The Honda FireBlade
Honda's FireBlade was the greatests sports bike in the world when it was launched and stayed pretty much on top of the pile until the arrival of the Yamaha R1 in 1998. I ran a 1996 FireBlade (a CBR900RR) as a long term test for Motor Cycle News. Then it was THE cutting-edge sports bike. But that year the 918cc in-line four-cylinder bike was also made more user-friendly than it had ever been before.
You'll find links to other bikes I've run at the bottom of the page...
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This is David Cushman on the 1996 Honda FireBlade. The picture was taken by John Noble for Motor Cycle News.I distinctly remember him telling me I wasn't going fast enough. Well, he tells everyone that!
The Blade turns in incredible mpg (around 45mpg even when ridden pretty hard), reasonably sticky tyres will last up to 4000 miles and it's as reliable as clockwork.
It is also a fantastic allrounder. I found it as happy two-up touring as it was scratching.
A couple of light bulbs went pop on me and one clutch was destroyed by excessive speed and standing quarter testing. But apart from that it rolled on very nicely for more than 20,000 miles in my charge.
But be warned. A small spill can mean a big bill. A colleague dropped it while sat astride it (testing a "bike dog" a bit of kit which was meant to make moving your bike around your garage easy). It went straight down and the repair bill was over 300.
Later that winter another colleague threw the bike down the road. Well it had been snowing! Still, the damage on that occasion was fairly light.
The bike was beautifully put together and given that you can get one used for well under 5000 it's got to be a good buy.
I ran it on Bridgestone BT56 tyres from choice, though I tried plenty of others. I found they gave a good mix of reasonable wear and good grip.
My Blade made 118bhp at the back wheel, which was at the higher end of what you'd expect from this model.
It did in a chain and sprockets at the usual 12,000 mile interval.
Don't be afraid of a high mileage Blade. The engine is tough!
My wife loved the Blade. At five feet four inches tall she thought the pillion position was perfectly comfortable, thanks, and would be happy to sit up back for 300 miles a day, even with soft panniers all around her.
My Blade had an interesting life with stunt rider Eddie Kidd taking it for a spin on a TV show, and Isle of Man TT legend Steve Hislop taking it for a furious lap of the 37-mile circuit.
It survived everything MCN's road testers threw at it, too.
I guess the best recommendation is that if I had to buy a bike today, it would be a FireBlade.
You'll find more on Blades at the Motorcycleworld link below and more of my bikes at other links listed

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