Cologne, Germany - Over its 25-year history as Honda's sports flagship, the Fireblade has generally evolved in measured, rather conservative steps, echoing the engineering philosophy of company founder Soichiro Honda. However, the 2017 CBR1000 SP, revealed this week at the biennial Intermot Motorcycle Show and due in South Africa in March next year, is more of a leap than a step.
It has 8kW more power - up to 141kW at a screaming 13 000rpm, although it must be said that's still a long way short of the 150-plus claimed by some of its rivals - and it's a radical 15kg lighter, thanks to a lot of detail work all over the bike, a lithium-ion battery, and the first titanium fuel-tank on a production motorcycle, which saves 1.3kg by itself.
But the big leap is its astonishingly complex electronic rider package - so complex, in fact that even its set-up programme has three display modes to choose from: Street, Circuit and Mechanic.
Built around a Bosch five-axis gyroscopic inertial measurement unit, it includes Ohlins electronically controlled semi-active suspension with six modes to choose from, five levels of fly-by-wire power output control, nine levels of torque control and three levels of engine braking control, linked to a quick-shifter with automatic throttle blip on downshifts.
A new ABS with both wheelie and stoppie control also modulates braking at both ends according to the bike's lean angle and weight transfer at the rear wheel to prevent or permit rear-wheel slides under braking, depending on the rider's preference.