I always remember the Honda CBR954RR FireBlade as the last Blade that felt like it was designed with passion and excitement at its core and whenever people ask me what the best value used litre bike is, the 954 FireBlade is my first response. But it has been a good eight years since I last rode one, are they still worthy of recommendation?
Within a few yards I’m reassured as the Honda CBR954RR FireBlade still feels fantastic. The engine has a lovely little vibration that adds a spark of rawness that is lacking in the super-slick and almost sanitized modern variants. When you accelerate the bike buzzes and feels like it has come alive. While the drive has a typically Honda flat torque delivery, it isn’t dull. Not by a long stretch.
Honda claimed a peppy 154 bhp back in 2002, alongside a healthy 76 ftlb of torque. Compare this to the current Blade’s 175 bhp and you may think the Honda CBR954RR FireBlade is lacking, but in the grunt stakes the 2016 Blade only produces 8 ft lb more and the older bike makes its torque far lower in the rev range. There isn’t any point that the 954 feels asthmatic, it just drives and drives and that, alongside a lovely balanced chassis, makes it a great road bike.
The Honda CBR954RR is from an era when sportsbikes were actually designed to be ridden distances, and it is easily as comfortable as a modern sports tourer. Weirdly, the clip-ons feel match stick thin, but other than that oddity I’d happily cover miles on this model. In fact, many owners do, as this 32,000 example proves. And that in itself was a major surprise as there is no way this bike feels like a hack.
Despite being 13 years old, this Blade is tight, well set on it suspension with good brakes and a responsive chassis. In short, almost as fresh as the day it was created – and that’s what’s so impressive. The Honda CBR954RR FireBlade is a testament not only to an era of supreme Honda build quality, but also a superb culmination of Tadao Baba’s time as head of the FireBlade project.
This Blade is in excellent condition with very little sign of corrosion aside from a few rusty fasteners. The Blade was recalled for potential cracks in the fork legs where the stanchion meets it, but there are no worrying signs on this bike and 99% of machines had their forks replaced. Overall, it’s exactly as you would expect to find a Honda CBR954RR FireBlade – used but happily shrugging off general wear and tear. While some find the need to fit a steering damper and moan about the fuel injection’s abruptness, this machine was totally stock and never shook its head or felt poorly fuelled.
This bike comes with the kind of bolt-ons you would expect on a FireBlade. Thanks to the easily accessible frame mounts, fitting crash protectors doesn’t require drilling the fairing so most Blades come with them. The OE screen is quite low so the extra height of the aftermarket double bubble helps on long journeys. The tail tidy is purely aesthetic enhancing and owner Paul only fitted the rearsets as he is quite tall and finds them more comfortable than Honda’s pegs.
The Honda CBR954RR FireBlade is the culmination of ten years of development at the hands of Tadao Baba. It has the raw spirit that’s lacking in modern Blades, yet matches this to simple practicalities such as the underseat storage. If you want a great value, and very reliable litre bike, look no further than the 954 FireBlade.
2002 Honda CBR954RR FireBlade Specifications and Price Values
Engine : 4-Stroke, Transverse 4-cylinder, DOHC 4-Valve, Liquid-Cooled
Bore x Stroke : 75 x 54 mm
Capacity : 954 cc
Compression Ratio : 11.5 : 1
Induction : PGM-FI
Transmission : 6-Speed, Chain Drive
Power : 154 BHP @ 11.250 RPM (claimed)
Torque : 76 ft lb @ 9.000 RPM (claimed)
Dimensions LxWxH : 2.025 x 680 x 1.135 mm
Wheelbase : 1.400 mm
Seat Height : 815 mm
Ground Clearance : 138 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity : 16 Litres
Weight : 168 kg (dry, claimed)
Frame : Alumunium Twinspar Frame
Front Suspension : 41mm Inverted Telescopic Fork, 120mm Wheel Travel
Rear Suspension : Pro-Link Gas-charged HMAS, 135mm Wheel Travel
Front Brakes : 2 x 330mm Discs, with 4-piston Caliper
Rear Brakes : Single 220mm Disc, with 1-piston Caliper
Front Tyre : 120/70 – ZR17
Rear Tyre : 190/50 – ZR17
Values Now : £2600-£3300