Prior to Honda’s unveiling of the 2020 CBR1000RR-R SP Fireblade at EICMA 2019, the brand filed patents for an inline-four engine with variable valve timing (VVT) technology. However, when Team Red pulled the covers off its revamped superbike, the emissions-friendly tech was nowhere to be found.
Over the past two years, the VVT rumor mill died down as the new Fireblade established its place in the sportbike market and the WSBK circuit. Now, new patent filings published in October, 2021, are bringing VVT back into the mix. While the new design carries over much of the original architecture, additional electronic position sensors and updated mechanical parts indicate that the brand is still working on the system.
Similar to BMW’s VVT tech, Honda’s version relies on lobed cams alter valve actuation based on engine speed. Unlike the Bavarian unit, Team Red’s system shifts both exhaust and intake valve timing. While BMW’s inline-four engine distributes the sliding section of the cam lobes across two cylinders Honda equips each pot with a dedicated set of lobes.
In addition to Honda’s VVT development, it’s also submitted several new designs for sportbike radiators. A horseshoe-shaped unit is the most conventional of the bunch, as it would easily slot between the motor and front wheel. However, Honda also developed a V-shaped variant and a circular radiator resembling computer cooling systems. Of course, not all of the designs will make it to the production line, but Team Red is accounting for various superbike configurations.
Most recently, Honda revealed the 2022 CBR1000RR-R SP Fireblade with minor adjustments to improve cornering stability and exit acceleration. Yet again, VVT was absent from the updated model, but development forges on at Honda headquarters.