With the launch of the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR at Intermot in September 2016, Honda has very clearly signalled its intention to contest the World Superbike Championship crown, and wrest it away from current title holders Kawasaki. The attempt takes the form of the Honda CBR1000RR SP2, a track oriented version of the road-going CBR1000RR SP road-going superbike.

Carrying a 999 cc inline-four that puts out a claimed 189 hp at 13,000 rpm and 116 Nm of torque at 11,000 rpm in SP form, the CBR1000RR is the seventh generation in a line of fire-breathing Fireblades going back to 1992, to the original CBR900RR. The new Honda superbike has also undergone a serious weight reduction programme, now weighing in at 195 kg wet – 16 kg less than the previous model.

The new CBR1000RR also comes with a full suite of electronic riding aids, including nine-level Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC), Selectable Engine Brake (SEB) and Riding Mode Select System (RMSS). A quickshifter is standard, and three settings for the downshift assist that works in conjunction with the ride-by-wire auto-blipping.

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On the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2, the cylinder head is installed with larger valves, with narrower included valve angles but identical valve pitch to the SP, to retain cylinder head dimensions. The spark plugs are longer, with an optimised combustion chamber shape derived from the RC213-V MotoGP race bike.

Ohlins performs the suspension work on the CBR1000RR, with an Ohlins Smart-EC, or semi-active, suspension. The front fork is a 43 mm NIX30 Smart-EC fully-adjustable unit, while the rear is suspended by a TTX36 Smart-EC absorber, also fully-adjustable.

Availability of the Honda CBR1000RR SP will be March 2017, while the SP2 version makes its market debut in May the same year – both versions coming only in the Honda tri-colour scheme. We doubt Malaysian distributors Boon Siew Honda will ever import the CBR1000RR officially, which means the only units we will be likely to see locally will come from the grey market.