Yes, motorcycles are still fun. If you remember the revolutionary CB750, you’ll love the new CB1100 EX. It’s a big, comfortable retro-sporty-cruiser that starts at $12,579
Was anybody here around in 1969? Or the early ‘70s? Did anybody like motorcycles then? If so, you have to recall the debut of the Honda CB750 Four. That was almost as big a deal as the dawn of internal combustion, or the first time anyone ever thought to actually slice bread. Before the CB750, as far as I recall, there were only big, heavy, two-cylinder British bikes; big, heavy, two-cylinder American bikes and little, buzzy one- and two-cylinder Japanese bikes. At least in my memory. Maybe in yours, too.
Then came the CB750.
I recall sneaking into the dealership on PCH and gawking like a convert at a revival at the thing. What a bike! Four cylinders, FOUR CYLINDERS, transversely mounted! So much power, so much torque, so much possibility. The world would never be the same, I remember thinking. I took as many brochures as I could carry and plastered them on the wall of my room.
As a gawky teenager still years away from a license or a job with enough money to buy anything as magnificent as that, it slipped into memory, where it has stayed since. I wound up buying a 10-year-old BSA 650 that blew up and was sold for salvage rights to A&A Motorcycle Salvage in Wilmington for $35. Then came college, then other adventures, and the 750 Four moldered in the gray matter of my brain back near the Apollo moon landings and Miss Jane Parmenter on “F-Troop.”
The gauges will remind you of Honda gauges from 40 years ago
Until the CB1100 EX. Suddenly, everything gurgled back to the surface like tasty catfish fixins after pond-fishing with an M80. I first saw the CB1100 at the Long Beach motorcycle show, gleaming on the Honda stand like a chrome-plated version of the Royal crown jewels, but all bolted together. Honda’s Jon Seidel was there. He and I are about the same age and we both fondly recalled the 750 Four’s launch.
“The world was never the same,” he said.
“I had to have one,” I said, meaning I had to have a press bike for a loan.
“Sure,” he said, “No problem.”
He became my new favorite industry executive. But one thing got in the way of another, and it was a while before I got one. Finally, one month ago, I stood inside door 5 of Honda’s Building 500 in Torrance next to a gleaming CB1100 EX as a technician screwed a license plate onto it. Finally, a CB750/1100 was mine, if only for a couple weeks.
“I may not come back,” I told Seidel.
“I wouldn’t blame you,” he said.
There is a lot of chrome on this bike, and it shines brilliantly
And off I rode, onto the sunny Torrance streets, chrome blinding all who came within 10 blocks, riding back into the folded gray matter of memory, back into 1969 or so. Only now I could reach the pedals.
The CB1100 EX is basically a transporter to your youth — or my youth, anyway, except that now my youth has fuel injection and fully transistorized ignition. Horsepower is not listed in the U.S., but Europeans have put it at 88. Don’t look at that as you would a car; the CB weighs only 562 pounds, which is a lot less than a car. Unfortunately, it’s a lot more than many motorcycles. If there’s one common whine about this bike, it’s the weight. But look at the size of that 1140cc engine — it’s big. The weight can be seen as stability, making this a little more of a cruiser than a sporty bike.
All that’s OK with me; it is a very comfortable machine to ride. The big flat seat is carrier-deck grande compared to many other motorcycles over in the sport segment, and you can park your keister on it all day without cheek pain. The lack of fairings helps get cool air to the air-cooled engine, but means you’re battling the winds at anything over 65 mph. Your upright torso acts as a lever to raise weight off the front wheel, which makes the bike wander around just a bit as your body functions like a flag in the breeze. Up to 75 mph, you can still sit upright but anything more than that I found myself flopping over the tank for better aerodynamic efficiency.
The CB1100 EX looks retro-good from any angle
The 2017 model gets an assist-and-slip clutch, which engages the bike’s torque with a light ease that adds to its daylong riding capability. The six-speed manual transmission is easy to use, with a gear position indicator in between the two big retro gauge dials.
There are three discs for stopping, two in front and one in back, all controlled by ABS. You don’t get any other electronic aids, though, so you have to pay attention — no inertial measuring unit is going to step in and save you. But you won’t be tempted to push this bike very far in turns, anyway. It is not a sport bike. But it is also not a heavy touring machine, either. Let’s call it a sporty retro cruising memory machine.
Prices start at $12,579, which includes destination. That’s steep, but I’m guessing most buyers will be older and have better credit ratings than I had in 1969. Indeed, I wonder how many guys there are like me, who remember the original CB750 Four so fondly, fondly enough to actually go buy this new one. The CB1100 EX would be an excellent everyday commuter bike. It’s freeway capable but extremely easy to ride around town, all while holding its own well enough in corners. This could be the one bike you own if you were only going to own one bike. And for anyone who remembers how much fun motorcycling was in their youth, well, I can tell you, it’s still just as much fun today.[“Source-autoweek”]