Ride Review: Honda CBR1000RR SP

02/18/2014 @ 2:23 pm, by Iwan van der Valk19 COMMENTS

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The 2014 CBR1000RR Fireblade is once again an upgrade of the existing model: Honda’s flagship race-rep was first introduced back in 2008, and though it has received a couple of small updates here and there, it hasn’t been properly updated in a lengthy six years now.

It’s not all bad though, as Honda now presents the most complete and best Fireblade ever: the 2014 CBR1000RR SP. Both the SP and standard model receive a slightly altered riding position, three extra horsepower and two full pounds of weight loss.

The SP model is further enhanced – quite predictably – by mounting higher spec components such as brakes and suspension. The front receives high-class Öhlins NIX30 forks and Brembo monobloc brake calipers, while the well known TTX36 shock upgrades the rear suspension.

Honda mentiones that the engines are ‘blueprinted’ – the different components are specifically selected to work better together – but this is not shown in the output numbers.

Track:

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We are being guided around the Losail circuit in Qatar by household names Ron and Leon Haslam, along with a street0racer from England by the name of John McGuinness, and in the first couple of sessions the Fireblades kick up dust and sand on the 1km long straight.

It is here that the only real weak spot of the CBR shows: the gearbox is unwilling to shift up smoothly, and every now and then it takes 2 attempts to flick it into the next cog. Coming down the gears is perfect however, with a good slipper clutch keeping the rear stable under hard braking.

Acceleration is exhilarating but never raw or unexpected. The 178 hp motor shines not only on the straight (where we saw an indicated 280 km/h), and it is also very manageable in the technical twisty sections. But to be honest, we couldn’t detect much of the engine improvements Honda made for 2014.

Seating position:

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The new ergonomics do make a difference though: the body is positioned more forward, while the feet are moved backwards. This makes the bike feel like it has less ground clearance, and we found we were scraping our toesliders more quickly.

The Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP (and semi slick SC) tires provide more grip than the ones on our 2013 test model, so maybe this is part of the reason as well. The new Fireblade feels great though, and you get that trusty welcome feeling just as on any other Honda.

The wider bars provide lots of control going hard into the corners while helping with tucking away on the straights as well. It’s not easy to find enough room behind the newly designed small and low windscreen though. Honda claims a better gripping seat, but we experienced exactly the opposite.

Handling:

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The Fireblade has always been a tight and precise steering bike and the Öhlins suspenders add fantastic feedback to the package. Confidence is boosted because you feel exactly what the front tire is doing now.

The new throttle for 2014 is  beautifully setup, and the throttle response makes for a sublime connection between the grip and the rear tire. The rear seems to follow exactly what you input. Simply wonderful.

The front feels slightly nervous when chucking the bike from one side to the other and accelerating hard out of corners, but an electronic HESD steering damper keeps the peace in the chassis. Entering a corner is dead easy and light, even while trail-braking.

The accurate throttle response and perfect fueling makes for a effortless transitions mid-corner, and keeps the CBR1000RR SP stable when powering out. The Honda likes to understeer wide though, but this is not abnormal for these overpowered race-reps.

The acceleration is enormous but accessible throughout the rev-range, even without any form of traction control.

Conclusion:

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215,000 Fireblades have been sold since the original stormed the marketplace in 1992 and the newest model shows once again exactly why it is so popular: despite a monster 998cc 4-cylinder powerhouse, this superbike still stays predictable, useable and – according to some – maybe a bit bland.

The brilliant Brembos bite extremely hard and make for quite a sensation every time you near the end of the straights. The combined and electronically controlled ABS system doesn’t disturb the feel, nor the ability to modulate the braking power very precisely.

Add the Öhlins suspension – and the SC semi slicks – and you receive crystal clear feedback from the chassis, which makes it easier to find the limit (and maybe push it further).

The sexy aftermarket components definitely enhance the 2014 Honda CBR1000RR SP’s attraction, but the absence of TC and the notchy gearbox make it lose out to the fierce competition in these departments.

This is however the best Fireblade ever: this bike provides good value for money, even with a slightly elevated retail price of €17.999 for the base model CBR1000RR, and €3,500 on top for the CBR1000RR SP with exotic goodies. Pricing is still to be determined in the US, of course.

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Photos: Honda

A special “dankuwel” to our friends at Testmotor.nl for sharing this article with us, and big thank you as well to Jan DeMan, who translated Iwan’s work from Dutch into English for our readers.

Comment:

  1. JoeD says:

    One of the last ridercentric machines. Hands, feet and brain.

  2. Ian John says:

    @ JoeD – and what, ABS?

    ABS should be mandatory, and so should traction control while theyre at it.

    They help make these things safe and ridable. You can stretch your limits and ability with an element of safety in many varying conditions, and enjoy the ride more.
    i was brought up on slides and potential highsides, am a good rider for it. But now with electronics, id never go back.
    Yeah, The ability to turn it all off for the superheros i can agree on.

  3. proudAmerican says:

    I have a garage-full of Hondas, and told my local dealer that I anticipated buying a new sport bike this year to replace my ’08 CBR1000RR. The announcement of the CBR-SP got my attention—until I found out that the Honda still doesn’t have traction control, and the ABS model won’t be offered to the US.

    The Brembo and Ohlins package is enticing, but I’d never buy this bike when I could get a ZX10 w/ABS and traction control for less money.

    I traded the CBR for a new ZX6R–currently the only middleweight to offer ABS, traction control, power modes and a slipper clutch.

    If Honda doesn’t offer a radically-updated liter bike next year, I fully anticipate putting a ZX10 next to the ZX6 in the garage.

    Sorry Honda, your loyal customers have their limits.

  4. SBPilot says:

    Just can’t get over that helmet….(so ugly)

    oh and the bike, yea, from the first time I heard of it quite a few months ago, already unimpressed.

    Honda, wake the hell up already, full stop.

  5. Brandon says:

    This is what “chaps my ass” about Honda. They claim that if MotoGP were put in “controlled” software that they would stop participating in the championship because they claim they need to be able to develop and without that, they don’t need to be there.

    Ok… but where is the traction control? where is the wheelie control? where is the stoppie control? No where. So they are simply lying. They don’t need to develop those systems for public, they only need them so that they can stay ahead of the competition because they have the budget to build better software vs the next guy.

    Honda, stop acting like a douche bag. Leave MotoGP if you’re afraid of losing. Or, add all the “goods” MotoGP has brought you. Bring that RCV213V to the street. Otherwise, leave MotoGP and be happy bringing us bikes like the CBR1000RR.

  6. damn says:

    Just very very dull bike. 2008 bike with ohlins. and to expencive. were is all the technology honda says they bring to the streetbikes from Motogp. were’s all the exiting stuff. were’s the 200bhp engine? i remember honda said “we could easely give 200bhp” and that was when kawa brought the zx10 with 200bhp. Honda has the most boring bikes on the planet. with the least electronics. All the money is in motogp. im glad yamaha does bring new exiting bikes dough. Now bring the MM ecu to motogp because honda aint develop nothing!!!!

  7. TexusTim says:

    Hey Jensen, Honda just updated there website and has now put a price on the 2014 CBR 1000RR SP
    16.999 http://powersports.honda.com/2014/cbr1000rr/options.aspx only 2 grand mor but the U.S. versoin does not come with ABS. still a bad as_ bike for the money.

  8. smiler says:

    Last of the analogue Superbikes. Enhanced with Italian loveliness. This has to be a classic amoungst blades along with the 954.
    V4 next year.
    Why do you want ABS and traction on a sportsbike? Like having stabilisers on a horse.

  9. TwoWheelLoo says:

    Agree with most of the comments, as development for the customer base. It’s nice for Honda to ‘remember’ the budgeted mortals not under the GP banner but this for me feels like a quick homework job than anything else.

    I guess WSBK wasn’t invited to the HRC meeting; even if they don’t “directly” support WSBK, they still supply parts or are they just giving Ten Kate the right to call their squad FACTORY?

    It seems like these days only so much is being put into production machinery by Honda… Seems like winning GP’s is too important to notice that the real world has moved on.

    It’s funny how both of the top rated GP manufacturers are leaving their production lineup in the dark in terms of production (yes, that means you too Yamaha…) Looks like fans are starting to move over to the WSBK scene even with all of the politics of GP. Get with the program HRC, put some effort into your liter bike and think of your loyal customer base that are starting to rethink their buy. I’ve owned Honda’s and loved them but it’s starting to get old. Bring back the V4’s and traction control, please!

  10. a&r sucks says:

    tc is a damn gimmick.
    leave it for bmw.
    ABS is actually useful.
    all pro riders hate that tc.
    so i doubt any of you average folks
    can give a better opinion than those
    who do this for a living
    and not for just fun.
    and in case some of you didnt know.
    you can add tc to most bikes anyway…
    i believe its called bazzazz…

  11. Tom says:

    The above post has got to be the weirdest post i’ve ever read. Is it intentionally laid out like bad poetry? I actually agree with nearly every point on there though. (except TC, I think TC is far more than a gimmick – pro riders might “hate” it because they have the huge amount of skill and training hours to be able to ride a litre bike flawlessly. For us mere track day mortals, TC could literally save your life).

    My feelings on the matter – Honda are incredibly bland right now. They’re biking-by-numbers and are being left in the dark in terms of character, enjoyment and street-usable tech., by the likes of Kawasaki and Triumph, both of whom have R&D budgets that are absolutely dwarfed by Honda’s. Honda and Yamaha need to sort out their street sports line up quickly.

  12. Tom says:

    The above post has got to be the weirdest post i’ve ever read. Is it intentionally laid out like bad poetry? I actually agree with nearly every point on there though. (except TC, I think TC is far more than a gimmick – pro riders might “hate” it because they have the huge amount of skill and training hours to be able to ride a litre bike flawlessly. For us mere track day mortals, TC could literally save your life).

    My feelings on the matter – Honda are incredibly bland right now. They’re biking-by-numbers and are being left in the dark in terms of character, enjoyment and street-usable tech., by the likes of Kawasaki and Triumph, both of whom have R&D budgets that are absolutely dwarfed by Honda’s. Honda and Yamaha need to sort out their street sports line up quickly.

  13. One thing i don’t understand…

    If the Fireblade is so bad… Why she still winning IOMTT races every year? Even agains S100RR and Panigales

  14. A&r i love says:

    @fred santos when you have someone like
    John Mcguiness for a pilot.
    Even the rider with a better machine will loose. Experience is a big part of the equation.
    There’s a reason why the Honda team for the TT
    Is named (honda legends) i may be wrong.
    But the drivers they have are all legendary to me.

  15. David says:

    I wish Honda would come out with a Forza scooter in MotoGP livery so I could ride around and feel like I’m on one of MM’s bikes and I’m part of the TEAM. Come on Honda.

  16. You wanna see this bad boy eat the Superleggera for breakfast… put me on it. :)

  17. Norm G. says:

    ok, and the US version doesn’t get ABS why…? don’t think I’ve heard/read an answer to this. uggh, Honda and their friggin’ weirdness, it’s exhausting. do they even give a shit about their dealer network…? honestly.

  18. Norm G. says:

    re: “V4 next year.”

    hold that thought.

  19. MikeG81 says:

    CBR1000 with extra tasty bits? I’ll take 2 please.