Honda CBR1000RR: look back at 20 years of Fireblade
Star of the Honda stand at the Milan Motor Show in 1991, the CBR900RR marked the birth of the fascinating hypersports category. 20 years later, the Fireblade still represents the technological flagship of the world’s leading manufacturer.
Among the few motorcycles that can boast a two-decade career, the Honda Fireblade is certainly one of the most iconic. Developed with an approach and technologies hitherto reserved for racing motorcycles, the Superbike with the winged crest has always remained faithful to the original philosophy of "Total Control" (read in particular our). An exceptional career that deserved a comeback in pictures and figures !
CBR900RR Fireblade 1992 – 1995 (893 cc, 124 hp, 185 kg dry)
Originally designed around a 750 cc in-line 4-cylinder (yes!), The very first Fireblade will eventually cub 893 cc to keep the asp against its direct competitors, whose displacement is often much higher ( Yamaha FZR1000 and Suzuki GSX-R 1100 in particular).
If it was not the most powerful at the time, its reduced weight (185 kg dry) and above all its astounding balance placed it in front of all its rivals. And for good reason: the sports car of Tadao Bada combines for the first time the flexibility and the rage of a large displacement with the dynamic behavior of a 750 cc.
The first demonstration of the "Total Control" philosophy was therefore a real success for Honda, which brought some aesthetic and aerodynamic alterations to the model in 1994..
CBR900RR Fireblade 1996 (919 cc, 128 hp, 183 kg dry)
Two years later, the Fireblade’s engine increased to 919 cc by increasing the bore by one millimeter. The objective is of course to respond to the "arms race" which is raging between the Japanese manufacturers..
More powerful by four horses, this CBR900RR also receives a new trim and a new chassis both stiffer and lighter, which helps to lower the weight to 183 kg dry
CBR900RR Fireblade 1998 (919 cc, 130 hp, 180 kg dry)
Some small significant changes characterize this fourth generation: the Hypersport Honda reaches the 130 hp mark thanks to an optimization of the four legs, while the mass continues to drop (180 kg dry) thanks to new, lighter components on the cycle part.
This 1998 vintage will also be the last model to be powered by carburettors..
CBR900RR Fireblade 2000 – 2001 (929 cc, 149 hp, 170 kg dry)
First Fireblade to take advantage of PGM-FI injection and an inverted fork responsible for guiding its 17-inch wheel, the 2000 CBR now cubs 929 cc and spits 149 hp: a significant technological leap forward, made compulsory by the rise of competition.
Two years earlier, Yamaha had indeed launched the formidable YZF-R1 which claims 150 hp and 177 kg dry, while the very first Suzuki GSX-R 1000 (160 hp and 170 kg dry!) Will appear in 2001..
CBR954RR Fireblade 2002 – 2003 (954 cc, 151 hp, 168 kg dry)
Considered by many to be the most sensational of the "big" CBRs, this sixth generation continues to perpetuate Honda’s idea of a Superbike: rather than aiming for maximum power (an argument that was nevertheless very popular at the time. .. and even today if we are to believe the success of the S1000RR!), the first manufacturer remains faithful to "Total Control".
This "nine-five-four" thus fully plays the card of mass centralization, mechanical operability and especially lightness: with its 168 kg dry, the last "CBR900" weighs barely heavier than the current 600 cc Supersport !
CBR1000RR Fireblade 2004 – 2005 (998 cc, 171 hp, 179 kg dry)
Deciding (finally!) To follow in the footsteps of the competition, Honda adopts the liter of displacement so that its Fireblade can respond to the overpowered R1 and GSX-R, as well as the formidable Kawasaki ZX-10R (184 hp with forced air for 170 kg dry) which replaces the aging ZX-9R.
Completely revised both aesthetically and technically, this seventh generation features a new extremely light aluminum perimeter chassis, connected to a Unit Pro Link type rear suspension that the RCV211 (990 cc) use in MotoGP.
Yielding to the fashion for the exhaust in the high position, this first "CBR1000RR" is equipped with a unique electronic steering damper (whose action increases with speed). It displays a power and especially a weight in clear increase: 171 hp (+20 hp) and 179 kg dry (+11 kg).
- Read our
CBR1000RR Fireblade 2006 – 2007 (998 cc, 171 hp, 176 kg dry)
Lighter by 3 kg (176 kg dry), this eighth generation of CBR adopts a few aesthetic changes.
It receives new suspensions and a lighter swingarm.
Honda also equips it with an exhaust system that meets the requirements of Euro 3 standards..
CBR1000RR Fireblade 2008 – 2009 (999.8 cc, 178 hp, 199 kg all full)
Completely redesigned, this ninth opus breaks completely with the previous one: the line is new and differs from the rest of the Hyperport production by its flattened "muzzle" and its minimalist rear shell.
This vintage also marks the return of the silencer in the low position, which favors the refocusing of the masses … to the detriment of the look from certain points of view! It must be recognized that the voluminous silencer – standards oblige – is however well integrated and this model stands out from many of its competitors in terms of quality of realization.
Chassis and engine are also completely overhauled and an anti-dribble clutch is adopted, again to the benefit of handling and operability. The CBR1000RR does not win the prize for raw power (the GSX-R 1000 then develops 185 hp!) But is distinguished by its contained weight (199 kg all full) and by its – relative! – easy to be taken on circuit.
In 2009, while the GSX-R 1000 released three handlebar injection mappings (S-DMS) and the R1 adopted the services of a 4-cylinder Crossplane tuning derived from MotoGP, Honda chose the path of safety and unveils the very first electronic ABS on a sports car (read in particular our and our).
CBR1000RR Fireblade 2010 (999.8 cc, 178 hp, 199 kg full tank / 210 with C-ABS)
A year later, while a major overhaul was expected by CBR1000RR aficionados, Honda presents a barely retouched Fireblade: the rear shell is slightly refined, new graphics appear and the block benefits from some mechanical evolutions..
Thus, the 4-cylinder with unchanged power and torque values (178 hp at 12,000 rpm and 112 Nm at 8,500 rpm) receives a new flywheel, thinner exhaust tubes and a more rigid crankshaft..
CBR1000RR Fireblade 2012 (999.8 cc, 178 hp, 200 kg / 211 with C-ABS)
To celebrate the 20 years of the saga of its CBR1000RR, Honda should have surprised and innovated in order to pay tribute to this fabulous epic initiated in 1992 thanks to the creative genius of Tadao Bada and his team..
But the 2012 vintage is ultimately just a simple evolution of the previous model: the latest CBR1000RR is content with a radicalized front end, a smooth injection, a new dashboard and more sophisticated suspensions (read our).
Always as precise and efficient, this Fireblade 2012 prefers to play the card of rationality and accessibility (13,290 €, launch price) in a category where excessive sophistication (control of traction, anti-wheeling, assistance at the start , configurable injection, etc.) drives prices to new heights.
So, if the new 1199 Panigale turns all heads, how many will be able to afford the € 18,990 claimed by Ducati? Honda’s initiative therefore makes sense, especially as the sports market is in free fall. Despite everything, Superbikes remain technological showcases whose objective is to make enthusiasts dream, while exhibiting the know-how of manufacturers..
As such, the fact that it is necessary to turn to Aprilia to find the first production Hypersport powered by a V4 (the RSV4) can be likened to a "failure" for Honda, as the world’s leading manufacturer has the most prestigious historical with this architecture…
Likewise, how can we explain that the BMW S10000RR has cleared the ground for electronic assistance so much, knowing that the ST 1100 Pan European was the very first motorcycle equipped with anti-skid (in 1993!) And that the Honda racing service (HRC ) is the only one to develop its own systems in MotoGP (Magneti-Marelli for Yamaha and Ducati, Mitsubishi for the late Suzuki) ?
Considering the competitive spirit that has always animated Honda, we can bet that the thirteenth generation of Fireblade will sweep away all these considerations by reviving the spirit of innovation and the quest for performance which have always distinguished the CBR saga! To be continued on MNC: stay connected !
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