HONDA CBR1100XX SUPER BLACKBIRD (1997 - 2005) Review
- Sensible and utterly insane at the same time
- Was the world's fastest production bike when launched
- Legendary Honda reliability
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£140|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
It was always going to take a special bike to dethrone the ZZ-R1100 and the Honda Blackbird (otherwise known as the CBR1100XX Super Blackbird) was exactly that.
Purpose-built as a ballistic hyper tourer, the Blackbird is classic Honda: both an exercise in no-compromise corporate dominance and also a fabulously refined, comfortable, slick and usable motorcycle in its own right.
- Related: Man and machine - one man's Honda Blackbird journey didn't start too well...
- Related: MCN's Honda CBR family overview
Two things say a great deal about the significance and success of the Blackbird: First, it wasn’t just more powerful than the preceding ZZ-R1100, it blew it away courtesy of almost 20 extra horses from its FireBlade-derived four allied to groundbreaking aerodynamics.
And second, after being on Honda’s books for the best part of a decade, Big H themselves gave up on trying to create a replacement, the eventual VFR1200F was a short-lived disappointment and good, used Blackbirds remain in high demand to this day. Arguably there’s still no ‘hyperbike’ that delivers ballistic speed, competence, comfort and refinement so well. The CBR1100XX is sensible and utterly insane in one nicely presented Honda package.
Named after the cold war’s fastest spy plane - the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird - that first Blackbird was presented to the press at Paul Ricard, complete with the Mistral, the longest straight in bikesport, in late 1996. It didn’t disappoint. From that day forward motorcycling entered a new era. Although no outright speed records were broken that day it was clear Honda had raised the bar.
The Blackbird might have had little in terms of new technology but its power, chassis, equipment, manners and more all blended so well there was simply nothing that came close in terms of eating masses of Autobahn miles. Much of that is still true today. What a bike.
The Honda Blackbird also held a Guiness World Record as the fastest production motorcycle. Its V-Max was 178.5mph, and it held this title for two years before Suzuki's Hayabusa arrived.
You can get more information about the Honda Blackbird by visiting the owners' group on Facebook.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
Neutral and stable – but there’s no getting away from the fact the Honda 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.
EngineNext up: Reliability
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.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
The Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird's build quality is better than pretty much anything out there on two wheels. Some Blackbirds get pressed into service as long distance, year round commuters and show few signs except tatty fork leg lowers. Its reliability is superb too. Cam chain tensioners and regulator rectifiers can fail – like almost every Honda four.
Our extensive suite of owners' reviews show that the Honda Blackbird is superbly reliable.
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.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
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.
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.
|Engine type||16v in-line four, 6 gears|
|Frame type||Aluminium beam|
|Fuel capacity||23 litres|
|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|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||36 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£101|
|Annual service cost||£140|
|Used price||£2,000 - £5,200|
16 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||164 bhp|
|Max torque||88 ft-lb|
|Top speed||176 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||10.3 secs|
|Tank range||180 miles|
Model history & versions
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.
1997-99 Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird had carbs, not fuel injection
Owners' reviews for the HONDA CBR1100XX SUPER BLACKBIRD (1997 - 2005)
79 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.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£140|
Annual servicing cost: £100
Would be 5 out of 5 but slow speed steering is a bit vague and now at 62 years old, I struggle to get it on the centre stand. Engine is magnificent. If Honda had given it a shaft drive it would get top marks. Had it for over 20 years as nothing compares.
Linked brakes are fabulous...who needs ABS or traction control? Bit heavy on the wrists so fitted bar raisers. Lots of European trips under the wheels. Done 450 miles in a day without too many aches. Wife loves the back seat and happily falls asleep on motorways. These days I plan to stop about every 100 miles for a stretch.
It's an old lump but still a furnace or power when allowed to rev. Loads of low down torque: so much better than the disappointing BMW 1200 GSA that I bought and subsequently sold 6 months later. Geared up to make high speed cruising more relaxed: 100mph at 5400rpm and not the slightest hint of vibes.... fantastic engine.
Generally bullet proof apart from 2 alternator failures in last 20 years.
Basically an MOT and an annual oil change. Had the big valve check at 18000; one shim slightly out. As bike is over 20 years old I don't plan on paying for another valve check. Just oil and filters and I'm sure it will see 200k with no problems.
Can't complain but they don't come any more basic. Mine has BAGLUX with Tank bag and full GIVI luggage. Double bubble tinted screen. Also TOMTOM 550. Oxford heated grips and wired for heated gloves.....what more do you need?
Buying experience: Paid £5500 in private sale over 20 years ago.
Version: Last of the carb models
Still one of the best ultra reliable great handling at any speed a really pussycat at low speed but with a addictive power surge that will throw you towards the horizon and gobble up any kind of straight in seconds
As a ZZR1100 rider for many years ( and ultra fan of the big kwak) I was surprised how much better the bird handles it’s lighter holds a line better and Inspires confidence in any situation just be aware she is still quite a heavy bike allow for this and enjoy ! The linked brakes are no issue to me and I’ve keep them try them and make up your own mind
The engine is a classic a understated ultra smooth and tractable power plant but one which will launch you towards the horizon with a hugely addictive surge of power ( stop grinning if you can)
Hondas legendary reliability is well known no problem with my bird at all even at 20 years old the paint when polished looks fresh as the day it was sprayed and fasteners and fork leg finish is still sound
Blackbirds are still sought-after and prices are quite strong for the age of these bikes but they are worth it big performance and even bigger reliability it’s fuel consumption is decent 200 mile plus at sensible speeds but of course that depends on if you can fight of the temptation of that surge of power
A bike of its time decent analog instruments fuel gauge rev counter clock temp gauge a side stand warning light ( what more do you need !) no abs no traction control just you and it not very tire sensitive go for your personal favourites but sticker stuff can be destroyed quite quickly
Annual servicing cost: £150
Had a few blackbirds in the past then went to a vfr800 tiger 1050 and a Goldwing went back to a Blackbird last month love it so smooth just does everything so right and I’m 72 now!!!
So smooth and frighteningly quick
Engine is awsome
Buying experience: Dealer purchase 2795 was such a clean bike paid asking price
An awesome often understated road race/tourer which looks great. Despite its weight it’s well balanced and handles well at slow speed around town and takes corners well on the open road. Acceleration is not for the faint heart and my bike is more than a match for most bikes with the top end bordering 200 Mph; don’t worry it was in Germany and a good clear Autobahn lieblings! 250 miles on a full tank is economical and on a long touring run the Blackbird is happy fully loaded with panniers and top box I’ve made a few modifications such as daytime running lights and full LEDS all round for better visibility and safety. Clear lenses may be cosmetic and look great. Delinked the brakes and Ohlins fitted for suspension to my preference Aside from the LED lighting and clear lenses the main noticeable change is the OEM Honda exhaust has been replaced with Black Widow 200mm Blue Tips which sound great and give the Blackbird a bit more of a grunt/roar Of my bike is in the best colour of Candy Phoenix Blue….wicked My Blackbird turns heads where ever I go and if I had a quid for every time I heard someone say ‘they should never have stopped production of the Honda Blackbird’, I would have enough money to start production myself LOL This is a much loved and appreciated motorbike that seems to already have a Classic status Buy one and enjoy it for many years!
Delinked for personal preference
Never a problem
A solid bike that is renowned for reliability and an engine and gearbox that will last you well over 100,000 miles
An easy bike to maintain and service and do most servicing myself
Change to LEDS
Annual servicing cost: £70
a bike ahead of its time with a few tweeks can stay with any bike on any road but that is not all. this is a very fast and smooth every day bike. also my 1999 bird still looks and goes like it is still new. i have 56000 miles on the clock a classic just buy one and see for your self . who needs all the electronic crap and sat nav anyway.
this engine performs as if it was hand build with a blue print engine so smooth and so fast/
in 55000 miles nothing major has failed . perfect.
i do my own service easy when you have a haynes manual
all anyone needs ie horn lights and speedo.
Buying experience: dealer i bought her new in 1999 paid around 9000 pounds the best buy i ever made and i have owned many bikes . the xx bird is simply the best.
A truly balanced bike, with power, comfort and a design that would still be cutting edge with some updates. Best ever bike produced by Honda.
Despite the much debated dual brake system, for my needs of long distance touring it is perfectly capable
The only concern was the rectifier, which you fix easily. On my bike I still run on the original
Just have a proper service every year - no other worries
All you need for a bike designed over 20 years ago - what is not there doesn’t break
Buying experience: Bought privately. Most owners look after it carefully -The superblackbird is like an exclusive club
Annual servicing cost: £100
It's like a 747 - smooth, powerful, dependable, familiar, safe, sleek, understated, built to last. Balancer shafts in particular make the engine so so smooth. Just unparalleled reliability and build quality. Occasionally I wonder: 'should I have got the Carb model for the extra power?' But the later FI bikes are reportedly built even better than the already tank-like Carb ones, you never have to worry about cleaning the carbs, and the power on the FI model (152) is totally ample. You also count as ULEZ thanks to the catalytic converter, which is great if you work in central London.
I owned a K1200S before. It rode and handled slightly better, was faster, but it was a nightmare to own, very poor reliability and hugely expensive and difficult to service. Everything the Blackbird isn't. The difference in performance doesn't matter when you're in the middle of France trying to get back to England, or in the rain in the North East of England.
It's a monster, but also so civilised if you want it to be. Big sprocket means high top speed and gentle off the mark if you want it too. But the main feature is smoothness. Just so smooth, like a plane.
I have never owned a bike that's built this well. It was Honda's flagship at a time where they built bikes to last. It makes the bike a great investment. You're buying a serious piece of engineering that will never let you down. Many bikes have hundreds of thousands of miles. The Reg/Rec went on mine but it's a £100 fix, and doesn't go again once you've replaced the part. I thrash my bike, use it all winter round and it never leaks a drop of oil.
Do it yourself it's easy with a Haynes.
There's no gear indicator, adjustable suspension, stupid tablet screen, etc. But I just don't care, that's not what motorbiking's about. Also, the suspension broke on my K12. Never fixed it either, because it would've been thousands.
Buying experience: Easy, bought privately, £2500.
Version: XXW (Carb model)
Annual servicing cost: £100
A really great all rounder. Fun, fast and comfy. If I had to sell all my bikes and just keep one, I'd keep the Blackbird.
Overall, pretty good. Bearing in mind its age, lack of adjustment on the front end as standard (can be modified), and the weight of it (somehwere around 250kg with fuel), my pegs have ground the floor on a number of occasions. Very quick in a straight line and surprisingly nimble but she doesn't turn like my sportsbike. Combined braking system i.e. when you squeeze the front brake about 20% of the power operates the rear brake automatically. I like it, some don't. Can be removed.
Effortlessly quick, 165hp without cats, 6 gears. Seemingly endless linear power with a small increase from 7k rpm onward. Happy at 30 or 180 in 6th gear. Really very good.
It's a honda. They're basically bombproof if you keep them serviced. Cam chain tensioner can be weak and rattle but there's newer improved versions now that don't fail. Carb model exhaust headers rust but again stainless versions are available.
You can get 200 miles out of a tank if you're very careful. Will do 30mph in 6th gear or 180mph.
Very little as standard due to age, but a huge availability of mods, add ons etc. Talk to Karen Jaws at Jaws motorcycles.
Annual servicing cost: £75
a very fast and smooth running hyper bike. maybe a bit hard on fuel but that is because it is fast.if i keep revs under 5 thou 47 mpg is quite common.anyone who buys a blackbird will not be disappointed.
bike is at its best when ridden out of town where heavy traffic does not cause engine to get to hot. it is a good touring and sports bike .
this 1999 engine is a real gem. so smooth and in my mind the best engine honda ever made.
in 50 thousand miles nothing has gone wrong with engine.the only cycle part was new chain and sprockets and brake pads.no rust or corrosion anywhere on bike.i only used it in summer and in the dry weather.
Buying experience: i bought this bike new from dealer i think i paid 8800 pounds.
Annual servicing cost: £250
I've had the bike 15 years and covered 70,000 miles on it. Its not the best bike on the market but there isn't much better in an all rounder.
Most people will tell you the Blackbird is brilliant tourer, which it is. When I bought mine I hated the bike, I had just got off a ZX6 sports bike and it felt really heavy & vague. This is easily sorted, new Ohlins rear shock & new springs and different weight oil in the front. Now it handles like an over sized sports bike, of its era.
So smooth even after 80k, only slight complaint would be the 37ish MPG
Quality: Honda's of this era were built to last, all the components and finish are great, mine is now worse for wear but that is due to mileage and carrying pillions. The engine is now starting to burn a little oil (about as much as a new Kawasaki would). The only failures have been the electrics, more specifically the rectifier, West Coast rewindings have repaired it (re-wound)and it's better than the original. Also the thermostat on the radiator gave up after 70,000 miles.
Approx. every 24,000 miles it needs a new cam chain tensioner when serviced, chain & sprocket kits I've fitted 2 in 70,000 miles.
No traction, or ABS in those days!
Buying experience: Bought from a dealer in 2004, with 14,000 still going strong with over 80,000.
Annual servicing cost: £200
Very good sports tourer with lots of power
Annual servicing cost: £50
Pussy cat around town / super fast mile muncher. Easy to ride with unburstable honda motor. Linked brakes not everyones taste but plenty of options to improve brakes and handleing.
Linked brakes need to be serviced to work as Honda intended. De-link kits available. Wealth of knowledge out there by owners on forums..... just ask.
Early carb versions 96 to 98. Fuel injection from 99 on. This engine is one of Honda's finest.
Excellent build quality. only known faults are easy to remedy.
The blackbird engine easily capable of 100k plus without any major work.
Good wind protection... even better with after market screen. Comfortable ride all day tourer that can still out perform a lot of modern bikes.
Version: 1996 carb
Does everything. After years of 600’s I didn’t know what I wanted so thought I’d get a big for a season and think about again next year. That was 14 years ago and I cannot part with this bike. It’s still puts a smile on my face every time I ride it.
Reg/rec failed the only failure in 14 years ownership
Buying experience: Bought from a dealer 14 years ago for £2700
Version: fuel injection
Annual servicing cost: £50
I would recommend this bike to anyone, it was way ahead of it's time in my opinion The engine is still outstanding even by today's standards, smooth power and plenty of it. The turning circle isn't good so can be hard work when in car parks or in the Alps.
I delinked the brakes which made a massive difference at low speed. It stopped the bike dipping when you were trying to control speed. The bike is a good all rounder but fairly obviously is aimed at long distance sports touring so city work can be slower. I do a lot of two up riding and my wife finds it generally comfortable for 90 miles then a quick walk round and off again.We have covered 2500 miles in two weeks several times without any really problems. Standard seats fitted. I can ride this bike solo for 130 miles before needing to stop.
This engine is still as fast and smooth as anything out there today in the real world.
still no corrosion anywhere 18 years on, why aren't new bikes anywhere near as good? The only problem i have ever had is the regulator failed. easy fix around £100 pound for a decent one. The other parts replaced are just the normal wear and tear items, rear shocks, brake pads fork oil etc.
I service and repair this bike my self. Valve clearances checked at 33000 and none out of spec.I change the oil filter regularly which costs £35 for decent oil.
When this bike was release the world didn't have accessories wide spread, so you get an engine and a seat. What more do you want? The best thing i have done is delinked the brakes and fitted handle bar risers
Buying experience: I have had this bike 8 years and it cost £6500 from a dealer
Annual servicing cost: £200
I recently inherited my dads Blackbird, I have ridden it loads over the years (passed my bike test in 2010 and from 2012 have ridden it) The bike is a 56 plate my dad bought from new. I am 29, 6ft 4 and 17stone, it still moves like the proverbial off a shovel. I have found that sports bikes are a little too small for me and I look silly on them, this however fits perfectly. I like that the bike is not loud of flashy but a bike for real riders. The bike has done 60000 miles and still runs like a dream. The majority of those miles have been done touring in Europe (France, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Luxemburg, Italy and Croatia) with a fair few in the UK too. I have mates on the new R1 and Blades and except for the real twistys they cant get away.
Breaks have come a long way since 2006 so not the best available but pretty dam good
No matter the situation you have more power to work with, it has got me out of some sticky situations
Few classic issues but the chain and sprockets were original till 50,000 miles which is pretty good going
only need a rev counter and speedomiter everthing else is wasted
Buying experience: I inherited mine
Annual servicing cost: £150
Owned from new for 21 years. Carb model. Garaged and fully maintained by main dealer. I have never ragged it silly. Pads last about 15K miles, rear tyre 8000. Original discs, original chain and sprockets (really) and not overly worn. All hail a still working original Scottoiler. New alternator at about 25,000, now on 34,000 miles. Downpipes rotted, replaced with aftermarket stainless ones.On third battery. 44 mpg average. Full Givi plus tankbag, no other mods at all. I have test ridden so many others to replace it and nothing has ever come close. Age (very late 50's) is now beginning to take its toll and wrists ache if slow traffic. RSI in clutch hand can play up, it's a beefy clutch. CBS is faultless. Appetite for centre stand rubbers. Fork lowers look tatty. Occasional H7 headlight replacement needed. One thing to watch, I nearly spent £700 to have the electrics checked after two years of errratic running with misfiring at a steady 80mph or so. Turned out to be shite supermarket patrol, even though it was super unleaded. 2 tanks of Shell V stuff sorted it and never had a problem with it since, using the expensive stuff all the time. It is an old lady now!
Docked it a star because 75 miles on the stock seat is enough before you need a break. Nowadays, city traffic does play on my wrists and the clutch can hurt if it is too much stop start. Open road is fine. At around 96-99 mph (where legal) the aerodynamics really come into play and it just locks itself down into position and you are on a bullet train. If you have a Wingrack equipped bike (like mine), you can get a nasty speed wobble betweein 40-45 mph on deceleration if you are no handed. Just don't do it. I have heard that tapered roller bearings fix this but I haven't done it
You can't give anything else here but 5/5. If I were REALLY picky, slow speed continusously gives a bit of a buzz through the bars, which can be irritating. Slight flat spot around 5500rpm that actually serves to remind you, "Do you REALLY want to see what happens at 7000rpm?" If yes, then, well, my wife said, "it was like being hit from behind with the Devil's wind". Carb model means no delays, no let's wait for the software to catch up, just instant, fully controllable, no glitches anywhere, power and tractability. With a faint whiff of petrol as it is only Euro IV compliant
It left me stuck once, the alernator had failed and the battery went flat meaning I couldn't start it (old men struggle to bump start a 223KG bike). AA jumped me and went home and got alternator replaced. Apart from that, keep an H7 headlight bulb handy.
Tyres and brakes always add up. and can turn a £150 bill into a £500 one.
Well, it has a clock and analogue dials (no FI remember). I really wish it had a gear indicator. No ABS, no fly by wire throttle, traction control is in your right wrist and ABS is in your right two fingers (easily enough to haul it to a stop.) After 21 years, the brakes don't bite QUITE like they did.
Buying experience: Bought new from main dealer, HGB, owner is still there I think. Hi Mike H.
Annual servicing cost: £100
There are plenty of reviews of this bike but I wanted to add mine as I'm a lighter rider so might add something for others in a similar position. So I'm 30 years old, 5'8" on a good day but I weight 50kg or 8 stone. The seat height is on paper higher than my 98 fireblade but a better profile so easy to get boots on the ground. Pushing it around works up a sweat but it's not overly difficult when resting it against your hip. With my curvy wife on the back, we are talking over 400kgs. I'm planning on throwing some camping gear in the 3 boxes so that will take that to as close as makes no difference half a ton. On the move the bird is a real peach but after 2 weeks I do have to think about junctions a little more with the wife on the back due to the weight. The hydraulic clutch which is extremely smooth but removes all feeling doesn't help. Time and miles will remove this minor issue I'm sure. 4 stars because the game has moved on since this thing was new but as an affordable, wife friendly motorbike to explore Scotland on, there isn't much better.
It's like someone stuck a jet engine on a magic carpet. Even the Glasgow bit of the M8 is smooth!!!
A peach when the wife is in the bag. Mad when you want it. Always smooth. Good range.
Brought needing a new cam chain tensioner but I'm used to hondas of this vintage so got money off for something I had sorted the next weekend :).
18 year old bike and no stuck fasteners! It's a very busy space around the motor but everything is logical. Haynes manual as ever is a good idea.
Everything you need and nout you don't!
Buying experience: Private 1400 quid for a bike on a y reg with 50k miles on the clock. Happy enough with that.
Fun ride with more than enough grunt when needed.
Thirsty at high speed.
Buying experience: Dealer asking R 45,000. Paid R39000.
Annual servicing cost: £120
Brill bike long distance and like sitting on a holistic sofa.
Low speed it’s not light.
Monster power and torque
Buying experience: 2700 paid 2500.
Annual servicing cost: £200
Bought in March 2018 with 28k miles on her for £2800, this bike is probably the best purchase I have ever made in my life. Stunning machine, why did it take me this long to own one? Don’t be put off by the linked brakes, age, or the fact that the Hayabusa is faster! ‘Busa’s are a little faster on a drag strip and that is it. As an ownership prospect, the ‘Bird is by far where the smart money goes, because it is a beautifully built, versatile and nimble bike. What you get is a comfy, smooth running, big four banger that is so slick it feels as though a gas turbine motor is scooting you along. In fact, at 75mph, with earplugs in, all you hear is a jet-fighter like ‘whoosh’ sound. Gorgeous. I have owned big singles, twins and even a triple, and while I’ve always enjoyed them on their own unique attributes, you get the feeling that Honda are just more ‘serious’ about building a bike to last for years. Considering I (like most of you I’m sure) work bloody hard for my salary, I appreciate a manufacturer that clearly understands this. I have owned over 20 bikes and this is simply the best all round road bike I’ve ever owned. To quote a friend, “It’s like a VFR800 with afterburners fitted”. Reckon that sums it up well, Honda chose the right name with this one, it shares much with its winged namesake, mainly effortless speed in great comfort.
Am gonna tweak the handling a bit by fitting a better shock and fork springs, but it is on 15 year old components
It’s a gas turbine engine I’m certain of it. I am sure it would run on AVTUR. Wonderfully flexible big multi that shames almost anything else on the road. Above 8k rpm, the acceleration in any gear is simply staggering. I can’t actually rave enough about this engine. Better in every way possible than anything else I’ve ridden. My only criticism would be that the throttle is a little abrupt just off the stop which can be interesting when feathering it on potholed roads.
So far excellent, but I’ve only owned the bike for four months. Fitted a manual camchain tensioner as a precaution.
I’ll be carrying out home servicing. In terms of value: 5 out of 5. So much bike for the money.....
What’s there is very functional and well made. Everything feels ‘new’ despite its age. Should come fitted as standard with a police radar detector though...
Buying experience: Bought from a dealer. No dramas, it was well priced. Didn’t bother haggling as he carried out a seat repair, MOT and minor service for no extra charge prior to collection.
Version: CARB VESRION
Annual servicing cost: £180
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 remain with me forever. Owned a few, for me the carb models are the best and most brutal when tuned right
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Annual servicing cost: £140
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 new... a true triumph of modern engineering. I had many other bikes, this one is simply the best built.
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.
My current model has the best power delivery, smooth and especially constant. From 50kms/h in 6th gear. power comes as you need it.
In all the years I had the 3 models, I never had a failure. Just serviced as necessary
All you need is there, maybe if I could I would add gear indicator and air thermometer.
Brilliant but very heavy to push around.
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 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
Annual servicing cost: £200
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 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!
The linked brakes, I don't like.
Smooth and powerful. Like a gauntlet in a purple velvet glove.
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.
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.
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.
Annual servicing cost: £120
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 phenomenal; this is not a bike for beginners.
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.
Every bolt and nut is engineered to the highest standards. No soft metals like the manifold screws in the Hayabusa.
Tyres and fuel economy are obviously down to how you twist your throttle.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
100K kms on mine and no sign of problems.
I've found tire wear to be very good especially for a heavy torque monster like this. I run Metzeler Roadtec Z8s.
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.
Annual servicing cost: £130
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 the blackbird.
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
smoothest I have ridden
Excellent quality, never let me down. Previous owner used it for commuting, apart from tatty looking forks it scrubs up really well
acf50 and my old school mechanic keeps it tip top
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.
Annual servicing cost: £200
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 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.
doesnt get much better
My mechanic is not cheap. But next service i might do myself and looking at 50 pounds all in.
gear indicator might be helpful and a bigger screen.
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 gas station. Thirty-nine mpg with a range of over 225 miles? Why Honda stopped developing this bike is a mystery.
Long rides up to 600 miles are great, after than you need some sleep
In 5 years and 60,000 miles not one engine problem.
Solid as a rock.
Typical Honda... brakes, tires, battery, bulbs, one stator/rectifier. From 1999 to 2016? Not too bad.
BIG tank, quiet, great looking
Annual servicing cost: £225
Fantastic engine, good handling, handles two up and panniers top box with ease.
Don't notice pillion and luggage but need break after 150 mles
Like the old saying 'Walk softly but carry a big stick'
Just press the starter and go!
Basic compared to modern bikes, Givi rack and panniers, Michelin Pilot rd3 excellent
Buying experience: Dealer, £6.4k nearly 5 years ago used
Annual servicing cost: £130
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!
Never ending power, smooth, with low down grunt, power house of a engine,
exceptionally well built, what you'd expect from Honda, Quality built bike!
Service the bike myself...
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"
On my 2nd bird, the 1st was an injection model, my latest is a carby.
Handles her weight extremely well, super planted through corners. Inspires confidence. It's really nonsense of MCN comparing the bird to a fireblade.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!!
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.
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! :)
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.
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
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.... ;)
Annual servicing cost: £200
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.
You can ride this bike forever.
At high revs it becomes dangerous for a non-experienced rider because of the sheer power.
Standard maintenance and you can put it in your will for future generations.
A GPS would be welcome.
Buying experience: Bought second hand with 9.000Km for half the price of a new one.
Good bits: Smooth, fast, comfortable, ultra reliable,and never looks out of place amongst newer bikes despite her being 17 years old . Carry's luggage and a pillion with ease, is easy to service and despite it's weight and power she rides effortlessly in every gear. A pleasure to own and I cannot see myself owning any other bike. Bad bits: On my third Blackbird now and there are NO bad bits. I changed bikes in the hope of finding something better but nothing came close so always came back to the Blackbird.
The ride is smooth and effortless regardless of which gear you are in. It matters not which road you are on as she can perform and handle in all roads and in all conditions. No complaints from pillion with regards to ride or comfort but an upgraded gel seat are apparently a good investment for long distance touring - will eventually get one when funds permit.
Performance is out of this world. Blistering in every gear but my favourite is 2nd to 3rd. Nothing on the road comes close to the acceleration of a BB. She will also sit effortlessly at a decent speed on the motorway and also in town in top gear. A truly wonderful piece of machinery.
Common (Honda in general) problems are regulator rectifier, battery and stator. I have had to replace all three parts at different times but all fixes are relatively cheap and can be fixed at home with little hassle. She is a solid bike that is built to last and will regular oil changes she will last for ever.
Basic servicing can all be done at home and all parts are cheap to source and buy. If going to a dealer for a service it will cost a lot more as you will have your standard labour rates plus parts.
She is a 17 year old bike so not many goodies on offer but what she does have is all working as it should. I have full hard luggage with mine and she still looks amazing when all kitted out. Does significantly add to the weight of the bike but the beauty of this bike is as soon as you move the weight disappears. I would also recommend a double bubble screen, rear hugger and a gel seat (nice but not essential).
I was looking to buy a Triumph Sprint ST1050 or a Daytona 955i. My best mate was trying to part ex his SBB but the dealer offers were too low so I thought about it and he offered it me for £3,500. An Aug 07 year and 33,500 miles with a full documented (11 service book stamps with invoices) service history and in immaculate condition with heated grips, h/bar risers, scott-oiler and raised tinted screen, taxed until the end January 2015 plus recent tyres and battery and a new MOT and I am well chuffed believe me.
I've owned my 55 plate blackbird for three years now and it has been awesome. It's so easy to ride. No need to worry about which gear you're in: it will pull from less than 30mph in sixth gear and first will get you to 70 if you have the courage to look at the speedo. Wind protection is reasonable with a double-bubble screen, although the handlebars were a little exposed, so get heated grips or expect cold fingers in the winter. Don't worry about being made to look a fool on corners: with practice and perhaps some training you'll be able to embarrass your gixxer pals. Two-up you have to be careful with the throttle, but it's comfortable and smooth. Brakes give lots of confidence and are strong and predictable. Reliability is top of the class: nothing at all went wrong with mine. The clutch is light and smooth, but be careful with it on up-shifts in low gears cos it's disturbingly easy to spin the back tyre :-) The gearbox is a gem: no missed changes, no gaps between gears, very little clunk from neutral. It's quite a long bike, but wheelies are there to be had: just use the throttle. Two-up the front wheel likes to glance at the clouds from time to time. Downsides are very few: anyone will tell you the headlights are pretty poor even by the standards of the day, and expect to shred the back of your hand while changing bulbs unless you want to dismantle the front end. That's it. I'm only changing my 'bird because they don't make them any more. Silly Honda! And don't try to tell me a VFR1200 does the job!
I bought a new Bird in 2001 (& took it to France Italy & Spain a few times) but sold it in 2007 to buy a naked bike as I kept wondering why everyone else was going so slowly then realising they weren't. It was too easy to cruise at licence losing speeds. Replaced it with a 955 speed triple then got a Varadero in 2012 to ride to Barcelona for the MOTO GP. I saw my old bike for sale 2 weeks ago, it had only done 10,000 miles in 6 years & was still immaculate so I bought it back. Nothing else in 35 years on bikes ever came close. I'll keep it now until I'm too old to ride bikes. Planning another Monaco run this summer.
The Blackbird is one of those hidden gems, after owning a 2004 model I can truthfully say this machine not on a wolf in sheeps clothing is a well rounded comfortable all day cruiser. Europe Beware!! One niggle is the lack of options to buy lowered footpegs for both rider and pillion, being 6,2" I find reaching the bars no problem but the footpegs are about 2-4cm to high in my opinion. with that minor complaint you cant buy better. Changed to a GSXR 1000 K6 however still missing the Bird!
Take one Super Blackbird 223kg, add two panniers 20kg, one top box 5kg, one girlfriend 65kg and a rider 80kg, fill with fuel 20kg and what do you get??? 413kg of blistering performance that still goes round corners like it's on rails. I can't get over how well this bike carries weight, in some respects it's actually easier to tip into corners fully loaded because it requires less counter steering to get it over. Plus when the weight is off you can still scratch on the weekends. Honda certainly made this one properly!
my 97 model 'bird has 73000 miles on her now and still goes like stink, I've done a trackday on her and she held her own against sportsbikes, just done a 2 week tour to Western France, I've done 2 trips to the South of France on her and each trip is fully loaded with luggage and pillion sitting around the 85 mph area abroad returns 40mpg which gives me a 200+mile tank range, its very comfy for my pillion and supremly stable at speeds why Honda stopped making them for that ugly, slow, thirsty viffer12 is beyond me
i have had 36 road bikes in 19 years of riding ....in this i have had an NSR250 gull arm ..my first proper bike....it stands out...i have had every incarnation of the fireblade except the current tiny model....i have had a Hayabusa and 3 GSXR1000....loved them all K6 is a stand out one but the paint quality was pretty bad...have had 3 R1's...the o6 model was simply beautifull....but at 40 i have worked my way back onto my 2nd Blackbird....they are super smooth and comfortable...i do trackdays on mine and take my son on the back...i have 2 teeth up on the back so it goes like a bullet from the off...its raised 6mm at the rear has an upgraded rear shock and ohlins internals in the front .....ok i know purests maybe wont like this but its my bike and now it does everything fantastically...well maybe not the brakes but its heavy and well i am 6ft 4 and 19 stone so it aint mr hondas fault ....but what else is there?..nothing does the job of this bike as well.....yes there are bikes a lot faster but lets be honest we dont need to be doing more on the road than 176mph really lol....yes there are maybe more comfortable and better kitted....but mine in 2001 with 38000 miles and cost me £2350.....thats what i used to spend each year just to have a new model....so there i love mine and wish Honda hadnt ditched the inline 4 super tourer....i had a 2010 white and black vfr...great bike but its vibey it has very little guts and i had no feel of the front end....so give us a 2013 Blackbird please ....
Great bike, Very very responsive if your riding solo and you hit the power in a roundabout you will find it will be like tokyo drift and if your riding 2 up and you hit the power you do a wheelie, and for just to have a nice ride out they are brilliant always makes lookers. these bikes are a bike which will always demand respect, THERE MENTAL!
I passed my direct access test in June 2009 and started riding a 98 CBR600F and loved it. As it turns out so did my wife, although she often said it would be great to get a bike (music to my ears) I didn't think she would be so keen on it. Did about 8,000 miles on the 600 and for about 90% of these miles she was on the back. After cutting my teeth on the 600 I really wanted a bigger bike but it had to be pillion friendly so my wife enjoyed it as much as I did. We both like sports bike styling and these 2 points put together really narrow the choice. I saw a Blackbird up close for the first time in late 2009 and if I am honest set my heart on one then. Actually got one on my 50th Birthday in May 2010 (best present to myself ever). Since then we have done about 6,000 miles on it. I am not exactly the most experienced rider and therefore don't have a lot to compare it with but I find this bike so smooth and comfortable yet also very exciting when you work the right hand a bit harder. We use it mainly for pleasure anything from local rides to a day trip to Belgium being the longest so far. As only a second bike for me I can't say a bad thing about it and could not think of a bike I would rather have even though mine is over 10 years old. For me it is really the perfect all rounder with excitement on tap and the lengendary Honda reliability.
I feel compelled to add to this list of fine reviews because I have to add that it is possible to pick up a £2500 Bird with low miles and it feel better than a £11000 2010 Blade. Now these are just my humble opinions so please no one get upset, and I do love fireblades, I had a 97 model. I booked a test drive on a 2010 Blade last August and rode the Bird to the dealers. It was a beautiful warm sunny day and I had the Blade for as long as I wanted. I did about 80 miles on fast A and B cornish roads (no speed cameras)I had a great time. Took the Blade back, got on the Bird to ride home on the same roads. The Bird felt better, faster, punchier, more stable and had more room, could still get my knee down and has better tank range. I couldn't contain my delight knowing I was riding the best bike in the world. Tip: The best mod for a Bird is to dump the original exhausts and fit a 4-1 titanium system, this loses 23 kilos overnight, this along with a 6mm riser on the rear shock utterly transforms the Bird and brings it bang up to date.
There are alot of reviews ahead of mine, and not without reason the CBR1100X is simply the best motorcycle available all things considered. It may not have the top end stretch of the newer liter bikes, or the hit off the bottom of the ZX14 etc, but make no mistake this is an obscenely fast bike. Yet, to stop at that would not do it justice. The real interesting aspect, the thing which sets this apart is the supernatural smoothness with which the blackbird conducts its smoothness, from the parking lot, to the standing mile and everywhere in between. Build quality, ergos, and wind protection are all topnotch, though i did experiance a rec/reg failure. The suspension is not adjustable, but it doesnt need to to be. The ride is great, even with a passenger, and it handles beautifully, inspiring absolute confidence. It is a great bike to ride, easily comfortbale further than the range of a tank. Small women seem to be quite comfy on back too. I wish the bike had hazard lights. All in all, thats my biggest complaint. Which is saying something about the excellence of the package.
This is my second Bird. After riding for almost 28 years I have to say its the best all round bike money can buy. Performance is well up to sports bike standards and you can ride it for more than an hour and still walk!
I brought my Bird in 2008 after I passed my DAS in 2006. I love the way the Bird delivers it's power and handles,yes its over 200KG but once on the move it handles very well...I think the MCN comparison to 170KG bikes is more bullshit chatter.U Don't have to be an Expert to figure out a 170KG bike is gonna be quicker in corners than a heavier one. Get ya leg over the Bird and take her for a blast - always brings a smile to Ya face :-)
Well since writing my last review I got bored with the BB so sold it and brought a Varadero. Very silly move on my part and so after 7 months of ownership I part exed it for another BB. My 5th one. I had intended to wait for the new VFR1200 but once I heard that it was going to cost £12k I gave up waiting. I am glad I did now because by what Ihave read it is not looking very good.So once again the BB gets my vote and if you are considering buying one then do because value for money wise they cannot be beaten and they are destined to become a classic
I like many here have owned a cople of XX, but in my humble opinion the carbed XX I had was definately better than the 04 injected I also had, better on fuel, and felt raw and violent compared to the injected one which to be honest I never geld with. A good solid bike, reliable never let me down once, both of them.T he only problem I found was when cover 2-300 mile trips in a day only stopping for fuel etc, was I got terrible burning between the shoulder blades, to the point I just wanted to get of it, however putting buell footpegs on it and bar risers eased this alot.
I first rode an XX in the Spring of 1999; it was a 98 model. At the time I had a YZF1000 Thunderace and the Blackbird was superior in every way. In 2003 Honda stopped importing the XX to the US so I figured my dream of owning one was dead. I found one simply by chance at a dealer in Kentucky. It was a pristine 2003 model that was built in November of 2002. The bike had 14,000 miles on it and it scared the crap out of the original owner. I came back an hour later and paid cash for the bike. Now, 6 weeks later I have put almost 2,000 miles on the bike. The XX is beyond smooth at any speed and the powerband is very linear from idle to terminal velocity. The bike may be heavy at 550 pound but riding it, you wouldn't know it. It's a bit lazy in the tight twisties but if you stay ahead of the bike it will give the RR models a real headache and the XX design is now 13 years old which is amazing in the world of the high performance bikes. The XX will clear 200 miles on a load of fuel, is very easy to maintain and commands respect everywhere it goes. It's comfortable, has a fun factor that is through the roof and has a spirit akin to the finest thoroughbred.
i bought a 1997 blackbird 5 yrs ago and absolutly loved it, the trips to the shops or the runs across uk and europe where an absolute pleasure, the riding position is great for me and the power WOW its there when you need it just twist the throttle and the speedo will soon fly up past 100mph, unfortunalty a nameless idiot ie my brother decided to reverse his van uff the drive and trash my bird, ( we still talk just lol ) i am now the owner of a 2000 fi bird and again she is faultless absolute pure riding and adrenaline building machine, i have just finished her winter clean up, NEW BEARINGS ALL AROUND, FULL SET OF GOODRIDGE BRAKE AND CLUTCH LINES, CALIPERS RECONDITIONED, VALVES AND SHIMS CHECKED, NEW PROGRESSIVE FORK SPRINGS, NEW REAR SHOCK, NEW CHAIN AND SPROCKETS, NEW BRIDGESTONES, NEW BRAKE DISCS ALL AROUND, AND A SNAZY NEW LED TAIL LIGHT WITH BUILT IN INDICATORS, AS WELL AS A NEW HM PLANT REPLICA PAINT JOB, AND A FEW OTHER BITS, my bird now rides and handles like a brand new one fresh from the factory and i look forward to many thousands of miles on her and many more trips to the tt and europe, all parts where from david silva spares , all brand new genuine honda parts, total cost of work was £2000, money well spent , my bird is a legend ......
had a 2001 blackbird for over 3years and put 27k on top of the 13k it had allready when i bought it. only a rectifier was replaced in all that time, apart from tyres brakes etc, 100% reliable. changed in october 08 for a new CB1300A as no more new Blackbirds were to be had, Mistake! it was comfy and i liked the seating position but even with the tall screan on it i just couldnt handle the wind after only 40miles..back to the salesman and a pre registered 57plate Blackbird was bought.for me the bird has it all, i do atleast one euro trip a year also back and forward to my work and shops, the odd sunday morning blast and its so easy to do. a true all rounder, yes it maybe a bit on the heavy side but once your cluch is out in 1st gear you honestly never notice its bulk. i am in no hurry to sell this one as ive made the mistake of trying to get something better and for me at least i couldnt! Good points.. build quality, looks,good tank range,easy on tyres if your easy on throttle, can do you own servicing, power,wind protection,passenger comfort,availability of luggage hard/soft,hold there value. Bad points.. tatty front forks if you dont look after them..and they dont make them anymore!!
I bought my Bird coz of a new job involving a 400+ mile/week commute; mainly motorway. I test rode a few other bikes but found the Bird (although older and less flashy looking) to be completely able, inspiring, comfortable, fun, and damn powerful. If you wanna push it the bike's nutty fast, but otherwise just handles and feels like a thoroughbred. I can't say a word against this bike, although i'd buy something lighter and rinse it's neck for fun rides. Don't expect to do a tight u-turn on this bike, and don't expect to feel agile in london traffic... i'm getting used to being cut up by scooters (i carry panniers)... but if you're head of a queue at setoff - everything just gets small in your mirrors very fast indeed :) I love this bike and would recommend a Bird for anyone who needs power, comfort, distance handling and a bit of class. It's a sure bet all-rounder.
part exchanged my 04 vfr for a 07 blackbird,have not looked back scince,some say its uncomfatable at low speeds in town but i have no complaints yet,girlfriend not happy with the higher footpegs but was not happy when i said dont get on the back then,
I bought a sweet looking mat black 2004 model about 5 months ago and after riding a 1200 Bandit for 5 years I felt that it was time to step up to hyperbike status. Hyperbike just about sums this machine up, but the amazing thing about the XX is just how user friendly it is for everyday riding. You can pootle about at 30 mph no problem at all, and you could be forgiven for thinking you are riding a 750 commuter as it hides all its mass so well. Pull onto a motorway slip road however, and let the revs run up over 5k and all of a sudden you are the only thing in the universe that is moving. There is a moments blur as the fluids in your eye balls try to adjust to the sudden gee forces and then you are half a mile away from where you last blinked. I had read reviews that described the XX as being 'comfortable' but unfortunately I suffer from a permanent shoulder injury and the riding position is just on the wrong side of sporty for me. 2 hours riding leaves me in agony, but this is due to my condition and not the bike itself, but I'd recommend anyone over 35 who has even the slightest back or shoulder twinges to make sure they go on a long test ride first. Don't just go once around the block and happily throw all your cash at the dealer like I did, as this bike needs to be actively ridden at all times, you can't just sit back and enjoy the view as that would mean riding no handed (which this bike can do quite well it's so stable). Alas for me the pain in my shoulder tempers the joy of riding this machine, so I am trading it in for brand new 1250 Bandit, but such is the snail-like depreciation of this bike that I only had to hand over a few hundred quid to swap a 4 year old bike for a brand sponner.
Bought my 'bird a month ago its a 97 model and to say Im happy is an understatement. Stepped up from a GSX750F and the 'bird is a revalation feels lighter n lower than the gsx and jeez the go factor is like "beam me up scotty" warp factor 9 in an instance !! I cant stop grinning when I've had a little play on it and Im looking forward to a trip to France on it, all I can say is its fantastic
I am now onto my forth new Blackbird and I cannot wait to collect it from the showroom next week. Like most people I have had numerous makes of bikes but since I have had a Blackbird I cannot find anything comparable to do what I do that is Tour and also use it as a toy.Like most of us I am frightened of losing my licence so the majority of the time I am riding at National Speed Limits, well most of the time,and it trundles along quite easily but when I want to open it up mostly in France its a powerful tool.There are times when I wish it had more of an upright stance but I can put up with it being semi radical for the pleasant smooth ride it gives me.It definitely makes me a better rider than I am.Just before I brought this one I test rode a CB 100F having read a road testers report in a monthly magazine in which he said it was the best bike he had ever ridden and he advised everyone to go out and buy one, and I could not believe how awful it felt. However I am not knocking the bike because that is just how I felt,it must have been bad because I was given an hour to test ride it and I took it back within 10 minutes, even though they gave me an hour to ride it. All I can say is that if the road tester felt this was such a good bike he could never have ridden a Blackbird. I would recommend this bike to even the most novice of riders as it is so forgiving and will not turn around and bite you if you get yourself into any trouble.
I purchaced my first Blackbird a 2001 with 20000 miles on 3 years ago after trying Yam xjr 1300 Suzuki 1100 Honda pan 1100 ,and thought this bike is a great allrounder. Everything is great comfort performance etc. then i am sorry to say i had a brainstorm and sold it for a Suzuki gsx 1400 because of my back problem i thought sit up would be better but no it gave me a bad neck at 70 mph. So this year i have purchaced another Blackbird i could only afford a 1999 model but it does come with fuel injection top box panniers one owner from new and only 8000 miles so i am happy again. Pitty it could not have been black.
Can't really add anything to the comments below. Have tried a number of bikes this year (BMW R1200GS and K1200GT, Triumph Tiger 1050, Fireblade, Yamaha FJR, Kawasaki ZZR1400, Honda Varadero, Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom) as I'm desperate to get a new bike, but I just can't justify changing. The others are either too heavy, or too cramped, or too slow, or too lumpy, or no fun, in comparison. If only Honda could use the same engine and produce a set of convertible handle bars with settings between low and very high, for those people who want to sit bolt upright for long range comfortable cruising, as well as knocking about 25kg off without having to buy after market exhausts. Then they would have the ultimate all round bike! Despite its age it is still the best all round bike on the market.
I've had a blackbird for a year now, and have to say, this is the bike I have been looking for, for a very long time. There is very little negative to say about it, and so much positive stuff. It's power and performance is sublime and effortless. it is creamy smooth, with no throttle snatch. It's comfy, resonable mpg,150 mile + range, fantastic build quality that makes even older ones look like new, it's reliable and you never ever doubt that, it screams like a CBR should when caned and is a very scary bike when the throttle is opened, but it will also trickle along at 30mph without a hitch. On the down side, the handling is not up with todays sports scapels,it is a heavey bike, and is best left to the fast sweepers, the equipment is basic - what just what you need, and no more, and the mpg is too easy to get below 40mpg. Legs slightly cramped (i'm 6'1") and I need a solution to that. Having said that, the only bike I would replace this with is another blackbird. why did I wait so long to try one.
I bought a CBR1100XX in 1997, and have test ridden dozens of potential replacements over the last 10 years, and NOTHING *ever* comes close. This is possibly the best £7000 I've ever spent. I thought 2007 was the year to change bikes and I have ridden a BMW and a Triumph to name but 2 and when I get back on the Blackbird I think "why bother changing". I suppose I will have to wait until the new version comes out? it's just a stunning bike that urinates from a great height over anything else on the road. Quality, performance and pure class in one package. It beggars belief how the competition are still in business; I rode a Hyabusa once, as you do, and jeez, it had more vibes than a 12" anal intruder fitted with top shelf Duracells. I've had 29 years of proper biking, have owned all sorts, but believe me, this is top of the form. Hector
Supremely capable motorcycle,c overed upto 1100 miles in a day. Basically a heavier refined fireblade! Strengths: Smoothness, tankrange, effortless performance. Weaknesses: Linked brakes (until you get used to them,then a bonus not a weakness).
Had a Busa for two years, never really got to grips with the it's cornering, but the BB takes the power & handling and lets you enjoy what biking is all about. Handling on the BB is superb and once you get used to the linked brakes you've cracked it. Strengths: Usable power, handling ( for big bike ), brakes, comfort for rider & pillion. Weaknesses: Screen, replaced original with an MRA Touring Screen which has an adjustable flip on it , works a treat, cost £108 tho'.
I have had three Blackbirds in the last six years. There have been no reliability problems, comfortable for pillions over long distances. I'd never think of changing it for another make of bike because the bird does everything I need, satisfaction guaranteed. Strengths: Looks, speed, comfort, reliability. Plus its just a pleasure to ride! Weaknesses: Soft paint, marks easily.
The Blackbird has been around since 1996. At that time it was deemed the fastest production bike in the world. Time has moved on and faster bikes have been produced, but there is only one Blackbird. I ride a 2001 model, in my eyes its faultless, it eats up the miles with ease. Strengths: Very well balanced, and has masses of power instantly available. Weaknesses: Bit of a stretch to the bars.
I have owned this bike for two years. Bought it in 2004 (2003 model) and cover about 4500 miles a year. The bike is such a pleasure to ride - fast or slow. I also get compliments from pillions about it's smoothness and comfort. Strengths: Smooth easy power. Comfort (with bar raisers fitted!), reliability and build quality. I have covered 500 miles in a day without numb bum! Pride of Ownership. Weaknesses: Lack of adjustability. Reach to the bars is a bit long, I am 6ft!
I bought my '98 Bird from a local dealer, traded in a ZZr 600 for it, definately the best decision I have ever made. The blackbird is a truely awesome machine that just does everything so well. Whether it be going for a Sunday blast or long distance touring. Mine only let me down once with a duff rectifier, which I believe is a common fault. Strengths: Power delivery, comfort, linked brakes, looks.... Weaknesses: Rectifier.....
I replaced my CBR600F (2002) with the Blackbird 2004 Fi. I was looking for a comfy big bike which would carry a pillion in comfort but which had arm wrenching acceleration & lots of mid range . I have been delighted with the CBR100XX , it has enourmous amounts of grunt, feels planted & handling inspires much more confidence than the previous CBR600 which could feel a little twitchy (especially with a pillion). Strengths; Smooth turbine like power, excellent handling for a bike this size & all day comfort make this bike a superb real world alternative to the 1000cc supersports. Everyone complains about the linked brakes but I have found them superb, perhaps not ideal if your on a trackday but in the real world they offer solid powerful braking with no worries! Weaknesses: Looks are now getting a little staid. Gearchange a little notchy & the paintwork on my 2004 model is definately not up to the usual Honda quality ( rub marks forming on tank ).
More refined than a busa, but not as quick. My wife prefers the Busa for comfort though! Strengths: Refinement. Weaknesses: Pillion comfort.
I love the engine performance - the acceleration above 6000 rpm is unbelievable and the bike just keeps wanting to accelerate up to amazing (but best left undisclosed) speeds. Have just done 1400 miles over the weekend going to Assen and was sorry to get off the bike on Sunday night - can't think of a better accolade.
I love this bike. It's built really well, is stone reliable, electric smooth, has boundless power, handles well, and represents a lot of progress over my first bike, a BSA 500 single almost 40 years ago. At this rate of progress, 40 years hence motorcycles will really fly. Maybe sooner. If so they'll probably be Hondas.
Purchased in Dec 03 as a replacement for my '98 Fireblade. The Blackbird is heavier but I no longer notice the weight so much. I have just completed a two week trip to Spain and back through France. The bike did everything I asked of it and I kept pace with my two Fireblade mounted mates through the Pyrenees. It is difficult to fault the Blackbird as a road bike. Composed, fast, smooth and comfortable. It handles well too. The build quality is very high but I have picked up a few stone chips and scuffs to the paintwork. Nothing major but a little disappointing after only a few thousand miles. I have fitted a hugger, fender extender and a Scottoiler. Other than that the bike is fine as is it and I have no plans for any further changes. Strengths: Comfort, speed & handling. Weaknesses: Can get hot in town or at slow speeds leading to the cooling fan running a lot. Other than that, it's difficult to fault.
I think the bike is a great all rounder. The gear box is little clonky, but with time I am getting better.
In 44,000 miles literally nothing has gone wrong, not even a bulb blown. Tyrewear much better than I thought. 15k a year adds up in basic servicing, fingers crossed for first mot. Still cracks 170mph plus.
I live in Somerset and work in Portsmouth so the Bird has really come into it's own. M27 snarl ups are dealt with easily and A303 high speed cruising is comfortable and fast - touring two up to Assen from Yeovil in 2000 was bloody wet but we both could walk at the end - unlike our Hayabusa riding friends! A powerful machine that can easily be tamed - In 25 years of riding I can't think of a more capable all rounder - bring on the 1300cc version!