It’s been 20 years since Honda launched its first Fireblade, the 1992 CBR900RR. And even though the Fireblade name has fallen out of favour in Canada, the big double-R has continued on as Honda’s flagship sport bike. To mark the start of its third decade of production, Honda officially unveiled the 2012 CBR1000RR this past weekend during two major motorcycle road racing events; the SBK Championship round at Imola, Italy and the 24 hour Le Mans endurance race in France.
The updated big Blade has been given a facelift and now sports a new nose, a layered fairing and sharper tail section. Underpinning the bodywork are a pair of 12-spoke cast aluminium wheels that Honda promises are more consistent in their rigidity and will provide better handling.
Also changed is its suspension. A 43mm Showa fork uses Big Piston technology, which is claimed to improve damping, stability under braking and tire grip. At the rear, a new shock that uses a double-tube design has been fitted to provide better damping and a more accurate response to rear wheel movement. It’s the first time this type of a shock has been used on a production motorcycle according to Honda.
The CBR’s 999 cc, in-line four, remains unchanged, but it does have an updated fuel injection system said to smooth engine response, particularly at smaller throttle openings. Revisions were also made to the bike’s race ABS system that makes it more biased toward track riding use of the rear brake. Keeping tabs on everything is a new multi-function LCD instrument panel that now includes a lap timer, gear position indicator, and a tachometer that can be switched between four different display modes.
Most surprising is what hasn’t been included in the list of changes. Honda’s press release makes no mention of a traction control system or variable power modes that have become standard fare on big-bore sport bikes over the past two years. The absence of bleeding edge electronics lead us to speculate if the 2012 CBR1000RR is a stopgap measure for something completely new that is currently being developed in Honda’s skunk works. Having dominated this year’s MotoGP series, we’re willing to bet that there’ll be something much bigger from Honda in the not too distant future.