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2013 Honda CB1100 Second Ride

Friday, July 26, 2013

Some months ago MotoUSA was able to get a short first ride on the 2013 Honda CB1100, and it left us wanting more time in the saddle to really get a feel for the bike. We praised it for its throwback looks paired with modern brakes, tires and electronics, but would the nostalgia wear off? To find out we spent several long days in the saddle with the CB getting to know the retro Honda in just about every situation that Southern California has to offer.

As a child of the late eighties, I didn’t get interested in street motorcycles until the first Gulf War had kicked off and MC Hammer was jumping around in parachute pants. And by the time I was able to get my motorcycle license on May 18th, 1992 at 8 AM, the last of the classic CB’s were relics. The styling, the engine and the performance did nothing for me as I lusted for CBR900RR and FZR600 replica-racers. I couldn’t be bothered with some air-cooled boxy lump of old tech.

Twenty-one years on and my tastes have matured, and I the can appreciate the Honda’s reboot of the CB. The squarish tank, the eighteen-inch Comstar-style wheels, the bread loaf seat and simple round headlight all look the part yet have a slightly better fit and finish. Retro is what’s hot right now; my peers are buying up late seventies and early eighties Japanese fours to tinker with. I’d rather ride, and that’s where the 2013 CB1100 really does the most for me. I get the looks, the sounds, similar engine performance and better handling, all with zero time scouring eBay, Craigslist, and forums for parts.

The CB1100’s air- and oil-cooled engine is fueled by a bank of 32mm FI throttle bodies and fires up with a touch of the starter button. The throttle is calibrated nicely and the engine responds with a usable spread of torque that is present
The 2013 Honda CB1100s air- and oil-cooled engine puts 84.02 horsepower to the ground.
2013 Honda CB1100 Dyno Chart
The 2013 Honda CB1100's engine has a flat torque curve that gives the bike an easy to ride character.
almost right off of idle and carries through the mid-range. On top, the CB’s peak 84.02 horsepower at 7300 rpm isn’t staggering, but simply fun. The broad power character allows for easy modulation of the throttle and ham-fisted shenanigans are just shrugged off. Overall, the CB1100 is fast enough to be fun without being overwhelming for anyone. It’s mellow in the city and will put a smile on your face in the mountains.

Clutch feel and shifting is as retro as the looks. Pull on the lever is light but does not have especially great modulation. Upshifts are slick until the revs approach redline. Then a bit more throttle chop and clutch work is necessary, particularly when stretching the CB’s legs between corners. Downshifts can also take a little more effort on the lever than would be expected. None of this detracts from the riding experience however and might actually add to it.

Comfort from the CB1100 is much better than would be expected from its twin-shock rear suspension and conventional steel tube frame. Even with only preload adjustment available on both the 41mm front fork and rear shocks, the suspension is settled and damped well. Rough patches don’t upset the chassis as you might expect and only when riding hard in bumpy corners will you wish for any sort of compression or rebound adjustability. For 95% of street duty the Honda is spot on.

Handling is light yet stable at the same time. The skinny by modern standard 18-inch tires dip into corners with a predicable ease. As one test rider summed the corning ability of the CB1100 – it just does. Getting the red retro Honda through a turn doesn’t take much thought; its just natural, like riding a bicycle as a kid.

Part of the neutral feel of the CB stems from the relaxed riding position. The reach to the bars allows for an upright torso with comfortable bend at the knees to slightly sporty peg position. This puts your body weight up high and helps initiate corners with a dip of the shoulders. In a straight line on the highway, the long cushy seat is capable of all-day rides without numbness or discomfort to your backside. Of course without a windshield and an upright seating position, air pressure at speeds over 80 mph can getting a bit tiring. Just slow down and enjoy the ride for once.

The one bit of the CB1100 that is light years ahead of its ancestors is its braking. Dual 296mm full-floating front brakes offer up modern performance with excellent feel and power. Out back the rear brake is a tad mushy in comparison to the front, but still more than capable of assisting your right index finger in hauling the Honda down from speed. The Combined Anti-Lock brakes on our test machine made panic stops and hard braking even easier with the confidence that all is sorted with a stomp and handful of binders. At times I wanted to cut some skids and act a fool but it was difficult with the combined brakes. Personally I’d go for the $9,999 model that forgoes the $1000 ABS option, but to be honest that is only for the fact that I like to screw around and ruin tires – a totally irrational viewpoint for sure. If I were recommending this bike to a friend, I’d tell them to get the C-ABS.

After a couple days on the 2013 Honda CB1100 the nostalgia did wear off, but it didn’t make the machine any less appealing. In fact, that goes to show how good the CB really is. The neutral handling, pleasant engine character and comfortable ride make the CB1100 a winner. The nostalgic cool is just icing on a very delicious cake.
2013 Honda CB1100 Second Ride Photos
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Technical Specifications
Introducing Hondas 2013 CB1100.
2013 Honda CB1100 / CB1100A
Engine: 1140cc air- and oil-cooled inline four-cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 73.5mm x 67.2mm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel-injection
Transmission: 5-speed
Front Suspension: 41mm fork with spring preload adjustability; 4.7 inches travel
Rear Suspension: Dual shocks with spring preload adjustability; 3.5 inches travel
Front Brakes: Dual four-piston calipers with full-floating 296mm discs; Optional Honda ABS
Rear Brake: Single-caliper 256mm disc; Optional Honda ABS
Tires: F - 110/80-18 R - 140/70-18
Curb Weight: 540pounds (CB1100) 549 pounds (CB1100A)
Wheelbase: 58.7 in.
Rake: 27.0 deg.
Trail: 114mm
Seat Height: 31.3 in.
Fuel Capacity: 3.9 gallons
MSRP: $9,999 (CB1100) $10,999 (CB1100A)
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Sportster1200   April 26, 2014 04:58 PM
jrhoy is missing the ENTIRE boat. The new CB1100 is a RETRO bike, not intended to mimic a recent machine from ten years ago. The original Hondas did NOT have heavier and less efficient shaft-drive, or hydraulic lifters. One of the advantages of modern technology, is that valve adjusts are spaced far and few between - it's just no big deal. The same goes with chain-drives - keep them clean and a little lube on once in a while, and it's easy to get 25,000 miles on them, and they can be replaced at home in under an hour - NO BIG DEAL. Honda does build Gold Wing variants and cruisers if you insist on shaft drive........
jrhoyt0895   April 15, 2014 10:46 AM
I can't understand what Honda is thinking. The best feature of the SOHC CB750 was the shaft drive. The best feature of the DOHC CB750 was the hydraulic lifters. Now Honda gives us a CB1100 that has neither of those innovations on a motorcycle that should have both of them. If Honda came out with a CB1100 that had shaft drive and hydraulic lifters, I'd be drooling all over it, and I'd be twisting my brain to figure out how I can afford one. I guess I'll save my money and keep riding my 2003 CB750.
Frankvictory   December 15, 2013 04:57 PM
The Hellen is a BELL
Jau   August 18, 2013 06:01 PM
I just LOVE this bike! Will definitely buy it! Can anyone tell me what's the helmet's brand the rider is wearing? Not able to figure it out.. Wanna see if I can find it on my side of the atlantic ;) Cheers
Sportster1200   August 3, 2013 11:58 AM
For months I have been amazed at the number of detractors belittling Honda's effort with the CB1100. "It doesn't have enough power, it doesn't have a single-shock fully adjustable suspension, it's too heavy, it doesn't have a 6-speed tranny, etc., etc."
My current stable includes bikes from the XLCR1000, Hayabusa, XL1200R, and ZRX1200, among some others. I picked each bike for what it is and ride it for what it is, and/or modify them to fit what I want.
My only Honda is a CBR900RR - I am not particuarly a Honda fan, finding most of their lineup these days as mundane and dull - though the F6B peaks my lagging interest in baggers.
In my opinion one reason to get the CB1100 is simply because it is cool looking with very good fit and finish details, "if" you like air-cooled retros. So what if it only makes about 84 ponies on a dyno? Not a lot of cars will accelerate as fast as it will. The suspension, while basic, is plenty decent for spirited canyon riding. Want more? A simple bump in compression, one step up in cams, a free flowing muffler, and PCV, will easily unlock a solid 100 hp. It lends itself to some cafe treatment if that style is desired, or is able to be used as a saddlebag tourer if that is needed.
No one is twisting anyone's arms to by them. If performance is the first criteria for purchasing a bike, obviously the CB1000 is a far better choice.
The bulk of riders simply want to have a machine that looks nice, is dead nuts reliable, and simply fun to ride. They might like to just sit and look at it from time to time, or even tinker with some personal styling and performance mods - or like 90% of prospective buyers of the CB1100, don't change a thing. The CB1100 simply fits it's intended market segment perfectly.
getshokin   August 2, 2013 08:53 PM
Nice photos, Justin!
moto62   July 31, 2013 12:18 AM
My 2009 FZ6 makes 100 HP at the crank and about 90 Hp at the rear wheel.The CB1100 makes about 20 more Pounds of Torque.Though I like my Fz6.I wouldn't buy the new 2013 Honda CB1100.I would rather purchase a 2013 Yamaha FZ1 or a 2014 Yamaha FZ09.The other day I was riding on Kanan Road that leads to the beach.Zuma Beach just off Pacific Coast Highway in California.This Kawasaki ZRX1200 came up behind me and gunned itself through the twisties with this cool engine honk and aftermarket pipe going about 75mph.I let it go as this dude was determined in full race leathers.
honda1   July 30, 2013 02:45 PM
Why does this bike only make 4 more horsepower than my old '86 Nighthawk 700s? 27 years later and 400 more cc's gets us 4 more horsepower?
weitzman   July 30, 2013 02:19 PM
I forgot to add re the ZR(e)X comparison, if anyone should know what Grumpy8521 or i was talking about it would be "JDawg."
weitzman   July 30, 2013 02:15 PM
Grumpy8521 is so right on. While the new CB1100 looks great and performs well, a ZRX1200R does it so much better, with about 25 more hp at 7,300 rpm and it peaks at about 30 more hp at 8,000-8,500 rpm. Standard was fully adjustable suspenders front and rear. Yeah its not the quickest or fastest kid on the block, but nothing will straighten your arms out quicker when accelerating from 2,000 rpm in top gear. It makes big power from off idle to red line. And the carburetion is perfect. As looks go, it still looks great, a real classic. I am sure it makes Eddie Lawson proud. And as a bonus i get 50 mpg all day long. Kawi should bring it back. In its last year of production (i think 2005) it price was only $7,899. Gotta go with green, no red, blue or silver.
BuffaloRider   July 29, 2013 08:48 PM
I've had the CB1100 since mid May and have only about 2500mi on it so far. I sols a K75 Beemer and traded a 99 Road Star(sorely missed and soon to be replaced!) to get it in the heat of first love. After a few months and a few thousand miles it is STILL a great ride and is enjoyable on mountain twisties, errands around town and the commute, 50mi round trip, to work. Enough hp & torgue to be fun, 53 mph on average, good handling, comfort & beauty. I added super-bike bars & bar end mirrors and a slip on muffler will come along but I can't see ruining the looks with a boy-racer can. Yeah, there are faster "Rickey Racer" bikes out there and if that is what floats yer boat - Gawd Bless ya. I first started riding in '68 and owned the original CB750. The new CB1100 is not a replica but a worthy testament.
qatesting   July 29, 2013 06:26 PM
qatesting   July 29, 2013 06:15 PM
qatesting   July 29, 2013 03:08 PM
qatesting   July 29, 2013 03:01 PM
grumpy8521   July 29, 2013 10:19 AM
Great looking bike, but dbezerkeley is correct. You definitely lose the performance with the skinny tires and more budget suspension. I ride a ZRX1200 and that has got the same retro cool thing going but with drastically better handling and braking. Plus it uses 17" rims so you get tons of choice for tires. The ZRX will walk all overt the CB any day. Granted it is still carbed, but I'll take it over the lack of performance. The old CB's that this new CB1100 is modeled after, just like the GS and KZ models, were the rockstars of the "sporting bike" world when they came out. The whole point of modern retro (to my mind) is to keep the aesthetics of the old bike but introduce modern elements that boost the performance. My ZRX isn't the most powerful thing on the road but the performance bar relative to what the original GPZ1000's had is way closer.
RENDELL   July 28, 2013 12:03 AM
I like it.
dbezerkeley   July 27, 2013 03:30 PM
Seems you would really have to prioritize retro looks over performance given you can get a CB1000R for about the same price, which is a compact easy comfortable Honda to ride with much more power and better handling
spyglass   July 26, 2013 05:03 PM
Oh, and chrome fenders, too. And no silly graphics.
spyglass   July 26, 2013 05:02 PM
I started ridin' in the late 60's, so I relate to this bike. IMHO, it, along with the Bonneville, is the way a motorcycle should look, i.e., there's nothing there that isn't necessary. A relatively flat seat that you can move around on, all mechanicals are exposed and easily accessed, a chrome exhaust, proper placement of controls and a bar that allows a comfortable, controlable ride. Less is more. Nice goin' Honda. If it only had a shaft drive (or at least a belt) instead of that noisy, dirty chain (which to me belongs in there with kick starters & acetelyne headlites).