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Honda CBR1000RR-R SP Fireblade gets a host of tech improvements in pursuit of racing glory

By its own high standards Honda has had a terrible time when it comes to its racing record in the last few years – struggling in MotoGP and WSBK – and it’s clear that the updates to the 2024 CBR1000RR-R SP are aimed at improving the bike’s chances of success on track.

Visually, you can tell the new model from its side fairings and winglets. The old multi-layer winglets, mounted close to the fairing sides, are gone and in their place come more pronounced, hoop shaped wings that extend further forwards to get more leverage over the front wheel. Honda isn’t claiming any increase in downforce, but says the design reduces the yaw moment in cornering by 10%, decreasing the strain on the rider and the effort that needs to be put into the steering. In pursuit of making life easier for riders, the bars are also taller and the footpegs lower than the 2023 model, giving more space, and while the fuel tank size has been increased by 0.4 litres, it’s been reshaped to make it easier to tuck out of the airstream and to give more knee grip on the sides.

However, it’s under the skin that the big changes come, including a heavily revised engine and frame.

The engine gets an increased compression ratio, up from 13.4:1 to 13.6:1, with a new cylinder head, new camshafts, new valves and springs, and reshaped ports. The crankshaft is altered, too, with new crankpin and journal diameters that save 450g of rotating mass, plus lighter con rods. Even the crankcases have been updated to shave 250g from the engine.

There’s a new intake system that uses twin motors on the ride-by-wire throttles, allowing the butterflies for cylinders one and two to be controlled separately from those for cylinders three and four. It’s a change that allows the ECU to open the first two throttles a moment earlier than the second pair, improving response, and to tailor engine braking by leaving two throttles open.

There’s still nine levels of traction control, but with new settings for 2024, and the electronic Ohlins suspension is updated to the company’s third-generation ‘S-EC03’ system. Even the brakes are improved with the adoption of the latest Brembo Stylema R calipers.

As well as the standard bike, which tips the scales at 201kg including a tank of fuel, there’s a ‘Carbon Edition’ model with fairing parts made from carbon fibre and an all-black finish, weighing in at precisely 200kg as a result.

Ben Purvis