HONDA CBR1100XX SUPER BLACKBIRD (1997-2005) Review

Published: 23 November 2006

"Sensible and utterly insane in one nicely presented Honda package"

Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Side view

"Sensible and utterly insane in one nicely presented Honda package"

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

The Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird is a useable, comfortable, tidy handling sports tourer but also a ballistic power-house that used to hold the record as the fastest production motorcycle. The Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird is sensible and utterly insane in one nicely presented Honda package. One of the best all-round motorcycles out there. Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird rivals are plentiful but none match this proven motorcycle.

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

Neutral and stable – but there’s no getting away from the fact the Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird weighs 223kg. The latest sports bikes come in under 170kg so on tight roads the Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird may get left behind a little. Front and rear brakes are linked – it’s an effective system that works well in the wet but experts may dislike it and overhauls are costly.

Engine 4 out of 5

The Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird's in-line four is a conventional layout but it works well producing acceptable low down power, muscular midrange and a top end rush that gobbles up any straight in seconds. Twin balance shafts mean it’s so smooth it can be rigid mounted making the Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird lighter and stiffer overall. Problems with the Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird are almost non-existent even at huge mileages. 

Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5

The Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird's build quality is better than pretty much anything out there on two wheels. Some Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbirds get pressed into service as long distance, year round commuters and show few signs except tatty fork leg lowers. The Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird's reliability is superb too. Cam chain tensioners and regulator rectifiers can fail – like almost every Honda four.

Insurance, running costs & value 3 out of 5

Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbirds hold their value extremely well – whether that’s good or bad depends how old a model you’re thinking of buying. More glamorous rivals like the Suzuki Hayabusa and Kawasaki ZX-12R fetch little more – the Kawasaki ZZR1200 is cheaper year for year.
Older models can still be priced very high and newer ones represent better value.
Find a Honda Blackbird for sale.

Insurance group: 16 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

The Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird was a range topper in its day, meaning it’s reasonably well spec’d up. Comfort’s pretty good although the bars have to be quite low due to the high top speed. Some Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird owners boost low speed comfort with bar risers, lifting them about an inch. Many Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird owners add a double bubble screen too for increased wind protection.

Owners' Reviews

52 owners have reviewed their HONDA CBR1100XX SUPER BLACKBIRD (1997-2005) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your HONDA CBR1100XX SUPER BLACKBIRD (1997-2005)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.8 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.6 out of 5
Engine 4.9 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.9 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.6 out of 5
Equipment 4.2 out of 5
5 out of 5

Best buy of my life.

08 June 2016 by Leif

A bulletproof engine, housed in a solid and very well made frame. The bike may look dated next to the latest Sports Machine but to be really honest I don't like the look of them with their odd shaped exhaust systems and spindly seats. The power is... Read more phenomenal; this is not a bike for beginners.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
No matter what others say, the CBS on the Blackbird are very good. They have gotten me out of a tight spot on a greasy road. If you want independent brakes get a sports bike. This system will stop me, the missus and luggage on a wet road.
Engine
3 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Every bolt and nut is engineered to the highest standards. No soft metals like the manifold screws in the Hayabusa.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
Tyres and fuel economy are obviously down to how you twist your throttle.
Equipment
5 out of 5
Bulletproof. A genuine workhorse that wont let you down, as long as you service her regularly.
Buying experience

I bought mine from a dealer in Manchester (Hunts) and they were very accommodating. 3 guys from around the country came to buy this bike the day i got her. She had carbon fiber fittings, air intake grills, frame bungs, Blue Flame cans, Metzler tires and only 6000 miles on the clock on a 1999 Bird. To top it all off it was the injection version with the digital dash. needless to say i signed the paperwork and the 3 guy were kicking themselves because they were dithering.

5 out of 5

Honda Flagship - Famous For Good Reason

08 May 2016 by Steve Mitchell

No bike is perfect, but the niggles are so small on the Blackbird it might as well be. The 'negatives' are basically down to marginally higher insurance, low bars (somewhat fixable), limited frame slider options, and narrow mirrors that show as much... Read more elbow as traffic (somewhat fixable with SW Motech extender blocks). My red '99, the first year with the fuel-injection, ram-air, and bigger tank, is beyond words - but here are a lot of them, anyway. I know that nearly everybody who posts on these sites is in love with their bikes, but the XX deserves all its praise. Full stop. This is a total precision machine with religious-experience power. And it's built like a tank. Reliability is legend. Birds are running around Europe with 200K plus on them. You can even change the oil and filter without taking the fairing panels off - something you don't find on most high tech bikes. Chain adjust is easy too. And it has a centre stand, like every chain bike should! Heck, make that any bike chain or not!! I have had a few powerful motorcycles in my day but my Blackbird freaks me right out. The acceleration is ungodly. But it's also a total pussycat if you want to ride it like that, no need to rev the snot out of it. The huge torque is just there, delicious and smooth. Six gear is near useless in my opinion because of the huge twist. I can bog this thing down to 1500 rpm around city corners and it just chugs on. The handling too is fantastic. It has a very low centre of gravity, so it moves around very well in city traffic, and it is very balanced and neutral in sport riding too. Bike is just stable and neutral everywhere. Ride it a while and it feels light as a feather, even if you're coming from a lighter bike. The suspension is zero-adjustable upfront, and barely-adjustable out back, but it doesn't matter, it works very well. Smooth sophisticated ride with very good bump absorption. have my rear shock cranked up and the bike is rock stable at any speed. The linked brakes are great, though not ABS. I've had a few nearly all-out stops and I don't know what you'd have to do to lock up its wheels. Maybe hit ice or road sand. Very stable and strong braking. I have a Yoshimura RS3 full exhaust system on it with dB killer in and it sounds incredible. Just the right loudness. But I'm sure stock is great too, nice and stealthy. In the big city, on the freeway, in mountains, even gravel!, I've done it all with this bike. It is just Honda classy competence all around. The only reason I haven't given it 4 stars on comfort is because I find the bars low even with my VFR bars fix. Eventually I'm going to sell and go to something more upright like an ST1300/FJR/Concours or even back to a Bandit/ZRX/FZ1 sport standard, but let me tell you it's going to break my heart to sell this thing. If I can find a wife-winning argument to keep it and also have something more upright too, I'll make it! I improved the ergos a lot by putting OEM Honda VFR 800 VTEC (2002-20012) clipons on it. They slip right into the stock mounts and take up all the cable slack, but they work. That inch or so rise and pull back makes a huge difference in comfort. Feel close to my old Katana/GSX750F or VFR ergos after that change. Very comfy for sport touring. Still, a full day in the saddle leaves me a bit cramped up. But I love every minute on this bike. And Blackbirds are cheap as hell right now because the years have gone by. But they are not 'old tech'...with ABS and maybe ride by wire and traction control to satisfy the propeller heads, Honda could roll these out tomorrow and people would buy them! Hell, I'd buy it re-issued at '99 specs! They got it so right back then! Blackbirds were way ahead of their time and their fantastic reputation is 100% earned. Get one, you will love it!

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Suspension is barely adjustable but it's quality. This is hyper-sports touring, so its softness is right for that. Brakes are great. Found the Honda OEM pads really good actually. Like them better than EBC, but maybe that's me. It's very comfortable, but the bars are low and that will take its toll on tour unless you raise them. The stock seat is pretty good, but I get monkey butt at the end of a long day. A Corbin, Sargent, etc probably a good investment.
Engine
5 out of 5
Hard to imagine anything smoother, more powerful, and more useable at every point on the rev range. Huge torque, and the top end is truly frightening.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
100K kms on mine and no sign of problems.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
I've found tire wear to be very good especially for a heavy torque monster like this. I run Metzeler Roadtec Z8s.
Equipment
4 out of 5
My favourite feature on this bike is the big tank. On tour, the Bird gets good fuel econ. But hooning it up around town, or stuck in traffic, it's a bit thirsty. The 24L tank helps both ways. ABS wasn't a given on 1999 motorcycles even one this sophisticated but the CBS (linked system) is very good though and makes braking pretty stable. The Nissin calipers are good too. The other great thing about this bike is the low centre of gravity. Wish my earlier Bandits had that. Loved them to bits, but they were much more toppy. The integrated front signals are nice too, and the headlight is incredibly bright. I've lit up deer eyes at about 200 ft even on low beam!
Buying experience

Got mine used for a song. $3000 Canadian dollars. Don't know what that is in GBP.

5 out of 5

as the saying goes don't make them like this anymore

06 March 2016 by Nige

Highly recommend the bird, easy to ride, clutch smooth (only usual basket noise, softens with higher grade oil.) goes round corners on rails. Recent knee ops may stop me from ownership with the weight, I know take me a long time to find a bike like... Read more the blackbird.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
takes a while to get used to the dual brakes, I'm 5.11 mid forties and don't feel any aching long or short journeys
Engine
5 out of 5
smoothest I have ridden
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Excellent quality, never let me down. Previous owner used it for commuting, apart from tatty looking forks it scrubs up really well
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
acf50 and my old school mechanic keeps it tip top
Equipment
5 out of 5
no touring kit on it, purchased with bridgestones, no complaints, first time for me as I always used 2cts
Buying experience

Bought from a used dealer £2700, pre reg and 13 year ownership, 24k miles, had been used for commuting took me a day to clean years of grime off. Still looks good for a 15 year old commuter.

4 out of 5

blackbird - 1st big bike, am i crazy?

30 December 2015 by paul purewal

This is an amazing bike, a pleasure on the motorways and A roads. It is my first big bike and had fun filtering and using as my day to day commute. It is a top quality bike built to last, 13 years old and not a spot of rust or mark on it. Cant say... Read more the same for some other brands after 1 -2 years on the road, It has been given a lot of tlc. My own criticism is that it weighs a ton when moving it around and less then frugal. But I am glad that I got it, but need something a little more frugal for my day to day. Starts on the button with Honda reliability and more power then I will ever need to ask. Just keep giving and bringing a smile to my face.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
spot on
Engine
5 out of 5
doesnt get much better
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
3 out of 5
My mechanic is not cheap. But next service i might do myself and looking at 50 pounds all in.
Equipment
4 out of 5
gear indicator might be helpful and a bigger screen.
5 out of 5

21 December 2015 by birdlover

Due to it's power, reliability, and HUGE gas tank I can't find another bike to replace it. Sure there may be bikes that have a higher top end, but nobody leaves a bird in the dust off the line. And those faster bikes??? They can pass everything BUT a... Read more gas station. Thirty-nine mpg with a range of over 225 miles? Why Honda stopped developing this bike is a mystery.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Long rides up to 600 miles are great, after than you need some sleep
Engine
5 out of 5
In 5 years and 60,000 miles not one engine problem.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Solid as a rock.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Typical Honda... brakes, tires, battery, bulbs, one stator/rectifier. From 1999 to 2016? Not too bad.
Equipment
5 out of 5
BIG tank, quiet, great looking
4 out of 5

18 November 2015 by Dave Ross

Fantastic engine, good handling, handles two up and panniers top box with ease. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Don't notice pillion and luggage but need break after 150 mles
Engine
5 out of 5
Like the old saying 'Walk softly but carry a big stick'
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Just press the starter and go!
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
Basic compared to modern bikes, Givi rack and panniers, Michelin Pilot rd3 excellent
Buying experience

Dealer, £6.4k nearly 5 years ago used

5 out of 5

10 November 2015 by boomboom

Unbelievable bike, I'd recommend this bike to anyone who's serious about bikes or touring, pound for pound more smiles per miles than any other bike, awesome bike! Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
Never ending power, smooth, with low down grunt, power house of a engine,
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
exceptionally well built, what you'd expect from Honda, Quality built bike!
Value & Running Costs
3 out of 5
Service the bike myself...
Equipment
4 out of 5
Love the old style clocks,
Buying experience

Bought mine privately, was stood for 18 months, paid £400.00 including in the price was Givi luggage, "BARGAIN"

5 out of 5

Best Bike Ever Made

21 June 2015 by Paul CBR XX

On my 2nd bird, the 1st was an injection model, my latest is a carby. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Handles her weight extremely well, super planted through corners. Inspires confidence. It's really nonsense of MCN comparing the bird to a fireblade.
Engine
5 out of 5
Storming performance, dead easy to ride and a real pussycat, until you decide to pin the throttle. It then turns into an absolute beast. Be warned though, if you do decide to give it some stick just keep an eye on your speedo. Lovely, silky smooth power delivery. I've found that the carb version seems more raw power than the injection, which is exactly how I like it.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Apart from having to change the CCT, never had a problem. Build quality is second- to-none. My 1998 bike looks like it has just come out of the showroom.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Easy to service, ignore the Haynes manual and just remove the tank & airbox to get at the plugs, the Haynes tells you to remove the radiator and half the front end to get at them. Also, avoid using K&N air filters in the carb version, unless you plan to rejet the carbs. Seafoam fuel treatment is your friend, especially if you store the bike during winter.. Quite good on fuel, depending how you ride obviously.
Equipment
5 out of 5
My preferences are Doube bubble screen, Pilot Road 3 tyres, SBS sintered pads. Some fit bar risers and foot peg lowering kit. Best place for spares and modifications are: Jaws Blackbirds and David Silver Spares.
5 out of 5

The best all rounder i've ever owned!

20 June 2015 by Achmed The Dead Terrorist

After over 30yrs riding bikes, I can honestly say this is the best all rounder i've ever owned and does everything superbly! She's done 48k and doesn't miss a beat. She's an exact replica of the 25th Anniversary bike with the Penske shock,LSL... Read more goodies etc and handles brilliantly for such a heavy bike and the lovely howl from the full Akrapovic?? Oh yeah!! :) Honda...you need to bring out a new model for 2016 if you dare! ...'cause you'll have to go a long way to even equal this!!

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Short or long distance, I'm never uncomfortable. If i wanted a bit more padding i could get a new seat, but the standard one is adequate. Bar risers are a must imho and the Penske shock is excellent. Fork oil changed last service and from slow pootling, to balls out lunacy, makes no difference; the 'Bird' takes it all in her stride with ease and never feels out of shape- if only the same could be said for the rider! Lol. Only gripe is that even after a caliper rebuild/fluid and braided hoses the brakes are a little spongy and take a bit to bring the speed down if i'm being 'a bit frisky'. That said, maybe a new master cylinder/discs could well improve things and they're not that bad.
Engine
5 out of 5
If like me you're lazy, just open up the throttle in top gear at low revs and you'll have a more than reasonable amount of grunt to overtake and make progress. However, give her the beans through the rev range and expect your neck muscles to get a good workout, along with whatever else you're hanging on with and if like me you've got an Akrapovic on there,you'll be doing it more often,simply for that beautiful soundtrack! :)
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
So far,apart from regular servicing, (about which,i'm a bit anal, Lol) no issues at all! Just the usual Honda 'grumble' from the clutch basket which makes no difference.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
Honda parts are never cheap and if you wanna pay peanuts, you'll get monkeys! My mechanic is reasonable and always does an excellent, thorough job. It's a heavy bike and given my addiction to the exhaust note, fuel consumption is about as good as i can expect - 30-35ish
Equipment
4 out of 5
Had Pirelli Corsa tyres on when i bought it...great tyres, excellent feel and grip,but costly on such a heavy bike and not recommended unless you mind changing tyres regularly. Battlax 020's ok,but tend to square off towards the end. Not tried 023's, currently on Pirelli GT's. Quick to warm up, good grip wet/dry but more pressure sensitive than the others. Not as quick steering as the corsas, but so far so good. Happy with them.
Buying experience

Private...Good price considering all the extras she's got, being an exact replica of the Honda 50th anniversary V&M Bike, of which only 25 originals were made. Only thing she hasn't got is the 'tweaked/bored' V&M engine,but she still gets plenty of attention and of course i tell everyone it's not original. Ahum.... ;)

5 out of 5

Greatest bike ever.

27 May 2015 by Mark Van Crombrugge

With 3 cases it's as comfortable for touring as a BMW at low revs but so much power at high revs it will blow your mind. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
You can ride this bike forever.
Engine
5 out of 5
At high revs it becomes dangerous for a non-experienced rider because of the sheer power.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Standard maintenance and you can put it in your will for future generations.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
A GPS would be welcome.
Buying experience

Bought second hand with 9.000Km for half the price of a new one.

Read all 52 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1997
Year discontinued 2005
Original price £8,650
Used price £2,500 to £5,000
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 16 of 17
Annual road tax £82
Annual service cost £170
Performance
Max power 164 bhp
Max torque 88 ft-lb
Top speed 176 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 10.3 secs
Average fuel consumption 36 mpg
Tank range 180 miles
Specification
Engine size 1137cc
Engine type 16v in-line four, 6 gears
Frame type Aluminium beam
Fuel capacity 23 litres
Seat height 810mm
Bike weight 223kg
Front suspension None
Rear suspension Preload, rebound, compression
Front brake Twin 310mm discs
Rear brake 256mm disc
Front tyre size 120/60 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

1997: Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird launched.
1998: Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird gets modified cooling system.
1999: Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird gets major re-vamp, including fuel injection, bigger fuel tank, HISS and more.
2001: Catalytic converted added to Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird, new instrument panel, taller screen.

Other versions

1997-99 Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird had carbs, not fuel injection

Photo Gallery

  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Instruments
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird motorcycle review - Riding
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