Slicing through curves with ease for the past 28 years.
A whole lot of things may have changed since Honda first brought a FireBlade to the world—but Team Red’s desire to calmly, calculatedly push things just a little bit further isn’t one of them. You might eagerly be waiting to take delivery of your 2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP at this exact moment, but none of that would be possible without the introduction of the 1992 CBR900RR FireBlade.
The father of the FireBlade is Tadao Baba, a racer and test rider who later became an engineer—all while working at Honda since he was 18 years old. Baba started out as a machinist, then moved to R&D. He won the Japanese 125 championship title in 1970, which definitely helped boost his profile in the eyes of Soichiro Honda. Beginning in 1987, Baba helmed development of the original FireBlade—and just one year after Soichiro’s passing, the sportbike that changed everything would make its world debut.
Baba’s goal sounds sensible enough to modern ears, but you have to remember that it was a brand-new idea at the time. He wanted to make something incredibly light and agile, with easy and intuitive handling—all while harnessing an impressive amount of power. Baba and his team used CAD technology—a first for Honda—and also began exploring what mass centralization could do for performance. The results were impressive, to say the least.
“Originally, we started with a CBR750RR but we already had the VFR, so perhaps make it a 1000? No. We also had CBR1000F,” Baba told Cycle World.
“Instead we saw that if we took the dimensions of a 750, use the base motor but keep same bore and increase stroke it came to 893cc, so a new class was born, the 900 class.”
Gallery: 1992 Honda CBR900RR FireBlade
Baba knew that power was all well and good, but it didn’t mean much if the bike and rider couldn’t handle it well. In his relentless pursuit of getting this project absolutely bang-on, Baba pushed his development team to get the weight down to an eventual 185 kilograms (or just under 408 pounds) dry.
Although he couldn’t have known it at the time, Baba’s careful calculations laid a foundation for Honda, with the proud FireBlade lineage continuing some 28 years on, in 2020. Not only was it a momentous occasion for Honda, of course—it would prove to have implications and influences on how the entire sportbike genre would develop, throughout the industry and the world.
Sources: YouTube, Cycle World