Honda Fireblade’s New Semi-Active Suspension Detailed

The 2024 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP has been announced as the first production bike to make use of new electronic suspension

2024 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP

The Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP was updated for 2024 by Honda, and also by Ohlins, which is supplying a new type of semi-active suspension for the Japanese supersports machine.

Electronic suspension isn’t all new in motorcycles, but the new SmartEC3 system the 2024 Honda Fireblade has gained from Ohlins is making its production debut on the newly updated CBR. The Swedish company has provided additional details about how the setup works.

The new SmartEC3 system is able to “continuously optimise damping characteristics based on bike and rider behaviour and other inputs,” Ohlins says, and gives riders four different “algorithms” (think of them as riding modes) - Sport, Track, Rain and Manual - to personalise their riding experience.

Ohlins’ OBTi interface is included with the system, allowing riders to fine-tune different aspects of the bike’s characteristics, including support in braking, support in initial acceleration, weight transfer, and cornering grip.

The SmartEC3 system “takes inspiration from MotoGP rear ride height devices,” Ohlins says. For those not versed in modern MotoGP, in which Ohlins supplies four of the five manufacturers, a hydraulic system is now used to operate a device which lowers the rear suspension on corner exit. This in turn lowers the centre of mass and therefore reduces the propensity for the bike to wheelie. Applying the brake disengages the system, allowing the rear suspension to rebound before the rider begins to turn into the corner.

One of the other benefits of the ride height devices in MotoGP is that the lowered state of the rear suspension before the brake is grabbed effectively increases the load transfer to the front tyre when braking is initiated, which allows for harder initial braking pressure and therefore for braking to be initiated later.

This seems to be where Ohlins’ inspiration has come from for its SmartEC3 suspension, which, it says, “provides tuning of weight transfer in initial acceleration to enable enhanced performance through a lowered centre of gravity,” thanks to an “updated acceleration parameter”.

The physical suspension units themselves on the CBR1000RR-R SP in 2024 are a 43mm S-EC3 (SV) NPX USD fork, and TTX36 EC shock, with both making use of Ohlins’ ‘spool valve’ design aimed at improving rider comfort. Compared to a more regular needle valve, the spool valve design uses a pressure compensation chamber, which is able to balance the force applied to the damper’s actuator, which improves the speed of adjustment.

Robert Brinkmark, director of sales and marketing at Ohlins Racing, said: “SmartEC3 suspension technology represents another engineering breakthrough that enables riders to be at one with their bikes, leading to superior performance, control and excitement.

“We were very proud to unveil this impressive achievement in conjunction with the introduction of Honda’s exciting new Fireblade SP.”

Find all the latest motorcycle news on Visordown.