Honda CBR900RR Fireblade (1992 - 1995) review

Solid build quality.
Fat and heavy

I stumbled across a mint 1992 twin headlight FireBlade a few months ago, nestling inconspicuously among the massed ranks of used bikes at a local dealership, and it stopped me dead in my tracks and sucked me straight back to 1992.

Sure it looked kinda old, but somehow it didn't look dated. The mute aggression and malevolence that scared me back then when I wondered what a bike like that would really be like to ride was still there. I know any of the modern 1000s would turn it inside out and leave it for dead, and I also know it may even struggle up against a well-ridden 600 from the latest crop, but there was still very much something about the old Blade as it sat there, just daring me to accept its challenge.

Both fortunately, and also surprisingly, our 1993-vintage first generation Blade for this test was a minter. Fortunately because it made the experience pleasurable, and surprisingly because there can't be a bike out there more oft abused, crashed or plain old accessorised to hell than the FireBlade - let alone an 11-year-old one.

But ours was standard throughout, apart from a moderately crappy end can and some frame protectors (carbon, natch, in true mid-'90s style). That's not to say it was perfect mind, thanks mainly to a disastrously worn, aged, mismatched set of tyres. Although the fine lads at Speedfreak track days dug us out a replacement rear and fitted it for us, we still had the issue of the shonky front to deal with.

Throw in the fact this bike wears a 16-inch front wheel and I was somewhat less than thrilled to be taking this bike out in the fast group at the beginning of the day.

The 16-inch front wheel was part of Honda's quest for less weight. Although the rest of the sportsbike world has run 17-inch front wheels pretty much without exception both before and since the FireBlade, Honda persevered with the smaller hoop on the Blade. It made it turn quickly, made it flighty, made it exciting and it went against conventional wisdom. In short, it encapsulated just what the FireBlade was all about, but wobbling down pit lane I wasn't convinced. Ten laps later and I was impressed. 

This bike could genuinely still cut it with the best of them. Fair enough, the once
fearsome power delivery was anything but, feeling torquey, smooth and controllable without ever being too much, and the supposedly laser-quick handling (as talked about in hushed tones on the launch) was merely adequate, but the overall experience was much more.

The bike still needed plenty of rider input to get into a corner, but once shoved hard it dived quickly and cleanly for the apex and could be held on line surprisingly well as long as you had the power on - shut off at any point mid-corner and the whole plot went haywire.

Feedback wasn't amazing, but there was still plenty despite 17,000 miles of previous owners' abuse. The brakes were still excellent too. If it could still impress now, no wonder this bike set the two-wheeled world on fire way back in the dark days of 1992.


There is a saying that goes "never meet your heroes." I now know why. I had never ridden a 1992 Blade before and was really looking forward to a go on the bike I had a poster of on my wall through my teenage years, but it was a massive let down. Yes it still looks fantastic, yes the engine is quite strong but the handling, well what there was of it, was simply terrible. Wozza blamed a mis match of tyres, which could be the problem, but my dreams were already shattered. I'd love a go on a mint one but, tragically, this  has left me cold.

Solid build quality.
Fat and heavy