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With Its Great Heritage, Why Doesn’t Honda Produce More Retro Models?

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With several major manufacturers now enjoying success with retro-styled bikes (BMW, Ducati, Yamaha and Moto Guzzi come to mind), why hasn’t Honda developed smaller displacement siblings for its excellent CB1100?

Pictured here are just two U.S. models that were popular and are still remembered fondly — the 1969 CB-450 K-1 and the 1969 CL-350.

Honda is known for being very conservative, often entering a new market segment late. This doesn’t explain, however, why the CB1100 debuted several years ago, but Honda has not followed that model with other bikes that play on its excellent heritage. The current CB500 range, of course, has a nice 471cc parallel twin that could easily drop into a new heritage-styled model. Perhaps, Honda has something planned that we don’t know about, but when will we see it?

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119 Comments

  1. Frankie says:

    The old Black Bomber (CB450) had horrible brakes, clutch drag, dodgy electrics, odd suspension and was often near impossible to start… but it had a fun engine that would sing to 10k plus revs and make a lovely snarl on the overrun. The later CB450 (pictured) was more civilised and you could just about get away with running it on modern roads. BTW, if you got the engine to tick over at 600 revs it was astonishingly quiet re engine noise (thanks to its unique valve gear) and it was quite easy to get 70mpg out of the mill. The modern CB500 is probably better in every way except the depreciation (eye watering if you want to sell/trade after a year). It would be interesting to see how a seventies CB450 runs on upside-down forks and light modern wheels (radically lowering the unsprung mass)… a nice project for someone before prices start going classic. Personally, a modern version of the CB450 already exists… it’s not a Honda but a Street Triple (again, that eye watering depreciation on newish ones makes them as cheap as a perfect CB450!).

  2. Aussie mike says:

    I loved the CB1100. Test rode one in 2012. Loved it but didnt buy cos it only had a 14.6 litre tank. That means i would only get 200kms before reserve light appears. Regret not buying it. Thought it was beautiful. BTW i had sold my XJR1300 12 months earlier.
    They discontinued the model in Oz cause of low sales. TBH there are only 4 Jap bikes i would buy:
    Honda CB1100, Yamaha XJR1300 Cafe Racer, the Kawasaki W800, Suzuki SV1000. BTW used to own a SV1000 and DL1000. Unfortunately none of these models are imported into Australia anymore.
    I’m 65 and love the retro look. The old CB450, CL350 and SL350 models were HOT looking machines. Back in 1971 I lusted after the SL350 but had just bought the Kawasaki 350 Avenger (2 stroke parallel twin).
    My current steed is a Victory Hammer S. Am relishing the thought of a new Royal Enfield Interceptor being released in 2017.
    The number of retro bikes hitting the show room floor is becoming a tsunami & it will be a difficult choice. Heck i might even buy a Harley. Am impressed with their new Milwaukee Eight motor.
    What is old is new again. BOOYAH

  3. Tank says:

    Older bikes were small, light and relatively inexpensive. The CB1100 was none of the above. If Honda is going to let the sales of the CB1100 discourage them from making more retro bikes, it will be a big mistake. It’s like they didn’t learn anything from the Grom.

    • mickey says:

      That’s funny you would say that because today I took off on my ST 1300, went for a decent little ride, came back parked it and took off on my CB1100. The CB is so small it reminded me of riding a CB160. It felt like there was nothing underneath me. I kept think man, this thing is so little.

      As far as price, adjusted for inflation I think the 68 CB750 and the 2013 CB 1100 were similarly priced. Gas is no longer 30 cents a gallon and I make more than the $1.00 an hour I made in 1968.

      I think a Grom costs nearly 3x what a CB 750 cost when new

  4. Grover says:

    They stopped making bikes like these because technology improves the breed. It wasn’t always cool to ride an old bike when everyone else was riding faster, better handling bikes that were more comfortable with wind protection. These old machines performed better in your mind than they ever did on the highway. The CB1100 is a hard sell when you figure the the demographic that was clamoring for this bike (old dudes with fading memories) have discovered sport touring bikes that do everything a lot better for not much more money. We like to look back at “the old days” but don’t really want to go back there.
    I began my riding career on a Honda 350 Scrambler and my next bike (1982 Suzuki 750) showed me how lacking the old 350 was in speed, braking, handling and comfort. I like the looks of the old 350 but do not want to go back to those days, ever.