Honda's Fireblade was tweaked in 2006 to polish an already outstanding package.
Less weight, better acceleration and refined manners made the 'blade as civilised as a 170-mph machine can get. So for 2007, all it got was new paint schemes.
Styling-wise, the Honda is wonderfully put together with a complete look to it – although Alan Dowds reckons, “It hardly pumps blood into my cock”. Which could also be expressed by saying it's a little dull.
Although it's not as powerful as the other machines in its class, there's nothing wrong with the Honda's 149bhp motor. It's fulsome, precise and rewarding. There's plenty of torque; the Fireblade excels in the mid-range, with a linear range of grunt and easy power delivery, which makes it a wonderfully capable road-biased machine. But there's no getting away from the fact that the 'blade is underpowered to the tune of 10bhp and lacking an extra 1,000 revs up top. On track it's forever destined to play second fiddle to its rivals, but if you only ride on the roads, then it's a more relevant motor.
The 'blade is a fantastically easy bike to ride fast, and the key to this accessible speed is the chassis' sublime balance. The riding position is neither too radical nor too laid-back, the front end offers decent communication, while the rear suspension copes predictably with the slightly muted power that the Honda doles out. The 'blade exudes confidence in its own abilities, remaining planted, certain and stable, with the HSED steering damper controlling any head shakes. The Fireblade may not be the sharpest tool in the box, but it gives the rider confidence to push hard and, as a road bike, there was nothing wrong with it.
•Honda Fireblade (2006-2007)
•998cc liquid cooled inline four 16V DOHC
•Dry weight 176kg (claimed)
•Insurance group 17
•Claimed power/torque 149.68bhp@10,499rpm, 79.45lb ft@8,366rpm
•Comparative group test issue: June 2007
•Honda UK on 01753 590500