Rennie Scaysbrook | May 7, 2023
The Honda CBR1000 is no longer the sleepy old man of the superbike class. Now in CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP (to give it its complete name) form, Honda has taken the ‘Blade and made it more a racer-with-lights than anything coming out of Japan right now, and damn near more so than anything from Europe, too.
Photography by Ryan Nitzen
That’s not necessarily a good thing for many who buy this bike.
At a time, Honda would create a sports motorcycle for the street and turn it into a racing bike. But, in recent years, Honda’s hand has been forced into making this racer-with-lights by the sheer onslaught of European performance, especially in the homologation specials like the BMW M 1000 RR, Ducati Panigale V4 R, and the Aprilia RSV4 1100 Factory.
I don’t think Honda themselves wanted to go down that path, but the results in WorldSBK speak volumes. Honda has not won a WorldSBK race since Nicky Hayden took the gold for Ten Kate Honda in a wet race in Malaysia in 2016, a year before his tragic passing.
Isn’t that nuts? We’re going on eight years since the largest motorcycle company on the planet won a race in the series that actually sells its motorcycles. So, you can’t blame them for making street riding a definite second to racetrack performance.
But, oh man, is this bike pretty or what? I’d have one just to put in my living room to stare at those iconic 1990s white, purple, and blue colors. Just beautiful. The attention to detail is typical Honda—little things like a perfectly uniform gap between the tank and the bodywork that runs underneath it, the neat inbound winglets, and the uncluttered appearance of the cockpit all scream Honda quality. Each time you look at the bike, you find something new to like and gaze at. This bike is pure garage porn.
Ok, so what’s it like?
I’ve just spent four months riding this $28,900 CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP in every possible condition (café runs, press engagements, a day at Chuckwalla, and, yes, even rain, thanks to the gods dumping all over SoCal this winter). And for the first time I can remember, I think the performance aspect is now too far skewed to the track.
I cast my mind back to when I had a Suzuki GSX-R1000R a few years ago, which was like a couch compared to this CBR. A quick look at my report from the 2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R SP Fireblade press launch from Thunder Hill.
confirmed what I initially thought in that the ergonomics are now so tight they only make sense if you’re either under 5’9″ or you’re tucked in trying to break the sound barrier, or both. I’m 6’1″ with average-length legs (if there are such a thing) and