Tree years ago, Honda drew from its experience with the then-dominant RC211V MotoGP bike to give us the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade, its most serious superbike to date. That same year, Kawasaki awakened after dreaming up sensible streetbikes such as the Kawasaki ZX-9R and dropped the with explosive power equipped Kawasaki ZX-10R on the market, which made the Honda seem a bit tame.
Results of most racetrack-biased comparisons were understandable lopsided, and few backhanded compliments the Honda RR Fireblade was paid for being best on the street only fueled Honda's fire. There's nothing like a literbike when it comes to awesome performance.
As we slight back to the current time, it's interesting to note those two Japanese manufacturers are, if not exactly trading places, at least taking strides in opposite directions. As said in the past, Kawasaki has taken some of the Mean out of Mean Green, making the all-new Kawasaki 10R more user-friendly than before.
And Big Red (Honda) is obviously seeing red, as it gave the Honda RR Fireblade a makeover not even its mother would recognize. Their common destination, is unknown. The happy middle ground occupied by the execution. Whereas Kawasaki sent its engineers back to the drawing board to create all-new motorcycle, Honda kept its designers in front of their CAD/CAM computers until they'd cut, clipped, lopped, pared, pruned, shaved, slashed, stripped and trimmed every single component on the existing model.
In the en, they didn't affect every part, but they changed more than they didn't. And the difference is dramatic: The current Honda RR Fireblade is said to weigh 204kg with a full tank of gasoline, that is almost 8kg less then previous model. Using the old 3kg equals 1 horsepower formula, that's a gain of 2.4 horsepower.
That weight saving came from the usual places, such as a magnesium AC generator cover that joins the mag valve cover and oil pan. Also a few unusual ones, such as downsized radiators; the old bike never had overheating issues, so why not? The fork, shock, pipe, steering stem, swingarm pivot, etc. even the ignition/injection ECU went under the knife - and emerged 100grams lighter.
The engine didn't escape scrutiny, either. Thinner-wall hollow camshafts weight less, and in conjunction with nesting dual intake valve springs helped raise redline. Reshaped combustion chamber and intake valve heads raised compression, which combined with the new valve timing and straighter-shot intake and exhaust ports helped boost peak power by a claimed 3 percent.
Chassis updates were aimed a sharpening handling and improving bump absorption. The fork was pulled in, trail reduced and the swingarm shortened, reducing wheelbase. Suspension mods consist of stiffer fork springs and a softer shock spring working with a more linear linkage, while braking is helped by larger front rotors. A new faring sharpens the look.