words - Mark Fattore
photos - Steve Duggan
And not just any mug’s: this is bike that Wayne Maxwell rode to second place in the 2012 ASBK title, and we also got to ride a special road-going Fireblade too

Recently, three Team Honda superbikes were blasting around the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit at the same time, but that’s where the major similarity ended. In one corner were 2013 signings Jamie Stauffer and Josh Hook meticulously evaluating a batch of tyres from Dunlop as they look ahead to the new season, and at the other end of the gamut stood me – valiantly trying to make good use of the 205 fire-breathing horsepower produced by the 999cc in-line four-cylinder machine. Other than a lack of top-shelf skills and execution, it was a flawless performance…

It wasn’t like there were any major surprises – I knew the suspension would be extremely firm, the engine a rip snorter, the brakes savage and the geometry ultra-aggressive – but that still didn’t make life any simpler as I circulated around the 4.445m grand prix circuit in one of the last outings before the track was closed down for a full resurface.

The bike in question was the Fireblade which Wayne Maxwell rode to second place in the 2012 Australian Superbike Championship, just 13.5 points behind eventual winner Josh Waters on his Suzuki GSX-R1000. And it was fitting that I got to ride it at Phillip Island, because this is arguably where Maxwell produces his best work on the CBR1000RR -- blindingly fast and just about impossible to tame when he’s on it. And quite rightly, he’s the national superbike lap record holder around the Island. But the party is over, at least with Team Honda: Maxwell has been replaced by young hard-charger Hook for the 2013 season.

The Team Honda Superbikes (and also a supersport machine in 2012, which Hook campaigned) are prepared by the Melbourne-based motorcycle workshop Motologic, which will take on just about any job – from basic servicing and tuning to specialist race and track preparation. Motologic principal Paul Free is a former high-level road racer himself, and he has been preparing the Team Honda race bikes for a number of years now, save for a stormy one-year dalliance with Ducati in 2010.

To say that the CBR1000RR superbike has enjoyed a lengthy developmental period is an understatement, as the model in its current structure was first released in 2008, and has only undergone minor revisions since then. As a result, Free probably knows more about the bike’s behavioural traits better than his own kids….

But the long and exhaustive road, in a racing sense, may just about be over once Honda’s new V-four superbike sees the light of day, but that won’t stop Motologic leaving behind a legacy: it’s developed a number of bespoke parts for the CBR100RR in-house, including the range of SMART Racing Components. There’s also the DVS (dual valve system) suspension, with technology now also enjoying a more widespread application.

And the scope isn’t limited to racing: anyone can have these bits fitted to their road-going CBR1000RR to create – if you’ve got the budget -- a ‘halfway’ house between the standard machine and superbike. Motologic brought along an example to the superbike test, and it’s a real humdinger. More on the Motologic Blade in a while.

FEROCIOUS FORCE
The Team Honda Superbikes are all prepared in house at Motologic, except for the CNC head porting. But it’s not a wholesale program, as many of the parts must remain standard, including the valves, pistons, crankshaft, throttle bodies, starter (and still in use), clutch, transmission, wheels, master cylinder and brake calipers.

Those hundreds of person hours are equivalent to reducing lap times, in the case of Phillip Island, about 5-6 seconds a lap from what a standard bike could deliver – but that’s in the hands of experienced campaigners. For mere mortals, that equation is often reversed as the ferocious acceleration and more manic disposition are harder to get your head – and skills – around.

The seat on Maxwell’s bike – about 10mm thick high-tensile foam – is firm, but the real reference point for ‘hardness’ is the rear suspension. It’s unbelievably firm and that alone provides a profound insight into just how hard these bikes are punted around a circuit, with all the associated high-speed stresses. Yes, this is a race bike – no two ways about it.

But that said, Fireblades are just so easy to utilise, and ride fast, which is why they continue to stay in the game – in a road and competition sense – against opposition with more horsepower and electronic wizardy. I could still sense that ‘usability’ on the Superbike, but the terms of reference are much narrower.

Fortunately, I had already cut some laps earlier in the day on a bike with reverse linkage, so at least that potential disaster area wasn’t on the agenda when I took out Maxwell’s bike out for the first time, cutting about six laps. The bike isn’t tactile, at least in comparison to a standard CBR1000RR, so in those first few laps I felt like a novice taking their first tentative two-wheel steps: all edgy and a whirr of emotions running through my head. But I rallied, as the CBR1000RR is like any race bike: it thrives on hard work, especially the DVS suspension. But it’s not a unique situation, as a light rear end and hard spring don't take well to half-baked riding.

The DVS product is a partnership between Motologic and Krooztune, which had its genesis in creating a fork cartridge for the Ohlins-suspended Ducati in 2010. Since then DVS has enjoyed a huge growth spurt, and the catalogue includes fork internals and complete shocks to suit Hondas, BMWs and Ducatis. Team Honda won 13 of the 18 race starts in 2012 using the DVS hardware.

SPECS: TEAM HONDA SUPERBIKE
ENGINE

Type: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, in-line, 16-valve four-cylinder
Capacity: 999cc
Bore x stroke: 76.0mm x 55.1mm
Compression ratio: 13.5:1 approx
Fuel system: Electronic fuel injection, standard throttle bodies

PERFORMANCE
Claimed maximum power: 205hp (150kW)
Claimed maximum torque: Not given

TRANSMISSION

Type: Six-speed, close ratio, standard
Final drive: Tsubaki 520 chain
Clutch: Wet multiplate
Sprockets: Supersprox Stealth

ENGINE
Cylinder head: CNC Ported to Motologic Spec
Valves: Standard
Camshafts: Motologic
Spark plugs: NGK R0045Q-10
Pistons: Standard with relieved valve pockets to gain piston-to-valve clearance
Crankshaft: Standard
Battery: Motobatt
Air filter: K&N Race
Exhaust: Akrapovic
Engine management system: Honda Racing Corporation (HRC)
Starter: Standard
Velocity stacks: HRC
Clutch: Standard
Lubrication: Oleon Oils RR5 10w/30
Engine breather case set: HRC
Data system: Motec, measuring, suspension position and velocity, air-fuel ratio, water temperature, oil temperature, throttle position, gear position, front & rear wheel speeds and front brake pressure

CHASSIS AND RUNNING GEAR
Frame type: Aluminium beam twin spar
Front suspension: DVS Dual Valve System 25mm complete internal
Rear suspension: DVS Dual Valve System replacement shock
Rear suspension linkage: 172mm SMART pull arm
Front brakes: Standard master cylinder and calipers, Goodridge lines and SBS pads
Rear brakes: Standard master cylinder & calipers and SBS pads
Wheels: 3.5 x 17 front, 6.0 x 17 rear
Tyres: Dunlop slicks -- Front 120/70-17, rear 195/65-17

OTHER
Rear Sets: SMART
Carbon protection covers, engine and swingarm: SMART
Clutch and brake levers: SMART
Fuel tank filler cap: SMART
Steering damper conversion: SMART
Bodywork: Zacs Fairings
Graphics: Andrew Price
Weight: 168kg (fluids, no fuel)

STABLE FOOTING
The race bike really is astonishingly controllable, changes of direction are rapid, and it drops into turns with absolute precision. And I’d suggest that if I’d been giving it the full berries, it would have been quite easy to bring back into line too…

The bike accelerates with ferocious force and, even down Gardner Straight, I was short-shifting (the electronic shifter is activated by the high-beam switch) just to maintain a stable footing. I’ve seen too many bikes shimming and bucking down that straight over the years -- looks great on television but it’s a bit more enlightening in the hot seat… The Fireblade uses an Akrapovic exhaust system, and the engine management system is courtesy of Honda Racing Corporation.

The end result is a tale of two worlds: for me the power is merciless, but for riders like Maxwell and Stauffer it’s simply ‘controllable’. That’s why they are fine purveyors of their craft – the Kel Knights of Aussie road racing…

Retardation is excellent, but that’s just down to the Goodridge lines and SBS pads, as the rest of the mix is standard fare.

THE COMPLETE PACKAGE
The Motologic Blade is a souped-up version of the standard bike ($18,490), where customers can purchase the items separately or get the complete kit for $12,900. Motologic charges $1100 to remove and refit all the replacement parts, or it can be done at your local motorcycle dealer. In the case of the paint work, Motologic can also handle that process, too.

As Free notes, the Motologic Blade “incorporates some of the small niceties that the standard Blade lacks in the market place”, referring – we deduce -- to such features as the HM speed shifter – a trait which will be inevitably become standard (BMW has already done it) on all the Japanese and European sports bikes.

The suspension on the Motologic Blade runs a similar setup to the race machine, but with a softer spring for a wider workload – from street to track. And the seat is beefier than Maxwell’s, which is just as well…

The Motologic Blade specs are as follows:

SPECS: MOTOLOGIC CBR1000RR
ENGINE

Type: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, in-line, 16-valve four-cylinder
Capacity: 999cc
Bore x stroke: 76.0mm x 55.1mm
Fuel system: Electronic fuel injection, standard throttle bodies

PERFORMANCE
Claimed maximum power: Not given
Claimed maximum torque: Not given

TRANSMISSION
Type: Six-speed, close ratio, standard
Final drive: Tsubaki 520 Racing Pro
Clutch: Wet multiplate
Sprockets: Supersprox Stealth

ENGINE
Cylinder head: CNC ported to Motologic Spec
Valves: Standard
Camshafts: Motologic
Spark plugs: NGK R0045Q-10
Pistons: Standard with relieved valve pockets to gain piston-to-valve clearance
Crankshaft: Standard
Battery: Motobatt
Air filter: MWR high flow
Exhaust: Akrapovic slip-on
Engine management system: Honda Racing Corporation (HRC)
Starter: Standard
Velocity stacks: HRC
Clutch: Standard
Lubrication: Oleon Oils RR5 10w/30
Engine breather case set: HRC
Data system: Rapid Bike tuner, with standard ECU

CHASSIS AND RUNNING GEAR
Frame type: Aluminium beam twin spar
Front suspension: DVS complete 25mm, replacement fork internal
Rear suspension: DVS Dual Valve System replacement shock
Rear suspension linkage, SMART 172mm
Front brakes: Standard master cylinder and calipers and Goodridge lines
Rear brakes: Standard master cylinder & calipers, SBS pads and Motologic shorty hose
Wheels: 3.5 x 17 front, 6.0 x 17 rear
Rim tapes: Motologic
Tyres: Dunlop GP-A -- Front 120/70-17, rear 190/60-17

OTHER
Rear sets: SMART
Carbon protection covers, engine, swingarm and hugger: SMART
Clutch and brake levers: SMART
Fuel tank filler cap: SMART
Steering damper conversion: SMART
Bodywork: Zacs Fairings
Graphics: Andrew Price
Weight: 168kg (fluids, no fuel)
Speed shifter: HM
Rear foot peg drops: SMART
Paddock stand pickups: SMART
Fuel tank cap: SMART
Levers:  SMART
Paint work: Motologic refinishing
Graphic design: Creative Options
Screen: Puig
Tail tidy: R&G

Underpinning everything on the Motologic Blade is just how easy it is to ride fast – taking the useability of the standard Blade one step further. The brakes, with just the Goodrich braided lines altering the basic structure, are pearlers, and the additional power is just enough to heighten the senses and increase the fun factor. The Blade’s core ability to get the job done is still there, all in an unflustered and professional manner, with the extra performance just adding icing on the cake.

This is the bike you could lap Phillip Island on all day, but unfortunately I could only ride it for a few sessions before another wave of journalists ambled into the Phillip Island pits for their turn.

The Blade might be ageing, but at the high level it’s still winning races, the standard bike is probably the most universally compliant 1000cc sports bike there is, and now the Motologic Blade has been conceived as the perfect gap filler. Really, who needs the V-four after all?

To contact Motologic, phone 03 9357 9705 or visit www.motologic.com.au.




Published : Thursday, 10 January 2013
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