Harris Performance earned their reputation in the late 70s and early 80s by taking ill-handling Japanese motorcycles, removing the engines, and putting them inside their hand-made chassis. That was a simple and effective recipe but by the early 1990s, even Japanese engineers had figured out horsepower wasn’t the only answer, and in 1992 Honda gave us the awesome FireBlade. Which makes the Harris FireBlade Magnum 5 a bit of a puzzle.
Even I struggle to explain why Harris would want to take the FireBlade engine from its alloy beam spar frame, and then stick it in a frame made of steel tube?
Looks wise, you could argue that the Magnum 5 was more stylish than the now-iconic original Blade, and there’s always a desire to be unusual and different. But then again, this 1996 Harris Magnum 5 we found down at Motorcycles Unlimited was built in 1996. With hindsight, that’s just two years before Yamaha took things on again with the R1, and three years before the FireBlade Evo TT100 was built by Russell Savory’s RS Performance to create the ultimate special Blade.
At the time, the plan was apparently to capitalise on the number of early Blades being lobbed into hedges by unsuspecting owners used to less-twitchy handling. So the Magnum 5 kit could be obtained for around £4500 including the fairing and stainless steel exhaust system, with the choice of adding forks, wheels, discs etc depending on what you had left from the donor bike.
20 years later and the Harris Magnum 5 hasn’t become as iconic as the earlier Harris Magnum creations or the stock original Blade, but given the advancing age of anyone around for the early 90’s, the appeal of a more road-focused special with Honda reliability makes it an interesting purchase. And one of the most unusual things about his bike is that it’s survived unmolested since it was originally built, which is something not many early Honda FireBlades can still boast.