Honda Says "Born to Race" And We Agree

Honda spruced up its CBR1000RR-R SP superbike and plans to release it summer of 2020 as a 2021 model. The long-rumored updates will finally hit the road in the foreseeable future, and the factory even relented in its long-standing practice by actually using the “Fireblade” moniker in the U.S. market. The factory stuffed in its most powerful four-banger with over 200 ponies on tap and followed up with top-shelf electronics to turn out a machine that, in its own words, is “born to race.”

  • 2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP
  • Year:
    2021
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Displacement:
    999 cc
  • Top Speed:
    186 mph

2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP Design

2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP
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2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP
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2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP
- image 874312
Pressure-relief slits reduce resistance to movement along both the horizontal and vertical axes, so the bike will flick, turn, and reverse with great enthusiasm.

The engineers set about the design of the newest Fireblade with stability under brakes, low-drag penetration, and anti-wheelie measures as the front-burner criteria, and the results are impressive. Right out of the gate, the front fender sports an aerodynamic design that shunts air pressure away from the front wheel onto the cowling to unburden the steering a bit. The windtunnel-tested goodness continues into the engine cowling with pressure-relief slits that reduce resistance to movement along both the horizontal and vertical axes, so the bike will flick, turn, and reverse with great enthusiasm.

A 35-degree bubblescreen steers the air over you when tucked in, and the factory deepened the pocket by 45 mm to better accommodate you when prone. The chin fairing extends back to form a full belly pan that shunts air away from the rear tire for greater penetration, and that comes with the benefit of also keeping the rear wheel dryer in wet conditions for safer inclement-weather riding. Winglets in the side fairings provide downforce at the front axle to help keep the nose down under acceleration and keep that front contact patch spread out on the tarmac, plus it increases stability under heavy braking.

A naturally-aspirated engine drives the Fireblade, but Honda takes advantage of the pressurized air at the nose with a large duct that shunts the wind right into the intake tract and its high-flow air cleaner to deliver a boost to the volumetric efficiency, although the boost curve is pretty flat until you get up to around 100 mph.

Mirrors and blinkers come married for easy one-shot removal before race days, and out back we find a similar arrangement with a recessed taillight and the plate, tag light, and rear turn signals on a mudguard-style standoff. Strike it, plug the hole, and you’re good to go.

As for instrumentation, it’s all contained within the five-inch, customizable, color TFT screen that doubles as an interface for the copious ride-quality and safety systems, but we’ll get to that shortly.

2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP Chassis

2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP
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2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP
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2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP
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Among the updates for 2021 on the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP is a new, aluminum diamond-type frame and redesigned swingarm that deliver improvements to both the traction and the handling behavior.

Among the updates for 2021 on the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP is a new, aluminum diamond-type frame and redesigned swingarm that deliver improvements to both the traction and the handling behavior. The sheet-metal frame is built from 2 mm stock with new flex values engineered in so there’s more flex horizontally and less everywhere else in a bid to improve feedback and feel in the corners. A welded-aluminum swingarm finishes out the standing structure, and the factory stretched it by 30.5 mm with no concurrent increase in weight to make the new wheelbase measure at 57.3 inches for increased stability.

Round aluminum tubing forms the skeletal subframe area with a seat height of 32.67 inches off the ground, but the narrow waist gives your legs a break for a compact riding position and direct reach to the ground. A Showa electronic steering damper tames the kickback at the bars and the steering head itself was redesigned for greater stability with a 24-degree rake angle and four-inch trail, up from the 23/3.77 figures of the previous year.

Öhlins provides the suspension all around. A set of 43 mm NPX forks float the front end with a TTX36 Smart-EC shock out back and a six-axis inertial-measurement unit reports to the second-gen Öhlins Electronic Control for automatic suspension adjustments. On top of all that wizardry, Honda chucks on the Öhlins Objective Based Tuning system that delivers a trio of individual modes on top of the stock settings to let you change the overall suspension characteristics on the fly.

Also new for this year are the Brembo Stylema brakes that grip larger, 330 mm discs up front and the two switchable modes that add flexibility to the lean-sensitive ABS and rear wheel-liftup features. The redesign even touched the hub geometry for improved rigidity and reduction in weight. The new rims mount a 120/70 up front opposite a 200/55 out back, and of course the hoops come with a Z rating that represents the fastest rubber available.

Front Suspension/Travel: 43mm Öhlins NPX Smart-EC Front Fork with electronically-controlled preload, compression and rebound adjustments/ 4.3 inches
Rear Suspension/Travel: Pro-link single shock/ 5.6 inches
Rake (Caster Angle): 24.0 degrees
Trail: 4.0 inches
Front Brake: Brembo Stylema front calipers with 330 mm discs
Rear Brake: Single-caliper 220 mm disc
Front Tire: 120/70ZR17
Rear Tire: 200/55ZR17

2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP Drivetrain

2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP
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2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP
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2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP
- image 874303
The plant churns out a generous 215 horsepower at 14,500 rpm with 83 pound-feet of torque that maxes out at 12,500 rpm.

When talking about the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP, there’s a lot of engine info to unpack. The beating heart is an inline-four that rides transversely in the frame, obliging the factory to take steps to limit engine width to keep the overall bulk down and keep the bike trim. Part of this is due to a starting-system redesign that moves the starter gear to the clutch shaft, a move which allows for a shorter crankshaft and more compact engine.

Staggered-length intake funnels widen the powerband, and a shift away from cam-and-bucket actuation and toward finger-follower valve timing lightens the top end significantly. Forged A2618 aluminum pistons ride on titanium conrods with a combined weight loss of 55 percent to keep reciprocating mass low. Under the pistons, a dual oil jet sprays the bottom of the crown to carry heat away from this critical area and let the pistons get away with having such low thermal mass. The factory didn’t pass up any opportunity to lower friction, so the short piston skirts come treated with a Teflon coating to minimize piston-to-cylinder wear.

Massively oversquare, the Fireblade SP runs an 81 mm bore and 48.5 mm stroke with a sizzling-hot, 13-to-1 compression ratio. A ride-by-wire throttle control and quartet of 52 mm throttle bodies form the ends of the power-demand system, but there’s a whole lot of stuff in between. The trio of Riding Modes bundle the systems together for easy setup changes. Traction control, wheelie control, and engine brake management all come with varying levels of intervention, and the Riding Modes let you mix and match to meet conditions. A four-into-two-into-one exhaust system rocks a bypass circuit and a butterfly valve so the backpressure can be tuned automatically according to need.

What’s this get you? The plant churns out a generous 215 horsepower at 14,500 rpm with 83 pound-feet of torque that maxes out at 12,500 rpm. After that power washes through the six-speed transmission and final drive you can count on around 186 mph for a top speed.

Engine: 999 cc liquid-cooled inline-four engine
Bore x Stroke: 81 mm x 48.5 mm
Compression Ratio: 13:1
Induction: Programmed Dual Stage Fuel Injection (PGM-DSFI) with 52 mm throttle bodies, Denso 12-hole injectors
Ignition: Digital transistorized with electronic advance
Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive: #525 Chain; 16T/43T

2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP Pricing

2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP
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2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP
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2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP
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Pricing is still TBA at this time, but the current “RR” is $16,499 and I take for granted that MSRP on the new model will be higher, potentially a great deal higher, than that.

Pricing is still TBA at this time, but as we get closer to the June 2020 release I expect the factory to come out with some figures. For a ballpark number, we can start with the $16,499 price on the current “RR” and take for granted that it will be higher, potentially a great deal higher at that. Time will tell.

Warranty: One-Year Transferable, unlimited-mileage limited warranty (optional extended coverage available with a HondaCare Protection Plan®)
Model ID: CBR10SPM
Color: HRC Tri-Color
Price: TBD

2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP Competitors

2020 Ducati Panigale V4
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2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP
- image 874323
In truth, Honda doesn't appreciably raise the bar as the top-end game is one of fractions of an inch and any advantages are going to be subtle.

No doubt, the 2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP is a tough act to beat, but in truth, it doesn’t appreciably raise the bar as the top-end game is one of fractions of an inch and any advantages are going to be subtle. With that in mind, I want to see how the CBR1000RR-R measures up against one of the best that Ducati has to offer, the new Panigale V4.

As the ingeniously clever name suggests, the powerplant on the Panigale is configured as a V4 rather than inline, so it’s even narrower than the Honda mill by virtue of its design. Ducati meets Honda’s electronics bid point-by-point and raises the bar further yet with a power launch feature that the Red Riders don’t seem to have a match for at this time.

Like Honda, Ducati bundles its ride-quality and safety under a Rider Mode feature that allows for quick, multi-layered adjustments with just a click of a button, so you can tune both machines under way. Ducati also breaks even with its electronically adjusted suspension system that delivers fiddle-free adjustments on-the-go.

The Panigale packs a 1,103 cc mill that produces 214 horsepower to cede but a single pony to the Honda, but suffice to say, both are going to fall within the stupidfast category, and unless you plan on actual closed-circuit work, you’ll never do either of the justice. Since price is still TBD, we can only guess how the Fireblade will fare against the Panigale’s $21,995 price tag, but it could be close.

He Said

“Finally the changes folks have been asking for are implemented, and I gotta’ say I’m impressed with what I’m seeing so far. It may seem trivial, but I’d like to know why the factory resisted using the “Fireblade” nameplate for the U.S. market, and what changed? Whatever the case, Honda presents to the world a lot of bike for the buck with this mid-season release.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The handling is unbelievable. The winglet holds the front end very stable. Even if you never see a track and all you do is ride on public streets, power delivery is smooth and handling is spot on. It’s a really nice, refined ride.”

2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 999 cc liquid-cooled inline-four engine
Bore x Stroke: 81 mm x 48.5 mm
Compression Ratio: 13:1
Induction: Programmed Dual Stage Fuel Injection (PGM-DSFI) with 52 mm throttle bodies, Denso 12-hole injectors
Ignition: Digital transistorized with electronic advance
Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive: #525 Chain; 16T/43T
Chassis:
Front Suspension/Travel: 43mm Öhlins NPX Smart-EC Front Fork with electronically-controlled preload, compression and rebound adjustments/ 4.3 inches
Rear Suspension/Travel: Pro-link single shock/ 5.6 inches
Rake (Caster Angle): 24.0 degrees
Trail: 4.0 inches
Front Brake: Brembo Stylema front calipers with 330 mm discs
Rear Brake: Single-caliper 220 mm disc
Front Tire: 120/70ZR17
Rear Tire: 200/55ZR17
Dimensions & Capacities:
Wheel Base: 57.3 inches
Seat Height: 32.6 inches
Curb Weight: 443 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 4.3 gallons
Fuel Economy: TBD
Top Speed: 186 mph
Details:
Warranty: One-Year Transferable, unlimited-mileage limited warranty (optional extended coverage available with a HondaCare Protection Plan®)
Model ID: CBR10SPM
Color: HRC Tri-Color
Price: TBD

Further Reading

Ducati Panigale V4

2020 Ducati Panigale V4
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See our review of the Ducati Panigale V4.

Honda

ALLYN IMAGES: DO NOT DELETE
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Read more Honda news.

TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read More
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All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: honda.com, ducati.com

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