This quiet contender might just be the most genuine retro of the year. Where the CB1100 RS is a new model, the EX is a subtle upgrade of the existing machine. Aimed more at the traditional retro market, it gains the same larger tank as the RS as well as its slipper clutch, styling alterations, more chrome and stainless steel detailing.
However, where the RS has 17in wheels and radial brakes, the EX packs conventional fourpiston brakes and 18in spoke wheels. And for me this makes it the better bike.
Where the more expensive RS is trying slightly against its will to be a café racer, the EX is what Honda does best – a steady-away retro that looks good, has wonderful details and rides beautifully.
The new Showa forks are fairly soft, but the quality of their ride is impressive and the EX glides over bumps. The seat is huge and padded in such a way that pillions will love it (and has inbuilt grab rails and even bungee hooks) and the motor suits relaxed riding perfectly while retaining a bit of spirit that is lacking in the slightly lacklustre Bonneville T120.
And, for my money, it handles better than the Bonnie as the Honda’s matching 18in wheels don’t give that disconnect you get from the Triumph’s missmatched 17in rear and 18in front wheels. If the sun is out and you want a carefree ride on a greatlooking retro, there aren’t many better options currently on the market than the CB1100 EX.
The EX offers simple retro class without trying too hard
The clocks ooze old-school cool
Lovely four-into-two pipes
Twin shocks and lashings of chrome