2013 Honda CB1100 | First Ride Review

When I was a young boy, my father introduced me to the joys of motorcycling. Dad would take my brother and me on leisurely rides in the country aboard his Honda CB750 Four. In the late 1970s, I was too young to know or care about the significance of the CB750, that its transverse, in-line four cylinder engine with overhead camshaft would become one of the most popular engine configurations of the late 20th century, that its electric starter, hydraulic front disc brake and build quality were ahead of their time, and that the enormous profits from this model enabled Honda to launch its automotive division.

The Honda CB1100 was shown at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show.
The Honda CB1100 was shown at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show.

No, all I cared about was how exhilarating it felt to ride on that motorcycle, with my larger-than-life father at the controls.

Fast forward three decades. It’s 2009 and I’m the Road Test Editor for Rider, in Japan for the Tokyo Motor Show and the world press launch of the Honda VFR1200F. On display in the Honda booth is the CB1100, a modern interpretation of the legendary CB750. It stood apart—a throwback to another time in a sea of radical concept bikes. The CB1100 was released in Japan and Australia, but the rest of the world had to wait.

A week before American Honda announced that it would bring the CB1100 to the U.S. for 2013 and released details and pricing, I had a chance to ride one—the only U.S.-spec model currently on our shores. The ride was brief, no more than 30 miles and mostly on traffic-choked streets near Los Angeles, but it was enough to get my juices flowing.

The Honda CB1100 features fuel injection, triple disc brakes with optional ABS and modern tires.
The Honda CB1100 features fuel injection, triple disc brakes with optional ABS and modern tires.

Honda calls the CB1100’s styling “timeless,” which is another way of saying that the original CB750 still looks good and provides plenty of inspiration for an homage. Front and center is the 1,140cc air-/oil-cooled in-line four-cylinder engine with dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and four polished header pipes that converge into a single chrome muffler on the right side. Old-school touches abound, from the 18-inch mag wheels and wide, flat seat to the chrome on the fenders, handlebar, mirrors, turn signals and bezels around the round headlight and analog gauges. Even the blast-from-the-past dual rear shocks are finished in chrome.

Aside from styling, the CB1100 is very much a 21st century motorcycle. It features Programmed Fuel Injection with an automatic enrichment circuit, digital transistorized ignition with electronic advance, triple disc brakes of contemporary design with optional ABS and Bridgestone Battleax radial tires.

Sitting on the CB1100 took me straight back to my childhood. Dad sold his CB750 long before I was old enough to ride it myself, a regret rivaled only by the fact that my grandmother sold her red Oldsmobile 442 convertible before I got my driver’s license. I thumbed the starter and the in-line four fired up quickly, ran at fast idle for a few moments and then settled into a quiet hum. It clicked easily into the first of five gears with a moderate pull on the cable-actuated clutch lever.

The Honda CB1100 provides a comfortable, no-frills riding experience.
The Honda CB1100 provides a comfortable, no-frills riding experience.

Rolling out of Honda’s sprawling campus in Torrance, the power was smooth and linear. American Honda won’t divulge actual horsepower figures, but we’ve read reports of the high 80s from overseas. For a motorcycle with an 1,140cc engine and a 540-pound curb weight (claimed; 549 for the ABS model), it won’t blow your socks off, but it isn’t designed to do so. The CB750 may have been the first production superbike, but these days Honda’s CBR line handles those duties, thank you very much.

The CB1100 feels solid, and it provides the sort of relaxed comfort you’d expect from a re-imagined classic. The 31.3-inch seat height and well-placed mid-mount foot pegs offer plenty of leg room, and the reach to the handlebar is relaxed. There’s no windscreen or fairing to divert the wind around your body, but that’s part of the experience. Simple, elemental.

Climbing a winding road up to Palos Verdes, the CB1100’s steering was neutral and the steel double-cradle frame felt reassuringly stable. No hinge in the middle, no wallowing around. The brakes provided plenty of stopping power, but the suspension—adjustable only for spring preload—felt bouncy and underdamped.

Honda has nailed it with the CB1100. It pays respect to the motorcycle that put it on the map and continues the company’s long line of enthusiast models. Cue the nostalgic emotions of thousands of Baby Boomers who rode various CB models throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s.

The CB1100’s 3.9-gallon fuel tank comes in Candy Red only, and the bike will be available in March 2013 for $9,999 ($10,999 for ABS).

From a distance, the Honda CB1100 looks like a motorcycle from another era.
From a distance, the Honda CB1100 looks like a motorcycle from another era.
The 2013 Honda CB1100 comes in Candy Red only for $9,999.
The 2013 Honda CB1100 comes in Candy Red only for $9,999.


    • I owned a 1975 CB400F for several years, then a 1985 CB750 Sport Custom for several more years. I have been waiting for years for Honda to come back with another CB in the configuration of the CB1100. The new CB1100 has the best of both of the bikes I owned. the higher foot pegs, under your butt, and the four into one on the pipes from the design of the CB400F, and the engine and frame size of the CB750 Sport Custom. I checked my local Honda dealer and they sold the 1100 within two days of being on the floor, and they don’t know when they will get another one in. They said they would call me when one arrives! I can’t wait to get my hands on it!!!

  1. I just had opportunity to see the CB1100 in person yeaterday at the San Mateo Ca. Motorcycle show….I presently own a 79 Cbx….my favorite machine of all times but the cb1100 melted me…..sat on it and felt like a 750 in size….so darn comfortable….tach redlines at 8500 which indicates the engine builds power down low….torque!!! The useable pleasurable power that we all appreciate. the simplicity of air and oil cooled. At the show there were awesome machines on display but this bike had a waiting line for a sit and photo shoot opportunity….people were muttering “Im getting one” and both men and women were grinning ear to ear….it was a reminder of my.past when i was giggling like a school boy at first site of cb 750’s,Cbx’s, and kawi triples….and yes i owned them all. Honda is the first to be on target with what the public wants!!! This is what weve been missing!!!! Thankyou Honda!!!!! See you soon!

  2. Was all excited until I read 3.9 gal. fuel tank. I ride a cb700sc with a 4.3 Gal. fuel tank and that isn’t enough. I some times get over 50 mpg. mostly about 45. the small tank is a deal breaker for me. I would think if you want an 1100 cc bike you would want to ride it more than to the local DQ.

    • The 3.9 gal. tank seemed small to me at first, but this isn’t a touring bike. My typical day-rides are 70 to 120 miles, and anyway, what’s the big problem with stopping for 5 minutes to fill up and stretch?

      • Well, no problem at all, except that you could go around the world with this motorcycle if you chose this. No problem stopping,filling and stretching. Only very real problem will be when there is no gas station in sight…

        • I picked up my CB1100 two weeks ago on Saturday the 4th of Apr. I have well over 1,000 miles on it in two weeks and have averaged slightly over 50 MPG. At that rate I go 150 miles and stil have 45 miles before empty. 150 miles between refueling stops is not all that bad for an old man. I am ready for a break by then.

    • I think the reason there is such a low specific output of the engine, is that it is tuned for torque and efficiency rather than horsepower. I suspect that the designers at Honda were looking at a bit better than 50 mpg as a fuel target. If so, then we are still talking about a range of around 200 miles. Which is time to get off an unfaired bike and stretch your legs, anyway.

      As you can probably tell, I’m buying one. I’ve been waiting for a while.

  3. Congratulations to Honda for producing this bike- i remember the CB750 well- awesome bike! But what would really get me excited is a brand new 4 CYLINDER CB400F Supersport- there would be a waiting list for that bike ! Go for it Honda!

  4. Kudos to Honda for bringing back the UJM. We’ve gotten so far into sportbikes and cruisers, we’ve forgotten how nice an all-around bike can be.
    I’m lucky enough to have one… a 1990’s Nighthawk 750, model number CB750 of that era. It’s low cost, low insurance, low maintenance, high pleasure. Now that they’re bringing the CB1100 to market, how about a 750 version, with a lower seat height, or lower seat height option? My Nighthawk isn’t going to last forever, you know.

  5. Had a bunch of 750 hondas in the day, but quit riding about 25 years ago.
    Kids are older, bought another cb-7509(75) restored it, but it’s underpowered for todays traffic.
    Also the vibration that I never felt at 20-30, I now feel.
    This Cb-1000 should do the trick, I don’t need( or want) to go 150 mph, would be perfect with a small fairing!

    My only complaint is why only one color, and why isn’t the side panel painted like the tank? .
    Love it for 10-11 k ,but if they raise the price, well, NO.

    • When I get mine I am going to color match the sidecovers and put a Givi color matched fairing! It is a UJM. U make it what you want!

  6. Yes, it does remind me a bit of the days of the CB750 and Kawasaki’s Z1’s (although not quite as good looking) – but I’ve always loved the styling of the “Universal Japanese Motorcycle”. Over the past few decades there have been several attempts at bringing back this style and class of motorcycle. Each time it’s been very short lived and by most standards of measurements a complete failure.

    I believe that there is a very common theme to these failures. For all of their great knowledge and marketing research, each of these attempts has failed to bring a major component to the table. Everyone seems to have forgotten that bikes like the original CB750 and Z1(s) were the superbikes of their day. They were the baldest thing on the planet that you could buy from a horsepower perspective. Then what happened? People would buy them and then turn around and call companies like “RC Engineer” to get a bunch of parts to make them go even faster… Build something that looks like a Kawasaki Z1 and give it the horsepower of the 2013 ZX14 (not detuned) with modern handing characteristics, brakes, fuel injection, etc… and I’ll be the first in line to buy one – I don’t give a rats ass about detuned engines for midrange and low end torque. Give me a “Wolf” in “Z1 Clothing” – otherwise all I can say is “yawn”… 80-90 HP bikes may fly/cut-it in Europe, but how do bright people keep forgetting that the US market is about horsepower? It’s about having the baldest bike/car on the block regards to whether it’s practical or needed! Hey Honda and Kawasaki – I’m telling you guys “Build it and they will come…”. Give us something in standard trim that will remind us of a H2 hitting it’s power band… Guys!!! It’s all about passion…

  7. Had the privilege of owning a CB1300 that’s only available in Europe and Asia. From my experience in riding that bike the CB1100 will be a joy to ride.

    They are big ad bulky but so neutral when you ride them. Very balanced bikes. Looking forward to getting mine soon.

    • I read your First Ride writeup on the CB1100.. Nice work, but I have a hydraulicly activated multi plate wet clutch on my CB1100.

      Keep up the good work. I enjoy reading all of your test ride wriet-ups.

      Great Magazine.

  8. I currently own 3 & ride 2 CB750 Hondas. My 76 has 86+k & rode it last week the way it still runs I’m hopingto get 100k before a teardown. My 77 is a hill billy junkyard resurrection. It came w/a red , white & blue paint which I was able to rescue. My goal is to own 3 CB750s~a bone stock~my 76~a customm~my 77 & a chopper~ my70 combination honda/suzuki only 25% complete. These bikes are an engineering miracle~bullet proof ~13 years ridin’& not once have I not made it home. The Cb1100 only lacks 1 thing A KICK STARTER!!!!!!

  9. I was pretty excited when I heard that these are headed Stateside, looks great and I’m in the market for a standard this year. I love UJMs and am overjoyed that they appear to be coming back.
    I sat on one yesterday at a bike show though and was surprised at how cramped the legroom was, and I have short legs (30″ inseam in pants) that don’t like swinging over KLRs etc.
    Both the guys I was with had the same complaint. The new CB500f feels great though.
    Bottom line, I’m not dropping 11K on an uncomfortable bike that gets outperformed by my 82 XJ750. I’d keep the XJ but it’s tired and I don’t enjoy wrenching more than riding.

  10. the price cant be helped. The Japanese Yen is so strong now. its 30% stronger today than it was 5 years ago. Today’s $13199 would put it at $9000 in 2007’s terms, and Honda wont make any money if they priced it at $10000. Either buy American or meet the price.

    • Or go used…..a 919 Honda does it all for half the price….Why don’t they make some real bikes, like a 85 sabre but faster and better all the way through? Maxim X clone ………at least if your going to charge me a small fortune make a fast machine…

  11. I had a CB750 in 1975, right after graduating from college. I LOVED that bike, and I never understood why Honda appeared to abandon the in-line 4 cylinder engine design with their later models. I’m in my mid-60’s now, and hadn’t thought much about buying another bike, until I saw this model. Now, I’m anxiously waiting for the local Honda dealer to get one in stock I can see it “in the flesh”.

  12. I placed my deposit yesterday. Previously had a 1970 CB750KO and 1978 CB750F, so I’m looking forward to owning this one. It will fit perfectly alongside my sporty bikes.

  13. Only been riding couple of years. But, I have allways want a water cooled bike. less heat and last longer. I was on a Harley once in – but the heat from the motor kills me in the summer…..insdie of legs feel burned….


  14. Looks like a dead ringer to the 1993 Kawasaki ZR1100. I would sure like to see that comparison. I you look around you can pick up very good ZR’s for 3 to 4 thousand. Mine is not forsale incase you are wondering.

  15. I have one of these and I love it. It offers the feel, easy handling, and smooth steady power that only a Honda CB can. It’s bulletproof and offers many many miles of trouble free riding. There is no substitute. And if you want one like this, you can buy it used in US for $3000 or less and it’s bulletproof. Put on a top box and whatever windshield and…..

    Wait, Oh, you mean a NEW one? $10,000!!!??? Damn, I thougth we were talking about my 1992 NH750. So what’s this got that my old Nighthawk does not? FI and better brakes? with 85HP it hardly needs these brakes, does it? It’s still a chain? Valve adjustment intervals, unlike my 21 year old NH which has hydraulic valves??

    Wait, you said $10K, ,right???

    Umm, never mind……..

  16. I had a 1979 CB 650 it was reliable but slow . That should not be a problem with a new CB 1100f . At 57 years old the best feature of this bike looks to be comfort. A CB 1100f has a comfortable sitting position. I will use this bike mostly on a 12 mile commute. The Honda NC 700 x is a more practical commute bike for gas and weight, but is it as comfortable. Roger

  17. I just bought this 2013 Red CB1100 in San Diego … I never imagine I bought the bike this big and can’t imagine it is so smooth and easy to ride on freeway. I am now collecting info to dress it up to make it a semi touring bike for long distance. I need:

    * a windshield
    * luggage
    * a lower seat even the standard one is fine for now

    the difference between this bike and my 4 prior middle weight bike is it feels safe on the hiway and its torque make riding very nice. It pulls like train on 5th gear from 30 MPH to warp speed like 18 wheelers. I can keep up with them as long as I can withstand the wind. the engine, suspension and cluth/gear box and riding position make this bike a pleasure for mid 50-ish people like me for a 100 miles ride.

    Only problem I have is in street at low speed, need to adjust to the weight. Another problem is frequent gas refill. I wish they make the bike with 5.5 gals and better fuel economy. Otherwise, the bike is very balance and pleasure to ride.

    this bike changes my former preconception about how bike is: small, fun for me: Asian with 5’7 and 30” inseam. I put on less than 3K miles for each of my middle weight, they are simply tiresome to ride on highway and lack of power and smoothness. CB1100 is an anti-thesis – big bore, heavy, inline 4, then, absolutely gorgeous to own. I plan to keep this one for a long time, if I can I put it in my living room.

    Honda price the bike low to attract customer. Back in 2013, the list price is 13K now 10K it reflects the the Yen lost 20% of its value. Now is the time before the Yen goes up again ….

  18. After waiting in line since O’dark thirty at the Honda demo booth when we went to Americade this past summer, I finally got to try out the CB1100 Deluxe (2-into-2 exhaust, larger tank, ABS). I had ridden over to the event on my ’71 CB750, so it was quite a comparison! The 1100 was so smooth and compliant running over the back roads that circle around Lake George. There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this bike and it left me wanting to take another run on it. I’m not sure if I’m ready to give up my Valkyrie Interstate for one of these, but ever since that test ride, I haven’t stopped thinking about it. Also, I’ve yet to come across one in a local showroom (they always seem to have the CB1100 non-Deluxe). Decisions, decisions!


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