No V4, but it’s aiming to be top dog in the power stakes
Honda is to debut a clean-sheet CBR1000RR Fireblade later this year that, according to our sources in Japan, will put it back on top in the horsepower stakes. And they claim Honda won’t be using a MotoGP-derived V4 engine to do this but a powered-up in-line four-cylinder.
Our sources say prototypes of the 2019 ’Blade are already under test and, while details of exactly what’s been done to the engine remain secret, power is said to be up to 158kW. That would put it on par with the Ducati Panigale V4, which is fitted with a 1103cc engine compared to its rivals’ 1000cc fours.
For years now, the CBR1000RR Fireblade has lagged in the outright horsepower stakes. The current model was much improved in 2017, but with a peak power of 141kW at 13,000rpm it’s still behind its main rivals from Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki, BMW and horsepower king Ducati.
The powerful new engine dictates a new chassis, and our ears and eyes in Japan say if you want a taste of how it will look, look no farther than Honda’s current CBR600RR.
Our computer-generated images are based on the information we’ve uncovered so far. Japanese sources say the Fireblade is so far advanced in development that its unveiling has been pencilled in for November’s EICMA show in Milan.
No V4? How come?
There has been a lot of internet chatter about Honda’s rumoured new V4 Superbike, with many speculating that the Fireblade will be powered by a V4.
However, the two projects are completely different.
Patents over the last couple of years have revealed designs for a machine that uses an engine similar to that of the limited-production, ultra-expensive RC213V-S GP replica, mounted in a cast semi-monocoque chassis designed to be much cheaper
Progress on the V4 has been slow, but if Honda does make a separate V4 Superbike to sell alongside the all-new Fireblade, it takes us all back to what happened when the original Fireblade was launched in 1992. There was no need to meet racing capacity rules, as Honda already had the RC30 V4. So it took existing designs for a stillborn 750cc in-line four superbike and pumped up the engine capacity to create a big-bore roadbike with the dimensions of a Supersport 600. An increased engine capacity could be the way it will challenge Ducati’s outright power figure while retaining a torquey street-focused engine.
Honda is about to celebrate its 70th anniversary and has strongly hinted it will release some special models to mark this occasion. Watch this space.