Honda gets serious with CB1100

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It’s described as a concept bike but insiders say this bike is not far from production as part of new twin-pronged CB1100 range

Are Honda finally about to get serious with the CB1100 retro roadster? If two concept bikes shown at last weekend’s Osaka motorcycle show are anything to go by then it looks like that could be the case.

The Osaka motorcycle show isn’t a huge show but Honda went all out with a wide range of concept and production bikes including two CB1100 concepts that could signal a new split range to satisfy both the heritage and modern classic needs of buyers.

The red painted CB Concept has already been seen at the Tokyo motorcycle show last year but this latest ‘concept’ has been mildly changed. The other, dubbed CB Concept Type II was seen for the first time and is simply stunning in terms of the looks and near production specification.

Honda CB Concept Type II

The modern classic market is buoyant right now with bikes like the BMW R nineT, BMW Scrambler, all-new Triumph Bonneville and Thruxton models and Ducati Scrambler all selling faster than manufacturers can make them and this CB Concept Type II is clearly aimed at taking on the likes of the R nineT and the Thruxton.

This bike is clearly intended to show the rather anaemic CB1100 can be made into a tougher bike with a harder style and thanks to the fitment of performance and handling enhancing 17-inch cast alloy wheels, a fuel tank lifted from the bigger Honda CB1300, Showa forks that look like upside down items but are, in fact, traditional forks, radial mount Brembo brakes, Ohlins twin shocks and retro Pirelli tyres it all works extremely well.

Honda have told MCN’s sources in Japan that both bikes are officially only being presented as concept bikes right now but our source, who didn’t want to be named, said: “They keep saying these are concept bikes but I have been told these two bikes preview the way Honda is thinking of splitting the CB1100 range across classic and modern performance. I know the CB Concept Type II has already started track testing at Honda test tracks. It may not be immediate production but it’s not that far away.”

There are some lovely design touches on the Type II that manage to blend modern performance parts with the retro styling of the CB1100’s finned and air-cooled motor.

The Showa front suspension is leagues better than the standard right-way-up forks seen on the standard CB1100 and thanks to the black painted finish, radially-mounted Brembo calipers and the 17-inch front wheel it all looks a lot more performance orientated.

The large diameter four-into-two exhaust has been made by Japanese tuners Over from titanium and while this is unlikely to make it into production it does a clear link to the performance looks Honda is chasing. Other neat touches include the LED front and rear lights which house modern lighting performance within the traditional designs.

At the back the twin Ohlins shock are fully adjustable and combined with the stubby tailunit give a cut down café racer look that makes this the meanest CB1100 ever produced by Honda.

Honda has been bafflingly slow to pick up on the way the market has changed and despite going to all of the time and expense of designing an all-new air-cooled inline four cylinder engine for the current CB1100 range; it’s never really done much with it. The current bike was originally launched in 2009 but was only made available in a few markets outside of Japan. It took another four years for Honda to make the decision to sell it over here.  

Honda Concept CB

While the Type II is all about chasing those who want a modern classic with performance and handling in mind, the Concept CB will be on hand for those wanting a more traditional look.

This bike was first seen at the Tokyo show last year but it has been changed subtlety since then with a different fuel tank shape, a different seat, modified silencer shape and a new LED headlight.

Honda are, as with the Type II, saying this bike is merely a concept machine but it only takes a swift look over the way this bike is finished to see that it could make production in the very near future. MCN insiders have told us this bike and something based on the Type II will make up a two-pronged CB1100 range and both will be launched within the near future.

Andy Downes

By Andy Downes

Former MCN Senior Reporter