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

59 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 4.3 out of 5
5 out of 5

Carb Birds from South Africa, the preferred model and why...

10 April 2018 by Nizaam Karjieker

Great value for many bike super tourer. Ultra reliable, reasonable fuel economy, still surprises some superlights and punches in any weight class, rider experience dependent of course. Its a welcome addition to my dream garage and a bike that will... Read more remain with me forever. Owned a few, for me the carb models are the best and most brutal when tuned right

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
With adjustable preload and rear suspension setup for individual weight and riding style you will find your own setup. I've done 250miles on a full tank averaging 100mph before stopping for a refuel and stretch. Advise organic brake pads, sintered pads bite better but are hard on discs. Discs are expensive to replace at around $380 for front and rears. Organic pads are cheaper than sintered pads and more than capable for fast road riding.
Engine
5 out of 5
Smooth seamless power. I prefer the carb to injection. The delivery feels more instant and raw. I also found that a stock carb bird will outsprint an injected Bird from a dig and rollons. Injected Birds run better up top but thats a very low percentage of the ride experience. Full exhaust system with jetting and some head smoothing extracts great power from carb bikes. Had a carb Bird making a true 156hp on the rear wheel with headwork, full Akra titanium and jet kit. Makes a stock Busa struggle and keeps most liter superlights honest. Careful in 2nd gear tho, wheelies without warning!
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Excellent build quality, no mechanical issues, chain tensioner degraded so switched to a manual one, rectifier failed, switched to a later model 7 pin one, handle grip rubbers tore at 80,000kms, switched to Harris CBR logo units.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Change your rectifier to later model, ditch the cam tensioner for a manual one and swap out the exhaust for a titanium Akrapovic or Yoshimura system. Add VFR800 clipons, a single layer of memory foam when you recover the seat and a Puig or MRA double bubble for long haul comfort and a trouble-free ownership experience.
Equipment
3 out of 5
As stated before, the seating position for my 5ft10 frame is a tad stretched and raked. VFR 800 clipons are a direct replacement and relieve the back pinch, seats a bit firm so advise buying a half a meter of 15mm thick memory foam to add on when recovering the seat, DO NOT USE leather, stick to high quality automotive or watercraft vinyl with some give and breathability. Windshield must be replaced with a double bubble. The Puig and Powerbronze units are excellent but look a tad bit heavy. MRA is the perfect compromise between sporty aesthetics and function but still require a slight tuck to be truly affective. Luggage rack and panniers for the long hauls gobble up loads but be weary of top box only as it creates some tail steering in crosswinds
Buying experience

I currently have two Blackbirds, both carb models, one stock with only aftermarket Stealth slipon cans and Givi rack. This is my tourer. The other has headwork done, full Akrapovic 4 into 1 Titanium exhuast, FactoryPro Jet Kit with +5 Ignition Advancer pushing 156hp on the rear wheel. This is my weekend toy. I don't do track with it but some nights I creep up on unsuspecting Busas and 14s for l fun.

5 out of 5

Fantastic bike

14 January 2018 by Lee H

Great Bike, Easy and forgiving to ride while power keeps coming through gears. Build quality high standard. Perfect great all rounder and fantastic alternative to a full on Sports or Superbike. Would definitely recommend this bike to anyone. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Ride perfect for touring, ride softer than some of the pure sportsbike's but that's no problem and to be expected. Position very comfortable while still having that sportsbike "feel", some may find the bars bit of a reach but there are plenty of aftermarket options to improve position such as bar risers, peg options to improve comfort levels. Brakes very good,some may need bit of time to get used to the linked brakes.
Engine
5 out of 5
Power keeps coming, plenty of torque. Eye watering acceleration through 2nd and 3rd gears. Gets very hot in traffic or just generally idling at standstill, don't be surprised to see the temp reaching 109c in traffic, have also heard that 120c isn't uncommon either.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
Build quality very good solid feel. Have heard from some that the finish on the forks needs bit more attention. Havn't had my bike for long, but so far no problems.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
All the equipment you could need, unless your after something with all the electronic rider aids of a recent superbike. Currently have the OEM tyres but will soon be swapping for Metzler or Pilot 4's.
5 out of 5

Infinite power

12 August 2017 by Nixx

I own my third Superblackbird after I had the 1997 the carb version and the fuel injection one in 1999. My current one is almost 20 years old, 30,000 miles, I use it to commute every dry day (12,000 miles in 2 years). Goes, feels and drives like... Read more new... a true triumph of modern engineering. I had many other bikes, this one is simply the best built.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
I have been "commuting" a few times to Italy, twice I did it in one day! 2000 kms in 18 hours. This is the ideal bike for the motorways, but in narrow bends doesn't disappoint.
Engine
5 out of 5
My current model has the best power delivery, smooth and especially constant. From 50kms/h in 6th gear. power comes as you need it.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
In all the years I had the 3 models, I never had a failure. Just serviced as necessary
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
All you need is there, maybe if I could I would add gear indicator and air thermometer.
5 out of 5

the best bike ever

29 May 2017 by Elie

great bike Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

03 April 2017 by Ben Price

Brilliant but very heavy to push around. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Honda got it right with this one

21 October 2016 by narrud006

Best bike I have owned, a 2004 Blackbird in Black. It is comfortable. My wife loves going on the back. I commute every day and I still love riding it on weekends. Some say it is heavy but I've never noticed that. I also like the linked brakes but be... Read more aware brake pad changes are expensive because they have to bleed the whole system. For a great touring machine nothing else compares, I've always owned Honda's but ridden many other brands. When the blackbird came out in 97 it was an instant hit, over the years of it's production, only small changes were made, because you can't change what is already so good, Mr Honda you got it right with this one, hopefully we will see a new Blackbird come again soon one day in Honda's future

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

A Bit of Everything

26 September 2016 by Hagbard

Having ridden bikes for 33 years from the Z50 Monkey Bike to the Triumph Rocket III, I can say this is the best overall bike I have owned. I regret selling my 2006/7 model when I moved overseas, but I have since purchased the 1999 model. I can say... Read more this bike is even better than the 2007 model, although it guzzles more fuel. The bike came with a single Yoshi carbon full system and tips the scale at least 10-15kg lighter than stock. It isn't the best bike in any one characteristic, but excels in all aspects. Stability through corners, straight line acceleration, comfortable two up touring and effortless high speed highway riding. The only let down for me are the linked brakes which feel strange at first but you get used to them. It's a nightmare changing to braided brake lines, with about 10 separate hoses needing to be changed!

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
The linked brakes, I don't like.
Engine
5 out of 5
Smooth and powerful. Like a gauntlet in a purple velvet glove.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
The only problems I've had thus far are a perforated fuel pressure regulator which I changed for a 2002+ models and the cam chain tensioner lifter assembly which are hopeless on these bikes. If you need one changed, get the one of the Honda X-11 which shared a detuned Blackbird motor. The lifter is longer with a slightly stiffer spring. Other than that I only do my regular servicing and she's fired up first go each time.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Fairly cheap to run for a big bike. The engines are super reliable and components are all top notch with the exception of the front fork legs.
Equipment
5 out of 5
Solid yet unobtrusive pannier mounts. I don't use them, but at least they are easy to mount if one chooses to go that way. I have installed Oxford hand grip heaters which work a treat in the winter months. No more frost bitten fingers!
Buying experience

I got mine from a dealer for around 3500 pounds equivalent. A bit pricey but it came with a full Yoshi carbon system and I got the dealer to replace the chain and sprockets and to fit my own set of Galfer brake lines. That alone would have taken me a whole day to do.

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.

Read all 59 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1997
Year discontinued 2005
Original price £8,650
Used price £2,000 to £5,000
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 16 of 17
Annual road tax £88
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
All related reviews