Bloomin’ ‘ell. Is it really the case that the 954cc FireBlade has turned 17 this year?
Tadao Baba was the man behind all of the ‘900cc’ FireBlades and this was his last roll of the dice and many think it’s the best sub-litre Blade of them all.
Firstly, it was SO much better looking than the – quite aesthetically challenged – ‘929cc’ version. Instead, the 954 Blade was a big improvement on the outgoing model and was a nice blend of saucy angles and cool colour schemes which were simple and effective. Colours were your basic red, blue, yellow, white, along with a large Honda wing motif along the flanks.
The improvements were more than skin-deep. The new-for-2002 Blade had an increased piston bore up by 1mm to 75mm which gave a 25cc hike to 954cc. Compression was also boosted to 11.5:1 while lots of reciprocating weight was shaved from the pistons and other moving parts to make the bike lighter and rev-harder. This meant the motor was up by three bhp, with more mid-range and the engine itself was lighter by two kilos which was at the heart of Baba’s philosophy of ‘light is right.’ The 954 overall was just 168 kilos dry which was two kilos less than the GSX-R1000 K1, six kilos less than the-then new YZF-R1 and a whopping 20 kilos less than the ZX-9R of the same year…
OK, so the Blade was losing out in cc to the R1 and the new daddy the K1 GSX-R1000, but you wouldn’t have realised it. It was still good for 180mph on a good day but that wasn’t the best of it.
Compared to all of the opposition the 954 Blade was just so well balanced between power, weight, brakes and handling that – in the right hands – it outperformed its more powerful peers. Many road tests from the time argued that the 954cc Blade was a better road and track bike overall than the others.
Yes, we know that the Blade eventually went to a full 1000cc to compete with later models of R1 and GSX-R (and later ZX-10R) but this was the best 900cc Blade ever and – if we’re honest – prices still show this 17 years on.
Here’s the rub: it’s hard to find one of these below three large, unless they’ve got mega miles (around 50k) on. That said, most are looked after (bullet-proof too) and we’ve even seen one with 2500 miles on the clocks for £7000, but we reckon £3500 will get a good one.
For – built with precision, the best 900 Blade
Against – strong money, finding one
Honda CBR900RR 954 Fireblade Specification
|Major changes||colour changes|
Verdict – The best 900 Blade bar none….