Honda puts plenty of “super” in its next-generation, 25th anniversary (of the CBR900RR) edition superbike line with the newly redesigned CBR1000RR SP and SP2 bikes. While the Fireblade name has long been associated with race-capable machines, that connection to the track has never been clearer than with this pair. Less weight, more power and even more electronic wizardry than ever before, Honda’s flagship literbikes bring the pain for a lot less cheddar than some of their, shall we say, ambitious rides. (CoughRC213V-Scoughcough.) This pair were among my faves from the INTERMOT show, so let’s dig in and see if the bikes live up to the hype and have what it takes to keep the Red Riders relevant and competitive for that all-important street/circuit market.

Continue reading for my review of the Honda CBR1000RR So and CBR1000RR SP2.

  • 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP / CBR1000RR SP2
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Displacement:
    1000 L
  • Top Speed:
    175 mph
  • Price:


2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP / CBR1000RR SP2
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There are essentially three major ways to increase performance: increase the power output, reduce weight, and reduce drag. Honda pressed the attack on all of these fronts with this pair. First, the windtunnel-tested fairings dropped 18 mm from the width of the bottom, and a whopping 24 mm from the width of the top for better penetration, and obviously the less air you are pushing, the faster you can move. A very small, transparent wind deflector completes the top of the front fairing, leaving the rider with an unobstructed view forward and down the slope of the pointed entry.

The opening at the front of the body paneling tapers down to almost nothing at the chin, and that skinny look continues toward the rear to include the titanium fuel tank’s knee-hanger area that comes 30 mm narrower than before. Not only does this design reduce slipstream drag, it also maximizes cornering ground clearance to prevent the other type of drag, ya’ know, like the kind produced when the panels touch the pavement. Not quite as nose-down and tail-up as some of the bikes on the market today, the SP brothers still cut a mean figure that looks fast even sitting still and makes absolutely no compromises for aesthetic concerns. That’s okay though, there are already plenty of “lots-of-show-with-little-go” rides out there, some even within Honda’s stable, but this family ain’t among them.


2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP / CBR1000RR SP2
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(CBR1000RR SP2)

Fresh out of fat camp, Honda managed to shave 33 pounds off the overall weight so more of the power goes toward speed and acceleration. The factory thinned various parts of the cast-aluminum, twin-spar frame as well as the subframe and swingarm while tweaking rigidity and knocking something in the neighborhood of 1,200 grams off the weight of the skeleton. Not only does this help speed, but it also reduces roll and yaw inertia for crisper handling. Steering geometry comes set to carve with a 23.05-degree rake and 3.78 inches of trail with a 55.3-inch wheelbase and Honda’s Electronic Steering Damper provides variable resistance to kickback for stability at speed.

Fresh out of fat camp, Honda managed to shave 33 pounds off the overall weight so more of the power goes toward speed and acceleration.

The factory is quick to point out that this is the first time that dynamic suspension components made it onto one of their production bikes. A set of 43 mm Öhlins Electronic Control forks float the front end with a TTX 36 monoshock to dampen the swingarm motion. The magic box, otherwise known as the Suspension Control Unit, processes data from the Bosch MM5.10 Inertial Measurement Unit to automatically tweak compression and rebound damping values during all phases of riding. Not only does it come with three preset automatic modes, it also provides a trio of manual modes that allow the rider to customize his/her response profile for a completely customized ride.

Bosch’s IMU also feeds the ABS Modulator that varies the intervention based on the current wheel speeds and lean angle, a definite improvement over the one-size-fits-all style of anti-lock protection. The system works through a pair of four-pot Brembo Monobloc calipers and massive front discs though the factory is being tight-lipped on the diameter of said discs, and a twin-pot binder in back. Both bikes run 120/70 R17 and 190/50 R17 hoops, but while the SP mounts them on cast rims, the limited-production SP2 boasts forged Marchesini rims that further reduce weight and increase strength.


2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP / CBR1000RR SP2
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Honda’s transverse-mount, inline four-cylinder engine serves as the beating heart for this pair, and it came under the same weight-watching scrutiny as the rest of the bike during the engineering phase. The SP mill runs the same 76 mm bore and 55.1 mm stroke as last year for a total displacement of 999.8 cc while a redesigned piston crown bumps the compression ratio up from 12.3-to-1 to a smokin’ hot 13-to-1.

Head design differs slightly between the two engines. The SP2 intake valve ports come 1mm larger than the SP, and the exhaust valves are 1.5 mm larger, all of which lets the racing version of this engine breathe a little better than the street version. Valvetrains on both engines come built to tolerate being wound up to 13,000 rpm with room in the heads for radical, high-lift cams. Additionally, the SP2 gets the RC213V-derived water jacket to deal with the extra heat generation associated with circuit use.

A lightweight magnesium oil pan trims even more fat from the overall heft. The piston rings come treated with a Diamond-Like Carbon coating that reduces friction and promotes sealing for less power loss to combustion gas blow-by, and dead-low friction. Aspiration efficiency is improved by virtue of the low-resistance air box and throttle body that comes opened up to a whopping 48 mm, and fuel pressure at the nozzle got boosted by 14% as well. All of this adds up to 189 horsepower, something just under 100 pound-feet of torque, and a top speed around 175 mph. (Individual results may vary depending on altitude, road/track surface, skill and testicular fortitude.)

All of this adds up to 189 horsepower, something just under 100 pound-feet of torque, and a top speed around 175 mph.

Now for some of the technology behind Honda’s “Next Stage Total Control” concept the factory designed to help riders manage and control this Thoroughbred machine. First off we have the Engine Control Unit that monitors wheel speeds and inputs from the Throttle-by-Wire feature to modulate engine rpm and act as a traction-control system that automatically varies the level of intervention between cornering and accelerating. Variable engine braking comes bundled on with three different levels of intervention that controls how much apparent braking effect is felt.

A Honda Selectable Torque Control feature allows the rider to dial in power delivery according to conditions and preference, and unlike some similar features on it competitor’s bikes right now, changes can be made on the fly with no need to come to a stop first. The Wheelie Control feature works like its name suggests to prevent loss of acceleration due to moonshots. Finally, a Quickshifter gives the rider the ability to shift up-or-down without changing throttle position or even touching the clutch lever that comes 30% lighter due to the built-in slipper-clutch technology. Everything you need to manage the power, and certainly more than we had available even a handful of years ago.


2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP / CBR1000RR SP2
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U.S. Prices are still to be determined at the time of this writing, but ballpark on the SP is around $20,000, with the SP2 understandably higher at $25,000.


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2016 - 2017 Yamaha YZF-R1 / YZF-R1S / YZF-R1M
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2016 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R ABS / ZX-10R ABS KRT Edition
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Honda has been locked in mortal combat with the rest of the Big Four over the last several decades, and although there are certainly other superbike manufacturers out there, I always think of the Japanese market when I think of this particular genre. (Sorry Duc, Aprilia, Beemer and the like, it is what it is.) Since all three factories produce well-known and popular machines in this vein, I want to take a brief look at the closest competitors.

First up we have Suzuki’s offering in the GSX-R1000R that rolls into 2017 with an all-new 999.8 cc engine. The bike comes with ride-by-wire technology and variable valve timing that boosts low-end performance without sacrificing output at the top end. Also on board is a Launch Control, up-and-down quickshifter and traction control. Suzuki claims 200 ponies and over 80 pounds of grunt, even more than the CBR, but I’ll wait for some third-party dyno tests before I pull the word “claims” out of that sentence. Much like Honda, Suzuki has yet to slap a sticker on the ’17 model, but it should fall somewhere between the SP and SP2 if I had to guess.

Next up is the Yamaha YZF-R1M, Yami’s Moto GP-inspired streetbike that comes with the new “Crossplane Concept Engine,” a four-cylinder monster that delivers right at 200 horsepower and brings a whole fistful of gadgets to include a six-axis inertial measurement unit, electronically adjusted Ohlins suspension, quickshifter, wheelie-control and launch control plus more. A GPS unit monitors track data for detailed analysis of rider performance, and it’s all available for $22,499 starting in April 2017.

Last up is Kawasaki’s Ninja ZX-10R ABS KRT. All new for the ’16 model year, it sports most of the technological goodies with a Bosch IMU, launch control, engine-brake control, variable power modes and a quickshifter. Kawi claims 197 ponies and 83 pounds at the crank, numbers that put it neck-and-neck with the competition, but the factory lets it go for only $16,299. To be honest, bargain pricing is not something I look for in a race machine, so I have to wonder where the savings are, and in this case a lower price is not a selling point.

He Said

“Just. Frikkin’. Wow. Honda really pulls out the stops with this newest gen Fireblade, and while it ain’t enough to make me run out and buy a Power-Ranger suit and hop on one, I can certainly appreciate what they have here. As usual, I wonder how fast you really need to go on the streets, I concede that closed-circuits and road courses require ’a little more mustard on them biscuits’ than you need for everyday situations. Yeah, this ain’t no mild-mannered commuter, but more like a ’you won’t like me when I’m angry’ bike, and I definitely feeling it.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "I never know what to say about these go-fast bikes. It’s just not my bag, but they are really popular. The CBR1000 RR SP saw an overhaul for 2017, the result of which gives the bike an increase of 14 percent power-to-weight ratio that the sport bikers will like. The 25th-anniversary model gets some upgrades ripped right off their RC213V-S. It’s gotta be nice to have that kind of technology on a bike that’s actually in a reasonable price range."


(Full Specs not yet released at the time of this writing.)

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