Honda goes retro with new CB1100

2013-02-25 12:23

I’m convinced Japanese motorcycle manufacturers aren’t sure what’s supposed to happen next in the styling and marketing stakes.

Just about everything has been tried to keep the buyers happy; we’ve got great dirt bikes, sportbikes, cruisers, adventure bikes, big bikes, small bikes and all those in-between to keep us happy – but where to now?

Honda reckons it a solution with its new CB1100 - a modern take on the world’s first superbike, the CB750 from the late 1960’s.


The CB750 undoubtedly rocked the motorcycling world while also bringing the benchmark at the time, the British motorcycle industry, to its knees.

The British industry ruled the then world of motorcyling with illustrious brand names such as Norton, Matchless, Vincent, Sunbeam, AJS and BSA.

Electric start? You must be having a laugh, the 1969 CB750 boasted one, along with a disc brake, four-cylinders and much, much more.

Before you write in and grumble, I’ve deliberately omitted Triumph and Royal Enfield as they continue to soldier on with a fairly strong revival from British bike fans. Though they have different owners and, in the case of Royal Enfield, manufacturing takes place on an entirely different continent.

Back to Honda 2013, the largest engine manufacturer in the world, whether it be lawn mowers, stationary engines, motorcycles and cars of every description, even aeroplane production is well within the realm of this amazing company – the latest CB1100 is another case in point.

Pictures tell a thousand words but the bike you see attached to this article is for real and it’s for sale in South Africa from R117 900.

Boasting all the classical great looks of their original and timeless CB750 from five decades ago, this latest offering is air-cooled, has quad-valve technology, double overhead cams to represent a balanced blend of performance, broad capacity, ability and adaptability.


Honda’s current chief designer Mitsuyoshi Kohama said: “It just had to be an air-cooled engine. Instant acceleration has its appeal, as does modern styling that conveys the swiftness of the bike.

“But there’s a lot more to the path of motorcycle evolution. I found myself thinking along these lines for the first time when I returned to Japan, after several years in Europe. It was also at this time that I grabbed a pencil and quickly started sketching.

“I thought about how to craft all the necessary elements beautifully and combine them in a perfect whole. I wanted to create a beautiful motorcycle with artisan-level handiwork that's also approachable and easy to ride.”

Unmistakably Honda, the CB1100’s clean lines echo the past. The large round headlight, scalloped fuel tank (proudly detailed with the Honda Wing) and silver side panels add style and substance. Familiar analog dials illuminate in green (as per the original), the slim seat, side-swept 4-2-1 exhaust plumbing and chromed front and rear mudguards provide the finishing touches.

It all serves to stir memories of how motorcycles used to look and feel. Even the rear shock-absorbers hark back to the look of half a century ago and there’s nothing wrong with that!

Perhaps the classic bike direction really is the way to go. After all, Kawasaki has quite a history of manufacturing bikes of this kind, the first being a BSA A7 lookalike (W1), the Vulcan Drifter that strongly resembled an Indian Chief, the J650 that had Triumph’s Bonneville good looks and their latest offering, the W800.

Seems we’re spoiled for choice and direction from Asia these days!

  • Alan - 2013-02-25 14:31

    Got a buddy in Australia who has had one for about 2 years and loves it!

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