Honda FireBlade tech review – Motorbikes Reviews, News & Advice –…

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Honda CBR 945RR

Honda FireBlade tech review (January 2004)

Honda has completed the new-year flurry of supersport launches for the coming year with the release of its CBR1000RR. It bears a closer resemblance to the current 600 than the 945RR and, based on raw stats, looks to be very competitive. Revised superbike

Here’s a selection of Honda’s technical information on the bike.


The Fireblade’s totally new 998cc engine was designed from the ground up for World Superbike levels of performance. Shorter and more compact than ever before, it provides a strong yet smoothly linear power delivery, with a new ram air induction system combining with a new Dual Sequential Fuel Injection system like that introduced on the CBR600RR to provide a breathtaking surge of top-end performance combined with stronger, more highly responsive low-to-midrange power output.

In its chassis department, the quest for a more impressive range of excitement led the Fireblade’s development team to lean heavily on Honda’s astoundingly successful MotoGP champion, the RCV211V, for a wealth of design influences related to riding and racing performance, fully optimised handling, and a more intensely focused, yet well-rounded range of circuit performance that delivers the potential for full World Superbike racing conquest.


To start, cylinder bores and pitch were left untouched in order to preserve the engine’s narrow overall width. Instead, displacement was upped through an increase in stroke from 54mm to 56.5mm, for a total displacement of 998cm3, which would also realise stronger torque throughout its wide powerband.

In order to free up space to lengthen the swingarm, thereby reducing angular movement through its suspension travel and subsequently reducing pitching over rough road surfaces, the arrangement of the engine’s crankshaft, main shaft and countershaft was completely revised, with the countershaft relocated underneath the main shaft for a dramatic reduction in engine length.

A balancer shaft is used to reduce secondary vibration to an absolute minimum. To reduce the balancer shaft’s influence on the crankshaft’s vibration moment, it was positioned closer to the engine’s centre of gravity.

Even the starter motor was repositioned, with its corresponding gear on the crankshaft shifted from the left side to the right, to realise a narrower engine profile and a 2° increase in maximum bank angle. The starter motor’s torque was also increased in line with the engine’s larger displacement while still maintaining essentially the same size and weight.

Due to the new engine layout, the starter clutch that was previously located inside the ACG cover was moved from the left side of the engine to the right. Although the cooling system’s water pump retains essentially the same configuration and positioning as in the current model, the cooling system itself was radically modified, with coolant now entering the cylinder block from the sides, instead of a central port behind the cylinders. Also, to free up space in front of the engine for greater freedom in designing the layout of the exhaust headers, the piggyback-style liquid-cooled oil cooler and oil filter were moved from the lower front and centre of the cases to the right side of the engine, and separated for a more compact overall configuration, as well as easier access to the filter for maintenance.

Modern open-deck die-casting techniques have permitted the design and construction of lighter, more precisely formed engine blocks that offer greatly enhanced cylinder cooling capability, especially when formed around the PMC (Powdered Metal Composite) aluminium/ceramic cylinder sleeves used in Honda’s high-performance Super Sport engines.

For the first time ever in a motorcycle engine design, the Fireblade’s compact new engine features a fundamentally simple new ‘semi-closed’ deck design which firmly secures the tops of the cylinder bores to the outer walls of the block with innovative new bridges formed in the initial casting process that reduce the possible development of friction at high engine speeds for maximised endurance and reliability.

The RR’s lightweight new forged aluminium Slipper pistons feature a radical new surface preparation process applied to their side skirts that greatly reduces frictional losses as the pistons thrust up and down in the engine’s PMC cylinder sleeves. No mere surface coating, this treatment literally shoots particles of pure, low-friction molybdenum into the side skirt faces of the piston with such high force and temperature that they are embedded deep into the surface of the aluminium with a chemical reaction that seals the material in place.

The Fireblade’s new Nutless connecting rods have their endcaps held in place by standard threaded bolts screwed directly into tapped holes in the rods, instead of the conventional nut and bolt combination, for a total weight savings of approximately 50g. Combined with the Fireblade’s lightweight, freer moving new pistons, this significant reduction in reciprocating weight makes a major contribution toward reduced mechanical loads to realise a much sharper and more aggressive feeling of responsive acceleration.

Already designed to efficiently flow fuel and air mixture in, and exhaust gases out of the ‘Blade’s hot-firing combustion chambers, the engine’s head also received some small but significant improvements. While its magnesium head cover and cam holders remain essentially unchanged, intake port angles were raised for a straighter injection and intake path, and a significant contribution to more responsive performance. Included valve angles were also narrowed for a flatter squish band, with the current 12° intake valve angle reduced to 11° 20′ and the exhaust valve angle reduced from 13° to 12° 10’.

While valve diameters remain the same at 29mm for intake and 24mm for exhaust, the valves’ stems were slimmed from 4.5mm to 4mm for lighter weight and reduced friction. This important weight reduction also permitted the use of lighter valve springs, that keep valve actuation quick and accurate.

Pioneered on the blazing RC211V and first introduced in the production CBR600RR, the Fireblade’s new PGM-DSFI Dual Sequential fuel injection system features two separate sets of injectors; the first installed in the throttle bodies attached to the cylinder head, as in most conventional systems, and the second set positioned up in the air cleaner, directly above the velocity stack of each cylinder.

The Fireblade features a new servo-controlled exhaust valve system that controls a new type of valve located inside the under-seat exhaust. By giving independent control over the flap located at the front mouth of the ram air intake, power and torque across the rpm range are significantly increased.

Positioned just above the top of the ‘Blade’s new large-capacity radiator, and below its steering head, the large central duct at the front of the airbox provides a high pressure volume of cool, power-producing air at speed for a dramatic surge in midrange to high-speed power and performance. This system provides excellent ram air performance for street and box-stock racing applications-although may require a bit more intake volume for full Superbike racing potential. Inside the new airbox, a pair of large cylindrical air filter elements replace the panel-type element used till now, providing a clean, unrestricted flow of air to the intakes.


To facilitate optimum gear selection and help racers more easily meet the needs of different race courses, a cassette-type transmission was selected, with new ratios and stronger, more durable gears designed to match the engine’s stronger performance.

While its outer gear shift linkage closely resembles that found on the CBR600RR, with a long linkage rod reaching straight up from the shift lever to the shifter shaft, the actual shift mechanism was moved closer to where the action is, from the right to the left side of the engine.

Clutch operation is now managed by a newly developed hydraulic actuation system replacing the cable-actuated system on the current ‘Blade, and the clutch diameter was increased from 125mm to 140mm for a significant increase in surface area and operating capacity.


For 2004, the CBR receives an entirely new frame configuration proven on the RC211V, and further honed in the development of the CBR600RR. This frame features large GDC (gravity die-cast) sections extending from the front steering head down and around the engine to its diamond configuration hangers, and reaching up and forward from the engine-mounted swingarm pivot to join the cast forward sections around a pair of short but large, open-section extrusions in a quasi-twin-spar layout.

The Fireblade’s highly rigid yet confidently responsive cartridge-type inverted front fork retains essentially the same components as the current version. Front fork offset, however, was reduced from 30mm to 25mm, and trail was increased 5mm. The Fireblade’s new Honda Electronic Steering Damper, mounted directly atop the front fork upper triple-clamp, effectively enhances high-speed performance while maintaining low-speed handling for easier riding across a wide range of conditions.

One of the most revolutionary developments found on the RC211V MotoGP racer is its Unit Pro-Link rear suspension system, which carries the entire rear damper and suspension linkage assembly in the swingarm. This innovative configuration completely isolates the frame from the usual stresses that are transmitted to it by the rear suspension under hard riding and racing, and thus eliminates the need for the extra stiffness and its associated weight which conventional frame designs require to counteract these stresses.

Honda CBR 945RR
Honda CBR 945RR

Similar to the 600RR’s system, the upper mount of the rear damper is firmly mounted to the upper surface of the swingarm’s robust pivot section, while a pair of lower arms provide an anchor for the system’s newly configured Delta-Link linkage. The damper is arranged in a different orientation from the CBR600RR, and its prominent remote gas reservoir is still positioned within easy reach for quick adjustments of compression and rebound damping, while a new 2-piece preload adjuster facilitates setting changes.

Although the Fireblade has traditionally used axial-mounted four-piston callipers, the new Fireblade’s new front brake system now features a set of Tokico radial-mount callipers. These new callipers feature distinctive turret-like mounts that seem to jut directly outward from the front axle, onto which the callipers bolt straight down.

The new callipers are held together by three lateral bolts for a more rigid design that provides both stronger grip and more even pressure distribution across the entire surface area of the pads for highly efficient braking with excellent feel at the lever. The calliper’s pistons feature an optimised surface plating preparation to ensure that they slide easily, providing smoother operation coupled with greater resistance to corrosion, for more confidently responsive performance over the long haul. Their improved performance permits smaller rotors to be used, which have been reduced in diameter from 330 to 310mm while still realising improvements in both braking ratio and performance, not to mention providing a small but important contribution to the Fireblade’s lighter and more responsive handling.

Jointly developed in co-operation with Kayaba, the world-famous hydraulics and suspension experts, Honda’s revolutionary Electronic Steering Damper is comprised of the following major components:

1) The world’s first electronically controlled hydraulic rotary steering damper, which is prominently mounted directly above the steering head.

2) The computerised control system integrated into the motorcycle’s ECU.

3) Sensors to monitor vehicle speed, which are linked to the speedometer.

4) A panel-mounted warning light installed in the instrument console to provide an instant visual indication should any system irregularities be detected.

A linkage arm extends down from the damper mounted atop the steering head to the top surface of the upper triple-clamp and is attached with a single bolt. Within the damper unit, a large chamber filled with oil is divided in two by a moving vane connected internally to the linkage arm. In response to movements transmitted by the linkage arm/vane, oil moves between the left and right sides of the chamber via linking valve controlled hydraulic passages.

Basic stats

Power – 180.6ps at 11,250rpm (with ram air effect), torque – 11.7kg-m at 8500rpm, weight – 179kg, seat height – 820mm, fuel capacity – 18lt, price – TBA (19-20k expected), colours – red/white/blue, red, black.


That’s it for the moment. The launch of the CBR rounds out the four challengers from the Japanese factories, with slightly more claimed horses than kilos being a common theme. Honda is offering some accessories for the bike and you can expect to see a range of performance goodies from HRC in the very near future.

We’re in for an interesting battle for the hearts and wallets of sports bike fans.

Published. Friday, 30 January 2004

Honda CBR 945RR
Honda CBR 945RR
Honda CBR 945RR
Honda CBR 945RR
Honda CBR 945RR

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