When we first got to get up-close with the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP, it was a hastened affair. Honda Motor Europe invited the world’s press to see the model at its EICMA debut, and then hired security guards to keep us away from it. Bizzare.
Now, almost a year later, we finally get to a proper face-to-face with this new Fireblade, thanks to American Honda’s ride debut at Thunderhill Raceway (read our full review here).
With only the top trim level coming to the United States, Honda creates an interesting situation with the Fireblade SP – one that we will explore in the next day or two with our A&R Pro readers, but both bikes share the same core features.
If you haven’t read my thoughts on riding the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S already, I suggest you do so before going further. Don’t worry it is a “short” review – only a couple thousand words or so.
For the TL;DR crowd, the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S is an amazing machine. It has all the low-speed manners that its 1098 predecessor lacked, but does so without sacrificing the astounding speed and horsepower found from its Panigale V4 lineage.
“Refinement” is the word that I keep coming back to when I talk about the Streetfighter V4 S, which is both a nod to the differences found from the Streetfighter 1098, but also an acknowledgement of the bar that Ducati is setting with its motorcycle lineup.
At $24,000 a pop – roughly $5,000 more than its closest competition – the Ducati better bring something extra to the table, and frankly buyers expect a more polished machine when they are paying that kind of pricing premium.
Is the Ducati that much better than the Aprilia or KTM? The journalist in me says the jury is still out, primarily because of the testing restrictions we have to deal with concerning the coronavirus outbreak.
But, I can speak about its refinement, which is what I want to do today.
The MV Agusta Rush 1000 was a surprise for us in several ways, at the EICMA show in Milan. For starters, the machine arrived the Monday night before the opening of the trade show, and after MV Agusta had already announced its 2020 models.
But then there is also the bike itself, which is styled to be extremely provocative. It is clear, when you are a small design-focused manufacturer that is used to selling limited edition motorcycles, you can find it easier to take risks.
Whether you love or hate the MV Agusta Rush 1000 (I happen to quite like the machine), you have to give the Varese brand its credit – they have no problem taking chances.
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.
While the Streetfighter V4 S was center stage at the Ducati stand at EICMA, our eye drifted over towards the Scrambler setup, where the Italian brand was showcasing two concept bikes for the Milan show.
At the Ducati launch event in Rimini, the Ducati Scrambler Desert X concept was the big tease, with the Italians saying very little about the bike.
Really, all that was revealed (beyond a couple sketches) was that the motorcycle would use the brand’s 1,079cc air-cooled engine, and instead Ducati encouraged fans to see the bike at the EICMA booth, if they wanted more than a rendering. So, we obliged.
For us, the Ducati Scrambler Desert X concept was the star of the Ducati EICMA experience, perhaps because we knew so far in advance that the Streetfighter V4 was coming, and had a pretty good idea about what this 205hp street-shredding machine would look like.
Take a good look at it – this is the Suzuka 8-Hours race winning endurance bike that Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam took to victory this year.
As with any endurance-spec race bike, this Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR is a very special animal, and one can pore over the photos here looking at all the interesting modifications that go into a Suzuka-winning machine.
For us, our eyes always go towards the quick-change wheels and brakes, but there are interesting items on every corner of the motorcycle.
For a brief moment, the Yamaha Factory Racing Team was a five-time winner (in a row, I might add) at the Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race.
That reality was eventually snatched away by the FIM Endurance World Championship race direction officials, who this weekend learned something new about their rulebook, but the race run by the factory-backed Yamaha team was no less impressive.
For nearly eight hours, the team’s three riders (Alex Lowes, Michael van der Mark, and Katsuyuki Nakasuga) kept in check the best efforts by the Kawasaki Racing Team and Red Bull Honda squads, and it wasn’t until the final stint that Alex Lowes lost track of a raging Jonathan Rea.
One of the highlights from the WorldSBK round at Laguna Seca was the unveiling of Bologna’s latest limited edition motorcycle, the Ducati Panigale V4 25° Anniversario 916.
An homage to the Ducati 919 Superbike that helped dominate the production-based series, the 1,103cc superbike was unveiled by Carl Fogarty himself, the man who took Ducati to four WorldSBK Championship titles.