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Honda Fireblade celebrates in year 2002 tenth anniversary and during those years gained a lot of respect. Blade was getting during the time still more and more sophisticated. And slightly was growing it's power till 1998 but in 2000 returned Blade itself again on the top. Before FireBlade was most powerful model of Honda CBR1000F but its dry weight was massive 222kg. CBR1000F was suffering from waving in every try for sharp turn round during sport ride. Riders all around the world was asking for more powerful and more sport motorcycle. And their wishes was answered.

Young engineer with experiences from design had clear idea. He visited the boss of Honda and introduced his conception. It was year 1989 and engineer's name was Tadao Baba. His idea was to produce motorcycle with power of 1000cc engine but with controllability of 750cc. The FireBlade was born. One of most remarkable bike of last 20 years. Only a few bikes came closer to this idea. In 1984 was introduced Kawasaki GPZ900 which reached 250 km/h and at same time was controllable. A year later Suzuki introduced famous GSX-R 750G. Origin of GSX-R was in factory model for endurance races and was true racer. In 1986 Suzuki offered even bigger and more powerful bike GSX-R1100. This gave basics to the new modern sport bikes and if they would continue same way on Blade wouldn't be so rovolutionary. But Suzuki made two horrible things. First in 1988 introduced GSX-R1100J which weight was more than 24 kg than original model G. In next year Suzuki model GSX-R1100K lost 11 kg but bad suspension caused that K-model was clumsy. In the same year (1989) entered Yamaha the fight for the supersport throne with great FZR1000 EXUP but even this was the best 1000cc bike at that time its dry weight 209 kg was too much. And so can start the career of the FireBlade - era which last already more than 10 years. Therefore lets remind all those 10 years what is Blade between us.


rok 1992<br>
year 1992 (EU)

rok 1992<br>
year 1992 (EU)

rok 1993<br>
year 1993 (US)

rok 1994-1995<br>
year 1994 (EU)

rok 1994-1995<br>
year 1995 (EU)

rok 1994-1995<br>
year 1996
(EU)

rok 1996-1997<br>
year 1996 (EU)

rok 1996-1997<br>
year 1996 (EU)

rok 1996-1997<br>
year 1996 (US)


year 1997
(EU)

rok 1998-1999<br>
year 1998 (EU)

rok 1998-1999<br>
year 1998 (EU)

rok 1998-1999<br>
year 1999 (EU)

rok 1998-1999<br>
year 1999 (EU)

rok 2000-2001<br>
year 2000 (EU)

rok 2000-2001<br>
year 2000 (EU)

rok 2002<br>
year 2002 (EU+US)

rok 2003<br>
year 2003 (EU)

rok 2003<br>
year 2003 (EU)


year 2004 (US)


year 2004 (EU)


1992 and 1993
''I am not completely sure... without steering muffler won't be possible....... steering geometry is almost equal to 250cc...'' These words was able to hear after first test ridings and those words were giving perfect picture about character of first Blades. First Blades were crazy, mad, almost too much for normal mortal. In that time buyers requested raw power and welcomed everything what was increasing level of adrealin. They wanted to be scared. In fact they didn't know anything else. Handling sport bikes in those times , besides a few exemption, meant that riders had both hands full of work.
Honda decided to go different way, the way of total control. CBR900 was brisk, had power - mostly on the top and was more then just a bit wild. And rider fell in love with it. Properties of Blade qained for its owner lot of respect. CBR900RR despite higher price was on the top of selling statistics. Bike with dry weight 185 kg and 893cc engine produced 124 HP, which was power ration 0,67 HP/kg. But what was more important, finally was available bike was fast as 750cc and turning round as 600cc. Because of front 16'' wheel the bike after passing any roughness pretty slaped the rider, therefore many rider applyed steering muffler.

In that time started to sell knee sliders in wider amount, which wasn't usual before -finally you could reach by knee the road on stronger bike. Hardly any owner left the bike without any adjusting. Front rotors often broke after 15,000km. Also exhaust muffler didn't last much longer, especially when bike used during the winter and that's why many owners aplyed tune exhaust. Many owners of firts Blades trimed their bikes with plexiglass, small mirros etc. But there weren't many able to handle the bike completely, the bike was simply too much. That is why many rider liked to use Blade for traveling. But nobody admit it. In mechanical way were Blades OK. It proves many first models you that can see nowadays on the streets and also their price. There was so interest for Blades than many people got their bike in 1993. Honda succeeded - created fenomenal bike. In 1993 was changed just color cheme and its price slightly rised.


1994
Honda improved Blade for the year 1994 just slightly . In comparasion tests that year was put together Suzuki RF900, Kawasaki ZX-9R and Triumph Daytona 900, everybody appreciated how Blade ran like sprt-touring machine and equal was dominating in sport branch.
Probably most remarkable change was rebuilded front part with more rounded lights. Shape improved aerodynamics. Engine stayed without changes, but original piston cover head was replaced by magnesium one. Supply of power was the same - light power delivery in bottom but a lot of power in midlle and upper range. There were different things which moved possibilities of 1994 Blade forward. Bike had still front 16'' wheel and was still litllebit unstable but changes in this year includes udjusted gearbox and wider rear tire 180/55 instead of former 160/55 so unstability was decreased. Number of Blades admires extended. Even riders who dreamed about VFR750 attracted potential of RR handle comfortable also longer distances. People loved Blade couse its look. The price was tremendously increased in spite of all Blades were sold out immediately.


1995
The tradition is that Honda renovating motorcycles every second year. Same was with CBR-RR, which could sleep calm in success. Honda for this year changed color scheme and logos and also was improved stability by side stand. For those small changes potencial customer had to pay again littlebit more. But Blade had so good position on market that would be sold out even for much higher price. Demand for was repeatedly higher than Honda was able to produce new bikes. Position on the market didn't threaten not even Yamaha FZR1000 EXUP nor heavy GSX-R1100WS and neither Kawasaki ZX-9R which was introduced in 1994.


1996
Honda admited nervousness from year 1996. Blade was a long time on the top of selling charts. And rumours were spreading about new competitor's models . Yamaha replaced FZR1000 Exup by YZF1000R Thunderace, Thunderace paper data were impressive. Honda therefore adjusted Blade like never before to be able keep fighting with competitors. Honda introduced 1996 Blade on the end of 1995. Though the look wasn't too different from previous model it was practically new bike. 893cc engine disappeared and was replaced by 918cc one. Dry weight droped down 1 kg on 184 kg and power increased for 5 HP on 128 HP. Supply of power was more flatten. First test spoke about what kind of miracle Honda achieved with rebuild of CBR. Bike was faster, better manageable a hard ride was easier. Honda keeped first position among supersport bikes.

Thunderace was more powerful (145 HP) byt with dry eight 198 kg was too heavy. Tilt the bike into the curve required a lot of effort and the hoods made bike much bigger than CBR. But FireBlade buyers were pleased, because otherwise Honda wouldn't improved its CBR so much. Except new engine CBR got lighter hoods, different riding position and lower tank (about 10 mm) and higher handlebars, narrower and stiffer frame and lighter crank and bent cooler and more durable exhaust. Front 16'' wheel stayed without change. Changes in engine, which included stiffer crankchaft, smaller alternator etc. brought 3 Nm moreof torgue.


1997
Blade couldn't compete with bigger rival Yamaha Thunderace by its HP although Honda for this year didn't make any changes. Slowly was coming up take down from the throne.... The only change on 1997 CBR, except color scheme was replace steel exhaust muffler by new aluminum one. The result: lost 1 kg of weight on 183 kg. Blade was still most requested bike in this class.



1998
If incoming of Thunderace in 1996 scared bosses of Hnda , incoming of R1 in 1998 shocked them completly . YZF-R1 was one of the most classified model in modern history, photo of grey colored prototype bike were made already in summer 1997. Only few months before YZF introducion.
Yamaha developing department was forced to make something really radical. Honda knew about new Yamaha many months and it reflected on the new 1998 Blade. Blade went through much bigger changes than Honda originally planned. First time after introducion in 1992 eppeared on the market serious competitor. Weight of Blade decreased on 179 kg rebuild was engine (according Honda 80% of parts), had more comfortable behavior, but increase of HP was minimal - 2 HP on 130 HP.

Reaction of engine was better thanks to the new and bigger carburator. Gearbox was slightly adjusted, which cuse increasing of top speed about 6 km/h. Also engine cooling was improved, frame was lighten ( about 4 kg ) and also was improved stability by lowering of fork offset. Fork was changed, new bail arm had higher torsion stiffness and diameter of front rotor was increased from 296 to 310 mm. Also were used new four piston brakes. Look was changed thanks to a new headlight and remodeled hood. In comparison with previous model Honda improved model at least 10 %, but it wasnt enough. The world was captured by R1 fever. Blade riders fast forgot on RR when saw new R1. Yamaha engaged by modern look and although it was only 2 kg lighter then Blade looked liket would be lighter at least 50%. In streight competition R1 wasn't clear winner. Wasn't so stable, didn't turn so easily and in lower speed falling into the curves too much, but it didn't avoid RR from second position.


1999
Honda suffered by succes of R1. In this year had to satisfied by second place and centralized forces on new model for year 2000, with this model Honda wanted to get back on the top.
Honda in order to decrease selling bad success of Blade had to sell much cheaper than R1. The only one difference between 1998 and 1999 model was color scheme. The big changes were on the way. Chief Engineer Baba-san and his team spent on development of new Blade thousands and thousands hours. They put togeter few functional models, some with 1000cc engine some with tuned 918cc engine and some with 929cc engine. Development was classified and press was speculating if Honda decline from slogan "Total Control" and will go the way of increasing the power, which was required in that time.


2000
Honda hoped in 2000 for regain the top. But Yamaha didn't sleep and also modernized its R1. Blade again had to be setisfied by second place although the lead of Yamaha was only huge.
Introducing of new CBR was holdn in Spain in circuit Estoril. Improved Blade during the ride offered great amoutn of safety and was fighting with R1 by specific way. Was more sophisticated against R1, more calm and seemed also bit more boring. During the ride wasn't so wild and didn't provide same portion of adrenalin as before, although was remarkable capable. During eight years of existence become Blade more settled and calm. Almost was able to say that bike which settled down fundamental stone for supersport bikes haven't belonged into the same category as R1. Almost was able to qualify Blade as sport touring bike. High power on the top of range disapeared, same as slightly unstable controllability. New Blade finally got what needed long time ago - 17'' front wheel. This together with front fork /upside-down/ calm down the front part of the bike and subsequently allowed more hard manoeuvring.
Blade represended highly sophisticated unit and could overcome R1 but ... Yamaha didn't leave anything to the coincidence and for year 2000 also modernized its R1. R1 lost 2 kg and got titanium exhaust muffler together with many improvements in engine and chassis. But Blade also prepared itself good, got increased engine from 918 on 929cc and decreased weight to 170 kg. New was also fuel injection. Honda finally increased power - it reached at least on the paper 152 HP, but was proven it was too optimistic - checks on dyno showed more realistic value about 135 HP.

2001
After the Suziki in 1996 stoped with production of GSX-R1100 its position parial adopt GSX-R750. GSX was fighting with other 1000cc bikes. Altough the engine size was a class smaller, on the circuit was bike great and nothing could compare with. Bike was wild and thrilling. But the world turned away from 4 cylinder 750cc - in superbike class started to dominate two cylinder bikes and modern 1000cc, 4 cylinder offered great fun on the roads for average people. Suzuki which in the past determined the rules with models GS1000 and by GSX-R1100 needed 1000cc race replica with sharp chassis and racing geometry. Shortly said: Suzuki needed bigger version of GSX-R750. And thats why GSX-R1000 was born. R1 and Blade were instantly on second place - GSX-R1000 become immediately new etalon of this class. Suzuki was better than any bike in the class. R1 and Blade weren't modernized for this year. Situation looked for loosing the postitions on the market for both bikes. In big number of tests was standing following: GSX-R, R1, CBR. But selling statistics were completely reverse. On the top of saleability was still CBR, following by R1 and then GSX-R. Better on the circuit doesn't mean better in sell...


2002
Blade's competitors will have serious difficulties.... Engine is bigger 954cc and dry weight droped down on 168kg. Frame is more stiff and intake grew up from 40 on 42mm. 2002 Blade came round to its original wildness. Racer will surely fastest on GSX-R. But who can use the possibilities of the bike on 90% Blade will be unique. Contrary former model is much better, has higher power, sharper controllability and better riding position. And what is very important the bike give great amount of confidence in what is not GSX-R1000 so good. Also Yamaha introduced new R1. About R1 everyone talks in superlatives. Unfortunately for Honda after all the changes it's still not enough... For first place still competing R1 and GSX-R. In spite of Blade is still best selling bike. Blade obtains customers by wide spectrum of capabilities. You can use it such race replica, sport tourer and even for everyday riding.


2003
For year 2003 Honda made just small changes, which includes only new color scheme (but still the Blade is best selling bike of hypersport class in this year).
And that's why everybody waiting what will bring 2004, when expected significant improvements of Blade ....

2004
Completely new motorcycle based on MotoGP bike. Used many new innovation approaches. New engine, new radial brakes, higer output (+150HP), exhaust under the seat. Personally I don't like too much design of front part (lights). Only direct competition with new Kawa ZX-10 and modified YZF-R1 will show who the king of hypersport class will be.

 

 

Courtesly by Moto.cz

 

 

 

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