Up-Close with the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP

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One of the most anticipated superbikes of the 2020 model year, the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade (say that three times fast) is a true all-new motorcycle from the Japanese brand.

With 215hp on tap from its 999cc inline-four engine, the new Fireblade is posting big numbers, from a small (443 lbs) package.

Though we won’t see the base model in the United States (the current generation CBR1000RR will remain for the price-sensitive), we will see the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP in June 2020, as a 2021 model year machine.

That is a long time to wait, for what promises to be a class-leading machine in the liter-bike space.

The first thing you notice about the new CBR is the changes to the face, which now include a central air intake, and brings thing stylistically closer to the aging Honda CBR600RR.

Moving down the bike, the eye is drawn to the Iveco winglet clusters. It is hard to tell if Honda is employing the active aerodynamics system we saw in patent filings, but the winglets and their shroud are not one solid piece, which is interesting in its own right.

To keep things light, the rear subframe is kept as minimal as possible and built from steel tubing.

The dash has a similar layout as the previous “generation” of the superbike, though the ability to change the electronics with more granularity is obvious from the design.

Honda has decided to provide different screen types based on usage, with our preferred “race” mode having the tachometer shown as a horizontal line that grows from left to right at the top of the TFT dash.

It is clear that Honda intends the CBR1000RR-R to be a race bike with lights, primarily because of how easy it looks to remove the lights (with integrated turn signals) and the license plate bracket.

The Akrapovic exhaust is an interesting item, one because Big Red is obviously doing a little B2B marketing with the Sloveninan brand, but also in the design, which has variable routing through the exhaust chamber, depending on sound reduction needs.

This is a far more clever design and solution than say what was put on the BMW S1000RR for the American market, where the Germans just ludicrously turned down the throttle opening on the ride-by-wire for noise abatement (and ruined their superbike in the process).

Bodywork aside, it is hard to tell the differences between the outgoing model’s frame and chassis and what we are seeing with the Honda CBR1000RR-R, but we don’t take that as a bad thing.

The previous CBR was light and nimble, and easily the best-handling 1000cc superbike on the market. All it needed was a power boost and some more brains in order to be a class leader.

The 2020 Honda CBR1000RR has the power in spades, and with the six-axis IMU, Honda finally has an electronics package that is on-spec with the rest of the competition.

Knowing that Big Red built this bike to win the WorldSBK Championship, we doubt it is much of a slouch on the track. We can’t wait to give it a rip and find out though.

One final note, the photos below aren’t quite what we would consider up to Asphalt & Rubber standards, though we are happy just to have them at all.

This is because Honda seemed very uninterested in allowing journalists to photograph the new Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade at its release (to be honest, the security team was downright hostile), shooing away photographers from the stage almost immediately after inviting them to take photos and video of the new bike.

We are not quite sure the what the purpose of a Honda’s media event was, if the media wasn’t allowed to cover the bike being released, but maybe it was just to appease the large number of Honda’s top brass who were in attendance.

Nevertheless, we would have liked to share more photos and details on the bike from EICMA, but we were prevented from doing so. C’est la vie.

Photos: © 2019 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – All Rights Reserved

Be sure to follow all of our 2019 EICMA show coverage this over the coming days, for the latest news and releases for the 2020 motorcycle model year.

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