Created by Tadao Baba, then a ‘Large Project Leader’ at Honda, the first FireBlade followed his ‘Total Control’ ethos. Rather than just brute force, the first CBR900RR was designed to work as a cohesive whole, and it did. Compared with bikes like the Yamaha FZR1000 and YZF1000R, Kawasaki ZX-11 and ZX-9R, and Suzuki GSX-R750 and GSX-R1100, the FireBlade was lighter, sharper, often quicker, and definitely more responsive. The first FireBlade did the standing quarter-mile (400m) in 10.8 seconds, hit a top speed of about 245km/h, and right away made everything else look and feel old and ponderous.
Opinions are divided over the 'Blade's styling evolution. We think the 1992 original looks the coolest!
The 2008 Fireblade is, of course, a better machine than the 1992 original. But the 1992 model was probably funkier, more cutting-edge for its time
As you’d expect, the 2008 Fireblade has all the correct bits and pieces – slipper clutch, close-ratio six-speed gearbox, twin-spar aluminum chassis, aluminum-alloy hollow-spoke wheels, monobloc radial-mount four-piston front brake calipers, 43mm USD front fork, Unit Pro-Link rear suspension, and Honda’s latest HESD electronic steering damper.
The engine has titanium intake valves, the pistons get molybdenum coating and the cylinders are Nikasil-coated. The stubby little exhaust is tucked down low, MotoGP-style, and signals the end of the underseat exhaust era.
Compare the 1992 original with the 2008 Fireblade, and you have to admit that the current model isn’t nearly as radical, as pathbreaking as the first CBR900RR was in its time. The new bike has an engine that 100cc larger and 54bhp more powerful. It’s also packed with cutting-edge electronics and the suspension and brakes are in a different league altogether.
On the other hand, the new Fireblade is also about 15kg heavier than the 1992 CBR900RR, and while hugely competent, it didn’t make everything else look completely outdated when it was launched. So, we’d say that in terms of being radical and breaking new ground in sportsbike tech, the 1992 FireBlade probably has the latest one beaten by some margin. Now, Honda, next year how about an 800cc V4-powered 200bhp Fireblade, that weighs 170kg and does 320km/h…