Urry takes the Blade for a romantic weekend in Le Mans before a rough thrashing at Oulton Park
Running a bike in. What's it all about then? Well if you read the feature somewhere about the process it will, I'm sure, explain all the various reasons why you should take it easy for the first X-hundred miles , but personally I reckon it's more to do with getting riders used to a new bike before they go banzai - especially one as powerful as the blade.
It's common knowledge that if you thrashed old Blades from the off, they blossomed earlier and the motor made more power initially.
Run them in correctly and the power generally reached a peak point at around 10,000 miles, thrash them from the off and you are talking nearer 4000 miles. So I was faced with a bit of a dilemma when I picked up the bike with just 20 miles on it: to thrash or not to thrash, that is the question.
According to the Honda guy, I was to take it easy for the first 300 miles and keep it below 6000rpm before gently increasing the revs as the miles pick up to 600 when it was due its first service. After that, anything is fair game.
Fair enough I reckoned; I could be restrained for that long, but that was still 600 miles taking it easy. I needed a plan, something to help relieve the boredom and cover miles fast. Chatting to some of the ads guys in the office, I knew they were planning a trip to the Le Mans MotoGP, leaving the day after I picked up the blade. Le Mans and back added up to 700 miles - perfect.
Despite it being late notice, a quick call to travel firm Page & Moy and I was sorted. For £279, they supplied me with Dover/Calais ferry tickets and a room at a hotel in Le Mans for three nights, which works out at about £40 more than doing it yourself, but considering the number of people expected to arrive for the GP, it's worth it for avoiding having to scour the town to find a room.
The next day, the blade had a tailpack with a big lock, a few shirts and pants, waterproofs and a toothbrush in it strapped to the pillion pad and we were off on our first big adventure together.
With my usual level of organisation I left the office a bit late, but the blade managed the first leg of 90 miles of motorway to Dover in bang on an hour and all without going over 6500rpm. Maybe running it in wouldn't be so bad after all...
As we all stuck in a group for the trip down to Le Mans, the blade wasn't really too stressed following Jim on his SV650 and managed an impressive 130 miles before the fuel light came on. I found it really comfortable on the dual carriageways at a steady 90mph (despite the racy riding position) and even my long legs didn't feel the onset of cramp until near the time the tank needed filling up again.
In fact, the main problem I encountered on the whole journey down was that the blade is just getting into its stride and the power is just starting to come in at 6500rpm. This makes cruising at just below the 100mph mark tricky as the bike wants to accelerate and only a slight movement of the throttle is enough to get the speedo showing into three figures. This sounds like a small point but it could be crucial when speeds above 100mph mean a ban in the UK, so I like to keep the speedo showing 90-something on motorways.
We abandoned the bikes once we got to Le Mans and chained them together to ward off any thieving scum, before making our way to the circuit on foot, which proved the best option as the French police were busy pulling over any bike with a loud can. The campsite at the circuit, which doubled up as the car park, resembled Beirut on a bad day. And while I'm on the subject; what is it about the French that simply revving an engine gives them so much pleasure?
Racing over and despite the blade's temperature gauge reaching - and holding at - 104° Fahrenheit for nearly an hour as we fought our way through the traffic away from the circuit, the blade didn't seem unduly bothered. With the odo showing over 300 miles, I 'gradually increased the revs' on the way home until the speedo showed 179mph. The Honda managed to average 110 miles between fuel stops, despite doing around 120mph all the way home.
Back home and after a first service of an oil and filter change, it was off to Oulton Park and the road around for a feature on FireBlades that will be in next month's issue. Honda BSB rider Michael Rutter joined us on the road and reckoned my road bike felt like his racer. Although he did take the piss out of the hero blobs, asking what they were for, before telling us he grinds the fairing out on his bike, flash twat.
You're nothing these days without your own telemetry. Honda's flagship sports tool gets treated to a spot of clever electrickery
Like any relationship, the Fireblade and myself are now settling down after the initial excitement of the chase. But I have to confess I took a fiery Latino lady home the other night - Ducati's 749R. But she was too much like hard work and I was soon looking forward to the home comforts of the Honda.
Our relationship needed a kick, so I treated the old girl to a colour matched pillion seat cover and a tinted screen. Both are genuine Honda accessories, available from your local dealer.
The seat cover is a definite improvement in terms of looks and the lack of pillion pad isn't a problem as I hate taking people on the back anyway. Next on the list of improvements were some R&G Racing crash protectors . Being the paranoid sort I opted to fit as many as possible. The paddock stand nubbins and fork protectors fitted without any hassle in about 10 minutes, but the fairing protectors required drilling holes in the fairing. The whole job took about an hour.
Being a bit of a geek, I like things like data logging, dyno curves and all that. But the problem with most data logging kits is they cost an arm and a leg. Then Cougar Racing offered to fit a data logging kit to the Blade. Their kit consists of sensors for rpm, front and rear suspension, throttle position, water temperature, speed, voltage and G-force, and even a gear change light. Add a wiring loom, 32MB data card, software and free fitting, and at £880 it doesn't seem too bad value at all.
Dropping the Blade off at Cougar's base next to Stansted Airport, I was reassured by their professionalism and by the simply gorgeous 500cc Yamaha two-stroke V-four GP bike on the bench next to the Blade. Cougar used to race in GPs under the Sabre Sports banner, and this bike was the one WCM's Chris Burns highsided at Donington last year.
The kit took around three hours to fit, mainly because they had never been near a new Blade before, and apart from the two suspension sensors and an errant wire, you'd hardly know it's there.
I'm still getting to grips with the software, but if you want to have a go log onto www.sabresport.co.uk, download the free programme and have a play. There's also a forum for confused people to get help from slightly less confused people.
I now intend to get the Blade out on track and use the data logger to amuse my fellow riders with the pathetic amount of throttle opening I use.
Finally, I should mention the stunning performance of the Pirelli Diablo Corsa tyres. The Corsa is the softer of the Diablo compounds but it still lasted an amazing 4000 miles on the rear before needing changing, with the front fine for another 2000 or so miles. This includes a day at Oulton Park but, to be fair, it's mainly commuting through traffic and a few long distance motorway trips. All the same, 150bhp on tap and a tyre
lasting 4000 miles is very impressive - I'll be interested to see if the Bridgestone BT014s can match this.
Click here to find out the fate of Urry's Fireblade