Is Honda mulling a radical Ducati-style rethink for its Superbike project?

Is Honda already working on the eighth-generation Honda Fireblade or a new racing-focused flagship sportsbike? Either way, it will be radical...

Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade

Patent documents have revealed Honda is considering a major shift in ethos for what could form the basis for the next-generation Fireblade or possibly an entirely new model designed primarily to go racing with.

The documents, which have been filed in Japan, appear to show redesign of its sportsbike formula with an emphasis placed on packaging so as to significantly reduce the weight of the chassis.

In it we can see Honda is mulling using the engine - which is shown here as a transverse four-cylinder and not the V4 many have been petitioning the firm form - as forming the main structure of the chassis, rather than fixing it with a frame.

This would bring it into line with the Ducati Panigale approach of developing the chassis around the engine, but the patents suggest Honda’s idea goes further by using ‘cast materials’ for the steering head, which is affixed to the engine cases which would then house the airbox and electronic components.

More than that, the seat and fuel tank appear to be joined as one unit, which is then integrated into the chassis, thus doubling the whole thing as a single frame from which the engine is housed. As a result of this, the seat unit ‘floats’ over the back wheel, with no additional structural items listed beyond the aforementioned chassis frame.

While the chassis is certainly radical, the documents appear to suggest the 214bhp 1000cc engine from the Fireblade is still lurking beneath.

Is this the next generation Honda Fireblade already?

What makes these patent documents so unusual is not only the amount of detail they provide but how to all-but-confirm this is intended to be a roadgoing model and one that is already well developed.

Honda isn’t averse to going ‘pie in the sky’ with its ideas and then patenting them in order to ruffle some feathers before parking them until they want to refine it,  but rarely are they this thorough.

If this is Honda simply getting its ducks in a row, so to speak, then it could be the earliest of indications that this would form the basis of the eighth-generation Fireblade. Then again, given the current model only hit the road in 2020, it does seem rather early to be considering a radical update.

Indeed, Honda has found itself in an awkward place with the current Fireblade, which has proven a hit with owners and media alike, but hasn’t set the world alight on track. It is here where Honda are scratching their heads, with the Team HRC outfit that looks after its WorldSBK effort reporting back that while the bike is powerful, it needs more flex in the frame… an area that is difficult to change without a major overhaul and re-homologation process.

As such, though there was talk of a Fireblade SP2 being developed, it wouldn’t involve the much needed chassis changes to make it more competitive.

These patents therefore suggest this is Honda listening to feedback and going radical in order to resolve them.

However, it is unlikely to want to bin the current Fireblade already, because it is eager to keep marketing it as a better value alternative to the likes of the Ducati Panigale V4. 

With this in mind, it could mean the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade remains as it is, but be joined by a new lightweight limited run motorcycle that sits above it in the range, which would then be homolgated to race.