Niall’s special friend has been riding the ‘08 Fireblade, and by all accounts it’s an incredible new bike. You needn’t worry about the styling when you’re riding it, he reckons...
A good friend of mine, who also happens to be a fairly handy racer, recently rode next year’s Honda Fireblade. He had no real reason to hit me with a hard Honda sales pitch but he truly believes the new 2008 model may well have taken 1000cc sports bikes to a new level. You see, my mate (whose name can’t be revealed for legal reasons - he’d kill me) freely admits he has no interest whatsoever in road bikes but after an extensive back to back test with the 2007 model, he immediately took four seconds off his lap times with the 2008 machine and felt it was like a proper race bike in the process.
There is no denying the Fireblade’s Superbike success with Toseland’s WSB and Kyonari’s BSB titles, but all this was done with mega-buck factory supported machines. At Superstock level where the rules dictate the bikes have to be much closer to road specification, Suzuki, Yamaha and Ducati have shared pretty much all the champagne this year.
As a stock road bike the current Blade doesn’t have the rebellious attitude of the Kawasaki ZX-10R or the wonderful looks of the Ducati 1098. It also doesn’t have the monstrous grunt of the Suzuki GSX-R1000 or the refined engine and chassis package of the Yamaha R1. Should you be in the market for a comfy, fast, safe sports bike the Honda would probably be the one but personally I prefer the others that have a bit more of an edge to their character.
The ‘05-’06 R1 suffered from being a bit docile and bland so Yamaha made no secret of what they were targeting with the 2007 model: the race track. When I first saw this bike I was concerned as the graphics were a bit tacky but I needn’t have worried as Yamaha’s attention hadn’t been on anything trivial like stickers, just performance on the track. And it worked. Just ask anyone in Superstock racing what bike they would have picked if the season could be rewound to March.
The major changes to the current Fireblade two years ago was lower gearing and slightly quicker steering, something that could be done in a few hours in your shed.But Honda have been working in their shed considerably longer on this next incarnation so be excited. According to my mate, be very excited.
On a different note, have you noticed the motorway information signs now regularly tell you how far it might be to a certain junction and how long it might take? Don’t be fooled into thinking this might be someone being helpful in the local traffic control office. Call me a cynic but I believe this useful information is to extract money from your wallet and insert points on your licence, and here’s why.
Any red blooded male that seeing a sign saying “70 miles to junction 36, will take 65 minutes” will automatically see this as a challenge and think, right I’ll do that in 55 minutes which of course would then mean he was speeding. I saw that exact sign on the M6 in Cumbria recently then three bridges later a mobile camera was perched on a bridge a short time after. It seems the system is to encourage you to speed up then nail you further down the road when you are midway through your challenge. Luckily I was okay, as being a perfect law abiding citizen I was sticking rigidly to the 70mph speed limit. Or maybe the forward facing camera didn’t pick up my bike?
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