Ushering in back in 1992, the Fireblade aimed to re-design what Supersport meant, taking the direction of the class and turning it onto refined handling, aggressive looks and maximising your control out on the road. Total Control, a statement that became somewhat a design goal of the Honda team.
But with over 25 years in the market, they must have succeeded. Recently releasing an all-new CBR1000RR Fireblade, Honda have succeeded in maintaining their core design philosophy - Total Control. Take a short read into the history below.
Arriving initially back in 1992, the Fireblade brought high-performance riding to the masses with an out-of-the-box attitude that shaped the supersport category based on Honda's intensive and advanced research. They aimed to match competition, taking their previous inline 4-cylinder 750cc and increasing its stroke and displacement up to 893cc, a significant leap on their past developments. Lighter, compact and class-leading; the Fireblade had settled its place on the ladder.
The response was phenomenal, quickly gaining a reputation as the bike that read the road on its own. Harbouring confidence in each ride, the Fireblade started to grow, giving Honda ideas for their next iteration.
Coming back again in 1993, Honda had revised the styling, aiming to catch more people's attention via a vivid colour scheme which went on to become somewhat of a classic. Its faded colours caught glimpses and turned heads as the Fireblade continued to grow in popularity, both in Japan and European markets. Honda were spending more time under the covers though, preparing for another newly-released Fireblade.
After another year had passed, Honda returned to the table with their second generation machine, aiming to maintain their position in the market - all while capturing fans interest all over again, both new and old. The new 1994 Fireblade brought enhanced engine efficiency, a new fully adjustable front fork and its known menacing attitude back. The new developments focused even further on making the bike even better at handling each twist and turn, providing a lighter machine with refinements across the board.
Standing strong, the Fireblade had come to greater appeal while its brighter design caught some more attention, along with its unique "tiger eyes" giving it an extra fierce look.
Another year brought another change to the Blade, again changing colours and looks to keep riders interested while Honda worked hard under-wraps to bring another generation. In this early generation, the power output varied all the way from 106bhp to 124bhp, giving some riders an additional edge.
Optimised further but maintaining its twin-spar frame, the 1996 model brought an even lighter and more rigid Fireblade. A newly shaped fuel tank and altered riding position offered even more control for riders when commanding the Fireblade. To aid riders, the exhaust had been changed to a new stainless steel pipe, along with the removal of the fuel pump, giving riders a 1kg weight reduction. On top of its adjustments in the ride, the styling received a few changes including a new rear cowl for enhanced aerodynamics and its shiny new paintjob.
Under the fairings, the engine had received an upgrade, increasing the engine displacement from 893cc to 918cc aiming to bring more power to the rider. The maximum power output increased to 128 PS and a new throttle position sensor in the carburettor brought a snappier, sharper Blade.
Showing another year with another new colour, the 1997 Blade showed nothing but familiarity, other than its new vivid yellow colour scheme. Taking a closer look into the bike, Honda had mentioned that their drag-reducing front mudguard was the same design as the one on the NSR500 GP bike, showing Honda's premise to work based on top-end performance. Class defining performance matched their total control philosophy.
Aiming to be as lightweight as possible since its introduction in 1992, the 1998 generation brought a total redesign of over 80% of the Fireblade parts. The development team for the Fireblade brought an even lighter revision by stripping the machine down bolt-by-bolt, reducing the dry weight to 180kg, further enhancing its performance.
In its list of revisions - a new swingarm pivot with enhanced rigidity, a lightweight, highly rigid swingarm with a new tapered shape, a head pipe with revised dimensions along with other new design elements combined to take high-speed stability to an even higher level.
More power, body and engine revisions and a new style - It was an all-new Blade.
Another off-pattern year for the Fireblade brought more styling changes to the machine. For 1999, the Blade received a new deep blue colour scheme, featuring gold and red accents too. For manoeuvrablility, the bike had a white grab-handle on the rear, making it easier when moving the bike. Riders and buyers alike were expecting Honda's next generation, following their pattern.
Until this point, the engine of the Fireblade hadn't changed significantly over the course of its development, but for the 2000 model year, Honda rebuilt the engine from the ground up with a full re-design. The first model in the CBR series engine to adopt a fuel injection system, the machine aimed to maintain its core design goals, all while recapturing the attention of Honda fans and non-fans alike. The displacement of the new engine was 929cc rising the maximum power output significantly, up to 148 PS.
Not just the engine was re-designed, but the full frame and bodywork. Bringing a sharper, more aggressive looking Fireblade. Maintaining the lightweight identity of the series, the dry weight was reduced further to 170kg, a 15kg reduction of the first-generation model.
A new bodywork styling appeared on the market for the fifth revision of the Fireblade, giving riders a metallic grey paintwork and some new livery; a fresh take on the Fireblade nad CBR logo text, which went on to further evolve in future models. Unmistakably Fireblade.
The last in the series to bear the name CBR900RR, the sixth generation came out strong with a new displacement of 954cc along with a higher maximum output of 150.9 PS. Lowered vibrations, lowered total mass and friction, resulting in greatly enhanced performance and responsiveness - a snappier ride all-round.
2kg lighter than the previous model, the higher power and lowered weight helped to bring an even more thrilling ride to the Fireblade. Total Control, a lightweight and sporty ride all while offering a gorgeous and sharp frame. This was a true definition of Fireblade.
Again, bringing a new styling for the sixth revision, sporting a bright yellow and contrasting black bodywork. Attracting attention with each growl and grunt, the Fireblade had gained its standard following yet again, but sure enough, following their formular the next generation was due next year.
To support the original creator of the Fireblade, Tadao Baba, leaving the project, Honda decided to remove the capital 'B' from the name FireBlade. He was then presented with a piston from every model on a plaque as a retirement gift.
A brand-new generation of Fireblade had arrived, stepping into the limelight was a new engine, new frame, new life into the series of the CBR. The seventh generation was designed with the goal of joining the Superbike World Championship and other racing events in mind, targeting a lightweight yet ultra-powerful class. To help with this goal, the displacement was increased up to 998cc and filled with new features.
Featuring two independent injectors per cylinder, the output was enhanced significantly. The direct air system helped offer a faster throttle response in the mid to high rpm ranges, opening up opportunities for the Blade to perform on the street and the racing circuit. The new litre version of the Fireblade had opened all-new doors for the CBR series, along with the Supersport series of bikes.
The litre bike Blade received another set of styling upgrades, different from the plain black styling of the 2004 version, bringing bright red, deep blue and silver colours to the Fireblade. The CBR1000RR had gained a brilliant reputation after HM Plant Honda's Michael Rutter had won the 2004 Blade's first ever race at Silverstone in the BSB opener, giving the Fireblade a boost in sales.
The new styling continued on Honda's hot-streak of daring and bright colours and features on the Blade.
Retaining the basic structure of the 2004 model year engine, the 2006 model brought straight cylinder head intake ports and larger exhaust ports. The adjustments to the shape and timing of the valves raised the efficiency of combustion, intake and exhaust, resulting in an advanced engine with a much stronger torque range.
The brake performance was also altered by changing the diameter of the front brake disk, from 310mm to 320mm, although the thickness was reduced which resulted in a more lightweight and compact caliper, increasing performance while reducing overall weight.
The arrival of the legendary Repsol edition, we don't need to stress how popular this generation became, the Repsol edition became a staple of the Honda line-up, becoming one the top-selling models for the Fireblade family, spanning over further generations. Featuring a bold orange, black, red and white colour scheme, its metallic shine caught attention across each market.
Unique and strong in persona, the Fireblade had reached a new level of confidence.
Following an alternative concept "All the best in Super Sport", the ninth-generation Fireblade aimed to be top of the class in rideability, design and power. Featuring a back torque limiter system which was adopted from the RC212V, as well as an assist slipper clutch that reduced clutch lever load.
While an alternative concept was followed, the traditional rideability of the CBR series was present, with its lightweight and controllable ride, while offering optimal power. Concentrated and ready, the new Fireblade was back at the throats of competition.
Featuring the world's first electronically controlled combined ABS for a supersport bike, the CBR1000RR Fireblade had returned yet again with innovation and control in mind. This electronic accuracy for the braking system created a much higher degree of accuracy and control, allowing the rider to apply the precise amount of braking needed, making every situation within reach.
While the system was complex, it was flawlessly integrated, positioning it in the centre of the bike helped reduce unsprung weight and concentrate mass, preserving the Fireblade's core dynamic lightweight performance.
Still based on the previous 2009 model, the eleventh generation offered a more refined performance to enjoy the ride. Initially, mitigating the torque variations during cruising, the ACG flywheel diameter was increased, along with modifications to the crankshaft flywheel attachment point, making it more rigid, increasing the inertial mass of the crankshaft and related parts.
The throttle operation was also refined, creating a more controllable ride. To compensate for the weight additions in the flywheel and crankshaft, the radiator fan motor was made more compact, along with the thickness of the exhaust pipe flange being reduced to help maintain the core goals of the Fireblade.
Marking the 20th anniversary of the Fireblade, the CBR1000RR had already come a long way, focusing all this time on its core design goals and philosophies, controllable riding and maximum performance. With newly structured front and rear suspensions, revised engine fuel injection settings and a smoother ride all-around.
It was a significant step, but this was the last change to the Fireblade we'd seen for a while.
Finally here, the brand-new 2017 Fireblade is the next step of Total Control, bringing a lighter-than-ever and sharper performance to the Honda supersport range. Still following the core philosophies, design goals and core ideas built into the original 1992 edition, the brand-new Blade features an all-new frame, bodywork and engine.
An all-time high in power for the CBR series, the bottom end torque and high-end power have both been improved, significantly at the top end, bringing it up 8kW to 141kW at 13,000 rpm. Even more customisation to fit your riding style have been offered too, with three selectable modes of engine output.
Not just the core has received an overhaul though - the exterior has been fully overhauled from top to bottom. Featuring newly crafted sharp, edgy lines and a gorgeous deep red tone; this machine was meant to intimidate the competition. It's thunderous and charismatic engine brings a unique sound, feel and way to ride, but will still be familiar to fans of the series, with its unforgivably Honda tone and feel. Lightweight, monstrous power all while remaining in full control of the riders hands.
It's available now and we're taking orders for the brand-new Blade, so if you're interested in taking your ride to the next level, click here to see the new 2017 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade. The result of 25 years of research, development and passion.
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