Cycle Magazine 1981 Honda CBX Road Test

4 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Cycle Magazine 1981 Honda CBX Road Test


Honda CB1100R Concept

1981 Honda CBX Road Test – page 4

There’s a distinctly European flair to the new CBX’s fairing, which is lower and narrower than those we are accustomed to seeing. The flair is understandable, if you know that the same fairing is fitted on Honda’s European CB1100R. But the concept seems oddly abbreviated, trimmed, truncated, as though persons outside the styling department had been given jurisdiction over its final form.

And that is exactly the case: Styling was allowed to propose, but the right of final disposition rested with Honda’s wind-tunnel staff. Aerodynamic considerations decided the size and shape of the fairing, and even the saddlebags. Not because wind resistance was thought to be of paramount importance but because aerodynamics have a large influence upon high-speed stability.

Big, blunt fairings and bulky saddlebags can provoke horrendous speed wobbles, and Honda thought it inappropriate that a genuine sports-touring motorcycle should have to operate under any speed constraints.

The CBX’s fairing seems totally successful in terms of high-speed stability. We ran our test bike up to a tachometer reading in fifth gear equal to 120 miles per hour and it was completely steady at that speed-which we feel is near the new CBX’s absolute top speed. You might be able to upset the bike’s stability by stuffing its saddlebags with lead ingots, thus shifting its center of gravity considerably rearward, but we believe that in any normal operating mode it would remain stable.

With respect to weather and bug protection the CBX’s fairing is only mostly successful. It does shield your body, legs and upper arms very effectively. The narrow side skirts may look skimpy, but they serve only to extend the protection afforded by the engine’s wide cylinder block; your legs definitely are in out of the breeze.

But the ’81 CBX does nothing more to shield its rider’s hands than last year’s unfaired model. And the windscreen is too low to serve as a face and eye protector; a CBX rider will need a face shield or goggles.

According to our contact at Honda, the CBXs bound for Europe will get tinted windshields; those on American models will be clear. Our test bike had a tinted screen, which makes us wonder, but this is a point of small consequence because you look over the windshield rather than through it. If there is to be a change, we’d prefer that it involve shape, not color, as the CBX’s windshield sends a streamer of highly turbulent air back to buffet its rider’s head.

Honda CB1100R Concept

The buffeting is noisy, and at times it snatches a rider’s helmet around like a giant hand. All of our test riders hated the turbulence. The only difference of opinion about it was that some of us felt we could become accustomed to it; others did not.

Everyone here at Cycle especially regretted the buffeting because in every other way the CBX does a lot to keep its rider comfortable and in control. It gives a seat/handlebar/footpeg spatial relationship that’s near-perfect. Tall riders can be comfortable on the CBX; so can the short guys. They’ve even provided the means by which your riding position can be finely adjusted: The CBX has individual right and left handlebars clamped to the fork tubes’ extended upper ends.

If you don’t like the reach provided by the bars you can simply loosen their clamps and move them to where they feel better.

Elsewhere, Honda managed one comfort-related triumph and one flop. You’d have to rate the job done with the fuel tank as a victory of shape over capacity: The CBX’s tank holds nearly six gallons of fuel, yet its contoured sides fit comfortably against your knees and thighs. Some people may feel that the tank is too broad to look right, but it isn’t quite broad .enough to reach the cylinder head’s ends, and in any case the bike needs all the fuel that can comfortably be provided.

Gentle highway cruising may get you about 43 miles per gallon; slightly more brisk travel will pull the CBX right down into the 36-38 mpg range, and we got one hard-flog reading at 24 mpg. You wouldn’t want a smaller tank.

Honda CB1100R Concept
Honda CB1100R Concept
Honda CB1100R Concept

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