Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR-R SP 2022 review

2022-Honda-CBR1000RR-R-SP on track at Donington

To try out the updates to the Fireblade CBR1000RR-R SP 2022 we went along to the 30th anniversary celebration for track evening at Donington.

Honda has given the Fireblade a bit of an update. The Fireblade CBR1000RR-R SP 2022 isn't a huge change in any respect, but the tweaks seem to have all been made off the back of rider and racer feedback.

The heavily updated 2020 Fireblade CBR1000RR-R was the fastest, most powerful, and technologically advanced ‘Blade the world had ever seen. 

It took the most iconic of all the modern-era sports bikes into the 200bhp party, chucked in some MotoGP rider ergonomics, race-bred aerodynamics, and wrapped it in seriously slinky fairings.

But time marches on, and so does the competition. We’ve already had a go on the new Ducati Panigale V4S 2022 at Jerez last year and it is the most stonkingly fast road-ready sports bike I’ve ever ridden. Can the 2022 Fireblade measure up?

Before we get into it though, this is more a case of evolution over revolution. The latest 2022 ‘Blade takes on some of the areas that have been noted by those I mentioned above. That means the effort is put into increasing the mid-range punch, changing the gearing to make the engine more rideable on the road and tweaking the Honda Selectable Torque Control. Oh, and let’s not forget the stunning 30th-anniversary paintjob. Because that’s pretty bloody sweet looking!

To get to grips with the new ‘Blade, Honda asked us along to the bike’s birthday bash at the Donington round of the British Superbike Championship. Aside from the on-track action, there was a sea of bikes parked on the un-used Melbourne Loop, all of them Hondas, 99% of them Fireblades and some of them FireBlades – if you know the difference! It was so nice to see so many nicely turned out early 90s bikes there, still being used. Most weren’t show-ponies either, and many had a nice, well-ridden patina.

With the racing finished for the day it was our turn to hit the track for a couple of sessions on the stunning Donington Park National Circuit. Sadly, by the time the Orange Army had resumed their posts, the grey clouds had turned to black, and as I trundled down to Redgate the water was streaming off the screen and racing up the visor of my AGV Pista GP. We were wobbling down Craner on bikes fitted with Pirelli Super Corsa SPs. The tyres were cold, the track was cold, and I was cold. It wasn’t fun. Closing in the on the end of the first flying lap, I give the CBR a handful out of the esses and see if its rain mode can contain 214bhp and cold tyres. First gear hooks up and the rear squirms but gains traction, second, same deal. A short shift to third and there she goes, the biggest moment I have had on a track while riding in a dead straight line. I cut my losses and head to the pits for a chance of some running on the wet track on Pirelli race wets.

Credit to the Honda mechanics, they worked their balls off to get the bikes shod with wets, and what do you know, the sun arrives and track all but dries out! We went out again, in vain, still wobbling about the place, sliding about and not really learning anything about the updates Honda had made to the ‘Blade. With disappointment looming, a rumour began to spread through the group that a sneaky track session the following day could be on the cards, as MSV Trackdays had some spaces in the following night’s Fireblade-only track evening. It was shit or bust time, as up till now the new CBR was about as familiar to me as the Mandarin language is.

Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR-R SP 2022 ridden at Donington Park

Thankfully the Saturday at Donington was kinder to the racers, fans, and us lucky journos. For much of the day, the circuit was baked in sunshine making for a warm track, and perfect conditions for an evening track session or two.

Putting the previous days' frustrations behind me, the Honda is slotted into the trickest of the track riding modes, Pirelli Super Corsa SPs were fitted, and 1.9-miles of fun and frolics awaited. Rolling out of pitlane the experience was very different from the previous day, although after two dry sessions, trying to put my finger on the updates to the Fireblade was tricky. With fast corners dominating much of the track the CBR will always feel good. Simply put, it is one of the best handling 1,000cc bikes on the market. But with Honda focussing on mid-range punch and some more get-up-and-go out of the slow corners, it’s hard to gauge the improvements – especially as the Melbourne Loop was out of bounds. Did the mid-range feel more chunky? Probably. Is the quickshifter slicker? Definitely! Can I notice that the inlet trumpets are now 15mm shorter on cylinders two and three? Absolutely not.

What I can tell you is that the changes to the gearing are evident. The final drive is shorter overall, going up from 40 to 43 teeth, which, added to some air-box and previously mentioned intake jiggery-pokery, do make the Honda exit corners a bit more potently. It’s not totally there though. You could still easily drop another tooth off the rear sprocket, although when you’re chucking the thing down Craner Curves at 130mph being chased by John McGuinness, you’re really not going to give a monkeys about that.

The new 2022 Honda CBR1000RR-R SP Fireblade is in dealers very soon, speak to your nearest one to find out more.

Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR-R SP 2022 specs

  • 214bhp
  • 113Nm
  • 16.1-litre fuel tank
  • 201kg (ready to ride)
  • 830mm seat height