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1998-'99 Fireblade Engine Tuning
(Courtesy of Performance Bikes - July 2003)

1. Warning 5. Engine
2. Exhaust 6. Front Forks
3. Fuelling Tweaks 7. Transmission
4. Big Bores 8. Parts & Prices


It's a Honda, so touch wood everything should be okay. But be vigilant Blades are not averse to developing a slight ticking noise from the engine, which is apparently down to piston slap. It gets quieter as the engine heats up, so any other rattles you hear once warm could be camchain tensioners in need of adjustment or a bearing collapsing, but that would be a rarity. Gearboxes have been known to be a tad soft and long wheelies and shite shifting will take its toll. Weak cushdrives are another thing to look out for - and again, wheelies won't do anything to help.

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The stock pipe is of the stainless 4-2-1 variety. For the '98 bike the exhaust had been developed to be lighter, bigger and with a less restrictive alloy can. 8ut still, a stock pipe is a stock pipe - they strangle the engine a 'leetle' to get past emission and noise regulations. So what can you do?
Simple really, put a race- can on or, if you want to stay friendly with the constabulary, the latest trend is for road legal cans with removable baffles. This means you can alter the noise level depending on whether you're on road, track, or just in a flamboyant mood, erm, officer.
There's plenty of styles to choose from: standard height, high mount, underseat, twin-stack - and fortunately the can is only held on by four bolts, making it easy to remove.
A full system will let out even more horses but they don't come cheap, and subtle they are not. Full titanium will be the priciest. Akrapovic and Hindle both manufacture nice systems.

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These were the last of the carturettor-fed Blades with four 38mm slanted, flat- slide, cv-type carbs supplying fuel. Ideal for old school mechanics as there's no need to call the laptop- wielding technicians out.
Fitting an end-can or full system without altering the fuelling might give you a higher peak power but upset the fuelling elsewhere in the rev range, nasty flat spots piercing your tidy torque curves. To cure that, Dynojet or Factory kits will enable you to adjust fuelling with a series of different sized jets and adjustable needles. A free-flowing performance airfilter will let more air in (to get the mixture right). For best results get it all set up on a dyno so it runs nice 'n' smooth with minimal flat spots, pops and bangs.

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The easy way to increase power without having to do a total engine re-design is to up the capacity. The Blade was first launched with a 893cc engine which was then increased for the '96 RR-T model to 918cc. lt stayed that way until the 2000 RR-Y model when the motor was hiked to 929cc with fuel injection.
Richard Albans of top tuning dudes TTS, reckons the 973cc big bore kit is more than enough for getting
some extra grunt from the motor. The JE piston kit along with re-boring and re- plating the cylinders, stripping and fitting comes to £1600 and might just keep you on a par with newer Blades. Overall performance will vary depending on what else you have done to the bike, obviously.

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The '98 Blade's engine is a 918.5cc 16-valve inline four. It's a Honda engine so it's almost guaranteed to run forever - some chap called Sjaak Lucassen managed to do over 190,000 miles on his '92 model. Anyway, for the '98 model the engine got some high-tech materials and coated, slipper pistons to reduce friction, first seen and proven on the RC45.
Apart from a revised lighter clutch and reprogrammed digital timing map the motor was unchanged from the '96 model- Honda were gearing up for the all-new 2000 model.
According to Motopower's Russell Savory who built Moodie's '98 TT-winning Blade and the successful '98
production bike racers, Blades enjoy a spot of tuning.
"They respond well to cylinder head work and camshafts, and blue printing the bottom end is recommended, but be careful when upping compression ratios - the cylinder head design is set and it will affect the piston-to-valve relationship."

The first thing to do to start increasing power is to put on a full race system, re-jet it and fit a performance airfilter.
Depending on the size of your wallet you can throw some extra cash at the engine for more power. Motopower sell all the bits you need or will do the job for you. Gas-flowing the head will up power on its own but fitting steel connecting rods will give improved engine life under race conditions and allow for increased rpm.
Then you could look at high compression pistons, steel billet cams with different lifts and durations altered to suit your needs, and tougher valves. As per usual one thing on it's own might not make much difference but all of the above combined will transform the bike. It'll cost you something though.

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The front forks have to be good on sportsbikes and the ones on the Blade are none too shabby. They're 45mm rwu scaffold poles with rebound, preload and compression adjustment and 110mm of travel.
The Blade works well as a roadbike because the ride's not focused for the track and over-stiff like, say, a Ducati. The softish forks will cope with Blighty's less than racetrack-smooth roads.
"There's good Quality bits inside them, They're a bit soft but the pistons are good Quality and once you have re-valved them they're a really good fork," says Chris from suspension gurus, K-Tech.
So it's not all bad. For around £164 K-Tech will fit harder, linear springs and re-valve the forks. Thicker fork oil or harder springs will make a difference, and is probably worth doing if you're a bit of a trackday addict. Setting it too hard might impact on your ability to hammer the Blade down t' country roads, though.

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Unsurprisingly the Blade uses chain drive and six gears, The launch of the '98 model saw some changes to the gearbox from the previous model, Fifth and sixth are higher, making top an overdrive for cruising at lower revs, with better fuel consumption. The first two gears were lower for a bit more punch.
Russell Savoury, Blade tuning expert and boss of Motopower says: "The gearboxes can be a bit weak on this Blade, especially if you put a lot more power through it from tuning work - it will reafly start to suffer"
The reason for this, apparently, is that the dogs on the gears are straight - Savoury reckons they need a 2-3 deg back-cut. Motopower make a box that's stronger and has closer ratios, At £1500 it's not cheap but it's very trick indeed.
You can get more oomph out of the Blade quite cheaply by fitting a one-tooth smaller front sprocket - about the same as adding two or three on the back, but without having to dick around with chain sizes. Okay - so you might lose a little top end speed and use a little more fuel, but it will transform the bike's acceleration,
If you're considering any serious performance mods, or revel in wheelies and standing quarter miles, heavy duty clutch plates and springs will help you stay on the road for longer.

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- Stage one Dynojet kit £106.80, PDQ (01753 730043)

- K&N Airfilter £73.07, PDQ (01753 730043)

- TTS 973cc big bore convelsion. JE Pistons. barrels rebored and replated, ride in ride out service, £1600, TTS (01327 858212)
- Piper re-profile your existing cams in mild road to race spec, £188, Piper Cams (01233 500200)
- Piper steel billet cams with range of profiles for whatever your needs are (within reason!), £528.75, Piper Cams (01233 500200)
- K&N oilfilter,£8.55, PDQ (01753 730043)

. OP clutch kit with uprated Springs £63.90, Tran Am (01425 620580)
- Renthal front sprockets, optional sizes, £16.17, B&C Express (01522 791369)
- Renthal rear sprockets, optional sizes, £22.94, hard anodised £26.32, B&C Express (01522 791369)
- Tsubaki heavy duty X-ring chain with gold outer links, £87, B&C Express (01522 791369)
- Barnett racing clutch, £80 for friction plates, £35 for steel, PDQ (01753 730043)
- Barnett heavy duty clutch springs £12 fora set. PDQ (01753 730043)

- Akrapovic conical full race system, £689, Performance Parts limited (01788 869100)
- Akrapovic sprrt production full system, stainless steel with either a titanium or carbopn silencer, £529, Performance Parts Limited (01788 869100)
- Arrow oval carbon bolt on race silencer, £303.97, B&C Expless (01522 791369)
- Arrow round carbon bolt on race silencer. £248.60, B&C Express [01522 7913659)
- Arrow full race system with slip-on oval carbon silencer, £627.24 standard level: £631.22 high level, B&C Express (01522 7911369)
- Arrow full race system with slip-on round carbon silencer, £569.26, £573.25 high level, B&C Express (01522 791369)
- Arrow full race system with slip-on oval titanium silencer, £655.56 or £659.54 for high level. B&C Express (01522 791369)
- Arrow race system with race pipework and slip-on road legal titanium oval silencer. £639.65, B&C Express (01522 791369)
- Arrow slip-on road legal titamium oval silencer, £310.27, B&C Express (01522 791369)

Sorry but this list went on WAY too long for me to type out all of them. Basicallly you can get any size, shape, colour and material of exhaust for your Blade. Enjoy. ;)
Deveil, Remus, Quill, Harris, LAser, Leo-Vinci, Bos, Hindle, Yoshimura, R&G, Two Brothers, Carbon Can Co.

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