Honda Fireblade

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"Fireblade" redirects here. For the videogame see Fireblade

Fireblade was originally the world market term for Honda's 900 cc sport bike. It now encompasses several models spanning from 1992, starting with the Honda CBR900RR.[1]

Background

In 1984 Kawasaki introduced the GPZ900 which reached 250 km/h and at same time was controllable. A year later Suzuki introduced the 176 kg GSX-R750F. The origin of the GSX-R was a factory developed model for endurance races and it was true racer. In 1986 Suzuki offered an even bigger and more powerful bike, the 198 kg GSX-R1100. This was argued to be the basis of a new breed of modern sport bikes, with the 5 valve Yamaha FZR1000T following it in 1987. From then on the Japanese machines only got heavier, and by 1992 the GSXR1100N was 225 kg and the 750 version was over 200 kg.

Development

Tadao Baba began design of the Fireblade, originally intended to use a 750 cc engine, in 1989. This was later changed to an engine with an 893 cc capacity to position the new machine away from existing machines in the Honda range, creating a new class of 1 with no direct competition.

Name

In the bike's early development, the name FIREBLADE came along, through a mis-translation from French to English for the Japanese word for lightning. It became the adopted internal name for the project's development, but all Honda inline-engined sport motorcycles of the time were labelled CBR, followed by a number approximately equal to the engine's capacity in CC. However, Baba-san had said that as the project came to launch, the internal name was chosen as the bike's marketing name so as not to emphasise the first Fireblade's 893 cc engine displacement, because at that time potential customers not accustomed to the new concept of lighter and agile superbikes would not perceive a motorbike of less than 1000 cc as a top performer.

History

Launched in 1992, the CBR900RR's large displacement engine coupled with its relatively light weight and nimble frame was unheard of. Since then there have been numerous variations from the original 893 cc Blade to the current CBR1000RR.

1992 CBR900RR

Main article: Honda CBR900RR

At 407 lb (185 kg) and putting out approximately Template:Convert/hp from its inline 4 cylinder engine, the original Fireblade defined a new genre - big displacement bikes that were as light as, if not lighter than, their 600 cc counterparts.

The first 893 cc Fireblade sold quickly, even with a relatively high UK list price of £7390. Demand soon outstripped supply, as riders could not believe just how fast, light weight (a class-breaking 185 kg) and easy to ride this new bike was, especially in the hands of riders more used to the heavy weight bikes of the time (e.g. Kawasaki ZX10, Suzuki GSX-R1100, and Honda's own CBR1000F).

It was widely regarded as one of the best-handling sport bikes ever although there were some calls for a steering damper initially due to the Template:Convert/LoffAoffDbSon front wheel making the front seem twitchy. It was soon proven to be the correct choice of wheel, as the reduced unsprung weight of a Template:Convert/LoffAoffDbSon wheel over a Template:Convert/LoffAoffDbSon improved turning ability. The steering geometry was also virtually identical to the Kawasaki KR1-s 250 cc two stroke which although a road going bike was widely used for racing and was known as a 'proddie bike for the road'. The Fireblade's statistics on paper raised a few eyebrows before launch because of this. The bike was tested with help by Phillip McCallen, a professional racer who also raced the Fireblade at the Isle of Man TT.

Purists and fans of the Fireblade believe the early models to be the best as later models became more 'refined' and easier to ride to cater for mass appeal as opposed to true sports bike riders.

The first colors were red/white/blue and the menacing black and silver version.

Over the next few years, the Fireblade saw some minor updates as the bike received some new clothes in the shape of a redesign to the bodywork, as the now familiar Foxeye/Urban Tiger came along in December 1993, and soon sold out, as it had the year before, even at the list price of £8195.

1995 CBR918RR

November 1995 saw a big revamp, unusual for Honda, as the RRT model was released with an all new dedicated 918 cc engine, not the previous Japan-only bored-out 750 engine. A revised suspension package and other updates to the riding position gave the rider a little more civility. List price was an even more extortionate £9265.

In 1997 The RRV was released but although the power was increased by a few bhp little had changed from the 1996 bike, except a new set of colour schemes and a slight weight loss now 183 kg, due to a new aluminium silencer.

1998 CBR900RR

Although radically changed the public didn't respond well, Honda couldn't keep up with the new Yamaha R1 or Kawasaki ZX-9R which at the time had performance way out of the ballpark.

2000 CBR929RR

The millennium year Fireblade had an all new fuel injected 929 cc engine, inverted forks and a much awaited Template:Convert/LoffAoffDbSon front wheel. Honda had also given the bike a squarer look, with a dry weight of 170 kg, losing 9 kg in the process. But again the bike lost out to the Yamaha R1 in the sales charts. The 929 lasted for only two years, in the guises of model RRY and RR1.

2002 CBR954RR

A CBR929RR with a bigger capacity engine created models RR2 and RR3. It had an altogether much leaner, sleeker, tougher look due to every body panel being altered from the previous year. The new 954 Fireblade made Template:Convert/bhp and Template:Convert/ft.lbf of torque, due to a heavily improved EFI system with bigger injectors and more processing ability. It also handled better due to frame and headstock strengthening, and a more rigid swingarm. Weighing in at a class leading 168 kg, it also weighed less than Honda's own CBR600RR.

2004 CBR1000RR

Main article: Honda CBR1000RR

The CBR1000RR finally enabled the venerable Fireblade to arrive at a true litre of displacement to more easily compete with litre bikes from Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki. Developed by the same team that was behind the Honda RC211V race bike for the MotoGP series.[2] Many of the new technologies introduced in the Honda CBR600RR, a direct descendent of the RC211V, were used in the new CBR1000RR such as a lengthy swingarm, Unit Pro-Link rear suspension, and Dual Stage Fuel Injection System (DSFI).

Almost no parts of the CBR954RR were carried over to the CBR1000RR Development The compact 998 cc in-line four was a completely fresh design, with unique bore and stroke dimensions, race-inspired cassette-type six-speed gearbox, all-new ECU-controlled ram-air system, dual-stage fuel injection, and center-up exhaust featuring a new computer-controlled butterfly valve. The chassis was likewise all new, including an organic-style aluminum frame composed of Gravity Die-Cast main sections and Fine Die-Cast steering head structure, inverted fork, Unit Pro-Link rear suspension, radial-mounted front brakes, and a centrally-located fuel tank hidden under a faux cover.

A longer swingarm acted as a longer lever arm in the rear suspension for superior traction under acceleration and more progressive suspension action. Substantially longer than the corresponding unit on the CBR954RR (585 mm compared to 551 mm) the CBR1000RR's 34 mm-longer swingarm made up 41.6% of its total wheelbase. The CBR1000RR's wheelbase also increased, taping out at 1405 mm (55.3 inches), a 5 mm increase over the 954.

Providing room for a longer swingarm required massive changes to the engine architecture, another reason the CBR1000RR power plant shares nothing with the 954. Shortening the engine compared to the 954 meant rejecting the conventional in-line layout. Instead, engineers positioned the CBR1000RR's crankshaft, main shaft and countershaft in a triangulated configuration - like the Yamaha R1.

2006 CBR1000RR

As the name remains unchanged, the '06 CBR1000RR shares much with the previous years as a mid-model update. Honda re-designed the top-end of the engine to increase the red line, lightened the bike by 17 pounds primarily in the exhaust, and slightly revised the chassis and suspension geometry for quicker steering.

Additionally, the sprocket was changed to increase acceleration at the significant cost of top speed. In an effort to lighten turn-in and directional changes, Honda slightly tightened up the geometry on the CBR along with reducing the front rotor mass. This led to a more "flick-able" bike while maintaining the stable handling the CBR1000RR remains known for.

Finally, a re-design of the ram-air system increased airflow into the airbox while an updated electronic steering damper reduced additional mass. The tried and true Honda dual-stage fuel injection system (44-mm throttle bodies) with two injectors per cylinder also sits on the other side of the air filter. Honda maintains the '06 1000RR continues to share "DNA" with the since departed RC211V MotoGP racer. Along with modified fairings, the CBR presented a more "aggressive" appearance cosmetically.

See also

References

External links