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Motorcycle number 9.


I happened to be in Japan when the reborn Honda CB1100 was released and fell in love with it on a weekend ride.

I liked most of all how the bike was so enjoyable at a lesser pace. Honda marketing in Japan went into great detail about how much effort had gone into achieving a different feel with the bike. Normally I ignore all the fluff manufactures say except there was something different about the CB1100. Honda went and developed an air cooled inline four that undeniably provided character. 90hp from 1100cc is a bold move in a world of 200hp motorcycles. This allowed a truly turbine smooth engine with bucket loads of lazy torque. You get the low rpm benefits of a twin with a lovely smooth spool up of a four. It made me smile every time I turned the throttle.

In Japan Honda talked about how attention was paid to the small details not normal in a mass produced model like polishing the engine, having the 18 inch wheels to look right in the guards and even the ping sound of the fins on cool down. Honda Japan made no excuses about the bike being aimed at older riders. They already offered big bore CB1300 and CB1000R nakeds. But none of that was mentioned in Australia. Motorcycling there is still about speed and machismo and the bike got a luke warm response. The press scratched their heads about the traditional narrow rear tyre and dual rear shocks. One reviewer wrote ‘it would be better if it was more modern’ affirming my views about the intellect of motorcycle journalists. Good news for me, they sat on dealer floors so I walked in made an offer and rode away many thousands below retail.

The power and capability of the bike was ideal for everyday riding at licence preserving speeds required in my home state which was very heavy handed on speeding and strongly anti motorcycle. Actually soon after this photo I stopped riding in my home region completely and would make the trip south over the border any fine Sunday as things had gotten out of control with police erecting road blocks on popular rider roads, detaining anyone on two wheels.

However moving on from all that it was a joy exploring the backroads of northern NSW on this bike, hands down the best days of my then twenty odd years spent riding would have been the last 12 months on this bike. I could have done with a little more fuel range which Honda added in the revised version but it was never meant to be a long distance tourer just a relaxed ride on a fine day.

Retro bikes have really caught on since then even though most are totally modern machines. This is the last motorcycle I owned in Australia. I sold it far too cheaply in my move to Japan and regret not finding a way to store it and now be able to revisit my favourite old rides on this beautiful machine.

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