult to master with few markers and a few "false brethren" curves who look alike at entry but not at all at the exit ... The first few laps seem more like improvisation than actual steering, and in those special circumstances, the CBR 1000 RR SP is your ally. Agile, the SP requires very little effort to set the angle and it never locks onto its trajectory, even under emergency braking. In tight corners, the front of the SP is placed within millimeters and the low inertia of the whole leaves the impression of a smaller sized motorcycle. Certainly, a Kawasaki ZX-10 R is probably more agile, but the driving sensations are different. On most hypersportives, the feeling comes essentially from the front axle with diffuse information at the rear.
On the SP, you feel everything, be it the transfer of mass or the suspension. On its own it is not a guarantee of more efficiency, but it's still very reassuring. Especially when you have your knee down at 150 kph ... but it is not there that the SP is the most impressive. Very reassuring, the SP still seems firmly wedged in its path but all you need to do is play a bit with force on your footrests to tighten your path. In the afternoon, the transition to a more efficient tire (the Supercorsa SC) will only emphasize these qualities despite significantly higher speeds.
In dealing with the brakes at the end of the straight at 290 kph (300 for some colleagues), before attacking a second curve, the SP is imperial in stability despite the incredible stopping power of the Brembo radial calipers. Same remark during hard acceleration where the chassis never feels overwhelmed by the nearly 180 horses. This ability to digest without flinching large transfers of mass while providing a good "reading" of the tires is a credit to the Ohlins suspension and of the rigidity work done and the gain is significant in all phases of the ride. So, even when the rider is running at his maximum pace, sometimes even beyond, the SP remains easy and considerate.
The engine also participates in this general ease with a controlled power delivery. Docile below 4000 rpm, it really wakes up at 6000 rpm providing forceful snapbacks. But to enjoy its full potential on the track, you will need to keep it above 8000 rpm, leaving about 5000 rpm margin before hitting the limiter. The dosage of the arrival of the power - the famous accelerator/rear wheel connection - is excellent most of the time, but the SP has graced us with a few random jolts. This detail apart, the 4 cylinder SP is typical for Honda's productions; docile, efficient but lacking a bit of character in face of the competition.
Let's get back to the braking. If the power is at the top, you will need to get used to the handle. Another annoying detail on a machine of this class, is a bit of a spongy feel, typical of machinery without "aviation" brake lines. According to Sébastien Gimbert, the feeling of the French versions without ABS should be much better. To be verified therefore at an upcoming longer road test.
The CBR 1000 RR SP can be customized with a range of original accessories which also enjoy a two-year warranty: guards for the shock absorber, carbon elements (fender, engine guards), skid protectors, workshop stand ... Outside of the track universe, you can also get an alarm, a higher windshield, a more comfortable saddle, dust covers, a battery charge controller and even a tank bag.
Judging the effectiveness of a hypersportive is always a difficult task without having at least a solid experience on the track, you reach the end of your own skills before those of the machine. Once this observation taken into account, the SP is a machine with a bluffing efficiency for an "average" pilot, adhering perfectly to the concept of Total Control so dear to the brand. With the avalanche of electronic crutches offered by the competition (as effective as they are practical), the SP contrasts with an ease of riding coupled to a tremendous efficiency and only the consistency of the brakes tarnishes an almost perfect picture. Remains the thorny issue of the price. To buy this CBR 1000 RR "full Ohlins," you will pay a bill of almost € 18,000 for a motorcycle clearly intended for track use and delivered in France without C-ABS but with an Akrapovic muffler. The standard version, less efficient but more versatile in the framework of a mixed-use road/track should be trading around € 14,000 and may have the C-ABS as optional extra.
|Strong Points ||Weak Points |
- irreproachable grip
- bluffing ease of riding
- workmanship quality
Click here to read the original review of the 2014 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP (in French)
Via: Le Repaire des Motards