Intermot | REV IT UP! Honda Fireblade SP

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During our visit to Intermot Germany 2016, the actual Honda Fireblade SP Project Leader rev’d up the new sports bike just for MCN.

‘All 1000cc sportsbikes are extraordinary examples of high performance engineering. But for us, for our new Fireblade, we want extraordinary to be the pleasure of handling and controlling such a machine. Its true purpose – wherever it’s ridden – is to enjoy something that is not normally experienced in everyday life, something that cannot be surpassed,” says Mr Sato-san, large project leader for the new Fireblade. Well, that sounds good.

2017 is the 25th anniversary of the Fireblade, and while we all hoped Honda would do something special to mark the model’s quarter-century, we couldn’t have dreamed that they’d go this far. Rather than simply replacing the exiting stock bike and SP, it looks like we will be treated to three new models for 2017. The mystery omission here is the base model – but who cares about that when there’s this new SP version, and the even more stunning SP2 (turn over for that) on offer?

While Honda’s engineers have certainly remained true to their first principles of the original 1992 project – optimal power to weight ratio, with the focus on cornering, acceleration and braking – they’ve ditched the Honda rulebook on how to achieve those goals. The result is a stunning specification that hints at the Fireblade being back in with a shot at the superbike crown in 2017. Honda call this ‘Next Stage Total Control’. We call it Fireblade.

Intermot: Stunning new 2017 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP

CBR1000RR handling revolution
Leading the decimation of the rulebook is the introduction of a wild array of electronic control systems – all knitted together by the new 5-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), which measures everything the Blade is doing, in every plane, and delivers electronic assistance to the rider to help them do what they’re trying to do, better.

The SP is also the first Honda motorcycle to be equipped with Öhlins S-EC suspension front and rear, using a NIX30 fork and TTX36 shock.

The Suspension Control Unit (SCU) receives roll rate, yaw rate and lean angle information from a 40g 5-axis (3-axis acceleration and 2-axis angular velocity) Bosch MM5.10 IMU gyro located close to the machine’s centre of gravity. It also gathers wheel speed, engine rpm, brake input and throttle angle from the FI-ECU and, depending on the suspension mode selected by the rider delivers optimal compression and damping force (adjusted via each step motor) during normal riding, plus hard acceleration, braking and cornering.

There are three Active modes and three Manual modes for the rider to choose from. When set in Active the damping force is controlled and optimised to suit the riding conditions. Within the Active Modes the rider can also make fine personal adjustments.

There’s also Rear Lift Control (RLC) to help keep the rear end under control when braking hard, especially into corners, while there’s also Cornering ABS which controls braking force according to lean angle, even when panic braking. This is a massive departure for Honda, having ditched their own C-ABS system in favour of a third-party solution – saving around 10kg in the process.

New CBR1000RR dash
Like the RC213V-S, the Fireblade SP uses a full-colour TFT liquid crystal dash that automatically adjusts to ambient light and features three display modes; Street, Circuit and Mechanic – so you can choose what you see.

Street mode displays riding modes, plus the settings for Power, HSTC, Selectable Engine Brake and Suspension. The onboard computer calculates instantaneous and average fuel economy, trip fuel consumption, average speed and time after last ignition plus remaining fuel after RES light and more.

Circuit mode adds a lap timer, number of laps and difference from the best lap, while Mechanic mode displays the digital tacho, gear position, grip angle, coolant temperature and battery voltage.

CBR1000RR chassis talk
The SP is 14kg lighter than the old Blade, weighing in at a kerb mass of 197kg. Rake and trail remain 23°/96mm but the hollow die-cast twin-spar aluminium frame’s rigidity balance has been significantly adjusted to improve steering response, feel and stability. The frame walls have been thinned to deliver a 500g weight saving, and while its transverse rigidity is unchanged, the frame is 10% more flexible in the torsional plane, which is claimed to deliver a faster-reacting chassis.

To complement the frame changes the aluminium Unit Pro-Link swingarm’s hybrid structure has had the thickness of each section adjusted, saving 100g. The die-cast aluminium subframe gets the same treatment, and now weighs 800g less. The wheelbase is 1404mm; seat height is 831mm.

New wheels shave off another 100g, and wear 120/70 R17 front and 190/50 R17 rear Bridgestone RS10s.

In terms of girth, 24mm of width has been squeezed from the upper fairing, 18mm has been saved across the middle fairing and the knee grip area is 15mm slimmer on each side.

Fireblade electronics and engine
The SP is the first inline four-cylinder engine from Honda to use Throttle by Wire control and is driven by an Acceleration Position Sensor integrated into the right handlebar switchgear.

There are now three rider modes. Mode 1 gives full power, with linear throttle response, low HSTC and EB intervention and high damping force. Mode 2 controls output through first to third gear, with fairly moderate power increase, medium HSTC, strong EB and medium damping force. Mode 3 controls output through first to fourth gear, with moderate power increase, high HSTC, strong EB and low damping force. In USER mode all parameters can be combined and adjusted independently.

A quickshifter is fitted as standard for clutchless upshifts and there’s also Downshift Assist – and auto-blipper – for clutchless downshifts.

Honda’s engineers have ripped the engine apart and hunted for every possible gain. The result is an additional 11bhp, the loss of 2kg and raised rev ceiling of 13,000rpm.

Peak power is now a claimed 189bhp @ 12,500rpm, with peak torque of 81.79ftlb @ 10,500rpm. Bore and stroke remain 76 x 55.1mm but the compression ratio is up from 12.3:1 to 13:1.

We would say that this is the best equipped Fireblade ever, but then we’d look foolish when you see the SP2 version.

Marquez delighted at extending unbeaten run at COTA

Marc Marquez was understandably very happy to extend his unbeaten run at the Circuit of the Americas after a dominant display in Austin.

Marquez came into the weekend overwhelming favourite and delivered, topping every session over the weekend bar Sunday morning’s warmup session. 

After early pressure from Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso, Marquez eventually broke away from the rest of the field, on his way to claiming an unprecedented fourth victory at CotA and a tenth straight win in America, spanning over two class, three circuits and six years.

Despite his domination over the years, Marquez was still nervous going into the unknown with the Michelin tyres. 

“I’m very happy with how the whole weekend has gone. This is a circuit that I like, one of my favourite, but there were some unknowns here because just before the race we decided to run the soft front tyre,” said the 22-year-old.

“In the end the team advised me very well, because the change gave me the good feeling with the bike that I had partly lost in the warm-up. I have to thank them all, as well as the Michelin technician. When I asked, they told me that I would be okay for the first 12-15 laps, and then after that I would have to manage the situation more, which is exactly what happened.

In taking victory in Texas, Marquez has extended his World Championship lead to 21 points already after just three rounds, with the MotoGP paddock heading back to Spain for the next round in two weeks time.

“We’ve taken another victory here in Austin and are now on a run of four in a row, which is great. In addition, the joy of the team after we won illustrates everything we’re working on,” said Marquez.


Marquez wins in America… again


Marc Marquez won his fourth straight race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas in dominant fashion by just over six seconds, ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Iannone, whilst Valentino Rossi recorded his first DNF of 2016 crashing out of the race. 

Marquez went into the America’s Grand Prix after winning all eight of the MotoGP races in America since making his debut in the premier class in 2013 and he extended the streak to nine today with sheer domination.

Starting from pole position, Marquez came under early pressure from both Lorenzo and Dovizioso, however the duo nearly seriously managed to challenge Marquez who rode away from the field only backing off on the final lap to stop the victory being way more than the six seconds it ended being. 

Lorenzo has a lonely race in seconds position ending just as far behind Marquez as he did ahead of Iannone, who himself was fortunate to inherit the final podium position after a nasty looking incident between Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso. 

Pedrosa’s bike appeared to have a problem before he lost the front end into turn one smashing into the left leg of third placed Dovizioso. It is the second time in just seven days that Dovizioso had been taken out of the race through no fault of his own after Iannone had knocked him off in Argentina last week.

Pedrosa showed his class ensuring Dovizioso was okay before remounting and rejoining the race before the damage sustained eventually forced him to retire. After he pulled into the pit he walked down to the Ducati garage to apologise further and ensure the Italian was OK. 

Maverick Viñales recorded a career best fourth position after getting the better of his team-mate who brought his Suzuki home in fifth position just ahead of top private bike Scott Redding. 

Valentino Rossi’s title challenge took a serious turn for the worst when he lost the front end of his Yamaha M1 going into turn two and was forced to retire from the race. 

Pol Espargaro beat out Michele Pirro, whilst Hector Barbera and Stefan Bradl rounded out the top ten. 

There were also crashes for Loris Baz, Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith who all rejoined, with only Baz collecting any World Championship points. 

Marquez now leads the World Championship standings by 21 points over Jorge Lorenzo. Valentino Rossi sits a further 12 points back as MotoGP heads back to Europe and to Jerez for the fourth round of the series in two weeks time.

Photos via Repsol Honda 

The post Marquez wins in America… again appeared first on GPxtra.

Marquez: It took me 60 hours to get to Argentina


Marc Marquez’ Argentine Grand Prix got off to the worst possible start, with the former World Champions journey to Argentina taking 60 hours!

The Spaniard endured a trip from hell from the off. Firstly Marquez’ plane from Spain to London was cancelled on Monday meaning he had to catch a new flight on Tuesday. After eventually finding his way to South America, his plane taking him to the Termas de Rio Hondo suffered an engine issue with the plane having to land with only one issue. 

“Overall, the journey took 60 hours. I arrived in Argentina on Wednesday at 3am,” explained the 23-year-old in Argentina.

“But I’ve done it and I’m now looking forward to getting bike on my bike and finding a good feeling and the pace of Qatar.”

Before arriving in South America there were stories that Marquez was fearing for his safety after receiving death threats from Argentine, Valentino Rossi fans.

“I’ve only just arrived,” said a smiling Marquez.

“I’m not afraid, but I was afraid on the plane when one of the engines failed!”

Marquez has an impressive record at the Termas de Rio Hondo Circuit. Marquez won the 2014 Grand Prix when the MotoGP paddock returned to Argentina, before crashing out of the race battling for the lead after a coming together with eventual race winner Valentino Rossi.

The Spaniard insists he isn’t thinking about last years clash, and that he is more concerned with building from his Qatar podium and finding a setting that works in Argentina. 

“I like this track, we want to have a good weekend. We’ll see on Friday what level we’re at,” he explained. 

“I was very happy with the third place in Qatar. A win is of course the goal, but after a difficult pre-season, with the electronics and the bike still not one hundred percent together, there are still things we need to improve.

“Nevertheless, I finished third and was just two seconds behind the leader. I was happy with the feeling with the bike. The important thing is that we now know what areas we need to improve.”

Last year Marquez looked comfortable at the front of the race running with the harder rear tyre, only for Rossi to make a late surge and catch and pass the Spaniard with just two laps to go. 

This year with the new Michelin tyres already a hot topic, the choice of which rubber riders chose to run will be a highly analysed and important topic throughout 2016.