2014 Honda CB1100 Review

Now with a six-speed gearbox, Honda’s retro-CB is new (though it’s hard to tell) and improved again.

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2014 Honda CB1100

Editor Score: 77.75%
Engine 13.0/20
Suspension/Handling 12.0/15
Transmission/Clutch 8.25/10
Brakes 8.25/10
Instruments/Controls4.0/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 8.75/10
Appearance/Quality 8.5/10
Desirability 8.0/10
Value 7.0/10
Overall Score77.75/100

Honda’s homage to itself was a big hit for 2013 with all those fans who still can’t get enough of the original earth-shattering 1969 CB750, even though the bike picked up design influences from a few more CBs as it rolled along Memory Lane: 1100F-ish fuel tank shape, 400F-like right-side four-into-one pipe … In any case, its style definitely pushed a lot of the right buttons for vintage Honda enthusiasts.

For 2014, Honda offers two versions of the bike, a standard and a Deluxe. Both get a new six-speed gearbox instead of last year’s five-speed, and a new LCD instrument display with a clock, gear-position indicator and an updated trip computer.

The new Deluxe version comes with a four-into-two exhaust with double-wall chrome headers, combined ABS brakes and an extra half-gallon of fuel capacity – also candy red paint instead of basic black. Check that Deluxe box, and you’ll be looking at a price tag of $11,899. (That’s $139 more than the way-modern CB1000R, a great bike CB1100 lovers love to hate whenever we dare to compare the two. Seems to be a definite generation gap here.)

Stylish, classic, efficient.

Stylish, classic, efficient.

If it’s the CB1100 you’re attracted to, we would in no way try to dissuade you. The CB takes all the things that made Honda Honda, and rolls it into a cohesive whole that seems to be more than the sum of its really basic parts: 83 horsepower is no longer earth-shattering, but the CB delivers its fuel-injected power so seamlessly and linearly, it feels like there’s always plenty – and the new six-speed box gets it to the drive chain more positively and precisely than the five-speed did. Honda did see fit to add one tooth to the rear sprocket (now a 40). Combined with the new gearbox’s slightly overdriven 0.964 top-gear ratio instead of last year’s 1.111 top ratio, rpm at cruise have gone down a bit, but our bike still has a little buzziness in its rubber-mounted handlebar that begins around 75 mph.

There’s nothing revolutionary about the CB’s 41mm fork tubes or its preload-adjustable rear shocks, but together with its thick seat and near-perfect ergonomics, the CB serves up a great ride when you’re just tooling around, along with good sporting performance when you need it – and we’re in no way implying that original CB lovers are getting up there when we say the CB’s as easy to pilot as a Hoveround scooter (though you probably can’t get your doctor to prescribe you a CB1100 and have Medicaid pick up the tab). Clutch pull is light and progressive, triple disc brakes have excellent feel and modulation along with serious power when you need it!

Our standard CB had the $199.95 engine guards installed. Heated grips are $349.95, yikes! – and the attachment kit is another $70.95.

Our standard CB had the $199.95 engine guards installed. Heated grips are $349.95, yikes! – and the attachment kit is another $70.95.

For getting your full daily dose of nostalgia with zero of the problems that come with owning an actual 40-year-old motorcycle, the CB1100 will prove very tough to beat. Some are faster, some are tricker, many are more exotic – but the CB is one-hundred percent true to its roots: presumably bulletproof and turn-key ready to go anywhere whenever you are, just like you were in 1969. Now with the priceless upgrade of 46 years of experience.

+ Highs

  • One of the most “user-friendly” motorcycles you can buy
  • Near-perfect ergoes if you’re within six inches of 5’8”
  • You’re sitting on history every time you climb on
- Sighs

  • The original CB was famous for out-horsepowering the competition
  • So perfect it can seem a little bland
  • Engine is a little vibey upward of 75 mph in spite of rubber-mounted handlebar risers
2014 Honda CB1100 Specs
MSRP $10,399/ 11,899 (Deluxe)
Engine Capacity 1140cc
Engine Type Air- and oil-cooled inline four-cylinder
Bore x Stroke 73.5 x 67.2 mm
Compression 9.5:1
Fuel System PGM-FI; four 32mm throttle bodies
Ignition Digital transistorized with electronic advance
Valve Train DOHC; four valves / cylinder
Transmission Six-speed
Final Drive #530 O-ring-sealed chain
Front Suspension 41mm fork with spring preload adjustability; 4.2 inches travel
Rear Suspension Dual shocks with spring preload adjustability; 4.5 inches travel
Front Brakes Dual 296mm discs; four-piston calipers
Rear Brakes 256mm disc; single-piston caliper
Front Tire 110/80-18
Rear Tire 140/70-18
Seat Height 31.2 inches
Wheelbase 58.7 inches
Rake/Trail 27.0º/4.4 inches
MO measured wet weight 556 pounds
Fuel Capacity 3.9 gallons/ 4.4 gal. (Deluxe)
Colors Black/ (Candy Red for Deluxe)

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  • Old MOron

    Is that a “check engine” light at the bottom-left of the spedo? Oh, Christ!

    • fastfreddie

      If you imply that it lights up a problem,the engine’s off so I think it is lit until started.

      I long for the motorycle with 4 speed transmision.Maybe just get a DCT bike…

      • Old MOron

        No, I mean it’s a “check engine” light, like in a cage.

        • fastfreddie

          Idon’t know what that cage thing means,but maybe you were being ironic in the first comment.IDK.Not important,I guess:)

          • Old MOron

            Ha ha, I’m not good enough to do irony. That “check engine” light looks like it came right out of a Honda Civic. Completely spoils what would otherwise be nice clocks.

          • fastfreddie

            Ok.Finally got to the same page:) Personally don’t think it matters,but can see others reacting.Preferences I guess…

          • denchung

            For the record, that indicator is the PGM-FI malfunction light. Honda uses that same symbol on other motorcycles.

          • Kevin

            Get used to it, it is about to be mandated by the EPA for just about everything, including lawn tractors!

          • Chris_in_Kalifornia

            A cage is a vehicle which has metal all around you. More commonly known as a car.

          • fastfreddie

            Got it now.I’m one of those native norwegians,so not too familiar with english idioms.Probably should have JGI;)

      • Chris_in_Kalifornia

        A 4 speed? Why would you hamstring yourself?

        • fastfreddie

          If I were developing an engine for what basically is a poser -cruiser,I would go for the torque all the way,and at that market,is a gazillion gearchanges what you want?Me personally,I don’t want that in a that sort of bike.A racer?Yes!But not a cruiser.

          But hey,that’s me:)

          • Chris_in_Kalifornia

            Might as well get an automatic.

    • JP

      Lol, maybe they should also have a kick-stand down light in place of the door-open light as well.

  • VeganLondonMan

    I like this bike quite a bit but it does seem a little bland and heavy to charge that much. Nostalgia tax I guess.

  • JMDonald

    I had a CB750. I would have rather had this bike in deluxe trim.

    • Chris_in_Kalifornia

      What year? The first ones were the best. Honda detuned them and detuned until they were pale shadows of themselves. This one sounds like a pale shadow of the idea. I had a Suzuki GS1100 which turned 3 grand at 70 mph and felt like you ignited a rocket behind you when you rolled it on. That’s what this one should have been.

      • JMDonald

        1975. It was my first big bike. I bought it used with less than 4k miles on it.

        • Chris_in_Kalifornia

          That was one of the puny ones. Why I never bought another one.

      • PNUT1

        It seems like they could have gotten a lot more power out of this engine.

  • Luke

    Such a pretty bike. I’d love to ride this and a Bonnie back to back and see if it’s worth the almost $4K uptick. I’d love to see Honda take one of their smaller motors and do a callback to the CB350-500 bikes although those motors might look pretty odd in an old-school frame…

    • PNUT1

      I have a T100, I’ll let you know after I get a test ride on the CB.

  • DickRuble

    556 Lbs!!!! I’d rather get a used, fully faired r1200rt if I have to wrestle with all that weight.

    • Stuki

      Screw that. What would be really cool, is if some of the legions of fans of the Bonnie and CB, would motivate a retro inspired, entrepreneurially minded motorcyclist, to resurrect Windjammer again……… Naked retro is fine and dandy, but noone’s doing faired retro…

      • VeganLondonMan

        Good point. Maybe BMW should make a variant of the RnineT, but with a fairing like a1978-9 R100S? I dunno.

      • DickRuble

        Rifle makes something similar to the windjammer.

      • Chris_in_Kalifornia

        I really liked the Pacifico Aero Fairing I had on my GL650 Silverwing. 65 mpg at 65 mph. Eeww though, 6500 rpm at 65 mph. BUZZZZZ!

  • panthalassa

    i’m not in the market for this type of bike, but i sure wish i could tranfer that instrument cluster to some of the bikes i am shopping.

    • Kevin

      I liked the idea of using Mae Wests’ bras strapped to the handle bars for gauge nacelles too!

    • fastfreddie

      You’d like the instrument cluster AND bracket for hondas big1 more.That is beautiful!

  • Konstantin Chachanidze

    i totally love this one, is really slick and nice but waaaaaaaaay too overpriced. I mean you can already buy an indian scout for that price…

    • DickRuble

      Oh..ok..then it’s no contest.. I mean and Indian Scout ..c’mon… a no brainer..

      • Russ Archer

        The Indian website says the Indian Scout is 558 lbs. with fuel. 2 lbs more than what’s listed here for the Nighthawk 1100…I mean CB1100.

        • Chris_in_Kalifornia

          Please don’t sully then name Nighthawk any more than Honda already did with the 90′s version, please?

      • VeganLondonMan

        You and I probably disagree whether the Scout is more desirable, which is subjective. However, the weight is pretty much identical actually and the Indian is more powerful, and water cooled. No contest?

        • Old MOron

          If you’re going to be a spec sheet wonk, do have a look at the Scout’s limited lean angle. 31 degrees? No contest, alright.

          • DickRuble

            And the limited suspension travel….and minimal gas tank..and a torque curve way too far the rev range… And the foot forward position… And the vibey engine.. And one small brake disc…and unknown quality…

          • artist_formally_known_as_cWj

            “Unknown quality”? Polaris is not a new company.

          • DickRuble

            The liquid cooled v-twin is new to them. You don’t know how it’s going to behave.

          • VeganLondonMan

            Obviously the CB1100 and Scout are going to appeal to different people because they are very different bikes (though I like them both). Not every bike has to be MotoGP and neither of these are. I just took issue with the assertion that the Indian is heavy and slow, when it is the EXACT same weight, and more powerful.

      • Konstantin Chachanidze

        did I detect sarcasm? :D :D :D dunno about you but I´read a few reviews about both of the bikes and every review of honda says, it´s not that exciting. while scout, well, is just soo attractive to me, with saddlebags especially :D :D :D I really do love hondas subtle beauty, it´s calm and not flashy, you have to really look at it attentively to appreciate it, scout is totally different. They shouldn´t be in the same price category, that´s all :D :D :D just my opinion, of course

  • http://batman-news.com Terpinator

    FYI – The Honda website says the delux version comes with dual exhaust canisters, not the 4-2-1 mentioned in the article.

    • john burns

      you sir are correct. The base model gets the 4-into-1.

  • DeBee Corley

    Did the author of this article actually ride the bike?

    • Chris_in_Kalifornia

      Doesn’t really sound much like it did he. Damned it with faint praise.

  • Chris_in_Kalifornia

    I’m confused, is the only difference between the regular and the deluxe, the size of the fuel tank? Because I have to say, 4.4 isn’t very big for out where I ride. How much to get it with cast wheels & tubeless tires? Seamless power sounds like what the 73 version of the old 750 had. Like driving an electric motor, it just went bzzzz, up the rpm without anything exciting happening. My 70 K0 felt like a rip snorting monster, the 73 like a gelded pussy cat. 83 horsepower out of an 1100 sounds like a gelded pussycat. That’s less than 20 more than my 2004 Suzuki 650 Vstrom. I’d rather have a new version of my 83 CB700SC than this 1100. Heh, all you’d need to do to modernize it would be to add EFI and done. New and wonderful. Now that I would buy!

    • Rob Alexander

      A Nighthawk S for today, now that would be an interesting bike… Hydraulic lifters and shaft drive for low, low maintenance!

      • Chris_in_Kalifornia

        Those very reasons are why I’m considering a HD XR1200. Belt is quiet, clean, reliable. Hydraulic lifters. BTW the Honda did not have hydraulic lifters as such. They had hydraulically adjusted rocker arm pivot points. Very cool idea, kept the reciprocating weight low for high RPM capability (for the time, 11K was high RPM). The adjuster was mounted solidly in the head, oil pressure pushed the pivot up and the rocker arms (for want of a better name) were one sided. The cam pushed on the middle of the rocker arm and the end opposite from the pivot pushed the valve down to open.

    • JP

      I believe ABS as well.

      • Chris_in_Kalifornia

        I’ve got built in ABS. I know. Because I didn’t crash. I’ve locked the front wheel in the rain on the 405 freeway, let off, regained traction and steered to avoid the stopped truck. I’ve locked the front wheel a time or two on the gravel at the center of 2 lane road. Didn’t crash. Stopped in time for the stop sign. Got in front of the guy I wanted to be in front of. They told me at work the next day they thought their eyes would bug out of their sockets when they saw that… Of Course I don’t ride like that any more. Of course not. For sure.

    • http://norimek.com/blog Robert C. Barth

      The deluxe has four into two exhaust, ABS, and a different seat. The tank is smallish, however, in practice, the bike gets > 50mpg.

      • Chris_in_Kalifornia

        Yeah, 50 mpg with a econo box motor instead of a torque monster. Eh, I’ll never get one. I’m to short. Lowered my Vstrom an inch at each end to be able to (just barely) be able to flat foot at a stop. In practice I leave my foot on the brake pedal and other on the ground. I would rather have a brand new 04 Vstrom 650 for my own personal use than this giant bike. 5.8 gallons at 55 mpg really gives you some range.

  • rudedog4

    The new CB1100 doesn’t need to “outhorsepower the competition”. It’s a retro bike meant to evoke the spirit of the original CB750, and not to go as fast or handle as well as modern sportbikes.

    • Russ Archer

      I agree with you but why does Honda charge $10,399 base for the CB1100 when you can buy a Triumph Bonneville T100 Black for $8,899? (Granted, there are loads of leftover CB1100s out there reduced to the price of the Triumph).

      • rudedog4

        For 7899 (or thereabouts) you can get the base model Bonneville with cast wheels, which I understand handles better than the spoked wheel equipped T100.

        • VeganLondonMan

          The handling is probably different but not necessarily better- personally I’d be willing to pay the premium to get the stability and looks of the 19″ wheeled T100 over the base Bonneville and its 17″ers.

          • rudedog4

            I can’t speak from experience, but here’s what Rideapart.com had to say: https://rideapart.com/articles/rideapart-review-triumph-bonneville-se

          • rudedog4

            “Now, the SE model isn’t the only bike in the Bonneville range. But, along with the base model, it is the best. Why? The T100 swaps in a 19-inch, spoked front wheel, tubes, two-tone paint, a flat seat, more conservative suspension geometry and higher, narrower, more swept back handlebars for a $1,400 premium over the standard Bonneville. Worth it? Nope. Those mods effectively ruin what’s otherwise a great bike, removing both outright handling ability and feel by increasing unsprung weight and making steering geometry more conservative. Save that cash and buy the base model or the pretty two-tone SE you see here.”

      • http://norimek.com/blog Robert C. Barth

        Many current owners of the CB1100 are former owners of the Bonneville and they all say the same thing: The two bikes aren’t even in the galaxy; the CB1100 is head and shoulders a better bike in every way than the Bonneville, from power, to braking, to suspension, to fit & finish, and beyond.

    • john burns

      as I recall, the spirit of the original CB750 was all about out-horsepowering the competition, which would now be other retro-bikes, no?

  • Bmwclay

    I really wanted this bike when I first saw it, and the six-speed and twin exhaust 2014 model cinched it. But…then the Scout came out and pushed even more buttons! Think of it, a resurrected all American bike! History, a non-buzzy V-twin, and 100 hp that kicks 1200 Sportster ass by 40 horses! Can’t wait.

    • Kenneth

      And wouldn’t we love the Scout engine wrapped in “standard” ergonomics?!

      • Bmwclay

        Good call, and you are very correct! But, the latest review mentions that the foot controls can be moved 4 inches forward or back. Let’s hope.

  • Rob Alexander

    For anyone who’s ever owned an 84-85 V65 Sabre, that instrument cluster will definitely bring back some memories….

  • john burns

    Here, go crazy. From our friend and MO contributor Andrew Capone:

    http://world.honda.com/CB1100/engineer-talk/

  • 70′s Kid

    I don’t know why Burns finds it so hard to understand that some people buy motorcycles based on visual response amongst other things. I’ve got nothing against the CB1000R from a performance standpoint, I’m just not into the way the bike looks. Honda targeted those riders in their 40′s and beyond and that certainly seems to be the group who are purchasing the CB1100. Many of us in that age group simply prefer the looks of a classic standard bike (I also like the looks of the Guzzi V7 and the Triumph Bonneville). A perusal of the CB1100 Forum shows that the vast majority of those who have purchased the bike have been more than happy with it.

    I had to laugh at the jab at older riders with the Medicaid reference. Perhaps Burns’ mind is already slipping as he surely meant to write Medicare instead. Nice one John.

    • DickRuble

      He’s a moto journalist.. he probably goes with Medicaid.

      • 70′s Kid

        Touché

  • Andrew Capone

    I own one of these, a 2013 in red. And I have a Bonnie, and formerly owned a Griso and a ZRX1200R. See a trend? I’m the target market, and it hits the target.

    Measured by looks and real- world rather than spec sheet performance, the CB11 is near the top of the modern retro heap. It is a stunningly good looking bike, IMHO, ( although the black one is too blacked out), and the fit and finish is top drawer. Lots of farkles and performance bits available from Japan (Samurider.com is best). Staintune can provides ample aural pleasure. On most roads with most riders, it can play with most bikes. If you attach value to Honda quality, reliability and engineering, the price is in line. You can get a year- old one for under $8K, which is a smoking deal.

    I have other, faster bikes, but I pull this one out of the garage more often than not.

    • PNUT1

      That’s a great looking bike.

  • appliance5000

    Somehow I always felt Honda picked the wrong era to get retro with – too much 80s not enough 70s. the 750 gas tanks were so pretty – why this. There is a kit to rectify this baffling mistake:

    http://thekneeslider.com/honda-cb1100-gets-retro-cb750-look-with-conversion-by-whitehouse/

    or this

    http://racingcafe.blogspot.com/2013/08/honda-cb-1100-hakofugu-cafe-3-by-white.html

    or this

    http://planetjapanblog.blogspot.com/2014/08/honda-cb-1100-ex-by-white-house-japan.html

    Now you’ve got my attention.