Used Bike

Honda Fireblade Used Review - 2

How to buy, run and enjoy arguably the most influential superbike of all time, Honda’s mighty Fireblade

The nuts & bolts

The early (1992 to 1999) bikes have that infamous 16” front wheel. Some people think it’s fine and others say it makes the front feel a bit like it’s ready to tuck at any time. Either way it reduces the range of tyres available. There are plenty of sporty options but not many sports touring ones. Bridgestone BT-014s were the most popular, although they’ve now been replaced by the even better BT-016.

Some riders are using (old stock) Dunlop D207RR and D208RRs, both of which give lots of grip for minimal money – although they don’t warm up quickly. The later FireBlade models (2000 to ’03) have conventional wheel and tyre sizes. The three most popular tyres (all equal in numbers in our survey) are Bridgestone BT-021s, a modern sports touring tyre; Dunlop Qualifier IIs, a modern sports tyre; and Pirelli Dragon Supercorsa Pros, a sticky fast road and trackday tyre.

Riders of the 1000cc Fireblade models favourite rubber is again a tie between Pirelli’s evergreen sports tyre, the Diablo, and their Corsa III.

Tyre life varies massively depending on what rubber is fitted and how hard the bike’s ridden. 1992 to 1999 bikes average 3,500 miles from a front and nearly 3000 from a rear – we think they’re being ridden harder than the newer machines. The 2000-2003 models manage around 5000 and 3000 miles from the front and rear respectively. 2004-2007 machines manage some 5300 miles from their front tyres and over 3000 miles from rears. There wasn’t enough data on the newer bikes to give useful figures.

Honda build quality is often thought to be the best. And owners of early bikes are pretty happy with the way their bikes are standing the test of time. The complaints start creeping in when we get on to the injected 2000 to 2003 machines – typically of thin paint and corroding fasteners. By the time we get on to the 1000cc versions there’s more moans. Paint on the plastics seems to rub through or mark easily, downpipes corrode and there are more niggles. Chris Drew says his 2006 Blade seems to be more built down to a price than older Hondas he’s owned in the past. We think the quest for ever-decreasing weight plus the fact modern paints tend to be softer as they’re more environmentally friendly plays a part in this perceived decline.

That said, Honda must be aware there’s some sort of issue as a lot of the first 1000cc Blades got their tank covers replaced under warranty owing to the poor finish. There are no complains about more recent bikes, but they’re so new that’s hardly surprising.

What goes wrong
Very little but there are a few issues. Regulators and rectifiers seem to cause the odd problem on all bikes up to 2003. Ditto coils. The generator can cause problems on all bikes up to 2007. A small number of speedo units have failed on pre-2004 machines too. Honda’s traditional Achilles heel of camchain tensioner issues didn’t raise its head on a single bike in our survey.

The only major problem was on Mark Kennedey’s 2003 CBR900RR3: it split the top engine case, just above the exhaust headers. We’ve heard the odd internet rumour about this model having the odd engine problem, but this is the first time we’ve encountered it first hand. With the bikes in our survey having covered getting on for half a million miles, one major problem’s not bad at all and backs up the Blade’s reputation as one of the most reliable performance machines you can buy.

Continue the Honda Fireblade Buyer Guide

Owner Case Study: "This is my fourth Blade"

Paul Collins: 

“I’ve had four Blades. Whenever I’ve got rid of one I always end up getting another. I had a late 1998 mode first, the RRX. Then I had three RRY models – the 2000/2001 fuel-injected one. The RRX did feel like it wanted to tip into corners a lot easier. I prefer the feel of the 17” wheel on the RRY models. The newer bike also feels quicker off the line. I think at high track speeds there wouldn’t be a huge difference between the RRX and RRY models though.

“I’ve had quite a few other bikes too, starting with an old FS1E Fizzie Yamaha and including three CBR600s too. They’re just as good on the road as the Blade – probably better to be honest, but the low-down torque of the Blade makes it much easier to ride. I’ve had a 600 Hornet and thought about a 900 Hornet too, but sports bikes tend to have the best suspension and brakes. Adjustable suspension’s good too, even if it just gives me something to do in the garage.  I do all my own servicing, and I’ve never had a problem with any of my Blades.

“I had a newer R1 – the 2002 model, but I prefer the RRY Blade. The Yamaha was fast but it felt more focused and designed for track riding. If you made a mistake it could punish you with a tank slapper or something. The RRY Blade’s much more forgiving. I think it’s a great bike and I’ve got no plans to change it.”

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