MB: It was impressive. We did a lot of testing here in Southern California, at Willow Springs, and also on Angeles Crest Highway, very fast, very harsh environments. We knew some of the magazines would test there, and we knew that if the bike worked well there, we’d get optimal coverage. We did quite a bit of suspension work and eventually got it to where we liked it. For me, it ended up being a little bit frustrating because it wasn’t quite as fast at the track as I figured it would be, given the weight and power. The front end just never felt as planted as it should have in faster corners, which ended up being caused by the minimal trail and 16-inch front wheel—things that were fixed later with the CBR929RR.
Funny story. We—American Honda—actually turned down the “Fireblade” name, preferring instead to stick with the alphanumeric. Which is ironic given that American Honda had quite the history of bikes names—Interceptor, Hurricane, Magna, et cetera. When we heard the proposed Fireblade name in a meeting, our team sorta laughed. We were like, “Is that a Star Wars thing?” It really did sound funky to us, so we passed. But it ended up becoming legendary, so I guess we swung and missed big time on that one.