By: Frankie Garcia
Honda aims to bring back an old classic with a new twist in the form of the 2013 CB1100. “Timeless Look, Inspired Performance” - these are the key words Honda Motorcycles uses when describing its new retro-styled machine. The timeless look refers to the bikes styling, featuring the perfect balance of old school and new school. A relaxed standard seating position allows for diverse riding styles for any kind of environment. The fuel tank retains a classic shape to match the older yet classy styling of the handlebar bend, instrument cluster and tail assembly and really brings out the early Honda four-cylinder trends.
As far as modern performance goes the list simply goes on and on. Starting with the CB’s fueling, the steed uses a programmed fuel injection system, continuously monitoring variables in order for the proper fuel mixture to be delivered in different conditions. An adjustable preload fork takes care of suspension duties up front while classic dual-rear shocks handle business on the rear. Lastly a vintage looking four-to-one all chrome exhaust system offers up a trick deep-rooted look while also aiding in function and performance.
Honda recently invited MotoUSA out for a secret test on the 2013 CB prior to its official unveiling. We were able to get a quick hour’s riding time aboard the vintage-looking stallion to get familiarized with it. Although it's before my time, I had virtually traveled back to the ‘80s thanks to timeless styling cues. From its standard fork, dual rear shocks, dual color black and silver wheels, to its air cooled engine all wrapped up in a candy red paint job, the CB really gives off some old school vibes.
As we hopped aboard the reborn Universal Japanese Motorcycle the first thing that comes to mind is the comfort factor. The wide and oh-so-soft seat feels as if Honda installed a couch cushion atop the motorcycle. As we rode it became apparent that the bike could perhaps be ridden for a long period of time without the worry of an aching backside, but a clear statement could only be made with a true extensive ride. The bars sit in a great position with a praiseworthy bend which further facilitate ease of operation.
Its foot pegs and levers are placed in proper context with the rest of the bike's rider friendly features. The wide, tall mirrors provide great rear viewing but are not practical for lane splitting by any means.
The bike is powered by a new 1140cc air-cooled DOHC engine, although the word engine could be replaced by “torque machine.” The bike exhibits exceptional amounts of torque yet carries a smooth powerband making it fun and easy to ride for most skill levels. The brushed side cases carry that old school look yet again while at the same time maintaining the eye candy factor.
While many standard bikes these days incorporate under-sprung suspension for our likings, the 2013 CB1100 suspension department integrated a well sprung front fork and dual rear shocks. Damping of the suspension scored major kudos for working nicely all the way through the stroke. From fast rough roads to speed bumps and pot holes, the suspension handled every element we threw at it without a fuss. Handling characteristics are a dream. The standard riding position aids in helping the bike to be very rider friendly and easy to ride.
The braking package on the latest CB is a dream. Up front a set of 296mm discs paired with a powerful four-piston caliper provide excellent stopping power. At the rear a 256mm disc brake handles the business. While it may not be a big 320mm set of discs we see on full size sport bikes, the smaller discs provided plenty of power for getting this old school mount stopped on a dime. An ABS model will be available for an added $1000 ($10,999).
Overall, the 2013 Honda CB1100 is one cool bike. In the same vein as all the café bikes, street trackers, and custom street machines we see prowling the roads, the CB provides an open canvas for consumers to transform into anything they can imagine. With its $9999 price tag, the 2013 Honda CB1100 offers a little something for everyone with its timeless good looks and modern performance.
Originally published in the November 2012 issue of Motorcycle-USA.com.