This is a follow up to an article I wrote at the beginning of 2020 about my experience of owning a Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP as well as the video I posted showing one of the issues I have been experiencing, the bike falling out of gear.
A Quick Recap
I purchased my Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP in late December 2018. After a few rides I started to notice some traits with the bike, mainly it falling out of gear, finding false neutrals, double blips on the down shifts and the ABS being far too intrusive when riding on track. Due to the UK weather being, well, frankly rubbish in December through to March, I had not ridden the bike much at all. This meant that I did not notice the above mentioned issues until March 2019, which is when I originally highlighted my concerns to the dealer. At this time all the dealer had was my explanation of the problems to go on. They checked the bike over and could not find anything wrong.
I persisted with the bike, trying understand if it was myself that was the problem or if there was any way of replicating the problems as they were very unpredictable as to when it was going to happen. As the year progressed I used the bike extensively on track, every time I used it, the gearing issue would randomly appear. On a few occasions, I can honestly say it scarred the crap out of me. One time, when I was entering a fast corner, I braked, changed down through the gears only to find the bike had found a false neutral, I had no drive! My problem was that I still had no evidence to back up my claims, that was until March this year (2020).
Evidence at Last!
In March 2020, just prior to the UK Government enforcing the lock down, I went to a track day at Bedford Autodrome. The day was going well, in the afternoon a put a camera on the film so I could film one of the other guys riding to allow him to review his positioning on the track and his general riding. I left the camera on the bike for the remaining sessions and luckily, or perhaps unluckily, depending on how you view this, it managed to capture the evidence I was lacking as proof there was a problem.
During the last session of the day, on the last lap, going down the back straight, the bike falls out of 4th gear at around 140 mph. This time, it was all captured on camera. Aside from the bike losing drive, it also continues revving, bouncing off the rev limiter for a few more seconds, even though I shut the throttle. Fortunately for me this was the last session of the day and very few other riders were on track. As this was during the early stages of the pandemic, a lot of racers from some of the national series were there, giving their bikes and themselves a shake down as the ACU had cancelled all racing the week before. Now, if this had happened earlier in the day with some those guys on track if might have been a very different story. There were some extremely powerful bikes there and if I’d lost drive down the straight, their closing speed with me essentially in reverse, might have been disastrous!
Investigating the Problem
Now that I have proof that the bike has an issue and falls out of gear, in March I speak to Honda UK customer services and they request that I contact the dealer and get them to raise a technical case. This I did, the dealer viewed the video and agreed that there clearly was a problem. A technical case was raised with Honda and I then wait, and wait. I know that at this particular time there was a pandemic happening around the globe, so some delay is understandable.
In early June, the UK Government relaxed the lock down laws and dealerships were open. I had the bike booked in for its annual service and for the dealer to carry out some more investigations. The dealer has been liaising with Honda UK and their technicians to try and diagnose the problem. The Master Technician from Honda UK requested that the dealer strip the bike and look for failings in the gearbox. Both myself and the mechanic at the dealership agreed that this was not a mechanical problem, it was an electrical issue. Striping the bike would have been fine, the best part is that if there was no fault found Honda UK told the dealer to bill me for the work! This would have seen me having to foot a bill of approx. £1,500 for investigatory work on a bike that is only 18 months old and still in warranty!
Eventually the Master Technician from Honda UK agreed that this is not the best course of action, instead they decide to run the bike on a dyno to see if they can replicate the problem. Now, this seems to be a better approach and more logical, seeing as we believed it was a electronic issue. However, I also feel that the issue is linked the bikes gyro or IMU. This is used to measure lean angle, as well as acceleration and braking forces. Running the bike on the dyno meant that it would be static, bolt upright and essentially not moving, so the gyro is not in use. As expected the testing found no issues with the bike. However, the fact remains that there is a problem, and its captured on camera!
Throughout the whole process I can honestly say that the dealership have been fantastic. They have tried to get to the bottom of the problem and have been extremely patient with Honda UK, as have I. After a week or so of not hearing anything from Honda UK customer services, despite being promised a phone call, I call Honda UK customer services. I get through to an agent, only to be told that no case has been raised. An agent raises a new case and I am told I’ll receive a call early the following week. A week passes and I hear nothing, I call Honda UK customer services, an agent tells me that the person dealing with my case is busy and they’ll call me back. I wait a few more days and hear nothing. I call Honda UK customer services again, I get the same response. I wait, again, I have to call them to get an update. This trend continues for several weeks.
I have to admit that I found the whole customer service experience from Honda UK very disappointing. It is not what I would have expected from the worlds largest motorcycle corporation. Having to constantly chase for updates on how things are progressing and what was happening with my case was tiring and stressful. The bike went in for its service and investigation on the 1st June, it has now been in the dealership for 7 weeks!
Honda UK have now completed their investigations, I have been informed that as no fault was found with the vehicle, Honda UK will not be taking any further action. I can understand this attitude, as quite rightly, no fault was found. However, the fact remains that there is still a problem and its been captured on camera! Despite me highlighting this fact, Honda UK have now simply washed their hands of this and refused to offer any more support. I personally feel that this is Honda UK burying their heads in the sand and refusing to acknowledge that there is a fundamental issue with this bike. global corporation indeed, customer focused, no!
So as things stand I have a bike that I do not want to ride as I feel I can no longer trust it! If I sell the bike now I will lose thousands, as the bike, despite being only 18 months old, has depreciated by 50% of its retail value, I wonder why?! I requested that Honda UK underwrite the bike as safe and fit for purpose now they have carried out their investigations and had found no fault, they refused, stating that it was up to the dealer to do this! I now have a rather expensive garage ornament