2022 was always going to be a special year for Honda and the Fireblade brand. That’s because it’s 30 years since the first ones started appearing in showrooms. Since 1992 the Fireblade has seen umpteen iterations; some world-beating, others not quite, but they’ve all enjoyed their fair share of popularity. Not least of all the latest one, the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade which was brand new in 2020; it was a bit of a handful on the road, an absolute weapon on track, and even sexier for 2022.
Some of the things that made the 2020-2021 ‘Blade so good on track, did make it slightly awkward on the road. The 2-stroke-esque power delivery, the relatively stiff suspension and the squashed-up riding position. It was a bike you could tell would be good on track, even before you’d had the pleasure of testing it. And it was. In fact it still is. And the changes Honda have made to the new Fireblade sounds as though they’ll not only improve things on the track, but on the road as well.
My biggest complaint as far as the current Fireblade goes is the power delivery. It’s got loads and loads of power, but it’s all at the top-end, and it comes in a bit too aggressively for my liking. You go from having a silky, smooth (and a little bit slow) feeling engine, below 7,000rpm to one that wants to rip your arms off, above 7,000rpm. And whilst it’s very exciting, it’s also a bit scary.
On track, it’s not a problem, because you never experience that unexpected rush of power at 7,000rpm; because you never need to let the revs drop that low. On the road though, such a violent powerband isn’t helpful.
But it sounds like Honda might have cured the Fireblade of that particular gremlin. Possibly. They’ve done a load of work on the engine to improve the mid-range, or what Honda call ‘mid-corner acceleration’. That’s all thanks to redesigned intake ports, airbox, airbox funnels, and exhaust pipe. The bike still makes a claimed 214bhp (at 14,500rpm), so you don’t get anything extra at the top end, but hopefully the extra mid-range will have sorted out the scary power curve.
Interestingly, though, according to the press release, the new ‘Blade’s inline-four motor makes 112Nm of torque (at 12,500rpm), which is 1Nm less than the outgoing version.
To sharpen up acceleration even more, they’ve gone up three teeth on the rear sprocket, which is now 43 teeth. That’s a big jump, and one that’s likely to make the ‘Blade feel a lot livelier, wherever you are in the rev range.
Honda have worked with their official HRC (Honda Racing Corporation) riders to refine their Honda Selectable Torque Control (or traction control, in English). The new system is said to improve traction, as well as throttle feel.
The rest of the electronics, the chassis, the bodywork and the suspension remain the same on the Fireblade and Fireblade SP for 2022; with the exception of some slightly new quickshifter settings on the SP.
For me though, one of the most exciting things for 2022 is the ‘Tricolour’ paint scheme, celebrating the original Fireblade from 1992. It’s only available on the SP, as the Honda CBR1000RR-R SP 30th Anniversary. Designed by Mr Hiroaki Tsukui, the same bloke that designed the original 1992 colourway, it’s instantly recognisable to anyone that knows anything about Fireblades. And it looks magical.
The Anniversary SP comes with a numbered top yolk, and a special 30th Anniversary logo on the fuel tank, key fob and end can. And although we don’t know how many there will be just yet, rumour has it it’ll be less than 200. So book early to avoid disappointment.