Honda Fireblade 2012: 20th Anniversary Edtion

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Matt Strange
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Honda Fireblade 2012: 20th Anniversary Edtion

Post by Matt Strange »

Well, I had a sit on one in the showroom today lol!. The knobbers @ the dealers left the demonstrator in the tyre garage, and the bloke with the only key was off today :evil: :roll:

Sitting on it stationary; it isn't as comfy as the BMW s1000. Better looking though imo, the lines really flow nicely on this bike. Its bum is a bit flatter, and wider, than the 2011 blade. Not to mention the new headlights, it looks so much better IMO.

Roadtest on hold until the dealer pulls their finger out.....
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Re: Honda Fireblade 2012: 20th Anniversary Edtion

Post by Matt Strange »

Well, I suppose you have to compare this bike to BMW s1000rr which is supposedly the 'best' superbike out there right now. I'd agree with that statement in terms of technology yes, but in terms of fun or usable ability with regards to riding on our roads here in Britain?. I'm really not so sure about that. Because let's face it, this is where they will be spending most of their lives rather than on some glass-smooth racing circuit!.

Looking at both bikes from that point of view, the 'Blade is better in rather a lot of ways overall than the BMW. It really depends on what you're wanting or hoping to get out of owning a modern sportsbike.

Right, I suppose the first thing I should say about the new Fireblade is that it is totally free of any kind of electronic rider aids, unless you go for the optional £700 ABS. That is: no traction control, anti wheelie, selectable power maps, or quick shifter . New, fully digital clocks replace the old analogue & digital setup on the old model, rather pretty looking they are too & easy to use overall. The text is even a decent size for old people :twisted: :P

Chassis wise, Honda have revised the suspension. Up front the bike now comes fitted with Showa 43mm Big Piston Forks & on the rear there's Showa’s new, patented Balance-Free Rear Shock uses a double-tube design with a piston cylinder inside the damper tube. Unlike a conventional single-tube design, there are no damping valves. Instead, smoother pressure changes result from a larger volume of oil passing through a single damping chamber. Honda claims damping is more responsive and consistent, especially as the shock transitions from compression to rebound, for better rear wheel traction. This is similar I believe to Ohlins rear shockers, can't be a bad thing.

There's also new more aerodynamic fairing for better engine heat regulation & an integrated spoiler in the nose reduces lift at speed. Additionally, new 12-spoke cast aluminium wheels are more rigid than the 3-spoke wheels they replace.

So what's it like to ride?.

It's a question I had in my mind before I even rode the BMW, partially because I've had two older Blades previously. Compared to the BMW (I keep doing this) it really is an interesting machine, and the differences in these two bikes is why I keep mentioning the s1000rr. They are in theory as close as you can get to polar opposites of one another within the same category of motorcycle. One all singing & dancing rider electronics & gizmos, and the other represents the honing of pure machinery. To be fair to Honda they have done the right thing here, especially with regards to how these bikes are likely to be used day to day.

The first thing I really noticed about the Blade, once I got about 4-5 miles away from the garage and warmed it up, was how much more I enjoyed this bike at lower speeds than the BMW as it has much more obvious levels of feel and positive feedback . It's almost as if the Blade actually does have various electronic sensors but instead of them being wired into the bike's ecu they are instead wired directly into your brain :). There's this sense of knowing what the tyres are doing, when the brakes will lock up, how much more you need to twist the throttle in a turn to get the back wheel to spin - this bike is so intuitive it's sublime. I cannot praise it enough in this respect, the chassis is literally as close to perfection as I've experienced on this sort of bike. Clutch, throttle, brakes, steering are nigh on faultless .

Some utterly fantastic noises from the Akrapovic system were a big bonus & were also something else that brought a little smile to my face - my Foxeye is quite 'growly' at about 4-5K rpm as you accelerate & this 2012 model is just the same!. I had a grin like the Cheshire cat & it made me proper lol too. The test was worth it just for this alone :)

The first part of my test ride was through a few villages, turn around, go through some faster A/B roads then back onto the A34 via the Abingdon Roundabout. I actually went around the roundabout under the flyover bridge a couple of times for the fun of it & managed to make a nice black line on the road turning off onto the entry ramp to the A34 (I turned around, came back on the opposite carriageway & did another couple of roundabout laps, so that's how I know :lol: )

It handles just as well as the BMW overall, very similar bikes in that regard, and both are very stable machines. The Blade isn't something I'd really recommend for a new rider though.

So what don't I like about it?. Well, for me it is just a little bit too small, the bars are a bit too far back and it felt as if my hands were underneath my shoulders & I was steering by tipping my shoulders up/down. The BMW was a lot better ergonomically for me, after 45mins on it it didn't even feel like I'd been on a bike. After 30 min's on the blade I wanted to get off!. But that's about it for faults.

In short, what I like:


Honda

More fun on the road
So much feedback
Fueling/throttle response is faultless, noticeably better than the BMW especially at lower rpm
Sounds incredible for an IL4 (with a good system)
Fit/finish/build wonderful
Nice looking
rear seat looks as if it could hold a tailpack better than the BMW

BMW


Way more comfy for me & bigger riders
Would probably totally kick the Blade's arse on a track, certainly in less than ideal conditions on the road & also in any sort of drag race. Just super quick

What I don't like:

Honda

Not very comfy for a big git
Might be overlooked by those who play 'motorcycle top trumps' i.e. only look at paper stat's

BMW

A bit sterile/disconnected at times
A little bit lumpy
*edit* "those" looks :? :lol:


Spec as tested:


Honda Fireblade 2012 20th anniversary edition, non ABS

Standard kit fitted:


Slipper clutch (!).....Yep, that's it, not even ABS although it is a £700 option afaik.


Additional kit:


Akrapovic Full exhaust system, it sounded absolutely beautiful. In fact, one of the best sounding 4 cylinder bikes I've ever heard


Tested on a cool, dry & overcast day, and the approx temperature 16C. Approx 30 mins of mixed riding/roads etc



My previous sportsbikes:
Fireblade 893 foxeye + 929 millennium edition, k2 GSXR1000, K4 GSXR600, Ducati 1098s

My 'stats' :) : 34 years old, 184cm tall (6 foot, 1/2 inch in old), 100Kg (approx 16.5 stone), 79cm inside leg (31 inches), medium sized hands, size 9 boot.
b1.jpg
b2.jpg
b3.jpg
b4.jpg
Yes that is me in the left hand mirror of the 4th picture :)
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Last edited by Matt Strange on Sat Jun 23, 2012 9:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Honda Fireblade 2012: 20th Anniversary Edtion

Post by Ratser »

Am planning to change next year, and it will be for another one of these, and in all black too. :mrgreen:
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Re: Honda Fireblade 2012: 20th Anniversary Edtion

Post by Fast Eddie »

Sounds like one for me to aim for in a couple of years. Although I still want an early blade or 954 more than a new one.

Nice review.
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Re: Honda Fireblade 2012: 20th Anniversary Edtion

Post by Matt Strange »

I should have mentioned the suspension was setup for me on this bike (and the BMW) before I rode it. All in all that cancels out because neither would have an advantage of being set right; over the other bike not being correctly set for me.

Generally suspension is set for someone around 85Kg in weight from factory, around 13.5-14 stone
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Re: Honda Fireblade 2012: 20th Anniversary Edtion

Post by Ratser »

Was chatting to the guy from Samsung Honda at Knockhill yesterday and he explained the suspension and the rest of the changes from my bike to this one.
Had the all black one there.
Was very impressed, and this will definitely be purchased next year.
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Re: Honda Fireblade 2012: 20th Anniversary Edtion

Post by revs »

Ratser wrote:Was chatting to the guy from Samsung Honda at Knockhill yesterday and he explained the suspension and the rest of the changes from my bike to this one.
Had the all black one there.
Was very impressed, and this will definitely be purchased next year.
And revs will have the lovely blade you (she) currently have (has) :angel12: :lol:
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Re: Honda Fireblade 2012: 20th Anniversary Edtion

Post by Fast Eddie »

revs wrote:
Ratser wrote:Was chatting to the guy from Samsung Honda at Knockhill yesterday and he explained the suspension and the rest of the changes from my bike to this one.
Had the all black one there.
Was very impressed, and this will definitely be purchased next year.
And revs will have the lovely blade you (she) currently have (has) :angel12: :lol:
And Fast Eddie will have the lovely 600 I currently have.
You missed a bit!
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Re: Honda Fireblade 2012: 20th Anniversary Edtion

Post by revs »

Fast Eddie wrote:
revs wrote:
Ratser wrote:Was chatting to the guy from Samsung Honda at Knockhill yesterday and he explained the suspension and the rest of the changes from my bike to this one.
Had the all black one there.
Was very impressed, and this will definitely be purchased next year.
And revs will have the lovely blade you (she) currently have (has) :angel12: :lol:
And Fast Eddie will have the lovely 600 I currently have.
You missed a bit!

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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