The CBR 1000SP Fireblade has been an icon of sports bikes for decades. The latest model keeps the same DNA to give our reporter Jeremy Webb the ride of the season around the New Forest.
Launched in 1992, the Fireblade was a hit right from the start. 27 years later, the bike remains as popular as it ever was, with the 2019 model selling extremely well in the 1000cc market. As soon as you see it, you understand why it remains the choice of so many bikers.
This is a bike built for the track that fortunately is legal on the road, allowing the rider to experience the stunning performance with total control. Advancements in safety technology help the rider without them even being aware of it, correcting the bike to make sure the wheels remain in contact with the road and adjusting braking as required.
For example, the Selectable Torque Control (HTSC) thought for circuit riding, helps the Fireblade exit corners, giving the rider much more confidence on the behaviour of the bike.
On the other hand, for high-speed circuit use, the level of ABS intervention has been reduced, and deceleration performance improved substantially.
A very clever innovation is the Fireblade’s new Wheelie Control system. However strongly the front wheel lifts, its “landing” is smoothly controlled, and the rider can fully concentrate on acceleration performance for the best possible lap time. The TFT display now has a ‘W’ for ‘Wheelie Control’ (with 3 levels available) alongside the Power, Engine Braking and HSTC settings.
Other technology improvements in the Fireblade include its semi-active motor-type Electronic Control suspension, its selectable Engine Brake, Quickshifter, Riding Mode Select System and Power Selector.
On the road, you never really get the chance to fully experience the performance of the CBR 1000SP with its 189 bhp and potential top speed of 182mph, but it still gives you a great ride, as I personally experienced when I took it to a favourite of motorcyclists: the New Forest. However, the beautiful look of the bike makes for great photos in the stunning setting with its wonderful wildlife.
The New Forest lies within Hampshire and Dorset, covering an area of 219 square miles. It is a National Park shrouded in history. Used as a hunting area by monarchs since 1079, when William The Conqueror named the area his “new hunting forest”, it also became a source of wood to supply the Royal Navy in the construction of iconic ships like the HMS Victory.
Many picturesque towns and villages lie within the New Forest. Particular favourites of mine are Brockenhurst, Lymington and Lyndhurst. In Lymington, you’ll discover a long history of smuggling, while tales of witchcraft, ghouls and folklore abound in Burley. Monastic and Victorian influences are obvious in Beaulieu; and if you want to see a bit of maritime history, look no further than at Buckler’s Hard.
There are few other places in England where the ancient landscape has remained so unchanged. In fact, the system established by William the Conqueror to protect and manage the woodlands and wilderness heaths is still very much in place today through the efforts of our Verderers, Agisters and Commoners.
Wildlife and nature are fundamental to the area and the ancient woodland brings with it not only some unique flora and fauna but the opportunity to see ponies, pigs, donkeys and cattle roaming free. Anyone with an eye for nature will enjoy wandering the footpaths, photographing the landscape or simply stepping away from the bustle of modern-day living. The iconic New Forest ponies roam the open heathland and can even be spotted strolling down high streets.
The New Forest National Park is also home to five species of deer: fallow, roe, red, sika and muntjac. The flora and fauna can be enjoyed in the heathland, woodlands and along our coastline. There are also several nature reserves that provided havens for wetland birds and other species of animal. If the weather is right, relax on one of the area’s beaches at Lepe, Milford on Sea or Barton-on-Sea or take a coastal walk along the Solent Way at Lymington or Hythe.
Although you can’t go faster than 40mph in the New Forest –to prevent accidents between vehicles and the roaming wildlife, this is still a great please to bring your Fireblade. The speed limit allows you to take in the beauty of the scenery and when riding to and from the forest you can enjoy some faster roads such as the A31and A35. On these A roads, you experience the awesome acceleration available in each gear and the impressive handling of the Fireblade. This is a super responsive bike to every input, whether on the throttle or changing direction.
Hondas are known for being strong and reliable and the CBR 1000 SP is no exception, but is also very good looking, with its sharp lines and paint scheme. For the money, it is a superb road bike and great track one. The 2019 Fireblade is leaner, meaner, and keener. It is also slimmer, more powerful and lighter which makes for happy riding.