Living with a 2003 Honda CBR954RR FireBlade

The big boss takes the CBR954RR FireBlade for a spin

November 2003

I'm no Niall mac, let alone Valentino Rossi, so the need for the latest GSX-R this or R1 that passes me by.

I want a fast, reliable, competent sports machine that will far surpass my own meagre talents without bankrupting me with its latest fashion expense. The Blade fits the bill perfectly. Current model in all but paintwork. it's 98% as good as a GSX-R thou' for at least a grand less and still far better than I'll ever be.

It arrived last year after some thieving wretches had lifted my last one. It was immediately apparent that Honda had considerably improved the constant throttle hesitancy with this latest model and produced the best set of stoppers yet placed on a production bike. Since then the Blade has had the headstock recall mod (no discernable difference) and been used as a daily commuter bike plus occasional fun tool.

The Pyramid screen (£65 - 01427 810473 ) has made cruising a more relaxed affair and the recent addition of a Power Commander 3 (£284.35 - 01995 600500) has sorted the slight remaining hesitancy. Crash blobs and pegs from Motrax (£129.99 - 01933 418414) have added an extra sense of security. The looks have been vastly improved by cleaning up the back end, removing the original plate hanger and replacing it with a more modest plate and an aluminium Pyramid chain guard (£43). Looks as well as noise/power have also been transformed by the addition of a Yoshimura RS3 can (£360 - 01782 569810)

Unfortunately the Power Commander and the Datatool alarm have filled half of the Blade's super useful under seat storage, but you can't have everything.

Putting all of this to one side, the best thing I've done for it since it's arrival is get some training. A recent day at the quite superb Ron Haslam school on their Elite course has made more difference to my riding enjoyment than any number of physical mods to the bike. Chatting to Ron following a pillion ride (see page 86) we got on to the subject of suspension settings. Five minutes later Ron was lying under my bike, screwdriver in hand, adjusting the suspension to his own recommended settings. Whatever trick kit any of the other TWO long termers have, none can claim to have been personally tuned by a GP God. Get yourself along to the school though. I can't guarantee Mr Haslam will adjust your suspension, but whatever your level of skill you'll come away a better rider.

Since then the Blade has been treated to a Silverstone GP circuit track day, a fast thrash to north Wales and a visit to Jimmy FireBlade's wheelie school. It will probably see me through to the beginning of the grotty weather on its current rubber and then I'll be needing to replace the current Bridgestone 012s which have done 3000 superbly secure miles.

Whether it's daily London commuting, country road grinding, motorway cruising or track day thrashing the Blade continues to delight me at almost every opportunity. (Unlike yer staff, eh boss? - Bertie).