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.
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 Blackbird lighter and stiffer overall. Problems with the Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird are almost non-existent even at huge mileages.
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.
Our owners' reviews show that the Honda Blackbird is superbly reliable, with 4.9 stars out of 5 in that respect, and loved overall with a score of 4.8 stars out of 5. Considering 65 people have left reviews, that's an impressive result.
Ask MCN: Why is my Honda Blackbird steaming?
Q. I have a 2001 Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird that seems to run fine. What concerns me is that when I start up from cold the right-hand silencer emits water vapour almost immediately, while the left pipe only starts to “steam” after a few minutes.
Both pipes clear soon after, but does this indicate a problem with the two right-hand cylinders?
Brian Weston, Norwich
A. All you are seeing is a symptom of the way condensation gathers in the Blackbird’s exhaust and then evaporates.
If you never rode far enough for the condensation to be burnt off, the cumulative effect of having a “puddle” in the exhaust system would probably rot the metal into rust from the inside out over a few years.
As long as the oil and water used by the engine aren’t contaminating each other, the bike is fine.
Ask MCN: why are my Honda Blackbird radiator switches not working?
Q. I have a 1998 Honda Blackbird that 'chews up' radiator fan switches. Two years ago it started heading for the red zone so I investigated and found the switch was faulty (it looks like a stumpy spark plug that screws into the back of the radiator infront of your left knee).
David Silver Spares provided a new one which turned out to be faulty (unless fitting it damaged it?) but they kindly replaced that free of charge and all was well. With this spring it has happened again but I don't understand why it might give up the ghost so quickly and I'm wary of plugging a new one in as at £60 a pop it could get expensive if there's something I'm missing that causes this reduced life span.
John Turnbull, email
A. That sensor is a single wire sensor which uses resistance changes in its circuit to monitor the coolant temperature. The most common cause of a problem like this is a poorearth somewhere. With this switch it would have to be the radiator itself at fault as it gets its earth from the radiator thread.
Failing that, it could be a ‘surge’ from a shorting connection elsewhere tracking through the switch instead and blowing it. Any component needs an earth, and it looks for another one nearby. Ever seen the brake lights ‘flashing’ on a white van as it slows down to turn off the road? That’s a poor earth on the indicator circuit.
Rather than lash out £60 you can pick up a Nissan switch that fits and cost a tenner which will work on Blades and VFR750s. The part number is: 21595-01A00. A guy on the FireBlade forum worked it out.
The only mod you have to do is wire one of the terminals to earth by making up an earth wire, one spade, one ring and taking it to an existing earthing wire attached to the radiator mount bracket on the left side. Take out the bolt and add your new earth with the other one and crank it down. Make sure you’ve got the right size o-ring or coolant will seep out.
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.
Insurance group: 16 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.
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.
Which Honda Blackbird should I buy?
The 1999 Blackbird is a good choice if you can afford it. This was the first year it got fuel injection, and the fuel tank was also increased to a hefty 24 litres (5.2 galls). The ignition key was linked to a built-in immobiliser, too. In the past two years the bike has hardly changed, making the two-year-old machine very good value.
What to watch out for: Like a lot of modern sports bikes, the rear shock can quickly give up all its damping properties. Wind the rear rebound damping up to the max and push down on the seat – it should return slowly. If it doesn’t, a £100 rebuild or aftermarket shock could be on the cards. Tyres wear much better than on some other big bruisers – you should be looking at 5000 miles for a rear, a little less if ridden hard. Ask the owner how long ago he changed the rear to see how hard the bike has been used. Blackbirds are put together so well, the one you’re looking at would have to have been very poorly maintained to seem scruffy.
Modified Honda Blackbirds
As well as the Honda parts on offer, the Blackbird was an incredibly popular bike for modifiers, with many companies offering turbo and supercharger conversions that meant you had up to 220hp, or more, available at your right hand. Not subtle. Packages could be had for a little as a couple of grand.