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  • September 25, 2017
  • Dirck Edge
  • Chris Rubino and Dirck Edge
  • 118 Comments

2017 Honda CB1100 EX: MD Ride Review

In our first report on our Honda CB1100 EX test bike, we discussed the impact of one of the most significant changes for 2017, i.e., the inclusion of a 41 mm Showa Dual Bending Valve fork. Specifically, we told you how impressed we were with the improved ride offered by the new fork for 2017. We haven’t changed our mind on this topic, but there is much more to report.

The new CB1100 EX, in addition to the new fork, features a new fuel tank without seams, LED headlight and tail light, as well as new 18″ wheels with stainless steel spokes.

Revised engine inlets and smaller, lighter mufflers subtly improve power delivery. A slipper clutch lightens lever pull and improves rear-wheel stability on downshifts.

The new fork is complimented by the two Showa shocks in back that have revised damping characteristics to improve compliance.


These changes from the original CB1100 we tested back in 2013 have improved an already excellent motorcycle design. The importance of this model to Honda, and to Honda’s heritage, cannot be overstated. Honda put great effort into making the original version a suitable homage to its past, and the changes for 2017 are well thought out and effective.

The new gas tank design, in our opinion, takes a beautiful motorcycle to the level of stunning. Park this bike just about anywhere and it will gather interested onlookers, a good percentage of whom will believe it is a restored Honda from the late 1960s or early 1970s.

I can’t view the CB1100 EX through the eyes of a younger person who doesn’t know the history of Honda inline-fours, so I can’t comment on the intrinsic appeal of the design. I can only say that it moves me, and other riders I have spoken to (who are too young to have drooled over a spy photo in Cycle Magazine in 1968 of the Honda CB750) seemed impressed, as well.

Yes, design and emotional appeal are a very big part of the 2017 Honda CB1100 EX. Not just visual appeal, but the sensory appeal given by the machine when ridden. This bike was never intended to be used at a track day or taken to the drag strip. Honda had different goals in mind when it was developed.

This bike is designed to give the rider a sense of stately, effortless power and control. It starts with an exhaust note that is far from menacing, but nevertheless creates a sense of authority when started in a parking lot full of other vehicles. It is a low, smooth utterance that sets the stage for the riding experience.

The ergonomics mimic those of an era when pretense was not a factor considered by designers. Comfort and control was the focus, as it is now. The flat seat is excellent, for both a rider and a passenger. The handlebar and foot peg positions feel natural for riders of both short stature and tall. The seat height (31.2 inches) is relatively low, and shorter riders have no trouble at stops.

Fuel injection mapping, a problem on many modern motorcycles, is trouble-free on the CB1100 EX. Opening a completely closed throttle results in a seamless, smooth transition that closely mimics the response of CV carburetors of yore. What it does not mimic (thankfully) is the variable nature of carburetor response in changing altitudes and air densities.

The engine pulls well from low rpm (just above idle), exhibiting a tall plateau of torque that makes dispatching city traffic a simple, mindless exercise. Although the 1140 cc inline-four is a DOHC, four-valve per cylinder design, it has a traditional, long piston stroke, and doesn’t like higher rpm levels. No bother, this engine delivers all the performance you would want, or need.

Highway cruising in sixth gear is effortless, with the analog tach needle never exceeding a zone where torque is near its peak, and vibrations are kept in check. With some added wind protection, the CB1100 EX could serve duty as a long distance tourer. Delivering mpg in the low 40s, the range offered by the 4.4 gallon fuel tank should exceed 150 miles.

Without delivering sportbike levels of power and feel, the disc brakes are more than adequate. Four-piston calipers squeeze two, 296 mm discs in front. ABS is standard.

While the 2017 CB1100 EX is “stately”, it is not particularly nimble. A long wheelbase and relatively relaxed steering geometry mean straight line stability is superb, but the bike does not like to be hustled through twisty roads, at least not at sportbike speeds. Turning is predictable, and the tall 18″ wheels and revised suspension absorb mid-corner bumps well, but transitions from side-to-side are slow and deliberate. Once again, this is no surprise and is in keeping with the design brief for this model.

As stated earlier, the revised suspension this year greatly improves small bump absorption, and overall comfort and control. The fork settings, in particular, are excellent, and a huge improvement over the prior model. The Showa Dual Bending Valve “magic” is real.

While testing the CB1100 EX, MD had several other test bikes in the garage to choose from. Frankly, if I wasn’t headed out to “rip up the canyons”, this big Honda was typically the most inviting mount. Riding this bike is just easy. It is also pleasurable for reasons unrelated to arm stretching horsepower and high corner speeds.

The pleasure comes from the whole package, including the comfort, feeling of control, exhaust note, effortless power at street rpm levels, and the looks you get from others on the road and in parking lots.  Pleasure comes from enjoying the details Honda perfected, including glancing at the supremely legible, analog tachometer and speedometer as you glide down the road. This is a special bike from Honda, just be aware of what its strengths are, and what they are not.

The 2017 CB1100 EX is available in a single color, Candy Red (pictured). U.S. MSRP is $12,199. Take a look at Honda’s web site for additional details and specifications.


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118 Comments

  1. J Wilson says:

    This takes me home: When I was a kid, this is what motorcycles looked like. To be able to look under the tank and not see (or worry about synching) four carburetors is like being let out of jail. Add one of those BMW-ish bikini fairings around the headlight and a four-into-four exhaust system and it would be perfect (comfortingly big, strong, and not hyper enough to be a block away if I sneeze with my hand on the throttle) for yours truly.

    • slipjoint says:

      It is a beautiful bike. I synch a bank of 4 carbs after every valve adjustment not counting warmup time it takes literally 10 minutes to install whatever instrumentation you use (I still use a mercury manometer, so I hold a geezer club card) make adjustments then restore the carb vacuum connection caps and hoses. Pretty easy jail time there. Japan has some unreal cosmetic kits for this bike, but they aren’t cheap either is the bike until it sits at the dealer for a year or two.

  2. Geoffrey Hill says:

    I took a test ride on 2 Triumphs last weekend. Bobber, cause it looked like a combo of my 45 harley flathead back end and my 66 trump front end. sold a while ago. The low seat means your knees up way to high, tried the Bonnie, nicer but the bobber motor was better. A lot of vibes. Im 62 and my next bike will be either the 250 honda dual purpose or the new 250 Kaw. Sell my 2bikes I got now in a couple years (2012 Yamaha roadstar, 93 Sportster ) and I want this. Had 2 Cb sohc 750’s. Time to come home.

  3. Cyclemotorist says:

    This is one beautiful motorcycle. If I was considering a new motorcycle this would be at the top of my list.

  4. Doc says:

    I’m off this week and spending too much time on the internet. Looking for a Honda. Instead, for all the Yamaha lovers out there, I found your deal of a lifetime. For all the cheap guys out there, here you go. SCR950, Deal of the week, brand new 2017, $3995. Big St. Charles Motorsports near St Louis. Don’t know the details but it is on their website. Also had a good deal on a ’16 R1, $9999.

  5. John says:

    I don’t like old looking bikes (for the most part). I don’t like new looking bikes (for the most part). What I do like are bikes that are a fusion of new tech with a hat tip to classic looks. The Ducati Scrambler, for instance. The ZRX1200. The Griso. What I’d like to see is a Honda CB750F and 1000F based on the 79-’81 aesthetic, but with modern monoshock rear suspension and little to no chrome. And if the engines happened to be an I3 and I4 based on the CB500X engine, all the better. That way, I could zero in on the CB750F since I don’t much care for I4s.

  6. Mark says:

    This is a gorgeous bike, but I think most folks interested in a retro like this would be happy to spend a little more to get the RS version sold in Europe. (And get tubeless tires to boot.) American Honda’s decisions about what bikes to import are consistently puzzling.

    https://tinyurl.com/ybezlymo

  7. P Harris says:

    “The ergonomics mimic those of an era when pretense was not a factor considered by designers. ” and when unicorns flew on pink wings.

    So it’s softly tuned, handles sluggishly, and weighs a bunch (geez – sounds like a BMW review) but besides that it’s a fine bike. Oh how I hate retro. – we live in a time of amazing machines – buy one, ride it, love it – no need to make excuses.

    • VLJ says:

      “So it’s softly tuned, handles sluggishly, and weighs a bunch (geez – sounds like a BMW review)”

      From twenty years ago, maybe, but not anymore. These days, BMW offers more than their fair share of no-excuses/class-leading performance machines.

  8. JVB says:

    Can they add 2 more cylinders?

  9. Jeremy in TX says:

    It is a beautiful machine. Some people complain about the price, but I don’t get that. Attention to detail on this bike is at the highest level. Nothing looks or feels cheap.

    The CB1100 is a temptress. Just looking at it makes me want to run out and start throwing money at a Honda dealership. I have to keep my heartstrings in check and constantly remind myself that the bike is not for me.

    I was fortunate enough to get a couple of days worth of saddle time last year on a 2014 CB riding on some of the best roads in the US. It is a great bike. Smooth, predictable, easy to ride… But it also feels slow. Not only is the power pretty mediocre considering how much weight it has to pull around (and you can feel that weight working against the bike every time you pull the throttle), but the way the CB delivers that power is very uninspiring.

    Pegs touch down pretty early – I surprised myself a couple of times – but again, you really feel the weight of the bike well before that anyway, taking some of the fun out of a twisty road.

    Slow everything down a bit, though, and the bike really comes into it’s element. It is hard to fault as long as adrenaline production isn’t part of your riding agenda. The CB1100 is a very easy bike to ride fast… And by fast, I really mean “kind of slow.”

    For its intended mission, the bike is perfect. For my mission, not so much. So I will continue to sit here and slap my own every time it ventures near the “Submit Wire Transfer” button on my banking app.

  10. Skybullet says:

    Judging by the number of Comments, this bike has appeal. Maybe classic looks, good ergonomics, reasonable performance, (sorta)light weight, mostly modern features and acceptable value will sell enough to make Honda’s investment worthwhile. Let’s hope.

  11. Doc says:

    All I know is this. Someone on the 1100 forum compared the 1100 to Monica Bellucci. And I’m perfectly alright with that.

  12. Bart says:

    What was the last bike that was actually received positively among the group here?

  13. Sentinel says:

    With a valve service maintenance scheduled for this shim under bucket valvetrain about as often as every or every other oil change, I’ll have to pass on this one.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      That’s a shame.

      • WSHart says:

        It’s a shame of sham that Honda would dump a bicycle wheeled bike on people that requires such frequent valve checks/adjustments. Even if your valves are within spec, you still have to pay to have them checked.

        Oh yeah…that makes it all better. Not really.

        People should not dread having to pay through the nose for maintenance and yet most do. Just ask people after their FIRST Ducati major service. A great many can’t wait to rid themselves of the wallet lamprey.

        Honda could’ve made this bike with the hydraulic lifters (and shaft drive) from the Nighthawk series of the 80s, but nooooooooo!

        And that’s the REAL shame.

    • redbirds says:

      Having a 2013 CB1100 and knowing many other owners, I have yet to hear of one that needed the valves adjusted. 14,000 miles on mine and still in spec. I know of others with far greater mileage and valves are still within limits. I don’t know why Honda set the schedule for valve clearance checks at such a short interval. Drive chain has been adjusted twice in 14,000 miles and looks like it will go a long way before needing replacement. This bike is pure pleasure to own and ride and reliable as a hammer.

    • Dave says:

      What do you think is driving the frequent valve-inspection interval, emissions and air cooling? I don’t think I’d bother with it for 25k+ miles on an engine with such a mild tune, In a bike that doesn’t exactly beg to be wrung out.

  14. Sam says:

    I like the new CB1100, just not enough to buy one, mainly because of the small gas tank and the lack of performance that I enjoy:) The older model’s are selling for around $7,500 in my area:)

    I’ve had 83 motorcycles and have ridden 55 years and currently have a 2014 CTX1300D, a 2016 Suzuki DL650 V-strom and a 2006 Burgman 650, having recently sold my 2012 Triumph Rocket 3 Roadster:)

    I have never, ever heard of a Honda CB750 being fragile in the engine/ gearbox area or having a terrible drive chain. They were state of the art and totally reliable at the time.:)

    I had a brand new CB750 in 1974 and in 1976, a CB750A and I remember replacing the 74’s chain at 18,000 miles just because the new “Oil less” X chains had hit the market.

    Sam

    • bmbktmracer says:

      The CB1100 doesn’t have enough performance, and yet your other 3 bikes have far less. Interesting.

    • MGNorge says:

      Sam: “I have never, ever heard of a Honda CB750 being fragile in the engine/ gearbox area or having a terrible drive chain. They were state of the art and totally reliable at the time.:)”
      The issue with the CB was that chain technology wasn’t prepared to handle the loads heaped upon them. When/if the chain let go it would whip around the countershaft sprocket, often punching a sizable hole in the cases there. The fix was a reinforcement in that area to prevent that from happening. Chains got better quickly from there on.

  15. Gary says:

    Nice looking bike. But there is one retro detail that does nothing for me: spoke wheels. The pragmatist in me wants to be able to patch tubeless tires without wrestling off the tire from the rim. Are cast wheels an option?

  16. Ben says:

    $12K for a naked standard? Good luck.

  17. takehikes says:

    I’d buy it.

    • Tank says:

      I’d buy it too, if I could afford it. A lot of people “would” buy it, the question is, how many people “will” buy it? It’s a beautiful bike, but I think the $12K (more like $13k out the door) price will keep a lot of people on the sideline.

      • steveinsandiego says:

        here in california i’d guess closer to $14K, what with 10% for tax, license, and doc fee tacked onto msrp before freight, then add back freight, “assembly” ($10/hr [$90 hr service charge] highschool kid tightening a few items), and anything else the dealer thinks he can get away with – hey, whatever the market will bear. of course, at the end of the day you may discover two CBXs languishing on each dealership’s floor, creating an altogether different market.

      • todd says:

        Yes. The problem is you can buy a real ’70s-’80s Honda or big Suzuki in great, reliable condition for a couple grand and it won’t depreciate $5000 in a couple years. Meanwhile, you are still out there riding and enjoying the bike and the scenery just as much but without a $12,000 larger hole in your pocket. Seriously, bikes from these vintages make excellent, reliable, economical daily rides – unless you buy the hacked turd of a knackered out bike to save $500.

    • slipjoint says:

      Depends on your market but these sell at a huge discount after a couple of years and are very available. Like any reto bike there are lots of them out there with all the common modifications, low miles and too old to ride anymore owners looking to sell at a further discount.

  18. MGNorge says:

    I was thinking the other day about how bikes from the 70’s and 80’s seemed so colorful, with more variety. Just look at the big, bright red tank on this CB. I am so tired of the gray, black and matt finishes seen today.

  19. WSHart says:

    Other than the too puny tank and tires that belong on a Schwinn or Raleigh, the bike is very, very nice. I could be wrong but as there’s no raised inner lip on the wheels it looks for all the world to be yet another example of a manufacturer not giving a poo about it’s customers. Spoke wheels can be made to run tubeless but for whatever reason these product planners are too cheap. It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen. Flat the front at 65 and the ensuing rapid loss of air through those spoke holes might result in a tank slapper…

    No way can I overlook those wheels. WTF is with these people that feel it’s fine and dandy to put bicycle wheels on a highway capable machine? Would any of you buy a freakin’ car with tubes in the wheels? Honda could’ve done it right with a minimum 5 gallon tank and put some modern tubeless wheels on the bike. Talk about a disservice to people?

    Tubes?! Really?! Some of you will “think” it’s just fine until you’re out in the middle of a nice ride to nowhere and back on a sunny day and you flat and that’s that! Your ride is over. Call a tow truck and wave your friends on as they shouldn’t have to wait for you and your bicycle. Way to go Honda (Harley is just as stupid and CHEAP, as are other manufacturers). Classic looking spoke rims should never run tubes. Never. And they don’t have to. They can be made to run tubeless at the freakin’ factory!

    Stupid Honda.

    • todd says:

      You always bring this up and, frankly, make it out to be more of a problem than it really is. I’ve owned and ridden likely over 100,000 miles on tubed tires and the two flats I had didn’t kill me or strand me any worse than any other problem I’ve ever had. I think the thing that I’ve had more trouble with is broken clutch cables, three in a quarter million miles or so.

      • xootrx says:

        I have agree with WSHart. The scenario he describes happened to me, between Indio and Blythe, Ca, which is the middle of no where. It was a rear tire, not the front, but I did get stranded for hours. I had to call a tow truck with a flatbed on it. When it happened, it was a challenge to keep the bike from going down. I’d taken a bead breaker and spare tube with me, but modern tires are an absolute bear to work with, and I was physically unable to change the tube in almost 4 hours of effort. My current bike has tubeless tires. I had a flat on it in a desert town in New Mexico. No struggling to keep it from going down. In fact I didn’t notice until I parked it at a restaurant. I was able to plug the tire, inflate it with a Slime brand inflator that I carry, and make it home, no worries. Just because it hasn’t happened to you, doesn’t mean it isn’t a concern. For me, no more tube tires.

        • Max says:

          I’ve had a tubeless rear tire deflate quickly and it was an uncontrollable mess as well. I was also reasonably far from home and had no plug kit/compressor with me so I needed a tow too.
          Thing is, on a bike like this CB, I doubt that most people are going to bolt on a trunk and carry around a tool chest in it for what “might” go wrong. Cell phones and tow services are sufficient for all but the most remote places.
          Cars may not use tubes anymore, but I seriously doubt that most drivers have a cloo in the world as to how to plug their tubeless tire either.

          • kyle says:

            “bolt on a trunk…tool chest” HA I could keister everything needed to fix a tubeless flat: Plug kit. C02 cartridge. Lubed up first of course.

            But seriously it fits under any seat out there. Even a sport bike passenger seat.

            Yes WSHart always brings this up, but without our endless repetitive complaining, why would Honda or anyone care.

            I’ve had two flats in 5000 miles of street riding and wish I didn’t have to wait an hour (and ask a friend) to pick me up. Its a crap situation to be in. You guys act like flats are no big deal. They are huge deals. And can be remedied by manufacturers by throwing an extra $50-100 towards tubeless wheelsets.

    • Norm G. says:

      Q: “Would any of you buy a freakin’ car with tubes in the wheels?”

      A: depends, if it’s the missing Aston DB5 i promise NOTHING.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      Bicycles are tubeless now……. At least some are.

      But you sound like you really like tubed tires, so…………

      • Dave says:

        ..and all bicycles with tubeless tires have spoked wheels. It’s not difficult to seal the spoke bed of a rim. Other then the presence of spokes, what indicates that this bike has tubes?

        • Tim C says:

          I am currently dealing with the fun of trying to get new tubeless bicycle tires to seal. It’s apples/oranges technology-wise between m/c and bicycle tubeless.

          PS – stupid sealant goop coming out around some of the spokes argues against “it’s not difficult to seal the spoke bed of a rim”…

          • Dave says:

            Sounds like your rim tape has moved. It’s either not wide enough or it wasn’t stuck down well enough before mounting the tire. I had one like that- took it apart, cleaned the rim bed and applied new tape. Before mounting the TL tire, I used a regular tire (much looser bead fit) and tube on it to set the tape. Worked like a charm.

            The Bontrager rim/strip is the best. No tape=no problems.

    • Paul says:

      Where does it say that the tires are tube type? They look like Dunlop Roadsmart 3’s which are tubeless to the best of my knowledge.

    • mechanicus says:

      I wouldn’t let spoked wheels be a show-stopper – you can easily seal ’em and run tubeless. Not a biggie. I’ve done it on several custom builds. I like the look, but have been stranded by tubes – so I’m with you, but not so militant about it.

  20. Aussie mike says:

    Test rode the CB1100 in Oz about 5 years ago. It came with a 14.6 litre tank which limited its touring range. That was the only reason for not buying it. If this new model comes to Oz, I will purchase one. It now comes with a seamless 17 litre fuel tank & twin exhausts. IMO it is a gorgeous machine. Power is adequate (i used to own a XJR1300) and linear. It’s a very user friendly bike. The power is not intimidating (i’m 66yo). It handles and brakes well. Beautifully finished. BTW it is no racer. Younger riders may find it a bit too refined or even bland. For an old fart like me, it is best described as a “gentleman’s express”. My only criticism of this bike is it could do with more power. Since the wheels are spoked, are the tyres tubed or tubeless?

  21. bmbktmracer says:

    I’m going to start practicing my painting skills. I’d love to do this one up in the Planet Blue color scheme from ??? 1975.

  22. Fastship says:

    Am I attractected to this 70/80’s UJM tribute bike becuase of its competence or is it simply a longing for lost youth? 🙁

    • Neal says:

      Probably the lost youth.

    • slipjoint says:

      That beautiful girl you hooked up with at the beach in August 1973 is a 180 lb grandma now. You can still buy the bike, perform a combover prior to putting you helmet on and you are born to be wild once again, until you take your helmet off.

    • mickey says:

      LOL the retro style bikes are very competent motorcycles, good handling, great brakes, fuel injection, great electronic systems, good tires, reliable and relatively comfortable. Will they compete on a twisty road with a super sport bike? No, but that doesn’t make them incompetent motorcycles. For 99 out of 100 riders, these will be better bikes than the riders talent.

  23. Mark says:

    I used to own both CB400F and a CB900F. These were among my favorite bikes. This bike captures the feel, but has a personality all it’s own. BEAUTIFUL! I want one. The dilemma is that I want a Thruxton 1200 too.

    • bmbktmracer says:

      Without money, choices are merely apples at the top of the tree. hahaha

    • Neil says:

      That Thruxton 1200 is very nice indeed.

    • Andrew says:

      I have both the CB1100 and ThruxtonR 1200. There is no comparison, the Thrux all the way. CB is lovely, but the Thrux is just magnificent. Lighter, easier to handle and much more fun. And not at all uncomfortable if you are even remotely fit.

  24. robert says:

    I always liked this bike but after I sat on one holy crap this thing weighs a ton and is very expensive and if your making a tribute to the original CB750 shouldn’t it be a 750 and have four pipes-I was working for a Honda dealer when the 1969 CB750 came out that was really something until it started breaking chains and putting large holes in those nice sand cast engine cases-I got so good at it I could change a set in 8 hours

    • Mark says:

      Golly Robert, Honda can’t do anything right!

    • Neil says:

      This bike is about just taking out and riding for the sake of riding. It’s about the feel and the sound of an air cooled motor and the effortless torque of a large inline as opposed to the lack thereof in a small inline. Torque = relax and take your time. Listen to the motor, running and cooling down. My 750 was busy. It didn’t have the torque this bike has. If we want smaller we can buy the Triumph 900s. 50HP. Nice and light. But no dealers most places.

    • JohnB says:

      Yes, I had a 1969. Went through 12 drive chains in 18,000 miles. The bike was recalled to install a ‘slipper’ in front of the drive sprocket. The installation was done at Rocky’s in London Ontario in September 1970. Interestingly the last chain I put on the bike was from an International Harvester dealer in Port Elgin, Ontario. My dad suggested using the IH bulk chain because, in his observation, farmers were not good at lubricating things. This worked – that chain had about 4000 miles on it when I traded the bike. The prior chain from Honda had lasted only 95 miles.

  25. David M says:

    I had a 1974 CB750 back in 1976 and did a cross country trip on it. This really makes me homesick. Please paint those side covers to match the tank. But, before you do, please put on a faux oil filler cap. Just because…

  26. billy says:

    Nice bike.

    Honda dealers need to offer test rides to qualified individuals. That’s how you sell bikes.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      Agree. They won’t do it, tough. Or maybe they will. Kawasaki seems to be coming around.

      Getting bikes into rental fleets would be even better. Indian seems to have done well by getting rental bikes under the ass of lifelong Harley riders who would otherwise never have had the option to ride one.

      In Europe, the big4 do both. Test rides and rental availability. More than anyone else, a brand like Honda, which focuses more on the overall package than on spec sheet fireworks, would benefit from more riders getting to experience their bikes. There’s no way the under powered and overweight sounding NC series, would have become the runaway success it has been in Europe, if people had not been able to experience the bikes for themselves.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      That is interesting. I haven’t been to a motorcycle dealership of any brand that didn’t offer test rides. I can recall a few that wouldn’t let people ride the sport bikes for understandable reasons, but “normal” bikes? How does a dealership sell bikes without test rides?

  27. Tim C says:

    I’m getting one based on the gauges alone.

  28. VLJ says:

    I swear, it’s like the moto gods are conspiring to convince me to buy this bike. It’s well past the point now of seeming like a mere coincidence.

    Dirck, since I am unable to find a Honda dealer up here in NoCal that offers test rides on the CB1100, please answer just one specific question for me regarding this bike: How is the I4 buzz at real freeway speeds? You briefly touched on that topic with this comment…

    “Highway cruising in sixth gear is effortless, with the analog tach needle never exceeding a zone where torque is near its peak, and vibrations are kept in check.”

    …but will you please expand on the vibration issue a bit more? At 75-80 mph (typical California freeway speeds), how does the buzz compare to that of a 2017 Ninja 1000, or an XSR900, or a Bonneville T120?

    I know this bike is considered to be relatively underpowered and slow for a modern 1140cc I-4 Honda, and potential buyers should either accept and embrace this basic fact or choose something else. What I don’t know is whether the I-4 buzz that is so well controlled at lower speeds is actually quite a bit more prevalent and downright bothersome on extended 75-80-mph freeway trips, which I would most certainly want to do with this bike. Nearly every review to date focuses only on the CB’s slower-speeds characteristics. I’ve yet to read any descriptions of how the motor feels at higher touring speeds.

    Please advise.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      In my experience, no inline 4 is perfectly smooth at highway speeds, but this bike is pretty smooth up to 6,500rpm or so. With a tall 6th gear, you can cruise at freeway speeds without needing to get into the buzzie part of the powerband (above 7,000rpm). I don’t think it would bother you.

      • mickey says:

        On this bike, at 80 mph you are running 3750 rpms. I have ridden mine from Ohio to Arkansas (12 hours 698 miles) with only stops for gas and to North Carolina twice (9 hours 450 miles each way) with gas stops and one stop for lunch at a fast food place.

        On the freeway running 75-80 mph I average 48 mpg. On the 2 lane country back roads I ride daily at 45-60 mph I average 54 mpg and have gotten as high as 62 mpg. With the 4.6 gallon tank the range is from 220-250 miles.

        After riding my ST 1300 for a few days, and then getting on the CB for a spin, the CB feels like a super moto, so light and nimble. It’s weight is disguised very well and not felt except when pushing it out of the garage backwards.

        • VLJ says:

          mickey, my only worry where your experiences are concerned is you say you rarely even hit 3500 rpm, so I doubt you’re doing any extended droning at 80 mph. You usually describe tooling along at only 40-60 mph on smooth, scenic back roads—always trying to keep it within posted speed limits, which I just can’t do—or a bit faster on the freeway, but not 75-80 mph.

          I know the bike is smooth at your speeds. Nearly everyone agrees that it’s remarkably smooth at those super-low rpm; not just for an I-4, but for anything. It’s supposed to be a magic carpet ride at those “stately” speeds mentioned by Dirck.

          I just don’t know that I would ever go that slow, and definitely not on the freeway.

          A large part of why I’m considering the swap is to have a more serene, relaxing bike for long trips, which, in this part of California, always includes a lot of extended freeway time. That being the case, I want the bike’s comfort ceiling to extend well beyond 70 mph.

          That’s my only worry with the CB1100, that it simply won’t be happy anywhere above 70 mph.

          • mickey says:

            I hear what you are saying VLJ and if you remember I opined that I didn’t think this or the T120 would make you happy. This is close to 90 hp and redlines at 8500. The T- 120 has 70 hp and redlines at what 5500? I don’t see either of them satisfying you need for speed. There is no top end hit on either of them. Just a torque wave that you shift early on and ride.

            One point…85 on most of our freeways here can get you a Reckless Op ticket (speed limit +20). A lot of our freeways are posted at 65 (74 will get you pulled over by OHP). We do have some 70 mph speed limits outside of city borders. On back roads 45-55 is the limit and 62-64 will get you pulled over. Ya takes your chances.

            Every little town has their own leos, plus County Sheriffs in all 88 counties, plus OSHP. It just isn’t worth it to me to test them too much. Tickets and points are expensive.

            You really need to test ride one and see for yourself.

          • VLJ says:

            “You really need to test ride one and see for yourself.”

            Truer words were never spoken.

            As you know, however, Honda is the only brand around here that doesn’t offer test rides, except for quarterly Demo Days, and even then they don’t include sportbikes, which, for some silly reason, covers the CB1100.

            Crazy.

            As for the speed limits and all that, we have those here too, but almost no one on sportbikes or sport-tourers follows them, and certainly not on the really good back roads. Sticking to a posted 35 mph speed limit (or even 55 mph) on a perfect twisty road in the canyons just isn’t going to happen, not if you’re on something that offers any performance at all.

            Same holds true on the freeways. Anyone sticking to the speed limit around here had better be in the far right lane, otherwise he’s going to get dirty looks from everyone blowing right on by.

      • MG3 says:

        At least with this chain driven bike you have the option to go with a smaller rear sprocket. Buy the bike then change the sprocket after you have had a chance to get really familiar with the whole package. That would reduce rpms at freeway speeds. The bike is torque heavy, so it can handle a higher ratio.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          The bike is already pretty slow and gearing a little tall. No way I would stretch the gearing even taller. The first thing I would do if I owned this bike would be to drop a tooth on the front sprocket.

          • Dirck Edge says:

            FYI – the new EX makes roughly 5 more horsepower (at the back wheel) than the pre-2017 bikes, and it does feel a bit quicker.

          • VLJ says:

            I keep hearing that about the new ’17, that it makes a bit more power and feels a bit snappier than the last version.

            I definitely wouldn’t want to risk making it buzzier on the freeway by dropping any teeth on the front sprocket. Rather, if need be, I would get the ECU reflashed to remove all the limiters, and I’d probably do whatever else I could (slip-on pipe, airbox, Power Commander) to let it breathe more naturally.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I’ve yet to read any descriptions of how the motor feels at higher touring speeds.”

      cue Mickey stage left, every ride he goes WTFO.

      • mickey says:

        LOL I don’t tour at the speeds VLJ does (apparently). 85 mph is about my max and there are NO vibes at that speed. In sixth that’s 4000 rpms. 90 would still be under 5000 rpms. Can’t tell you about 100+.This is an unfaired bike. Anything over 75 mph gets uncomfortable after a short time for me. Dirck says the vibes can be felt at 6500 rpms.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          I never noticed any vibes at my higher than average highway clip in top gear either, which is why I wouldn’t hesitate in the least to drop the gearing.

        • VLJ says:

          “LOL I don’t tour at the speeds VLJ does (apparently). 85 mph is about my max and there are NO vibes at that speed.”

          Now THAT’S what I want to hear!

          I wouldn’t average 85 mph unless I was on I-5 heading to L.A. I did that on my VFR and set the throttle lock at 130 mph through much of the truly stinky, barren valley—damn, Kettleman and its eight bazillion cows reek to high heaven—and on my ST1300 I made it to the San Fernando Valley from Sacramento in three and half hours.

          Anyway, I want to be able to drone comfortably at 75-80 mph, with enough motor left to zip up to 100 for short stints when necessary.

          That’s about it. Anything over 100 is wasted on me now, but I want full capability below 100.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I know this bike is considered to be relatively underpowered and slow for a modern 1140cc I-4 Honda, and potential buyers should either accept and embrace this basic fact or…”

      …sort a GT2860.

      https://tinyurl.com/ydx6u2k8

    • Doc says:

      Hi VLJ. Listen to the MOTO GODS! Saw your post on the 1100 forum also. Just buy the Honda and save yourself some stress. And think about this. Compared to the three bikes you mentioned above, this bike will age so much better in my opinion. It is a timeless design.

      • VLJ says:

        It should certainly age better than the Ninja 1000, and, to a lesser degree, the sorta-retro XSR900, but the T120 already looks older than the CB1100 so the Triumph ought to age every bit as gracefully as the Honda. In terms of timeless design, the T120 and CB1100 both have it covered.

  29. todd says:

    This sure is a nice bike. I can’t help but thinking they could release a smaller/lighter, more nimble CB550 or 650 along the same lines. This would have all the pluses that this bike has but with the addition of feeling more nimble and sportier for those of us that like classic styling but still like to wick up the pace in the canyons. I’m not talking about handling to give a Duke a run for its money, just something lighter and more nimble than this – pretty much what the CB400F was in the day to the CB750.

    • Tank says:

      I agree. I don’t need 1100cc’s (or the extra weight) to have fun.

    • Neil says:

      You can race thru the canyons on a CBR500R. YouTube Schaaf in Austria on his CB500F. He rides plenty fast and it’s nice and light.

    • Jim says:

      The problem for Honda is that the cost to produce a 550 or 650 is about the same as producing the 1100. If the 1100 costs ~$13000, how much would people pay for a 650?

      My guess for a 650 to be profitable for Honda it would need to sell for ~$10,000, but the buyer would expect it for $8000.

  30. Doc says:

    Reading this story gave me the urge to get one to keep my ’13 company down in the garage. Still trying to figure out why the non matching color side covers are such a big deal. I would like to see the RS model come to the US with a Super Sport designation. Or maybe a Spencer Replica. Silver and blue. Love those SS models.

  31. Grover says:

    Just needs a milk crate bungeed to the back and you’re good to go! 1969 all over again.

  32. kyle says:

    Dear Honda,

    Please release a blacked out version for 2018, identical to your 2014 version (But with ABS darn it) so I can sell my new Triumph T100 Black.

  33. beasty says:

    This is a good looking machine. My only nit to pick is I wish the footpegs were in the same position as the older Honda’s that this is emulating.

  34. MGNorge says:

    For those of us tainted by the initial blast and appeal of the original, this is a very attractive bike. Attractive even beyond its looks!

  35. ApriliaRST says:

    >> The new CB1100 EX…. features a new fuel tank without seams…

    Oh, my God!! Must be Harley’s patent on seamless gas tanks ran out! Forty years and ONE Japanese manufacturer has caught on.

    • Paul says:

      Problem is that in order to get that Harley seamless tank you have to keep the old crate that it comes with.

  36. RD350 says:

    That’s good looking. And improved forks! Nice job Honda.

  37. Dino says:

    Makes me want to by one, paint the side covers to match, and find an old Vetter fairing! Seriously, just an old fashioned back rest with luggage rack would complete the look and function. I think i will have to plunk on down to my Honda dealer..

    • Gham says:

      Inexpensive 1/4 fairing with an MRA adjustable X-creen works great.Add a throttle lock and soft bags with the luggage rack,good to go!

  38. Gham says:

    It has about the same performance as my 1982 CB900F,the ergonomics are slightly better and weighs around 35-40 lbs less.The 18’s front and rear would make it easier to find suitable tires and it looks great.The shocks might limit comfort for two-up light touring but solo would be fine with a shield.Nice job Honda.

  39. Tom R says:

    The flat seat is almost reason enough alone to purchase this bike.

  40. bmbktmracer says:

    I think the author did an excellent job of evaluating this Honda for what it is, not what people think it should be. It sounds like a really nice motorcycle and strikes me as a really nice “2nd” bike that one would keep for a good long time.

  41. falcodoug says:

    If I was looking for a classic style bike this would be it.

  42. Jdilpkle says:

    That’s a real looker. I think a side cover painted to match the tank would be about perfect. It brings back memories for sure. A vintage Kerker 4 into 1 would be sweet. I’m so glad they were able to keep it air-cooled as opposed to trying to hide or disguise a radiator.

    • Provologna says:

      Great point! That, and the real air cooling fins…These two items give the Honda a distinct advantage over the coming retro Kawasaki 900.

      Beyond looks, I suspect in every performance comparison except for off-idle power, the Kawi likely kills the Honda. We’ll know in a couple months.

      Gotta admit this latest 1100 looks extremely sweet. Sitting on a new ’13 at the dealer, it felt both heavy overall and to carry a lot of weight up high.

      • Techuser says:

        Should be just like the old days when the Z900RS comes out shortly. A performance alternative to the CB.

        One nitpick with the article: shouldn’t a shorter stroke allow for higher rpm ? Harelys have long stroke motors with very low red lines.