2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP First Look

Details on Honda’s new high-performance superbike.

2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP
Honda has released details on its next high-performance superbike, the 2021 CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP.Honda

Honda has pulled the cover off of the long-rumored and much-anticipated 2021 CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP. There's quite a bit to unpack just in the new name. But there are also plenty of details to deserve that 21-character model name. And they all begin with "new."

First off, you read that right: 2021. The CBR1000RR-R is a 2020 model for Europe, but will be a 2021 model here in the US, arriving June 2020 at your local Honda dealer. "SP" is for special, meaning limited production, so when it does arrive as a 2021, there won’t be many to be had. In fact, less than one per dealer. If there was any doubt, that third R emphasizes the bike's performance focus. And Fireblade is now a North American thing, but it’s reserved for the triple R. The base model will be the CBR1000RR, and will be unchanged from the 2019 model.

2021 CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP will be the flagship of Honda’s sportbike lineup
Three R’s are better than two. The 2021 CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP will be the flagship of Honda’s sportbike lineup. It will not be available in the US until June 2020 as a 2021 model.Honda

2021 CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP Engine Details

When asked if anything from the previous model was carried over, the answer was some hardware and maybe the grips. The rest of the bike is all new, and focused on track performance. Honda's engineers leaned heavy on trickle-down tech from the MotoGP RCV machines, much of that put to use in the new powerplant. Combustion efficiency and reduced friction were key design goals for the oversquare 999cc inline-four. It's also no coincidence the 81mm bore and 48.5mm stroke are identical to those of the RCV213V-S—and radically different from the 76mm x 55mm cylinder dimensions of the previous engine. MotoGP's bore limit is 81mm. We are awaiting official comment from Honda on this fact. Also, American Honda has not released claimed horsepower or torque for the new engine, though Honda did claim during the EICMA presentation of the bike that the European model would produce 214 hp at 14,500 rpm and 83 lb.-ft. at 12,500.

The cylinder head features new DLC-coated camshafts that actuate finger-follower rocker arms, replacing the shim-under-bucket design to reduce drivetrain friction by 35 percent and cut inertial weight by 75 percent. Those new coated cams are driven by a patent-pending system that uses a small timing gear on the crankshaft to drive a cam-chain gear that then in turn moves the cam chain. This means the cams now rotate in the opposite direction of the crankshaft, and also shortens the cam chain for reduced weight and inertia.

Reciprocating mass inside the engine has also been reduced with new titanium connecting rods that are half the weight of the previous chrome-moly steel units. New forged pistons made from A2618 aluminum are 5 percent lighter with improved durability and strength. Ober (Teflon and molybdenum) coating on the skirts and nickel-phosphorous plating in the pin clip groove increase high-rpm wear resistance.

2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP’s engine via ram air duct located front and center.
Air enters the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP’s engine via ram air duct located front and center.Honda

Airflow to the new engine is via a large, centrally located ram air duct that was made possible by Honda’s Smart Key system. A traditional key unit would have blocked the air duct’s path through the head stock, thereby reducing intake area. A larger airbox helps feed the 4mm-larger 52mm throttle bodies. Intake valve flow is increased by 5 percent while the air volume between the throttle-body butterflies and intake valves is reduced by 13 percent to improve throttle response. The butterfly shaft is now made of stainless steel for less deformation and deflection, which reduces friction and improves the feeling of connection between the twistgrip and butterfly response.

2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP’s aggressive and slippery bodywork.
A titanium Akrapovič muffler hints at the potential of the new engine under the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP’s aggressive and slippery bodywork.Honda

The physical dimensions of the Fireblade’s engine has been decreased. A more compact layout between the crankshaft, countershaft, and main transmission shafts shortens the overall length of the engine, while a new starter arrangement that rotates off the clutch shaft rather than the crankshaft shrinks width. The primary gear has fewer teeth than before to save space and now transfers the starting torque to the crankshaft.

Exhaust gases exit the rear of the ’Blade (so cool I can type that now…) via a redesigned exhaust system that uses oval-cross-section downpipes for improved flow to a 10mm-larger catalyzer that also reduces exhaust pressure drop. Although the catalyzer is larger it weighs the same thanks to thin-wall construction. After the cat, an exhaust-valve-equipped titanium Akrapovič muffler sheds weight while increasing internal volume by 38 percent.

2021 CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP Electronics

As any modern, high-power track-focused superbike should, the Fireblade is replete with electronic rider aids that increase rider control through a throttle-by-wire system that is derived from the RCV213V-S. For 2021, the system has a more direct feel with immediate response in part-throttle applications. Five power modes and nine levels of Honda Selectable Torque Control allow for fine-tuning of engine response and rear-wheel slip.

A Bosch six-axis IMU monitors lean and pitch angles to inform the system of the proper response and power delivery. It also works in conjunction with wheel-speed sensors to manage three Wheelie-control settings without giving up forward drive. Start mode limits engine rpm to a set 6,000, 7,000, 8,000, or 9,000 rpm to allow the rider to concentrate on clutch actuation, and an up-and-down quickshifter lets the rider forget the clutch after the start. Finally, three Engine Brake levels adjust to the strength of the engine-braking feel.

Brembo Stylema calipers squeeze 330mm discs that are 10mm larger and 5mm thicker.
Brembo Stylema calipers squeeze 330mm discs that are 10mm larger and 5mm thicker.Honda

Two ABS modes are available: Sport and Track. Sport is calibrated for on-road performance, minimizing rear wheel lift and chassis pitching; Track is suited to the higher speeds and demands of closed-circuit competition. Four-piston radial-mount Brembo Stylema calipers squeeze the 10mm-larger and 5mm-thicker 330mm dual front discs. The rear caliper is straight from the RCV213V-S.

Adjustment of the 2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP’s rider modes and settings is done via the switch gear on the left bar end.
The CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP’s rider modes and settings are adjusted via the switchgear on the left handlebar.Honda

All of these settings are controlled via a new, full-color TFT screen that is larger and has higher resolution than the previous unit. The layout is fully customizable. A left-hand four-way selector switch is said to be easy to use, with the top and bottom buttons for ride mode adjustment while the left and right cycle through screen display info.

2021 CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP Chassis Details

Honda completely revised the CBR1000RR-R’s frame geometry and flex characteristics to produce more accurate high-speed steering while improving stability and control under braking and increasing front and rear feel at the edge of tire grip. The four-component aluminum frame is bolted to the engine in six locations to improve rigidity and rider feel, increasing torsional rigidity by 9 percent and vertical rigidity by 18 percent while decreasing horizontal rigidity by 11 percent. A minimal subframe is constructed of round, thin-wall aluminum tubing.

The wheelbase has grown 2 inches from 55.3 to 57.4 inches with a less-steep 24-degree rake and longer 4.0-inch trail. The previous model had a 23-degree rake and 3.8-inch trail. This is meant to give the Fireblade a more stable character under acceleration, while maintaining precise handling. The crankshaft is now 33mm farther back from the front axle and 16mm higher than before to even weight distribution and raise the center of gravity to aid side-to-side flickability.

Honda emphasized that the rider triangle is more aggressive to complement the increased handling performance. Footpegs are moved rearward and upward, and handlebars are farther forward for increased leverage. Seat height is 32.6 inches. Although the SP models have traditionally been equipped with a solo seat, the CBR1000RR-R does have a pillion pad and passenger pegs.

The rider triangle on the 2021 CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP is more compact and aggressive.
The rider triangle on the 2021 CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP is more compact and aggressive.Honda

A 30.5mm-longer swingarm weighs the same as the previous piece and is stamped from 18 different thicknesses of aluminum for finely tuned flex and rigidity. It is now 15 percent more rigid in the horizontal load path while remaining the same vertical stiffness. The top of the Pro-Link rear suspension attaches at the rear of the engine rather than to an upper crossmember on the frame. This improves rear-wheel traction feel by isolation the rear wheel from the headstock via a frame pathway.

Second-generation Öhlins Electronic Control semi-active suspension is used front and rear. A 43mm NPX fork offers improved bump absorption and stable damping control thanks to a pressurized system said to reduce cavitation and fade. Using the Öhlins Objective Tuning Based interface (OBTi) the rider can achieve finer suspension adjustment—front rand rear independently adjustable from baseline settings. Further, three setups can be stored and recalled on the fly—imagine the ability to quickly change suspension tune on the track as you search for optimal performance.

Öhlins Electronic Control semi-active suspension can be adjusted by the rider with three individual settings that can be adjusted while on the track.
Öhlins Electronic Control semi-active suspension can store three rider-selected setups that can be switched on the fly.Honda

The 2021 CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP Has Winglets

The new fairing is more slippery while also reducing lift at high speed and improving braking stability. Honda says that with a tucked-in rider in "stock race trim" (presumably with mirrors and license-plate hanger removed) the drag coefficient is a class-leading 0.27. This was achieved by lowering the fuel tank cover by 45mm to drop the rider further below the windscreen’s air bubble. To reduce steering effort, a convex surface on the front fender channels airflow away from the front wheel and around the fairing, while slits on the right and left upper fairing are said make it easier for the bike to roll through corners. The lower fairing is longer to extend closer to the rear wheel while channeling air downward instead of into the rear tire to reduce drag. In wet conditions, this is also said to increase rear wheel grip. The rear hugger also vents air from underneath both sides of the swingarm to decrease lift.

The 2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP’s winglet structures increase stability under acceleration and breaking.
The CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP’s winglet structures increase stability under acceleration and braking.Honda

Winglet structures containing three internal ducted wings produce maximum downforce without affecting yaw and roll. In fact, Honda claims these winglets generate the same downforce as those used on the 2018 RCV213V MotoGP racebike. The vertically straight arrangement of the wings inside the duct oppose twist angles when the Fireblade is turning, helping improve stability.

Side view 2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP
Pricing for the US-market 2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP has not yet been announced.Honda

2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP Specifications

ENGINE 999cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled inline 4-cylinder; 4 valves/cyl.
BORE x STROKE 81.0 x 48.5mm
FUEL SYSTEM PGM-FI w/ 52mm throttle bodies
CLUTCH Wet, multiplate
FRAME Aluminum
FRONT SUSPENSION Öhlins 43mm NPX w/ Electronic Control; 4.9-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION Pro-Link system; Öhlins single shock w/ Electronic Control; 5.6-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Brembo Stylema 4-piston radial-mount calipers, dual 330mm discs; ABS
REAR BRAKE Brembo caliper, 220mm disc; ABS
WHEELS, FRONT/REAR Cast aluminum alloy 5-spoke; 17 x 3.5 in. / 17 x 6 in.
TIRES, FRONT/REAR 120/70ZR-17 / 200/55ZR-17
RAKE/TRAIL 24.0°/4.0 in.
WHEELBASE 57.3 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 32.6 in.
CONTACT powersports.honda.com

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