We picked up one of the new CB1100 EXs from Honda last week, and so far we’re impressed with its higher level of finish and new suspension with better control. Stay tuned for our review of the $12,199 retro machine in the coming weeks.

CB1100 Preview

And that made us think back to when the EX was announced at Intermot last autumn, and we were reminded about the sportier RS version that is available in other markets (visible at the top of this page). It features radial 4-piston brake calipers mounted to a beefier fork and also remote-reservoir shocks out back, along with cast aluminum wheels replacing the wire-spokers on the EX. It retails in England for 11,139 Pounds, which is only 374 Pounds more than the EX. That’s about $500 USD.


The CB1100 RS in black is sandwiched between two EXs. The red bike in the foreground is an EX identical to the one we’re currently testing.

So, the question American Honda must be asking is how many prospective RS owners are out there on our continent. On the one hand, the RS retains the same docile air-cooled inline-Four 1140cc powerplant as the EX (about 84 rwhp), so it won’t offer increased acceleration performance. On the other hand, a $500 premium that nets better suspension and brakes seems like a bargain.

What do you think? Is the CB1100 RS a bike you’d consider parking in your garage for an MSRP approaching $13k?

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    I wish the RS would have been available in the early 80s. I’d like it better at 10k.

  • 12er

    $13k for an 80’s bike with a slight bit of modernization? $7k maybe

  • Born to Ride

    I’d buy one left over at a discount, but that’s how I feel about nearly every desireable bike. The fact that it’s only a 500$ premium over the standard make it a no brainer.

    • DickRuble

      Get a $5500 lightly used one, slap $1500 worth of suspension upgrades and ECU reflash (it has a really stupid rev limiter that is gear dependent), et voila. $7000 super cool bike.

      • Born to Ride

        Yeah but then you don’t get the brakes, wheels, seamless gas tank, and depending on the year, a sixth gear.

        • DickRuble

          For another $2500 you can add magnesium wheels and stainless steel brake lines. At 84 whp, I don’t think you need carbon discs.

  • lennon2017

    It’s all sort of relative. BMW can get away with a base price R Nine T variant at about $13500 and Honda can’t with a polished, slightly upspec 1100? Not same power figures, but that’s a subject which will never be settled. (To even go further down the rabbit hole, sticking to one brand: Yamaha Bolt prices are quite close to those of the FZ-09. One can be seen as POS comparatively. But some will choose it over the other simply based on gut.) Can someone customize a Street Twin to equal or surpass the Cup and save cash in the process? Honda will always have a hard time shedding its reputation for reliability, and how many boomers had cb750s that they loved until the carbs became more trouble than their offsprings’ bottoms? Any price differential is like debating bmw 3 series vs merc C and audi a3/4. Low thousands are fungible for Mr/s 401k.

    • ChiefPockets

      The R-nineT starts at $12k (for the Pure), just a hair less than the base “EX” Honda. It also offers things the Honda doesn’t, like shaft drive, easily accessible valves, and more power, plus optional stability control & heated grips. I’ve never ridden the Honda, so I can’t say for certain, but I’d likely pick the Beemer over it if I was shopping that bike segment.

      • Lewis

        Every RT Nine Pure in my area is over $14K. Kind of like trying to find a base model Porsche on the lot. They all seem to be optioned up.

      • Born to Ride

        The original R nine T goes for 17 grand out the door brand new. I could see these hondas being at least 3 grand cheaper apples to apples. I’d have to ride both to see if the power differential is great enough to justify the extra cost of the bimmer. I do very much like the R nine T though.

  • Rule10b5

    $13k for a new bike with a weaker engine than the 1983 CB1100F? To hell with that.

  • Mad4TheCrest

    The RS looks almost as good as a Thruxton R, is likely more reliable, and has cast wheels that can run tubeless tires. It’s too heavy but at about 84-85 rear wheel bhp it would move along quite well on the back roads I love. Sure, I’d buy one. If Honda wants to make sure I really really buy one, make an RS’R’ model with up/down quickshifter and lean sensitive cornering ABS and switchable ABS for under 15k MSRP. (Traction control not needed).

    • Born to Ride

      All those electronics completely fly in the face of the design of this bike.

      • Mad4TheCrest

        It’s not always what you NEED, it’s what you WANT. Personally, I WANT all the latest gadgets on a bike that won’t lose me my license while trying to enjoy them.

  • Old MOron

    Yawn, another survey. I guess this one’s alright. Wait, what? You MOrons are currently testing the CB1100 EX? Oh, boy! Cool, can’t wait to read it. Dare I hope? Are you putting it through a shootout, too? You know, like with a Bonnie or an R9T variation or a V9 or something. C’mon, MOrons!

    • Cami

      Are you being forced to read this post, or do you just like to bitch?

      • ChiefPockets

        Don’t pay them any mind, they’re just an old moron. 😀

  • JerryMander

    They should have put more tech in it and made it water cooled ffs. The UJM is a great format but nostalgia at a price shouldn’t include nostalgic engineering.

    • Stuki Moi

      The aircooling is the most important part of the experience. The personality is just like an older bike, just with the rough edges polished. So they, instead of being irritating, are charming. You still feel the engine characteristics change with temperature, like a living being; but you no longer have to worry about making it over a pass in summer, kind of thing.

      Downside is, that in order to use aircooling and meet emissions/reliability demands, power density is down. So you need a big engine, leading to a somewhat heavy bike. Which is why I don’t really think I would spring for the RS over the more relaxed standard version. But the standard version is an absolute peach.

  • Dan

    Maybe its just me but as I get older and more conservative and debt-averse $13K seems like a lot of money to part with for a UJM. Wonder if the manufacturers appreciate that American consumers as a whole have been set back a notch in our disposable incomes for toys.

    • Stuki Moi

      Greenlighting of this particular bike, was justified based on anticipated Japanese home market demand alone. Although there is a big “retro”/”cafe racer” movement in the west as well, it seems to be more centered amongst younger riders, who are in a different situation financially than the older, more financially secure Japanese buyers, this bike was designed for.

  • Sentinel

    Keep in mind that this is a “shim under bucket” valve actuated engine. For anyone who actually rides a lot, I couldn’t imagine wanting to deal with the ridiculous frequency of the required valve lash check/adjustment on this engine. What’s up with that?

    • Jon Jones

      Shim-under-bucket valves very rarely need adjustment.

      • Gruf Rude

        I was surprised how easy it was to perform that service on my son’s 919. Admittedly, I’ve got good tools and good aptitude, but got it done in an enjoyable Saturday in the garage.

        • DickRuble

          How often does it need it? I was wondering which is better: 919 or 1100.

          • Gruf Rude

            My hazy recollection on the 919 (son sold the bike a few years ago when his first child arrived) was 16K miles. He was a smooth rider and maintained the bike properly; valve clearance never closed up and was stable through the second check. I have zero experience with the CB1100.

          • Born to Ride

            1100 calls for it every 7500 miles, like an air cooled Ducati. 919 would be a much better daily rider IMO

          • Ian Parkes

            Not sure what valve arrangement I have on my VFR but as per the manual for that mileage (can’t remember but around 25,000km) I got the valves checked. Only one of the 16 was 1/1000th away from slap in the middle of the recommended range. The service manager said (after I’d paid for it) that yeah, they very rarely go out of adjustment. He suggested I check it next at 100,000km…

      • Sentinel

        Again, the Honda service schedule requires very frequent checks, whether adjustment is actually needed or not, which can only be determined “after” said checks. Just way too frequent to be practical for anyone who actually rides their bike.

        • Jon Jones

          OK, you win!

          • Sayyed Bashir

            Why turn away good customers 🙂

  • gjw1992

    I wouldn’t buy. It looks great and am sure the initial test ride would be great fun – I had a cb900fa and lusted after the cb1100s of the day so this makes me smile. But the RS is just too much of a garage ornament. As others have said – similar style, modern wc engine (great engineering by honda with this, but too much faff in this day and age). And much, much lighter. Then I’d be interested beyond being just a spectator.

  • SRMark

    I’d like to see the Nighthawk 700s remade to today’s standards. It was an ultra-low maintenance bike. Air cooled, hydraulic valves, shaft drive. Twist and go. Plus it looked great. As for the 1100RS, I’d not spend that much cash.

    • DickRuble

      All that minus the shaft drive. Put a chain on it and give it more oomph than the last generation.

    • Lewis

      Agreed, had an 86 with the red/orange and black. The HRC color scheme that year was gorgeous. Very maintenance and trouble free bike. Traded it for a big single dual sport. Dealer probably still has it in his collection.

  • Gruf Rude

    When used CB1100s with under 10k miles in pristine condition are available on the local Craigslist for $4500, there is no way I’d pay $13,000 for the new one. Heck, you can get a lightly used CB1000R with less than 3k miles right now for $7250 asking price on CL. No contest.

    • Gabriel Owens

      I bought a brand new 2014 holdover cb1000r for 6985. No lie. Marshall Texas.

      • Gruf Rude

        Good things come to he who waits . . .

      • Lewis

        Fire sales on 2014 Honda models brand new. Tempting. CB1000R for 7495, VFR800(white) 6995, CB1100 6499 (black), Valkyrie 9999, even a left over 20xx VFR1200 interceptor 8999. Place called Track n Trail in state college PA. I have no connection with them, just putting the info out. I am tempted to grab something but not a good time.

    • Buck Holeshot

      exactly – I sold a pristine cb with a TON of upgrades for 1/2 what I paid….live-n-learn.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Its interesting how UJMs do not keep their value. No one wants to buy new ones because previous models are available at half or 1/3rd price. Then the new models also sell for half price a year or so later. And yet they are excellent motorcycles. Doesn’t work like that for Harleys or KTMs.

      • Born to Ride

        Not where I’m at, the local KTM dealer was literally giving away duke 390s if you bought a SDR1290. That’s a hell of a markdown, but I get it, clean out the old bikes to bring in the new.

  • Craig Hoffman

    This bike is a bargain compared to the Thruxton R. This bike does not have the Thrux’s cool factor though, and these bikes are all about that.

    • Robotribe

      But it’s heavier, and for those for whom it matters, is lower on power. Too much compromise at this price point when compared to a Thruxton R or even the R nineT. Honda played it too conservative, IMO. Then again, we are talking about Honda (I’ve owned three in the past).

    • Buck Holeshot

      true, but the Thrux will run circles around it in every category – more power, less weight, better handling, looks are subjective, but I prefer the Triumph in that category too

      • Andrew Capone

        I have both a CB1100 and a Thruxton R. There really is no comparison, and the 550 LB weight of the CB really takes the fizz off of everything from moving it in the garage to hustling it in the twists. It is a beautifully turned out bike, though, looks great, Honda- reliable. But a 2006 Bonneville is worth more than a 2013 CB1100 now, so the market has kinda spoken.

    • Stuki Moi

      For me, aircooled in 2017, along with the execution of every little detail on this bike, waaaay outweighs anything the Thrux brings to the table as far as “cool factor” is concerned.

      As a dynamic motorcycle; designed for getting from A to B over a twisty (or not so) road as efficiently as possible, no doubt the Triumph has it beat in spades. For me personally, though, fast bikes without wind protection just kind of misses the mark. Hence, I’d take a ZX14 for going fast, and this thing (or an SV650 if I wanted to be rational and practical) for going less fast.

  • Gabriel Owens

    Duke I don’t understand why ALL cb1100’s aren’t RS models. Why do we in the u.s. always get screwed?

  • Buck Holeshot

    I had a 2013 and it was so boring (I know that’s kinda the point, a dead reliable UJM n all that). The bike would have been so much better with 25 more rwhp

    112mph speed limiter wasn’t a big deal to me for this bike, but the CB hits that in 3rd gear! The 8k valve inspection was pretty stupid also (although they rarely need adjustment).

  • mmm, i’m a sucker for a nice pair of RSU forks

  • allworld

    I have never considered this bike at all, but in general, bang for the buck is a major selling point.
    Better brakes and suspension, for $500 ………….. good deal.

  • Larry Kahn

    Get a nice used Bandit 1200 for around $3k..or less.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      I bought a 2007 Suzuki Bandit 1250S a couple months ago for $2500. Love it better than my other bikes.

  • Alaskan18724

    Here’s the thing–I’d really like to own that bike. It scratches a lot of itches. I like the EX, but I wouldn’t buy a low-content bike. I’d spend the money for a high-spec model. Like the rest, I’d like it to be punchier, but I’m also fond of an understressed engine that will last for the rest of my life and most of my kids’.

  • Alaskan18724

    I also completely dig the Guzzi 1000S paint scheme. Bring it.

  • Don Silvernail

    Of course I’d pay $500 more for the up-spec. model, but that’s assuming I’d pay $12,199 for the standard model – which I wouldn’t.

  • sgray44444

    Too little bike for too much money. Nostalgia is expensive these days. It’s not a great performer, it’s not really that versatile, and it’s not really authentic, so what’s the point?

  • Lewis

    Bring it. If no one buys it I can have one in a few years at 60% of MSRP. I know where several brand new 2014 CB 1100s are for $6500 as long as you like black. The only change I would like to see is a tail section instead of a rear fender. Think Z1, GS1000S, CB750/900/1100F. Kawasaki did this the best (at least in the US) with the Zephyr line in the early to mid 1990s. Basically KZs with better brakes and suspension. Wish I had bought the 550…gorgeous bike.

  • FreeFrog

    I’d opt for a Triumph Street Twin http://www.triumphmotorcycles.com/bikes/classics/street-twin/2017/street-twin and use the major extra cash to customize it more if I’m going modern retro

  • roma258

    These bikes speak to me. Plenty real-world performance, great components, looks ace, dead reliable. $13k is a lot, but if I was in the market I’d strongly consider it.

  • hmmmm….
    Now thats a tough choice….money wise…

  • RyYYZ

    The problem with buying a bike with pre-installed premium suspension is that there is a good chance that the premium suspension will still be sprung for a 150 lb rider. At 210 lbs I’m probably heavier than the average rider, even in North America and a bike like this, but most Japanese bikes are still undersprung from the factory.

    I voted no on this, but mostly because I’ve already BTDT on the retro superbike thing, with my 2000 ZRX1100.

    • Mad4TheCrest

      I love my 2001 ZRX1200R. It’s not going anywhere, but I’d still buy an RS to keep it company.

  • Ric In Richmond

    I’d go buy the nicest ZRX 11/12 I can find for 1/3 of that and spend 3000 on suspension and have a bike that would run circles around that piece…..

  • Tanner

    needs to lose about 100lbs

  • Jay Kincy

    Now if it was the CB1300 japan had for a while, then yes.

  • Dan Favata

    Ill take a black RS

  • Bruce Mcdugald

    I’m a VTwin rider for the last 20 years. Have not been a fan of the modern designs and appearance but have liked the suspension and brake up grades. This is a breath of fresh air along with the other retro bikes of late.

  • Nathaniel

    I can barely afford to eat, but someday when I’m not a college student…

    Still no. At a $500 premium the RS is the only one I’d consider. But that’s Street Triple RS money. And while this bike is cool, the retro styling isn’t enough to replace a perfect exotic bike.

    That Honda cafe racer prototype, on the other hand, probably would.