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RideFast Magazine April 2020 issue

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  • Tyre
  • Racing
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  • Yamaha
  • Ducati
  • Bikes
  • Honda
  • April
  • Ridefast

Every single corner is

Every single corner is dealt with in first gear, something that might not be too much of a problem through the sweeping Dogbone, but the various hairpins? Out of those turns, it bogs and struggles and hardly makes it into third gear down the back straight. Yes, the -R may push more real-world horsepower than the V4R, but because of this engine/gearing problem, it’s more than 10km/h down on the V4R at the end of the straight. The rest of the bike is also pure race bike. The seating position is aggressive and tight, the exact opposite of the R1 that has too much room, and it’s difficult to lock-in. In fact, the -R is so well locked-in that it’s difficult to lock-out, especially when you’re trying to set up for a corner and can’t move nor feel your legs. The brakes on the -RR SP are from Brembo and are excellent, while those on the normal -RR are from Honda’s own Nissen brand and stop with the same ferocity as the Brembos but with slightly less feel. The semi-active Ohlins on the -R SP is magnificent, as Ohlins suspension always is. The Showa on the -R is good until a certain point when they are pushed beyond their limit, and then they feel a little overwhelmed. Generally, this is the case with all suspension that isn’t Ohlins. The overall handling on the two -Rs is back to race bike basics – aggressive. It’s like Marc Marquez himself got involved with its full DNA make-up, not just its ergonomics. It likes hard braking right into the turn, hard leaning and aggressive use of the throttle. It handles incredibly well if you take it by the horns and give it all you have. The new -Rs are indeed MotoGP-inspired, designed as race bikes with headlights, unlike anything we have ever seen before. They need to be ridden like a race bike, and you will be dearly rewarded if you do. The problem is that this new design flies in the face of Honda’s principle of bikes for everyone. This bike isn’t for everyone; it’s a special bike for those special riders. One thing is sure – it definitely hasn’t been outclassed. The two bikes ridden on our test were homologation specials flown in specially for inspection by the local authorities. The customer shipment will be here only in June. Prices are yet to be confirmed, although estimated for now is around R380k for the base and R480k for the SP. Just case you needed more proof on how hard we ride and test bikes. The two above pics show Rob braking extremly hard pushing the front end to the limit under braking, while below Shaun cranks the bike over pushing the suspension and tyres to the limit, showing off a very well-worked Pirelli SC2 rear tyre. Rob says: HOLY SHIT!! Sorry, I know I’m cursing but, HOLY SHIT!!! That’s literally what I was screaming at full tilt in my helmet once I thrashed the new Blade down the back straight in full anger for the first time - it was a feeling I had never felt from any CBR1000RR before and one I was honestly not expecting. Just like Ducati who, were searching to regain some dominance in the World SBK championship by releasing a pretty much race spec machine that can be used on the road for homologation purposes, Honda abandoned their traditional route of building a superbike machine that was kind and gentle and more around the street rider than the flat out track specialist. Honda have now done exactly what Ducati did with the V4R - they have produced a full spec track dominating machine and added some lights and mirrors to make it street legal. The new Blade is not about how comfy it is out on the road, or how good fuel combustion is, or how smooth and effortless it is to handle - it’s now a proper MotoGP bred machine that craves competition and thrives at going faster and chasing down every single tenth of a second on the track. It’s taken them a long time but Honda have finally released the superbike machine we have all be craving. Some more road biased fans won’t agree with the new machines, as the riding position is very track focussed with wide bars and raised pegs. I loved staring down at the gorgeous dash and look at the headstock, not seeing what is now a hideous ignition system getting in the way of a beautiful dash. Another sign that the new Blades are raced bred. I have, and never will get to ride an actual Honda MotoGP bike, but I can imagine that a lot of what the new Blade feels like on track will closely resemble that of a Marc Marquez Honda MotoGP machines. I watch Marc’s riding style and I can feel that somehow translated into these machine. You have to attack turns with the front end, digging it into the ground before thrashing it out. It good old Honda FireBlade handling just amplified to the max. The scream that comes from the standard Akro titanium pipes is addictive. It’s a proper full race spec scram and gargle when at full tilt - the best sounding stock in-line four cylinder my ears have ever had the pleasure of listening to. The tall gearing did hamper bottom end power delivery, but once above the 8k mark it transforms into the fastest production screamer available today. Honda promised us a proper new weapon and they delivered! THE MASTER: RICKY MORAIS Everyone was itching to try out this new “Blade” so when my turn came around I rode it like I stole it. First impression was a lack of low end grunt compared to the previous gens, but it revs like a Two-stroke, man when it’s on song it sounds glorious. The lack of low down power combined with the tight turns at RedStar meant that this was really evident on this bike, so first and second gear was very much used most. Once up in the revs it comes into its own hugely and it is blindingly fast. Brembo / Ohlins combo on the SP model means the suspension and brakes are fantastic and electronics are good and easy to navigate. Footpegs are very high in relation to the seat and bigger riders will find it uncomfortable - I felt good in the saddle and to me this Honda is a serious weapon. The base model is the only bike tested that has no quickshift/auto blip as standard equipment sadly. For: Motor, electronics, suspension and brakes on SP. Against: High footpegs, low power, no quickshit/ autoblip on base model. Top speed: 261kph THE ROOKIE: KEITH BOTHA Best Honda ever made? So far I think so. I’ve been on Hondas my whole life and let me tell you, if you are a Honda fan or not, the SP will turn you into a racer! Great stability on the front end going into corners and really fast down the straights. The upgrades on the electronics makes it a very “safe feeling” superbike. I was confused that the base model had no quick-shifter as it’s become a standard fitting with modern bikes, so that’s an item to address. Other than that all I can say is great machines, great new design, although the tank felt much wider for a smaller guy like me, but it’s still a great overall package. 42 RIDEFAST MAGAZINE APRIL 2020 RIDEFAST MAGAZINE APRIL 2020 43