Hot new 5Four: Limited edition Honda CB1000R prototype breaks cover ahead of official unveiling

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When the legendary CB750 celebrated its 50th birthday back in 2019, Honda UK teamed up with custom bike guru Guy Willison – who will be familiar to anyone who watches Henry Cole’s various TV series – to build a limited edition of 54 special CB1100RS models. And now the alliance has reformed to give the 2021 CB1000R the same ‘5Four’ makeover.

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While there’s been no official confirmation of the new model yet, MCN recently managed to get our hands on the prototype of the new bike to pore over the details and put it through its paces on some glorious sinuous tarmac in Wales.

This special edition model – expected to be limited to just 54 units again, all individually numbered – is underpinned by a stock CB1000R with no changes to the chassis, engine, or electronics – meaning it retains all of its riding character and competence (so often ruined by 'special builds').

Where the 5Four will differ is in a raft of cosmetic changes and a screamingly aggressive Racefit titanium Growler-X exhaust with 5Four logos laser etched into the stubby can.

Honda CB1000R 5Four lever and Honda tank decal

Levers are replaced by LSL 'Dog Leg' items, while the dinky CNC mirrors are also LSL. But the standout visual shift comes from the special 'Honda Endurance Racer' paintjob that marries candy red, blue and pearl white with a pleasingly retro hand-painted Honda wing tank logo.

The scheme extends to the cowled single seat unit and hand-stitched diamond pattern leather seat with laser etched 5Four logo bum-stop pad, as well as the cute hand-crafted headlamp cowl.

The stock numberplate hanger comes with the bike, but it’s intended to run a bespoke tail tidy which allows for a 7x5in 'show plate', nestling beneath the new slimline LED taillight.

Despite the changes being fundamentally cosmetic, the combination of a glitzy aesthetic with the more bombastic soundtrack and the impact of sitting on a different seat pad and touching different control levers all conspire to actually make the 5Four feel a bit special on the move. While it’s raucous, the retention of the stock headers and large OE collector means that it’s not too offensive on your earholes.

Honda CB1000R 5Four stitched leather seat

This prototype bike has actually been built on a 2020 model CB, but the real deal will arrive on a 2021 base – while that won’t significantly affect the look or feel of the final bikes.

With no real interference to chassis or mill, it rides with the same sharp, compact and compliant aggression of the stocker – it just feels imbued with a bit more specialness: the difference between owning 'a CB' and having 'your CB' that’s been tickled to turn production homogeneous design into something more personal.

As we await an official announcement of the model run, there’s also no confirmed price – but we expect it to leave a circa £17,000 hole in your pocket. Compared to a stock CB1000R at £11,649 (or £12,999 for a Black Edition), that initially feels like a salty price hike – but you couldn’t build one cheaper – and this one has the blessing of being an officially sanctioned Honda UK limited edition.

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Richard Newland

By Richard Newland