Drag site icon to your taskbar to pin site. Learn More

Memorable Motorcycles Honda CBX

Wednesday, May 5, 2004
The CBX was designed by Shoichiro Irimajiri who  as a precocious young designer  was responsible for Honda s legendary six cylinder race bikes.
The CBX was designed by Shoichiro Irimajiri who, as a precocious young designer, was responsible for Honda's legendary six cylinder race bikes.
There are many contenders for the world's most charismatic production motorcycle but one of the favourites must be Honda's charismatic CBX 6. Everything about the bike says it is a work of uncompromising genius - and it is.

The CBX engine is 100% the work of Shoichiro Irimajiri who, as a precocious young designer, was responsible for Honda's legendary six cylinder race bikes.

Mr. Irimajiri was clear about the link between the exotic GP machines and the road going CBX. At the bike's launch in 1979 he said: "When we were racing, we were up against four cylinder two-strokes built by Yamaha and Suzuki. Cylinder multiplication was the only way we could be competitive. That's why we built the five cylinder 125 and the two six cylinder machines. The CBX is a direct descendant of these race engines. That's one reason why it took only a year and a half to develop. We already had the engine technology from our GP racing experience."

Another reason for the bike's very existence was the opening of Honda's then brand-new R&D centre at Asaka. Bursting with the brightest designers in Japan, and filled with a burning desire to show that Honda occupied the top spot in world wide bike design, the CBX was intended to make it clear just who ruled the bike world.

The CBX was every bit as exotic as its GP predecessors. It featured no less than 24 valves feeding the motor through the most sophisticated constant velocity carburettors ever made. The engine was also incredibly practical. Despite looking vast, it was only two inches wider than the four cylinder Honda CB750 it replaced and boasted a sweet gearbox and svelte clutch. Best of all, producing 105 bhp at 9,000 rpm, it made the power its looks promised.

The styling was equally dramatic. A team of five chassis engineers and stylists, working under the direction of Norimoto Otsuka, produced one of the most dramatic petrol tanks ever to grace a motorcycle. Its shape is both sinuous and voluptuous - as if a liquid has been poured over the bike and then frozen in an instant.

No less than 24 valves feed the motor through sophisticated constant velocity carburettors.
No less than 24 valves feed the motor through sophisticated constant velocity carburettors.
The chassis was less successful with spindly front forks and a swinging arm which was definitely not conceived by a master engineer. Neither were the rear shocks. Finally, the Dunlop tyres, which the bike came equipped with as standard, did not do the bike any favours.

Not that any of these factors caused the CBX to handle badly. Rather it required thought, care and intelligence to perform well. The root of the problem lay mainly in its weight. Tipping the scales at almost 600 pounds wet, this was not a bike which took kindly to sloppy or indecisive riding. And so developed the great myth that CBX 6s don't handle.

This falsehood, combined with a high list price, eventually killed the bike. The gossip was also that Honda actually lost money on every CBX they sold. So, after only four years, the CBX ceased production - and the biking fraternity should have mourned the passing of a truly great motorcycle.

Now, equipped with modern tyres and aftermarket rear shocks, there is nothing in the biking world which can surpass the feeling of wafting effortlessly along on a six cylinder magic carpet.
Recent Memorable Motorcycles
Memorable Motorcycle: XT660Z Tenere
Our man Melling reviews a popular bike that Adventure-Touring crazed Americans can’t ride, and have likely never heard of, Yamaha’s prolific XT660Z Tenere.
Memorable Motorcycle: Triumph TR6
Our man Melling sorts through the cornucopia of two-wheeled delights he's experienced and figures the Triumph TR6 as one undisputable answer to the question "what bike would you spend your own money on?"

Login or sign up to comment.

Comments
Tommy D. south Florida. -1980 honda cbx  December 15, 2010 08:27 PM
I just stumbled on this find. this red and black cbx is in almost mint condition,13,000 miles.did the carbs and new battery. runs like A top.this older man sold it to me for a wopping $900 bucks.JACKPOT!He bought it new in 1980.THANK YOU GOD!
Skip B. -1982 CBX  September 23, 2010 06:38 PM
I have an '82 with Mac headers, K & N's, and a bunch of other good stuff. You cannot believe the attention the bike gets. Crotch rockets bow down to it on the street. Handling is a tad heavy except at speed though.
Peter W -Mr  August 11, 2010 05:19 AM
had one of the very first imported into the uk, absolute joy. not had a better motorcycle since, wish i had never sold it, and for only 1200quid!!!
don fleming 5-23-10 -1st cbx  May 23, 2010 07:41 PM
sunday bought my 1st cbx an 1st ride love it.1982 with 4400 miles it,s cherry
mike -1979 CBX  July 10, 2009 08:51 AM
Owned one of these - Silver/Black in '79. What a bike, loved it. Rode in PA and Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. Moved to St. Pete, FL and did not want to take it along. Stoplight to stoplight !!! Where would you get one now ?
Kirk C, -Honda CBX Article,  February 7, 2009 07:19 AM
Ive liked CBX's ever since I first saw one in 79, I mean there was nothing like it anywhere and there still Isnt, From the minute you fire it up and listen to that incredible twin cam six, to the time you put it in 1st gear, Its all dreamland, Listening to it go thru the rev's and rising and and falling of that raspy howl theres nothintg like it anywhere, and the current valkyrie is no competition, It may sound similiar? But no cigar! its pure sex on wheel's, Now yrs later im getting one, and then I can hear the thing for myself going down the road listening to that music that only Mozart could make better,