Honda BlackBird CBR 1100XX by:Brent Price
As this is one of the first postings to this site, I'd thought that I would share with you my thoughts and ideas about the Honda BlackBird. After all, this is the bike that I currently own and love, and have had two of in the past.
Take a look at one of the first released Honda BlackBirds from the later part of 1996, parked beside one of Hondas final released in 2007, and you'll be hard pressed to spot any real difference.
On the surface, both bikes will look almost identical, even though eleven years apart. The reason for this is simple. Honda got it right 11 years ago, and so have been reluctant to make any major changes to the look and feel of the bike.
This 223kg machine delivers 152 horses, or over 130bhp at the rear wheel, and while those who have never riden the bird may feel that 223 kg is a lot of bike to handle, the power to weight, as well as the design and overall performance and handling of the bike, make it an awesome riding experience.
First released late in 1996, the CBR1100XX went from carburettors to EFI (electronic fuel injection) in 99, updated headlights, instruments and screen in 2001, a few minor color changes over the years, but otherwise, Honda have pretty much left the BlackBird untinkered.
And as any past or present BlackBird owner would tell you, there has really never been any real need to change anything. Since it's first inception in 96, the Blackbird has been a real winner.
Don't be fooled by the beauty of this bike either. While it may look like a tame open road sports touring bike, designed for comfort and long distance miles, this is one aggressive machine, capable of 300kph straight off the factory floor.
The bird comes into its own equally on the race track as it does on the open road.
As a BlackBird owner myself. (my current bike I have owned since new last year), I have done both, the miles, as well as a quick (and I mean quick) squirt around Alf Barbagallo raceway here in Western Australia. The bike is as smooth as silk, and handles like a train on rails through the corners.
The Blackbird's 1137 cc four-cylinder engine develops lots of torque and heaps of power. The fuel injection gives you a smooth run through the entire throttle range, and there are no nasty flat spots, just pure accelaration, right up to the 10,750 rpm redline.
Up until the realse of the Suzuki Hayabusa 1300 in 1999, the Honda Blackbird held the title of the world's fastest production bike. No small feat.
One of the unique features of the Blackbird is the CBS (combined braking system). On a motorbike like this, with this much power and potential speed, stopping is a vital consideration. The CBS runs three piston twin discs, and combines the breaking between the front as well as the back, regardless of which brake was applied. So pulling on the front brake lever will pull you up nicely by applying brake power to both the front and back. Equally, hitting the rear brake won't lockup the back wheel, but rather will apply brakes to both the front and back, and will pull you up nice and smooth. A bit of getting used to at first, but a welcome addition allowing for an overall smooth and safe ride. Obviously not a feature that you would want if your intention was to throw the Blackbird around a race circuit, but then, if racing was what you were into, then a lighter bike like perhaps the Honda CBR Fireblade would be a better fit.
As far as rider comfort is concerned, speaking from personal experince. The Bird is one of the most comfortable bikes that I have ever owned. It's not the "sit upright" long distance ride like the naked bikes, but then you have all of the slippery bodywork to allow you to slip through the air without the wind buffetting. You get the best of both worlds. You can clock up the miles on this bike, and still get off and walk upright without the lower back pain you may experience from riding any real distance on a sportsbike.
So what exactly was Honda thinking when they released the BlackBird?
At 223kg (dry) it's much too heavy to be a pure sportsbike, yet being capable of speeds of 300kph, and being the worlds fastest production bike when first relased, it's too fast and has too sporty a ride position to be a true tourer.
The conclusion is that the Honda CBR 1100XX Super BlackBird is a power-packed all-rounder and a great tourer on the open road. Again, from personal experience, why I love the Blackbird is for this exact reason. This is the greatest all-round bike that I have ever owned. It's a fun weekend machine to throw arown the corners, and blast along the long straights (on a racetrack of course), and to ride around with the boys, (and sometimes the girls), but is just as at home for the long distance runs. (Phillip island accross Australia run, here I come). Oh, and of course, it has the realiability of a Honda.
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About the author
As an owner of the Honda BlackBird CBR 1100XX, I have put together this little review. If you are a BlackBird owner, or are considering getting a Honda BlackBird, then I would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Here's mine. ...