2017 Honda CB 1100 EX

​ROOTS-  Before diving into the nuts and bolts of the CB 1100EX, I feel the need to write about my feelings about the Honda CBs of years gone by.

​My first Honda was a CL 70-the CL was the street scrambler designation, but I rode the bike on the road.  Within 9 months I took ownership of my first CB, which means "road bike" in Honda jargon.  That bike was a 1970 CB 175, and thus began my love of long riding and Honda motorcycles in particular.  I rode the little CB 10,000 miles in 8 months.  I took delivery in May 1970 and did not come off the bike till the following winter.  I rode it everywhere.  School, football practice, my girlfriends', and in between all that, I just rode it to the next town to see what was there.

​In the fall of 1972 I upgraded to a Honda CB 350F.  An inline, air cooled four.  I was a senior in high school, and even though  I owned a nice car (1971 Chevelle) I seldom drove it anywhere.  The only time I took the car out was on Friday and Saturday nights. The balance of the week I was on the Honda.  After football season, I rode it all afternoon when they let me out of class.

​In between the years of the CB 350F and the 2017 CB 1100, I rode a series a street bikes.  A 78 GL, a couple of Kawasakis, and in 2001, a Honda ST 1100.  I never forgot the classic CBs of the 70s, and how much I loved them, but the UJM (acroynm for Universal Japanese Motorcycle) became extinct somewhere in the 80s, as the Japanese moved to more niche bikes.  A specific bike for a specific purpose.  The all around do everything motorcycle was out of vogue.

​One thing about the Honda CBs of the 70s, they all had common traits, no matter the size.  The CB 750 and the CB 200 shared many things.  The fit and finish were perfect, air cooled, long seats, upright ride position, and a nice sound.  The were all very  reliable.  But I had evolved into a true long rider, so even if the old CBs were still in production, they were not up to the task of 10,000 mile 3 week cross country tours.  Certainly my new 1100 could take me to California, but not to the level of the warp speed sport touring bike outfitted with the latest technolgy to make those miles go by easily.

​The modern UJM is hideous in my view.  I don't get it.

​I was minding my own business content with my trio of sport touring bikes a few months ago, when I saw in a magazine a picture of the 2017 CB​1100 EX and I knew I had to have one.  Over the years I scanned Ebay for good buys on a CB 750 or CBX.  Good copies were too much money, and others were too much work.  "I wish Honda would make a modern bike with a retro style" was my mantra for years.  Finally my calls were answered.  The mag reported the CB 1100 was going to be imported to the U.S. starting in May.  I promptly closed out the online magazine, picked up the phone and called LakeHill Honda (where I bought the ST 1100 and ST 1300) and placed a depoist on a unit.

​THE WHY-  That's easy to answer-the CB 1100 speaks to me.  I could sit and look at it for hours if it did nothing else.  The retro look has been captured all the way to the chrome spokes of the EX.  The earlier CB 1100s, are nice, but don't quite capture the feel and look of the 1970s CBs.  For instance the tank badge on the gas tank of the 2014 instead of the word HONDA.  The 4-1 mufflers were used on the CB 400F (circa 1975) and I think that was the look the engineers were going for.  I personally always liked the 4-2 or 4-4 upswept, chrome exhausts of the CBX and CB 750 of the era, which the 2017 has.

​I bought the CB for its looks and character, and in the meantime discovered how practical the bike is for a guy like me.  Sport Touring bikes can do a lot of things, like commute, but what it does best is roll miles like a 747.  They are the best at comfort, speed, handling and reliability in road bikes.  I love riding them to far off places.  It's like this; a sport touring bike can commute better than my CB 1100 can ride to California, so if I could only have one genre of bike, it would be a ST bike.

​But I can have more than one genre, and if you can too- take a look at the CB 1100.  I love this bike.  It is easy to ride, manuever in traffic and parking lots, feet flat feet on the ground, short turn radius, and on a nice country lane on a summer afternoon, makes me feel 17 years old again as I ride sans fairing and windscreen in the open world.  I ride the same roads I did in 1970 and think I'm on the CB 175.  That's what I mean when I say it speaks to me.

​This bike is a great compliment to a sport touring bike.  Looking to take a nice 40 mile ride on a favorite loop?  Leave your ST for the heavy work, you don't need cruise control for that kind of ride.  Put your gear on and be gone before you can get the sport tourer out of the garage.   Except for the RT, sport touring bikes are hot azz bikes.  It comes with the terrritoy.  On a summer day they will roast you in town.  When temps hit 100 degrees (often in Ala) the heat moves up the fairing and frame from the overheated roadway and bakes a rider.  I ride the least miles of the year in summer.  I ride just enough to keep my sanity, unless I take a trip out west. 

​The CB 1100 will do yeoman's duty in that enviroment.  It is not a hot bike in summer.  I get it out of the garage no fuss, no bother. ​​It is elegant in design and simple.  No frills are given, none asked for.  The EX is a bike with a lot of character, and the craftmanship put into the bike is top notch. Chrome bars, handlebar mirrors, and spoke wheels are just a few of the traits captured by Honda making a new bike with a classic design.


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            The pics above give a feel to how well Honda matched up the new CB 1100 with the 1979 CBX.  Nicely done.​​

​My dad on his CB 750 and me on the CB 350F.  Circa 1974.

The CB 1100 is not about the performance, but the feel, looks, and sound.  I love riding this bike.  I emjoy how it is easy to ride, and how it moves me unfaired through my everyday rides on the roads I have come to love so much near my home.  Honda has done a excellent job capturing that spirit in their new CB 1100. YOung riders will never understand, why us "old guys" find that so appealling.
​Walk around video of the CB 1100.
 ​THE BIKE-  As mentioned earlier the CB 1100 EX is a in line 4, air cooled motorcycle.  Honda pionered the in line 4 back in 1969 with its CB 750.  The 1100 motor is the first in line four manufactured by Honda in 21 years.  The motor is smooth but seems to get busy around 80 mph.  ​​

​I don't worry about a air cooled motor on this bike.  I've never seen a air cooled Honda overheat, or perform anything short of flawless.  I'm confident the bike will give many, many, years of enjoyment.

​The CB has a 6 speed transmission, with 6th gear doing overdrive duty.  The bike cruises best in the 65-75 mph window.  The 1100 comes with the 1st generation power clutch, and it works fantastic.  Clutch action is the lightest I've seen and reminds me of my 2015 Civic Si Vtech in how smooth and quiet it shifts.  The transmission itself is like all Honda bikes-excellent.

​COMFORT- I find the 1100 mostly comfortable.   I had no problems with it on my 300 mile ride home from the dealer.  Seat was good for me.  Fully upright riding position, and comfortable reach to the bars.  The lack of wind protection at high speeds can wear you down, but I didn't buy the CB to take a 700 mile ride on a long tour.  Near 5000 rpm the you notice the revs are up, and you feel the wind trying to pry you off the handlebars.

​HANDLING-  When it comes to handling I grade a bike in 2 areas- the twisties and around town.  The CB, with its dual shocks does not handle as well as my sport touring bikes, with their on the fly, fully adjustable mono shocks.  The 1100 has good ground clearence but tends to drift when heeled over.  Does not feel as stable either.  It is out of his element in the canyons.  But thats ok, I have bikes for that.  It leans well enough to let me know I'm on a motorcycle and that's all the satisfaction I need here on the backroads of Autauga County.

​Around town?  The CB darts and dodges potholes, stalled cars, and bicycles with aplomb.  I can back it out of the parking spot at the burger joint with ease.  It is light in the steering and with its short turn radius, makes tight situations nothing to think about.  On the days I just want a quick ride, I can ease out of the garage and on the road before I can get one of the heavy STs ready.  In just a few turns I clear the urban areas of East Prattville and find myself and on back lanes and rural riding, before I know it have knocked down 50 miles.  I don't need all the bells and whistles of the sport touring bikes for a ride like that.

​Back in the day, a CB 1100 would be considered a BIG motorcycle.  You have to understand in 1972 the CB 750 was the biggest, fastest bike on the road.  Yes, the electra glide was around but it wasn't very fast.  The 750 intimidated this 14 year old.

​THE MOTOR-  The motor makes good power all the way up the band.  As mentioned, it feels busy around 80 mph but doesn't get any worse.  It can't cruise like a sport touring bike.  I'm sure some will buy a CB and try to make a touring bike out of it, by adding this or that.  Why would you do that to a bike like this?  They make bikes for that kind of riding, I suggest spend the extra money and get what's needed.

​The motor is typical Honda- perfect for what is asked to do.  Honda has always been pretty good at picking the right tool for the job.

​OTHER STUFF-  LED headlight, tailight, turn signals all work well.  Gear indicator.  On a 6 speed bike that is essential.  My 2015 Civic Si 6 speed, badly needs that device.  It shifts so smooth, and precise you forget what gear.   Two trip computers give all the info you need about the gas situation.  Miles to empty, fuel used, ave MPG and current MPG.  The clock digits are small.  I fear I won't be able to read it in a few more years.  The display is also hard to see in certain light conditions.

​Brakes are good. ABS and linked.  At first I didn't know about link brakes.  Now I'm lazy and use the lever most of the time, so I don't have to move my foot to the pedal.

​Tank is small- 3.7 gallons, and 44 mpg give me about 170 miles to the tank.  That mpg has been consistent last 1000 miles or so.

​I clean and oil the chain every 1000 miles.  So far it has only needed adusting one time. (1200 miles since last adjustment.)

​The sidestand is best I've seen.  It deploys easily and gives the bike the correct lean.  Why it took so long for someone to figure this out I don't know.

​The CB has the new power assisted slip clutch, works good.  Best clutch action I've ever seen.

​Chrome everywhere.  Fenders, handlebards, mirrors, exhaust, polished engine casings.  Craftmanship some of the best I've seen, a lot of care went into this bike's design.  They knew they had to get this right to satisfy guys like me, and live up to the CB heritage.  I read the young engineers had never designed a in line 4, air cooled motor, and had to visit the archives of Honda to see how the guys in the 70s did it.  They would also be tasked with using modern materials and appointments to make the 1100 happy in the current world.   I can say they did a excellent job.  I love my CB 1100, I feel they made the bike just for me.  No, not a bike for the masses, why it seems to be in limited release.  I hear they are already getting hard to find in North America.  A dealer in Boston advised only 2 units were delivered among 6 area dealers.  Glad I got mine.

​If you need/want a second bike to compliment a sport tourer or full luxo tourer, the CB 1100 will work nicely for you.  I'm often asked why I don't have a dual sport to go with my sport touring bikes.   Easy, I have no place to ride them here.  Second, I'm not really into dirt riding, but I can see why some are.  I might take a look at it if I lived in Utah or Neveda, but here?  Last it goes against my grain to spend 18,000 dollars on a bike to beat up off road. 

​I prefer speed over the dirt, I'm addicted to it, I admit it.  That want is reflected over all my bikes and car.  Most of my friends drive F150s or SUVs, but not me.  I drive the Si Vtech, for its agility, speed and fun factor.

​But back to the subject at hand-the CB 1100.  I have one in my garage, now I can rest easy, all you need to know.

​What a great exhaust note the CB 1100 has.  Gnarly with a growl.  Sounds really good.

 ​The instruments on the CB 1100 are simple and functional.  Menu on the trip computer not hard to figure out.  Can be a little hard to see in certain conditions, but overall a good job.​​
​​Super easy to park, backup, and other low speed manuevers.  Great all aound bike.  The simple and classic design of the bike will make any garage look good.
​​​​R​etro?  How about a seamless gas tank, painted in the classic star burst metal flake just like the gas tank on my dad's 1974 CB 750.  True to the 70s, the Honda nameplate  raised in chrome on the tank, in lieu of the wing, found on earlier CB 1100s.
​This chrome polished side plate modeled after the 1979 CBX.
Modern LED headlights, tailights, and flashers are bright and functional.​​
 ​SUMMARY- The design team at Honda were presented with a difficult task.  Make a modern retro bike, and speaking as someone who grew up on Hona CBs I say they did a fine job, right down to the chrome handrail.​​