The thing about these big automobile companies is that their history is often filled with certain remarkable events that have impacted their course of action in some way or the other.
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Their past actions and choices are like a hint of their intent towards the two-wheeler industry. In fact, many of the motorcycles launched by the manufacturers are the result of the requirements of a particular market. The kind of vehicles people prefer and ride in their country is what they want the future products to be unless they get something even better.
In 1969, one of the biggest motorcycle giants in the world, Honda, made something that went on to be known as the world’s first Superbike. It was the CB 750 and Honda made it primarily for the American market. That bike changed motorcycling forever.
But as they say, progress is inevitable. While the world was still getting the hang of the performance of inline 4 engines, Honda went one up in 1978 by introducing their first 6-cylinder motorcycle, the CBX 1000. To this day, it remains Honda’s only inline 6-cylinder sportbike and it was in production for five years till 1982.
It isn’t going to be a big guess work. After the unimaginably successful introduction of the CB 750, Honda found themselves somewhat in the same boat nearly 10 years down the line. Other manufacturers, from Japan, were starting to catch up to Honda and the CB 750 was no more the world’s most special sportbike in production. Honda again found itself lacking in the American market (it was possibly the most important market in those times). And this time, the company needed to do something even more radical of course.
The CBX was the answer to the “bigger and faster” requirement of the American market. Suffice to say that the CBX was the quickest and the fastest motorcycle of its time, and at full chat, it almost sounded like an F1 race car. There were no strict emission and sound norms back then, so even the stock exhausts produced a mesmerizing aural note.
The Honda CBX
Also known as the CBX 1000 to distinguish from the rest of the CBX series, the CBX had a Double Overhead Cam 1047cc inline 6 engine with a total of 24 valves! It could produce 105 BHP of maximum power at 9,000 RPM and around 70.8 NM of torque at 6,500 RPM. With a top speed of up to 216 km/h, Honda had it covered in the performance department.
Because of the engine, the CBX was a bit wide, although, it maintained its overall proportions quite well especially when a rider was on board. The engine was not any wider than the rider’s legs and so it did not really look awkward. Unusual, yes, but not awkward.
While the inline 6 engine was unconventional, rest of the design of the motorcycle was mainstream. It had a classic styling with a standard fuel tank, wide and high handlebar, round headlamp and the flat seat. The frame was a steel tube structure with conventional telescopic forks at the front with twin disc setup. At the back, there two shockers doing the shocking absorbing duties along with a single disc brake.
Riding a motorcycle as special as the CBX is like living your most cherished dream. There would not be many CBX’s in the world right now that would be completely functional, so this opportunity that is given to us makes us feel highly privileged and fortunate.
First off, it doesn’t like any other motorcycle that you’ve heard. We often talk about distinctive exhaust notes – from V-twins, the inline 3s and the R1’s crossplane – but this particular Honda is like one in a billion. At high RPMs, the CBX sounds almost like a Formula 1 car and that is not an exaggeration. And while this looks quite passable, there is no way on earth it can be ignored while on the move purely on the basis of how it sounds.
We did not really think that it would be possible but we had more fun riding this 1978 model than many modern motorcycles of today. And not because it was weird to ride, it wasn’t, but because by the looks of it this motorcycle doesn’t really look like it’s made for speed. Yes, it has got a big engine, but then it is a classic and an old piece of machinery. But it knocked us right out of the park as soon as we thumb started it and put it in gear. Let us make this clear, there have been very few motorcycles that impressed us so much in so little time. And this is the only vintage motorcycle to do so.
The CBX has been known to do the quarter mile run (0 to 400 metres) in 11.36 seconds with a top speed of 189.82 km/h. Unfortunately, we did not get the chance to check out its acceleration due to the road and traffic conditions at hand. Still, we did get the essence of the performance lurking inside that wide engine from the short ride we had.
If this is to be made today, we can tell you with surety that it would be one of the most sought after motorcycles among the motorcycle enthusiasts. It is fast, comfortable, looks solid and substantial. What more do we really need!
But there’s a glimmer of hope with platforms like OLX that offer a chance to own these kind of rare motorcycles. Who knows that if we try then we may find one on OLX.
We would like to extend our thanks to Mr Joe of Joe’s Garage to let us ride this truly wonderful piece of machinery and one of the most historic motorcycles ever made by Honda.