X-Ring, O-Ring, No Ring

Hello again to everyone in the vast reaches of cyberspace. Just a little update on the what’s been happening with us here at the Bike Addict.

Our good friend Anxiety on Wheels finally decided to that he will be keeping his Honda Bros dubbed Dusty. This meant that old Dusty would need a bit of TLC that he declined on doing when the bike was for sale. One item on the TLC checklist is a new chain and sprocket set.


Worn chain shortened by one link because it was too loose.



Brand new x-ring chain and sprocket set. Looking sharp.

As you can see from above, it truly was time for a new sprocket and chain, and luckily it was fitted shortly after he decided to keep the bike.

One thing did have him scratching his head though. What is so special about an x-ring chain? How does it differ from an o-ring chain? Where are these rings? So here’s my attempt to elucidate the key features of different-ring chains to Anxiety on Wheels and others who may want to know how these designs differ.

“No-ring”/Normal chain

We all know what a motorcycle chain looks like. In brief, it’s a little something like staggered figure 8’s linked to one another and having a metal roller in between.


Motorcycle chain

In brief a normal chain gets lubricated and the lubricant flows between the figure 8’s and into the rollers keeping them from jamming up and creating a stiff link. These types of chains have become quite outdated as they tend to wear pretty quick compared to x- and o-ring variants. If your bike still uses normal chain, I would recommend swapping over to an x- or o-ring variant with your next service. There really isn’t much special about them.

From the outside it’s pretty much impossible to tell whether or not a chain is without rings. So unless you know every motorcycle chain code off by heart, it would be really difficult to spot the different types of chains. This is due to the fact that the ring type makes a difference where your eyes can’t see, between the overlapping figure 8’s.

O-ring chain

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese little guys make a massive impact on chain longevity if they are cared for properly, but there are also drawbacks to in the use of o-rings in a motorcycle chain. However in order to explain properly, we’ll have to dissect the anatomy of a motorcycle chain.

Motorcycle_chain2As mentioned before, a chain is a bunch of staggered figure 8’s linked with rollers in the middle. Now in an o-ring chain, there is already lubricant in the roller and the o-ring between the two figure 8’s lock that lubricant in place, and keeps dirt out of the roller.

An O-ring is exactly that, it’s a circular ring, with a circular cross-section, that goes between two overlapping figure 8’s to lock in the lubricant. However, these chain links are riveted together, and this means that the O-ring now gets compressed, and its cross section takes an oval form.  I will try to demonstrate using font: this ]O[ turns to this ]()[. This effectively increases the contact surface and thus increases the total friction and drag inside the chain itself. Apparently this saps some of the engines power which is then not going to the rear wheel.

X-Ring chain

So some clever engineers liked the fact that an o-ring lengthens the lifespan of a chain, but didn’t like the fact that it sapped some of your power. So they developed a true win-win sealant solution. Still a ring that fits between overlapping figure 8 links, however the cross-section of this new ring is in the shape of an x. So when the links are riveted together, the x gets compressed almost to an H shape: this ]X[ turns to almost this ]H[. This means that the contact surface remains roughly the same, and the total friction remains almost unaltered. This means that it saps less power and therefore you have more power going to the rear wheel.

So there you have it. Normal chains need to be lubricated often and wear out fairly quickly. O-ring chains seal the lubricant under the roller and keep dirt out, but they sap a bit of engine power as a result of friction. X-ring chains also seal the lubricant under the roller and keep dirt out, but they don’t sap as much power, therefore it is the perfect chain for your bike.

Ride safe and enjoy the journey.


This Is Your Moment. Your Bike. Your Life. Your Love.

Needless to say from reading the title, I’ve had a pretty good weekend.. Let me elaborate..

This past sunday was the anniversary of my very first day jol (as we call them in Southern Africa). The South African Heritage day biker braai (barbecue for you salties) day hosted by Crusaders South Africa MC.

Many was a first for me on this day. My new girlfriend was my very first lift between towns, and she was the very first girl I’ve ever taken to such an event, or anywhere on a bike for that matter. Now… For those who have experienced this feeling of the girl of your dreams being your first in that area, you’d know the profound sense of pride of telling her that she’s the first. Lifting between towns and cities is relatively easy, but on this day the winds were gusting at around 25km an hour more or less. Plus it was her first time on a bike like mine and probably the longest ever she’d been on an iron horse.. Plus Dusty rumbling like a monster and shaking like a chihuahua hopped up on red bull and steroids didn’t help. Yet it was still my most memorable bike run day jol ever, and the most successful as I’ve decided to keep Dusty and continue with my semi-cafe racer custom build.

A lot to remember on a day jol or for one. One is to bring a frigging hat.. You don’t want to look like a German vienna after a day in the sun when you go home. Another thing is of you can, bring comfortable walking shoes because my watch counted around 10000 steps in those semi-uncomfortable Nexo biking boots I bought a while ago that press the utter crap out of my pinky toes.

Another thing is BRING CASH dammit. There are loads to do.. From shows to buy tickets for at a “discounted price” that would show the next day, to hats and jewelry, to riding gear and leather clothing like chaps, gloves and waist coats. Also the fabric guys are usually there, selling quotes on a cloth like “I Come In Sober Too” and metal badges as well, mine for instance said a quote I cannot repeat on this page, so you can imagine we keep things interesting.

Life is dull enough, do the smart thing but also do the fun things. No matter what you do you’re not going to make it out of LIFE alive, so why not have fun? Take a chance, ask out the girl, go to a rally, go to a day jol or bike run alone and make some lifetime friends. Trust your instincts but learn to wing it to keep things interesting.

Life is a high way, so let’s ride it all night long.

Ride safe, ride happy, ride often and never take a day for granted. And most importantly.. Love your woman and hug your horse and share a brew with your brother.

“Clean….. Well Oiled. Not Bad For A Third World Army”

People always say “It’s not the machine it’s the one holding the bars” but come on.. That is true to some extent but no matter how good I am after riding for over a year and experiencing 3 different riding styles so far, if my bike can’t brake, can’t start, can’t hold the line when I turn, can’t grab the road because the tires are shot it won’t matter how good I am. A rider is only as good as the machine that carries him, the bike you ride is your only restriction.

Coming back to my point talking about your horse’s well-being.. I have been having trouble with my chain. It’s old, worn close to hell and it’s been stressing me out. Lubricating it doesn’t too much and I couldn’t tension it anymore as it was on the limit. So I gathered my ideas and I had 3 choices, either buy a brand new chain and sprocket set which would have cost me around 1500-2300 ZAR depending on the shop or dealer, or buy a second-hand set for an unknown price which is like when you change your dead light bulb with a worn one that burns a faded yellow, which works for a while I mean you have a measure of light but sometime or another you’ll be back in the dark. Which brought me to my simplest and cheapest idea.. Remove one link from the chain and have it tensioned and lubed again. This is a very temporary and risky solution. Just enough to buy you a few hundred kilometers more before you need to swap a chain and sprocket set.


Old, worn, saggy chain.


Old, worn chain minus one link.

Today I did that because I had no other option and fearing enough I’m glad I did.

What are the dangers of a laggy, saggy, fruity chain? Well for one I could easily have picked the chain off the sprocket at any time which is a warning sign with red and yellow flags already. Plus a few times when was giving my throttle some torque and letting go over and over while being “windgat” it would partially jump off momentarily, the little sprocket at the shaft would grab it as well as one a little bit at the back, pull the chain into position and buck the whole frame like an angry stallion your grandaddy tried to break 60 years ago.

Look after your bike. Make sure the brakes are good, the tires have enough tread, the lights work, the battery is still healthy, she’s got antifreeze and her oil is topped up, keep gas in the tank and your chain and sprocket lubed and ready for action. Look after your horse and she’ll look after you.

And if I may add, my Honda Bros 400cc VTwin 1988 is in better condition than some modern-day bikes. Proof that age doesn’t always matter.

Here we go again

Hello again from the vast reaches of cyberspace.


The Little Yellow Monster

Those who have been following this blog for a while will know that I do have a lot of issues with my Honda VFR 400, affectionately known as the Little Yellow Monster. For quite some time now I’ve been struggling to fix a pesky oil leak on the gearbox output shaft. Today marks attempt number three at fixing this.

Before I get into the details I must give a big shout out to the folks at Imperial Honda – Westrand. They’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty in helping me source parts for this oddball of a bike. That includes sourcing aftermarket parts where the OEM parts are no longer in production. I truly appreciate their effort.

20170906_103014So today the bike needed to be dissected once again.


Look at that oily mess on the exhaust.

Once the belly pan has been removed one can clearly see a mass of oil that has leaked onto the exhaust manifold. Definitely not a good sign. Further inspection revealed that the clutch rod seal has also bought the farm.

It turns out that the bushing on the output shaft that runs in the seal has a few nasty scratches in it. This may well be the reason that the bike has been chewing through seals in the same time it takes me to finish a bag of chips.

20170906_123207So at the moment the V4 power plant is in a state of disassembly with a few things to be done in the next week or so:

  • Source a new clutch rod seal.
  • Source a new bushing or have the current one polished. (Finding parts for a 30 year old, grey import bike is a daunting task.)
  • Buy new spark plugs.
  • Clean and fiddle with the carburetor (cylinder 4 still floods when the bike hasn’t run in a day or two).
  • Assemble the engine once parts have been sourced/repaired.
  • Check and adjust valve clearance  (engine has been running a little rough with difficulties starting)

Now that everyone is up to date with the way history keeps repeating itself, I’d like to wish those who are out riding a safe ride, and an enjoyable journey.

Reality check.

Hello from the vast reaches of cyberspace. So today I had an odd epiphany following a specific incident. However, before I delve any deeper into this I must once again apologise for what I consider to be another of my rants.

So, picture this. It’s 8:30 something PM on this fine Thursday evening. After a long, busy day I’m on my home on Mechanical MacGyver’s Fireblade. (My Little Yellow Honda is still down for repairs). About 3 blocks from home I see headlights approach a T-junction to which I have right of way. (I.e. no stop or yield for myself or oncoming traffic, and a well marked stop for joining traffic, see the diagram below. One slight difference is that in South Africa we drive on the left of the road. I.e. keep left)

All of a sudden I get this bad feeling in my gut that the car attached to the approaching headlights won’t be stopping. No surprise as the said car flies into the intersection without even trying to slow down. Instinct and adrenaline take over and I take evasive action, almost going off-road with a R 50 000 sports bike which isn’t even mine. Hearing screeching tyres, and the horn, the car then decides to stop.

Here’s where the story gets quite interesting. Still fuelled by adrenaline, I must enquire, quite loudly, why the heck didn’t the driver stop? Here’s where I get a reply that I didn’t quite expect. To paraphrase, I was told my brakes work well enough so I should use them, and that this driver is sick of having us <–[insert foul language here]–> on the roads. I tried to respond as anyone would… with a loud, shocked “Excuse Me”. Thereafter I get told that this driver doesn’t appreciate my tone. Dumbstruck, I stood there and watched this driver continue on his merry way. 

So here’s my questions regarding what happened: a) How can anyone think that it’s appropriate or acceptable to endanger anyone’s life and property in this manner? b) How can said driver be upset if a biker then takes offence to what this driver had said? c) Would any other rider not have been upset by this incident?

That’s it. End of rant. I wish everyone a safe ride and enjoyable journey.

What the heck is a ‘day jol’?

Hello once more from the vast reaches of cyberspace. In my last post I hinted that I would be attending a day jol the previous Saturday. Just after the post was published I received a question from one of our non-biker readers: ‘What is a day jol? Does it differ from rallies? How is a run different from both rallies and day jols?’ The first of these questions I do get quite often, as the term ‘day jol’ seems to be unique to the Southern Africa biking community. So now I’ll try my hand at answering these questions per category.

Day Jols

The term ‘day jol’ seems to be a colloquial term used throughout Southern Africa, by biking communities to describe a specific form of gathering. It is usually an event hosted at a single venue where riders and non-riders gather to share food, drinks and stories. Although the larger percentage of participants are usually bikers. These events usually have live entertainment and boast an assortment of trade stalls usually selling food, drinks, and biking paraphernalia. In essence a day jol is like bike nights, only taking place during day time, on either Saturdays, Sundays or public holidays.

Day jols are usually held to raise funds, celebrate a motorcycle club’s “birthday”, or celebrate members being patched in.


The main difference between a day jol and a run is the fact that during a run, a mass ride takes place. All riders who wish to participate in a run, will gather at a designated starting point. From there, all participants will travel as a massive riding group to an end destination, following a specific planned route. At the end venue of the run, the event takes a similar form to a day jol. Offering live entertainment, food, drink, and trade stalls.

Runs are in most instances events with the aim of drawing attention, raise awareness and/or gather donations. It’s very difficult to miss hundreds of bikes roaring down the road. The most prominent run here in South Africa would be the Annual Toy Run. It’s aim is to gather toys for the less fortunate and raise awareness of the circumstances that these children grow up in. It’s an event that I hold very near to my heart and do my utmost to attend every year.


Myself, Anxiety on Wheels, and Mechanical MacGyver at the start venue of the 2016 Toy Run. Each of us carrying our fluffy passengers who will be donated to needy kid.


Once more an event held at a single venue. These events also offer live music, stalls for food, drinks, and riding paraphernalia. However the key difference between rallies and day jols is the time span. Day jols only take place during the course of one day, whereas rallies often occur during the span of a weekend, if not longer.

Rallies here in South Africa are predominantly held at camping grounds as most riders will set up camp for the duration of the event. In essence, a rally is the biker equivalent of a quiet weekend away.

And there you have it. The key differences between day jols, runs, and rallies. Those readers in or near South Africa can keep an eye on the right hand side of our website for upcoming events here in South Africa.

Ride safe, and enjoy the journey.

Breaking silence

Hello to all in the vast reaches of cyberspace. So it’s been more than a month since my last post and it’s probably a good idea for us to give you as readers a quick update about what’s happening in our world of motorcycling.

Let’s start with our good friend Anxiety on Wheels. Man has he been busy. After the theft of Dodgy the dodgy Suzuki the man saved up and bought a new ride. Check out the specs and Anxiety’s review of his new ride.


Make: Honda


Truly one of the best bikes that have ever graced our presence

Model: Bros
Year: 1988
Engine: 398 cc, carburetor, SOHC V Twin
Status: For Sale

“We all struggle to find our place in the world. What you need is a bike. A bike would never make you feel unwanted, cheated, lonesome or apprehensive.
This was the case with my bros, my “1988 Honda Bros Vtwin 400cc”. Or as we’ve come to call her, “Dusty Leaf Blower” and for good reason.. Twin clean choke pipes facing downward, blowing up debris and causing mayhem in unsuspecting, unprotected, unwary neighbourhoods. Making little girls run in terror and little boys giddy at its brutal gurgle as the engine brake sounding like a little truck using exhaust break while a little whisper of “guess who b$#@&!!”
The Honda Bros Nc25 or just “The Bros” was intended to be a “low-budget low maintenance fuel-efficient commuter” back in Japan and was never meant to be an export. But you know humans… We like to do the opposite of what is intended. Being old model, she doesn’t have a petrol gauge and her trip distance indicator has been saying goodbye since the day we started our relationship. But no matter… the fuel usage is about 18km/l on short distances and even a little more if you ride her as intended, smooth and cruising, kicking up sh*t and making little kids yell “rev it!!!” As you pass their primary school. Long distance (again if you cruise and not try to chase the busa (hyabusa)) you are looking at about 22km/l.
Four spark plugs which means twin spark delivers a smoother engine start, is adorable but… One problem. No two spark plugs are even relatively in the same height, sort saying “not linearly”. One spark plug is specifically difficult to get to as it is below and behind a piece of frame, not to mention the hassle getting the “specially grinded down spark plug lug” which is the only one that can fit in those spaces. Petrol filter and other serviceables are relatively hassle free, but removing the tank is difficult as the petrol leaks a wee bit out of the tap or “kraantjie” even when you turn the petrol to off, thus the petrol had to be sucked out and put in a container to be put back later.
All in all everything works beautifully, except rear indicators being painfully OUT THERE to be walked off or knocked off while getting on or off  (stock btw and a change of indicators is fairly easy and within a tiny budget).  Other than that the Honda Bros 400cc is nice and powerful (even with my clean pipes) a d a joy to ride.
So if you should ever find a 1988-1992 Honda Bros 400cc Vtwin, you have struck gold my friends.
Oh and by the way, with the clean pipes your noise level is on a whole new level of “what a beautiful noise””

So it seems that Anxiety is really enjoying his new wheels… but as you would also have read, the bike is currently for sale. Seems like our friend here has a serious need to upgrade. More power usually made by more capacity. Yup, Anxiety is attempting his exit from the 400 cc club to something bigger and more powerful.

As for myself… That is a completely different story. We all know that my Little Yellow Monster (Honda VFR 400 cc) is really getting old. With this age she is also showing some of her flaws. The largest of these being a massive oil leak on the gearbox output shaft. I’ve tried to replace the seal twice now and the leak still hasn’t been stopped. Further inspection showed that the shaft itself has been damaged. Thus I will have to either replace the said shaft or have it welded up and machined back to spec. Both these options fall far outside my budget at the moment. This means that I am not riding as a result. This blog has been silent for a month because that is about how long it’s been since I’ve ridden any sort of motorcycle.

However, not riding is literally driving me insane. So I’ve decided that I’ll be riding my Little Yellow Monster, but only on recreational, short trips. In these scenario’s it’s quite harmless to top up the oil before every run, and lose a bit on the way. Critical attention must however be paid to the to the oil levels.

Speaking of recreational trips. I will be heading to a day jol near my residence this Saturday. It’s been quite some time since I’ve ridden my bike and I am really looking forward to it. So here’s to topping up oil, and clocking up miles.

As a side note, I will really be doing my best to keep this blog from going silent again. I’m currently trying to find topics to write about that would interest both our riding and non-riding readers. If you have any questions you would like to have answered, please feel free to ask. Or if you’ve had a fun road trip and would like to share it with us, please do so. We love to hear riding stories from around the world and would love to feature stories from our readers on our blog.

But for now, I wish you a safe ride and enjoyable journey.

To club or not to club: that is indeed the question?

Around the same time that I started this blog, I was part of 11 brave souls who decided it would be in our best interest to start our own motorcycle club. A little more than a year later the club still survives and has grown to 13 members. All people bonded by the same power that draws men to machines, a riding family if you will. We ride together, we attend events together, and most importantly, we stand together. However, some events unfold that leave an unsavoury taste in one’s mouth.

First of all, this isn’t a club bashing post. My intention is not to badmouth my club, nor embarrass them in any way. To further illustrate that I am merely giving my personal opinion in good faith, the club concerned shall not be named. Secondly, I would like to apologise in advance to any club member that does read and take offence to this post.

In order to understand my reasoning, I must once again delve into the past and give the readers some background on my thoughts. Since we as the first 11 started this club, we’ve always looked out for one another. No one we would ride out with, was ever left by the side of the road. We leave together, we come back together. This included any of our friends that we invited along with us going to any event. Personally, I’ve been the guy whose bike would be brought home on a trailer on most occasions, and the members who rode out with me would stay by my side until my bike was loaded up and we were on route.

As time progressed, I found that tensions grew between member. We started snapping and bickering with each other over the smallest of things. Insults started being thrown around, instead of our usual lighthearted jokes. Riding also took a turn for the worst. Everyone has a point to prove. Everyone wants to show that their bike is the fastest. Group rides turned to a race to the end venue, and a race back. I really started to miss riding alone. This became particularly evident when myself, Mechanical MacGyver and Anxiety on Wheels attended the South Africa Bike Festival. Not a solitary ride, but a ride with a few good people I hold dear. This planted the seed in my mind that maybe it was time for me to exit the motorcycle club scene.

This seed has been germinating in my mind for some time now, and I feel that recent events may have just pushed me to the point of letting it flourish. On a particular weekend, the club decided to ride out to a biking hot spot near Hartebeespoort Dam. It’s a beautiful, winding road that leads you past several nature reserves and over the dam wall. We would stop for some food nearby. Arrangements were made for a close friend to join us on this ride, as he hasn’t ridden out of the city in a while, and it would be the first trip with his new bike.

About three-quarters distance to the food stop, we pulled of the road to stretch our legs and wait for our car-bound members to catch up. As we were about to set off again, our guest’s bike started having electrical issues and stalled on the side of the road, not being able to restart it. Naturally we thought that the club would wait until a solution can be found, but to my surprise, all the bikes but Mechanical MacGyver’s pulled onto the road and raced off into the distance. Leaving myself and our guest, a very close friend of mine, Anxiety on Wheels, stranded at the side of the road, with Mechanical MacGyver chasing them down. Trying the get them to at the very least wait for us to rejoin.

Quite some time later we saw headlights in the distance. Another of our guests turned back because he didn’t see us in his mirrors. Where was the rest of our club? What happened to the motto “we leave together, we come back together”? With the help of the returning guest we were able to restart Anxiety’s bike and continue the journey.

When we reached the food stop, we found that the other club members have already made themselves comfortable and order their round of drinks. Oblivious to the fact that they had left a rider next to the road at least 45 minutes earlier. This had me fuming. I held myself together not wanting to spoil the ride for anyone else.

However, I lost it completely when I overheard the following: Mechanical MacGyver caught up with the club as they entered the food stop. When the club showed little effort to find out if we managed to restart Anxiety’s bike, he hastily turned back to catch up with us. According to the club, he was reckless in doing so and must be penalized.

How on this earth do you leave someone you rode out with by the side of the road? Secondly, how do you fault the only club member trying to help the stranded? What’s the point of being part of a motorcycle club if you’re practically riding on your own when stuff goes wrong?

It’s here that I now find myself. Angered by the club I helped start, and embarrassed in the face of my close friend by the same club. It’s now that I ask myself if it’s still worth being a member. The more I ask myself this , the louder my mind screams NO!

A Battle Between Man, Machine and The Road. A Beautiful Symphony Of Roaring Beasts.

There is a constant conflict between man, the machine and the road they travel on.. Always fighting for control. Each one trying to affirm control over where to gallop.

This past weekend I was at the annual SA Bike Festival along with The Motorcycle Addict and Mechanical MacGyver/Backyard Yoda, admiring great works of art and machinery as graceful and elegant and powerful as the works of Da Vinci, Picasso, Raphael and as enticing as a winter sunrise… You cannot help but stare and get lost in your own endulgement.

Unfortunately as arrangements went along I was unable to ride my own new Dusty Leafblower along, as we had not attained enough parking tickets, but Mechanical MacGyver was kind enough to allow me to ride pillion on his Bike (I am of course referring to his Honda Fireblade)

The Motorcycle Addict and myself went to witness some truly spectacular and jaw dropping stunts by stunt rider Jimmy Hill and his colleague, Alastair Sayer, later the day, and I could not help but pay my respects after the show for which Jimmy showed much admiration as he stood there sweating profusely, still calm and cool as a cucumber. You can check out a short video of the FMX show below.

The Motorcycle Addict, of course, tried out the new Honda Fireblade SP1 which took a larger chunk out of his gravity than we both expected as he seemes to float away to a nearby satellite as he danced around from sheer amazement. His direct words were “That thing has a lot of hate….”

Mechanical MacGyver also test rode the new Hyabusa and BMW R1000R, but I will let The Motorcycle Addict say a few words on that matter.

All in all I wish I could go to Kyalami every weekend.. But I imagine most bikers and even non bike riders from the weekend’s activities would agree on that. The sound of beasts riding around you passing you every few seconds is like poetry on a very dangerous scale.

Ride safe and stay tuned. And if you are living in SA and even if you are not I urge you on to keep your eyes opem for the SA Bike Festival next year, truly a bone rattling, foundation shaking experience.

2017 Honda Fireblade CBR 1000 RR SP1: Insanity, Black Magic and a set of bronze wheels.


2017 Honda Fireblade SP1 on display at the South Africa Bike Festival


The Fireblade has been one of Honda’s flagship litre-bikes since the first model was introduced around 25 years ago. Since then the Fireblade has undergone several revolutions in its design and performance. From the sharp and angular design of the early 2000’s models to the round-nosed version, colloquially known as the Bullnose Fireblade, in the more recent models (around 2009). For some time Honda riders thought that this was it… the Fireblade could not get any better, until 2017. In late 2016 Honda announced that South Africa will see new models of the Fireblade in 2017. As expected, the base model CBR 1000 RR and the meaner SP1. Our focus will now be on the SP1.

The Specs

Frame & Fairing


A narrower, aggressive looking front end.

No big changes are visible on the frame, however Honda holds that the frame is more rigid, and lighter than its predecessor. Furthermore, the incorporation of titanium into the making of the fuel tank reduces weight even further.

In addition, Honda succeeded in making the fairing of this bike narrower than its predecessors by shaving around 18 mm in width. In totality creating a 14 kg leaner and 11 BHP meaner machine.

The styling has also been completely changed. The bike looks extremely narrow and highly aggressive.

Suspension, Wheels & Brakes


A sneak peek at the Ohlins TTX36 rear mono shock and titanium exhaust system.

The SP1 sits on a Ohlins NIX30 front fork and a Ohlins TTX36 shock holds up the rear end. Both front and rear integrate into the S-EC semi-active suspension system, which is controlled by a Bosch MM5.10 IMU. Choosing from a variety of riding modes ensures that the rider can get the most out of the new suspension setup.


With the amount of power created by the


Big Brembo brakes linked to a beautiful bronze-coloured wheel.

engine, it’s clear that the bike needs to be able to stop as fast as its able to go. For this the engineers/designers have incorporated Brembo monoblock calipers. In addition the Bosch MM5.10 IMU also replaces Honda’s clunky ABS system, and adds a few features. Such features include cornering ABS, which measures all sorts of parameters to allow for safer trail braking; and Rear Lift Control, which keeps the rear end on the ground under heavy braking, very helpful in those blind corners.


The SP1 contacts the ground on a set of beautiful Y-shaped 5-spoke rims, wrapped in a 120/70 R 17 front tyre and a 190/50 R 17 rear. Not much change in the overall wheel dimensions of the bike, apart from losing some unsprung weight in the rim.


The Fireblade SP1 still uses the 999.8cc displacement engine block, but this is where similarities to the old bike end. All the other engine components have been tweaked to the point where the engine delivers 189 BHP at the crank, with a rev limit of 13 000 rpm. The engineers at Honda have also reworked several of the main components and substituted magnesium alloy engine covers and a titanium exhaust system. All this has achieved striping around 2 kilograms of weight out of the engine. Honda has essentially squeezed every ounce out of what the base infrastructure can handle.

Combine this with the ride-by-wire system that Honda uses on the engine, and one has access to one of three power modes, nine levels of torque control and three levels of Selectable Engine Braking. This allows the user to “play” with different output settings and find one that suits your riding style.

The integrated quick-shift works beautifully with this setup, allowing for very quick, and smooth gear changes under heavy acceleration. Shifting down is also assisted by a redesigned slipper clutch and an auto-blip. The only oddity that I could find is that Honda has opted for a cable-operated clutch instead of a hydraulic clutch found on other models dating as far back as 2006.

User interface

As one can see from all the above, there are quite a few things that must be communicated to the rider, from engine revolutions to riding modes. Honda have devised a beautifully designed LCD display to assist with this. Neatly “packing” all the related information together, without drawing too much attention away from the important measurements.

The Ride


Test riding a SP1.

This is where my path crosses that of the SP1. At the recent South Africa Bike Festival, several of these machines were available for test rides around the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit. I seized my opportunity and booked myself a time slot.

As our returning readers may know, I’m a big bloke, with average riding skill and a daily ride of 400 cc. Not even a few rides on Mechanical MacGyver’s modified 2006 CBR 1000 RR Fireblade could have even remotely prepared me for what the SP1 offers.

The first thing one notices is the acceleration. As I’ve said before, I’m a big bloke, and because of that, it’s rare to find a bike that really accelerates aggressively with me on it. Nothing compares to the SP1. Gunning it as I exited pit lane, I was shocked at how this bike is trying to pull away from underneath me. The clever electronics kept both wheels firmly on the ground, but this didn’t stop this bike from trying to leave me in the dust. Wide eyed and holding on for dear life I powered up to the first corner.

With the braking markers mere meters in front if the bike it was time to bring the machine to a crawl, going into a tight hairpin corner. Once again, I’m almost flung from the bike, this time under heavy deceleration. Those Brembo brakes clamp on with enough force to pull your breakfast back into your throat. Once again, the clever electronics keeping traction on both wheels, as there’s room to spare before entering the corner.

Ohlins have prided themselves in creating suspension systems for some of the world’s best handling bikes. The Fireblade SP1 is no exception. As aggressive as it may accelerate and decelerate, it’s a real softy when it comes to handling. The cornering ABS and fantastic suspension makes it very easy to get this bike into a corner at some extreme lean angles. “Getting a knee down” is a breeze on this.

The rest of the lap is pretty much a repeat of the above, clinging on as the bike roars out of corners and trying not to go over the handlebars while braking. Yes, going around a bend on this bike was the easy bit. Coming out of the last corner leads one to a pretty decent front straight. It’s here that I found out that this bike really accelerates like a bat out of hell. Doubling the speed I exited the corner with in a just over a hundred meters.

Even when I misjudged a corner, the SP1’s electronic brain comes to the rescue. Entering a corner way to fast, I had to clamp on those brakes to keep me out of the kitty litter. The cornering ABS and Rear Lift Control meant that I could just clamp on and the bike came to a halt with enough force to pop eyes out of your skull.

By extrapolation, if the bike performs that well in stock form on a track, it should make a pretty awesome road going bike. Being very forgiving and having more power than one would ever need on city streets.

As an after thought, it has a pretty comfortable seat, should be okay to ride it for medium distances without stopping. The riding position isn’t that bad for a sports bike either. There’s more than enough room for a 6’3″ bloke such as myself to sit comfortably, without having to squish bits in order to find a reasonable riding position.

Final Thoughts

This is the point where I have to ask myself, would I buy one? To answer this we have to consider what an SP1 would put a potential buyer out-of-pocket. The SP1 retails for around R 320 000 (ZAR), £ 19 125 (GBP), or $ 24 600 (USD). This puts the SP1 at the expensive end of the motorcycle spectrum. Take into account that even Mechanical MacGyver’s ’06 Fireblade is too much bike for city streets , and you don’t need more than 2 gears. It’s reasonable to think that the SP1 would be similar in the city streets.

So back to the question, would I buy one? My answer is absolutely. I can see in my mind how many readers gasp. “What am I thinking?” “Didn’t I just say that it won’t be any good in the city?” And that’s exactly what I said. Why would I buy one then? The answer is simple. As soon as that bike hits the highway or a winding back road it will once again come into its own. On these types of roads it’ll be like being on the GP circuit again. Running beautiful back roads and speedy highways with a bike that handles and performs like nothing I’ve ever ridden before. That’s why I would buy one.