A while ago I had a chance to pick up a mint yellow Honda CBR954RR FireBlade (yes, the B is capitalised… though it wasn’t from 2004 onward after Baba-san left the project) from a dealer on the Gold Coast.

I prevaricated and missed out — another guy made a deposit on it while I was thinking about it.

Here it is. It was listed for A$5995 with a full service history behind it, 35K kilometres (about 20K miles) on the odometer, and everything — spares, factory toolkit, and spare key.

Yellow and Black Honda CBR954RR FireBlade from Gold Coast Honda

I’m still looking for a 954 FireBlade — in any color scheme.

But first a quick word about why the CBR954RR is the best Honda FireBlade.

In a nutshell, the CBR954RR is the best Honda FireBlade to get because:

  1. It’s the lightest. With a wet weight (fully fuelled) of only 192kg, the CBR954RR weighs about what a modern-day Honda CBR500R weighs!
  2. It’s a sought-after classic. Prices have barely moved in the last ten years — they’ll hold, and if anything, go up.
  3. It’s not uncomfortable. Older sportbikes like the Honda CBR954RR aren’t quite as committed as newer ones.
  4. It was Baba-san’s favourite. Tadao Baba, designer of the original CBR900RR FireBlade through to the CBR954RR FireBlade, considered this to be the pinnacle.

More on all these below. But first, if you like this article and want more, then sign up to my humble mailing list.

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Well, I am. That’s why I created this site — as an outlet. I love learning and sharing what others might find useful. If you like what you read here, and you’re a fraction as obsessed as I am, you might like to know when I’ve published more. (Check the latest for an idea of what you’ll see.)

Reason 1 — The CBR954RR is the lightest Honda FireBlade (or Fireblade)

Pictures — well, charts — tell a thousand words.

Chart showing the CBR954RR fireblade is the lightest fireblade, though not with the highest power:weight ratio

Baba-san designed the original CBR900RR FireBlade with an aggressive focus on weight reduction. He wanted it to have a 900cc engine, but fit into a 750cc motorcycle’s chassis. He was reportedly ruthless in his obsession.

But despite this, subsequent generations of the FireBlade not only got powerful, they also got lighter.

After Baba-san’s departure from the team, the CBR1000RR continued to get more powerful, but they were all heavier.

The power-to-weight ratio did continue to climb (except for a small dip with the C-ABS-equipped 2012-2016 series), but the CBR1000RR lost its edge as a lightweight sports machine after the 954.

Reason 2 — The CBR954RR is a sought-after classic.

Partly for the first and third reasons, the 954 is a recognised classic.

Red and black Honda CBR954RR FireBlade with Micron exhaust
Another Red and Black CBR954RR that I looked at in the past. With a Micron exhaust.

When I googled “Honda CBR954RR Classic”, I found quite a few old threads from 10 years ago speculating whether it would be a future classic.

In those threads, the advertised price was exactly what it is today for a bike of higher mileage today! This means that people held on to the motorcycles, put on kilometres, maintained them, and then were able to sell them for the same price.

The one above is listed at A$6,000, which is not expensive. It’s about US$4,000 these days. That’s about the price you’d pay for one in good condition in the US, too.

The CBR954RR is not in the same league as something like a Ducati 916 SPS in terms of collectability. If you’re looking for a classic Honda, I’d look more towards something like the VTR1000 SP2, which are so rare that any time they come up for sale, they get snapped up.

But there are definitely ads out there where people are looking for them.

Reason 3 — The CBR954RR is not uncomfortable

Diagram showing comfort of riding position on CBR954RR FireBlade.

Riding a sportbike is never as comfortable as a cruiser or an adventure touring bike.

But sport bikes have become a lot more uncomfortable. In the late nineties and early 2000s, sport bikes had slightly more relaxed riding positions, making them more appropriate for everyday use.

The CBR954RR was one of these motorcycles. The above diagram shows you the body position compared between the FireBlade and the GSX-R1000 of the time.

Since Honda always wanted the FireBlade to be a general-purpose motorcycle, helping normal people ride faster, comfort makes a lot of sense.

Reason 4 — The CBR954RR was Baba-san’s favourite

Tadao Baba with an early CBR900RR FireBlade
Baba San with an early Fireblade (a CBR900RR, not a CBR954RR)

Tadao Baba, father of the FireBlade, retired from the product after the CBR954RR. The last of his work was his favourite and became his personal motorcycle.

“I own a 2002 Fireblade 954; it was the last model of FireBlade I designed, and in my opinion it is the best ‘Blade as a total package. The first ‘Blade has the best image and memories for me, but the final one is probably the best. Although I don’t have a garage – it lives in my parking lot!” — interview with Baba-san PistonHeads

So even if the man himself, Tadao Baba, put his FireBlade up for sale — you probably wouldn’t want to own it. The thing hasn’t even been “always garaged”!


There are, of course, other amazing FireBlades (or Fireblades).

In 2017 for example Honda made a huge splash with their CBR1000RR SP. And their 2020 CBR1000RR-R is ridiculously powerful and comes with all the rider aids that the Yamaha R1 has been touting since… 2015?

These days, the mantle for the best superbike is typically battled between the Ducati Panigale V4R, the Yamaha YZF-R1M, and the BMW S 1000 RR. I mean, the other litre-class motorbikes I haven’t mentioned are amazing in their own individual rights. If the Honda isn’t competing in that league, it’s not because it’s far behind. I just mean that in magazines and forums it’s not one of the main contenders unless you ask the Honda faithful.

And for me, that’s the attraction of the Fireblade. As I pointed out in my story, the CBR900RR kicked off the entire lightweight “litre bike” wave.

So… Why didn’t I buy the CBR954RR?

At time of original writing this was actually still available at Gold Coast Honda (but since sold!).

The things that held me back were: a) I had three motorcycles in my garage already (and it wasn’t even my garage… thanks, I have the best brothers!), and b) it’s not really a great motorcycle for the street.

In first gear, you’re doing over 120 km/h on a CBR954RR before you should shift. It’ll actually keep taking you up further — I think north of 140 km/h.

That’s not really the way I like to ride on the street. That’s why these days I tend to prefer motorcycles more designed for the street or off-road where I can truly enjoy them without much fuss.

That said, if someone had bought my Hyperstrada that was for sale at the time, I might have plonked down for the ‘Blade. Another time!

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  1. I walked into my local bike showroom with every intention of buying a 2002 rc-51. The silver and black 954RR caught me by surprise and as soon as I touched it I whispered to it, “you’re going home with me.” Rode out of there with 1 mile on the odometer and have loved every single one after. Has 23,000 on it today, and is every bit as fun to ride as the day I bought it. I remember all the “liter bike” guys razzing me about not being on a “liter bike” at the local 1/4 mi drag track. But later in the night they didn’t make a sound as I was the only stock bike running below 11 seconds. My last run was 10.4 seconds at 136 mph! Ive had it on one tire through 5th gear and opted out of going for 6 when I glanced at the speedo and seen 153! (Still had a ways to go to catch 6.) I’m going to go get my baby out right now. I’m sporting wood just typing about it!

  2. Second gear is sometimes reported to be a problem on the 954. After how many miles and on what percent of bikes, if anyone has any idea?

    There’s a nice one nearby me w/15k miles.

  3. I have just picked up a very tasty 12/03 954 in black over red. One owner bike with 30000klms. Truly immaculate and has never seen a wet road. Paid $7000 and was happy to do so. Its a keeper. I do believe these will become a low teens investment in the next 5 years.

    1. I’m just buying an 02 silver and black with only 2500kms, paying 9000cad. Wanted one since they came out plus 954 is the number that appears alot in my life. Anyways congrats, and may they increase in value so my sons can sell it down the road hahaha!

  4. Had 5 Fireblades in my time 1993, 2x 199 models (one was the amcn repsol 970 big bore with flat slide carbies), and two 2002 954’s. The first one was transformed into a fully fledged stunt bike and is on its second motor, the other I sold to a friend when I moved on in 2016. I called my mate who still has it and agreed to sell it back to me. Can’t wait to get on old faithful again. They were ahead of their times looks wise, the aggressive tail angle and head lights keep this model looking pimp even today.

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