The riding position is completely natural and perfect roadster style – Honda has clearly spent time on the ergonomics. Those wide-ish chrome bars combined with the skinny, 18-inch front wheel adds up to ultra-light, dainty even steering perfect for flicking between traffic. Out of town the CB’s perfectly, comfortably adequate too, with a plush, planted ride that more than compensates for the prolonged windblast inevitable on this kind of bike. Gentle corner carving is as easy as everything else. The steering secure, the brakes crisp and reassuring. And only when you wind up the wick fully does that 18-inch front wheel/skinny tyre and spinly-looking frame leave you feeling a little on tippy toes, find you having to muscle it a little through switchbacks.
Honda’s first aircooled multi for 20 years puts style and user-friendliness before extreme performance. The result is easy, purringly smooth and with such a consistency in its delivery you could use its power ‘curve’ as a set square. It doesn’t matter whether that old fashioned tacho needle is pointing at two or eight on that green dial, the CB is always utterly smooth and predictable. Sure, with just 80bhp on tap and no peaks or piques in its power delivery, it’s straight-line potential is never exactly exciting or thrilling. Nor, in these noise-strangled times, is there any cacophany from its cans. But it’s pleasing enough, makes decent enough progress and is never as dull as the equivilent in a water-jacket would be.
It’s all executed brilliantly. The finish is glorious, the attention to detail superb. The side stand, for example, sits in just the right place, is easily located with your toe and clicks down effortlessly. In short, though brand new, the CB11 has all the hallmarks of refinement and maturity of a second or even third generation machine. It’s easy to see where those long years of development have gone…
Reasonable. The CB11 certainly isn’t as cheap as a Zephyr or XJR1300 but nor was it ever meant to be: this is an all-new, quality product, littered with nice touches and sweet detailing.
The CB1100 is a gloriously classy, beautifully detailed and designed machine. Forget budget Zephyrs or basic Bonnies, Honda’s homage wants for nothing and is littered with neat touches. On a pragmatic level: it has a mainstand as standard, span adjustable levers on both sides, ABS and quality mirrors, clocks and more. And if you want posh, how about that luxo chrome filler cap, the gloriously recreated ‘crystal’ tailight or chunky yet beautifully crafted cast and machined alloy footrest hangers?