In the day and age when Valentino Rossi openly disapproves of all electronic aids in MotoGP, Honda launches a totally new ABS-system, developed specifically for sportsbikes...
Click to read: 2009 Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR owners reviews, 2009 Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR specs and to see the 2009 Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR image gallery.
There’s one thing we can be sure of, Honda is very serious about their ABS. So serious in fact, they’ve not only fitted it to the CBR600RR (read the report of the ABS equipped supersport bike here), but to their 2009 Fireblade, which sits right at the top of their range. As with its smaller sibling, the Blade will also be offered with or without the ABS-system and the difference is about £1,000. As a result the 2009 Fireblade C-ABS will cost close to £10,000. But in fairness, you do get a lot of technology for your money. Since its introduction last year, the Blade has won just about every comparative test that was thrown at it. And with the new C-ABS system it’s likely to stay top dog.
It’s only been a year since its last evolution, so Honda didn’t feel it was necessary to give this latest incarnation of the ‘Blade a technical update quite so soon. With the exception of new indicators and a slightly different fairing on the C-ABS version, everything stays pretty much as it was. Which is a good thing. The only real change is the new colour scheme. The stylish range of colours from the 2008 model are replaced by sportier livery.
As it is, the Repsol replica looks good, but the stunner is the Suzuka 8 Hours replica. Not only does it commemorate the 2008 victory in the most prestigious race known to the Japanese, it also serves as a celebration for Honda’s 50th year in racing. It may amount to just coloured bodywork, but it manages to change the bike’s look completely. If the 2008 edition was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the 2009 version is an undisguised, no holds bared beast and it leaves no doubt about its sporting intent.
The Repsol bikes are lined up perfectly in the pits on their paddock stands. Blood red tyre warmers heat up the Bridgestone BT-003s, it’s about the stickiest racing rubber you can get these days. The image sends shivers down my spine. After spending most of the morning riding the CBR600RR, Honda’s entourage gently pushes me towards the Fireblade. To feel the contrast between the two models, I first ride the Fireblade without the C-ABS activated and only have it switched on in the last two sessions. The first noticeable difference is the added 11kg you get with the C-ABS system. As the Fireblade is still the lightest in its class, that’s quite acceptable.
British WSB rider Johnny Rea was on hand to tow me through the first session. Even though the racing line is clearly marked in the Qatar dust, he shows me how to clip the kerb in the ridiculously fast double left sweeper, just as you enter the following right hander. It takes a bit of doing, but it saves about half a second at the end of the lap. And just like last year’s model, the 2009 version never looses it composure, even under this type of pressure.
Continue the ABS equipped Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade first ride
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