Interview: Mr Fukunaga, Fireblade project leader

Twenty years of Fireblade experience

Why isn't there traction control on the new Fireblade?

As a concept we acknowledge that traction control systems are an important thing as you'll have seen in Milan the traction control system on the VFR. What we're studying at the moment is the best TC system for CBR like the system on the VFR was the best for the VFR. Since 1992 the three key words for CBR (lightweight, mass centralisation and compact) have held true. It's all about providing the rider with the best experience and allowing him to express himself. For twenty years that principle has remained unchanged. This bike with its new suspension and tyres - its improved fuel injection for improved mid range power deliver is to allow people to feel in complete control and give them a greater sense of achievement by providing a more enjoyable bike to ride. So, to be supported by a mechanical aid is a good thing but to be in complete control using all five of your own senses - the sense of achievement you get from that is, we think, more important.

Does racing still improve the breed?

Yes, yes it does. Just one example, the new front cushion (suspension) was used in the Suzuka Eight hour and in the All Japan superbike championship. These things are fed back and utilised on new models.

On the NC700, low range high torque is important. Why not adopt this strategy for a sports 1000 roadbike like new Fireblade?

At 6,800 revs that engine is all over - it's reached its top power and top speed. With what, 38kw top power? Having that kind of peak power figure offers much more scope for also providing a lot of torque low down the rev range. With the CBR1000 we need a certain level of absolute top end performance. To try and get a load of top end power and a load of bottom end torquein in the same engine is extremely difficult and almost impossible.

What is an average age of a 2012 Fireblade customer?

Around 40

What was the age of a Fireblade customer back in 1992?

It was around 25 I think... European customers have been getting steadily older

Of all the Fireblades, what is you favourite?

The one that made the biggest impact on me was the first one. The reason being, at the time, other manufacturers were bringing out 1000s and 1100s but our aim was a chassis of the same weight as a 600 with a 900cc engine. The best way to get this 'total control' concept out. We got a really good power to weight ratio of just 185kgs. It made a huge impact on customers of the time. I wanted to go to Phillip Island as well (scene of launch) but unfortunately they wouldn't let me!

What would your next dream Fireblade be like?

With no limitations? Over 200bhp, under 180kgs

Is it important to smoke cigarettes to design great bikes?

I smoke. So to does Mr Baba. Tobacco is particulalry wonderful. When you're struggling to think tobacco helps me relax and helps me get through the blockages. Baba san was smoking all the time - I don't smoke as much as Baba san.