Honda CB1100EX ‘The harder you push the CB the bet­ter it gets’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Road Test -

A modern retro done right

The Honda CB1100EX is a bike that can be summed up in a sin­gle word – qual­ity. Every­thing about this ma­chine demon­strates what Honda does best, and that is pro­duce a bike that ex­udes a real feel­ing of pre­ci­sion, detail and not a hint of penny-pinch­ing. So deep is the chrome, so glossy the paint and so clean the over­all look, you would be for­given for think­ing the 2017 CB1100 EX was an old 1970s CB that had been through a no-ex­pense-spared restora­tion. It re­ally is that well built (aside from the ir­ri­tat­ingly glar­ingly ob­vi­ous throt­tle po­si­tion sen­sor).

Where the Bon­nie dis­ap­points once on the open road, the CB just keeps on get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter thanks mainly to a gen­uinely sur­pris­ing chas­sis. It may have skinny retro size 18in wheels front and rear, but they suit the bike per­fectly and give it a feel­ing of agility in the bends. Where the Bon­nie is slug­gish and un­re­spon­sive, the harder you push the CB the bet­ter it gets and the more im­pres­sive it be­comes. How­ever, while a well set up chas­sis cer­tainly plays its part in this im­pres­sion, I reckon the new Showa Dual Bend­ing Valve forks de­serve much of the credit as they com­bine with the Showa shocks to de­liver a won­der­ful ride qual­ity.

Where bumps will have you kicked out of the seat on the Bon­nie and BMW, the Honda’s Showa sus­pen­sion seems to be able to soak up every­thing with­out be­ing too wal­lowy. You feel the bump be­ing cush­ioned and then gen­tly dis­si­pated away with min­i­mal fuss and max­i­mum com­fort. It’s very im­pres­sive and a mas­sive im­prove­ment on the old EX model. But there are a few of the old bike’s foibles that re­main.

The Honda’s air-cooled in­line four is a strange en­gine as, while it does ab­so­lutely noth­ing wrong and de­liv­ers a smooth and re­fined ride with some lovely char­ac­ter traits such as a nice ping while cool­ing and off-beat ex­haust note, it has to be said it lacks a bit of sparkle, es­pe­cially when com­pared to the BMW’S naughty boxer. But in some ways that is exactly what it should do if it is be­ing his­tor­i­cally au­then­tic.

The orig­i­nal CB ar­rived at a point when rid­ers were cry­ing out for a smooth, re­laxed, re­li­able and gutsy in­line four rather than an un­re­li­able bone-shak­ing Bri­tish sin­gle or twin and that was its major sell­ing point. In a modern con­text, the 2017 CB1100 EX repli­cates this by of­fer­ing a has­sle­free and smooth mo­tor in a beau­ti­fully bal­anced chas­sis and then wrap­ping it all up in a bike that looks and feels pure qual­ity, which means it is fully in keep­ing with Honda’s his­tory both in terms of styling and char­ac­ter.

The CB al­most looks like a 70s sur­vivor that’s had a makeover Prop­erly re­fined but it eggs you on to push harder

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.