The gloves are coming off now as we approach the two bikes we’re most looking forward to riding in 2017. First up is the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR – a bike that promises to be a massive step forward in the CBR/Fireblade lineage. Honda did something a little different here: instead of marching towards the 200-hp threshold like all of its competitors, Team Red put the CBR on a massive diet plan to make it one of the lightest literbikes on the market, shaving a massive 33 lbs compared to its predecessor by incorporating what was once thought to be exotic materials like magnesium and titanium. If Honda’s claim of 430 lbs, ready-to-ride, is correct then only the Ducati 1299 Panigale beats it with its 420-lb curb weight. Still, that’s a 14% improvement in power-to-weight ratio than the outgoing CBR.

The new ’Blade gets a modest bump in power, 10 horses, but Honda says it also stomps on the old bike in the midrange. Helping to control that power is a bevy of electronic aids centered around an inertial measurement unit (IMU). Traction control, wheelie control, engine brake control, ride modes and electronic Öhlins suspension are just a few of the fancy doo-dads that make the new CBR lustworthy.

Honda’s design focus when developing the 2017 CBR1000RR was “Total Control,” and fortunately for me, I’ll be the lucky sod on the MO payroll who gets to decide if the new CBR lives up to that ethos or not while lapping the beautiful Portimao racetrack in Portugal. Judging from what I’ve seen so far, it’s impossible to think the ’Blade will be dull.