For too long superbikes were about nothing but power. Then, in 1992, Honda launched the FireBlade and laid down the template for the modern sportsbike. Now the RR-N is a hugely desirable classic performance bike
Click to read: 1992 Honda Fireblade CBR900RR owners reviews, 1992 Honda Fireblade CBR900RR specs and to see the 1992 Honda Fireblade CBR900RR image gallery.
In the late 1980s Honda entrusted the development of its new inline four sportsbike to a designer from their R&D department, Tadao Baba. He was given a very specific remit – make the ultimate sportsbike.
Although early prototypes ran at 750cc, a final capacity of 893cc was settled on as Baba’s philosophy behind his new bike was one of balance. His new machine had to be greater than the sum of its parts. No component was to outshine another; the whole bike had to work together as a unit. The 893cc capacity offered the performance Baba required but kept the whole package within the weight limit he demanded.
Baba’s aim was to make his sportsbike lighter than a 600cc sportsbike of the day, so a target of under 190kg was set. Much to the frustration of some of the bike’s designers Baba stuck to this, demanding parts were re-designed rather than compromise.
With the bike nearing completion, Honda moved development out of Japan and into Europe in 1991. It was ridden on the motorways of Germany as well as on track by racer Phil McCallen, who went on to win production class races at Isle of Man TT twice on future generations of the bike.
The final twist in the project’s history is the origin of the bike’s now legendary name. A botched translation into Japanese of the French word for lightning gave birth to the name FireBlade. But in 1992 no one cared about such things – the FireBlade was unveiled and a new performance benchmark was established.
Now, 17 years on, the great thing about riding a 1992 FireBlade is that it doesn’t feel dated. A good one can quite happily cut it with current sportsbikes. Unlike some big sportsbikes of yesteryear, like the Honda CBR1000F or Kawasaki ZX10, the FireBlade was so far ahead of its time the subsequent years haven’t harmed it to anything like the degree of other retro classics. Still got it? Oh yes.
Continue for the 1992 Honda Fireblade CBR900RR-N used review
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