Since 1959, when they first adorned the twin-cylinder CB92 Benly, the two letters CB have always meant a great deal to Honda, and Honda owners. And they came to mean even more in 1969; the four-cylinder CB750 was a seminal moment for motorcycling as the world’s first production superbike took centre stage, laying down a blueprint that still stands today.
In the present day, old school has become very much new school and in 2013 Honda brought the CB1100 - already a best seller in the Japanese market - to Europe, satisfying pent-up demand from an army of riders for whom a traditionally styled air-cooled four-cylinder CB was a must-have piece of engineering craftsmanship.
For 2017, two versions of the CB1100 will be available. Newly arrived to sit alongside the upgraded CB1100 EX, is the CB1100 RS. Imbued with layer upon layer of retro style - and several new performance upgrades - the CB1100 RS offers a new type of sporting CB1100 appeal.
Manufacture takes place in Honda’s Kumamoto factory, with a production process that’s been fundamentally revised to integrate technology and expert skill in order to create motorcycles rich in craftsmanship and attention to detail, plus a place in history that only comes with the passage of many decades.
“As with past CBs, we understand the timeless pleasure that our customers get from owning and riding an air-cooled inline four-cylinder motorcycle. So building on the CB1100’s desirability and joy of ownership, while adding functionality and quality to deepen the sense of fulfillment, were very important elements for us to consider. With the CB1100 EX we hope many riders get to appreciate and understand a very traditional motorcycle structure.”
Mr M. Imada, Large Project Leader (LPL) 17YM CB1100 RS
Stripped back and lean, the CB1100 RS has the look of a 1970s race bike, with more than a hint of café racer. The curvaceous fuel tank – made without seam-welded lips – evokes hand-made craftsmanship, while the single round headlight and twin instrument dials outline a timeless silhouette. Adding crisp-edged modernity, all lighting is LED.
Backing up the sportier styling, the CB1100 RS’s chassis uses sharper geometry matched than the EX, with firmer Showa suspension, front radial-mount four-piston brakes, cast aluminium 17-inch wheels and sportsbike-spec tyre sizes. A lower, more compact riding position moves the rider’s weight forward, complementing the chassis changes.
The air-cooled four-cylinder engine breathes more easily thanks to a revised inlet tract and smaller, lighter 4-2-2 exhaust system while an assist slipper clutch makes for easier lever engagement and rear wheel stability on downshifts.
With a keener edge to its appeal and performance, the CB1100 RS is a perfect machine to cut through the city in style, and cut loose on winding roads at weekends. It exudes exquisite engineering that draws in the observer, and is also a platform ripe for customization, and ready for an owner’s imagination.
Styling & Equipment
Honda’s new CB1100 RS delivers minimal, hand-crafted style and sporting edge with sharper chassis geometry, uprated 43mm Showa Dual Bending Valve two-piece front fork and remote reservoir rear shocks, plus 17-inch cast aluminium wheels and dual radial-mount four-piston brake calipers. The engine breathes through revised inlet and exhaust systems and is now equipped with an assist slipper clutch.
At the heart of the CB1100 RS is its muscular DOHC engine. Linear, instantly accessible drive is what this motor’s all about, and plenty of it, anywhere in the rev range. Maximum power output of 66kW arrives at 7,500rpm with peak torque figure of 91Nm delivered @ 5,500rpm.
Finished in black, with natural aluminium engine and cam covers its air (via 2mm fins) and oil-cooled (via a 335mm 9-tier, front-mounted oil cooler) and revs to 8,500rpm. Compression ratio is 9.5:1, with bore and stroke set at 73.5mm x 67.2mm.
The twin camshafts are driven by a central chain, and the valve included angle is 26.5° inlet and exhaust. Inlet valve diameter is 27mm, with a 2.5mm stem; exhaust 24mm with 2.5mm stem. A single secondary balancer shaft ensures smooth running.
PGM-FI and 32mm throttle body are fed through a revised, shortened air inlet tract and new air cleaner, and work with the pair of shorter (minus 70mm in length, 7% less in diameter and 2.4kg lighter) chrome-plated exhaust mufflers to boost low and mid-rpm engine reaction.
Internally split into two expansion chambers, each muffler features dual hole-punched link pipes optimised for resonance and the generation of an evocative four-cylinder engine note. Both mufflers hug the machine tighter for improved ground clearance and the downpipes are double skinned to stop heat discolouration.
An assist slipper clutch is now fitted. With die-cast aluminium cam and slipper cam it saves weight, reduces lever effort by 16% and minimizes rear wheel ‘hop’ through engine braking on rapid down changes. The six-speed gearbox, ¬¬with carefully matched ratios for gears 1-5 gives crisp response and acceleration, while 6th is an overdrive reducing fuel consumption and lowering engine rpm at highway speeds. Final drive is by 530 chain.
The CB1100 RS engine is Euro 4 compliant.
The CB1100 RS’s classic tubular steel double cradle frame holds the engine with four rigid and two rubber mounts. It features tighter steering geometry than the CB1100 EX, with rake and trail of 26°/99mm and wheelbase of 1485mm (as opposed to 27°/114mm/1490mm) to give faster steering and more responsive handling. Seat height is 795mm with kerb weight of 252kg.
As well as a more aggressive stance and riding position the CB1100 RS is also equipped with a Showa Dual Bending Valve (SDBV) 43mm two-piece front fork, which uses two valves to generate both compression and rebound damping force giving linear feel, excellent ride quality and precise road holding. A new die-cast aluminium top yoke features a buffed finish and clear coat, while the bottom yoke holds the fork legs in a higher position.
Twin Showa remote-reservoir rear shocks (with damping rates to match the front fork) operate through a new aluminium swingarm, which has a clean look thanks to an under slung rear brake hose. An aluminium chain guard replaces the previous plastic design.
Dual radial-mount four-piston Tokico brake calipers grip 310mm floating discs with ABS control, the rear single-piston caliper works a 256mm disc. The CB1100 RS also features 17-inch cast aluminium wheels – finished in black – wearing sportsbike-sized 120/70 ZR17 and 180/55 ZR17 front and rear tyres. Three effects from this change are obvious: quicker side-to-side steering, improved cornering traction and a 3% increase in acceleration due to the overall gearing change of the smaller rolling diameter of the rear tyre. L-shaped air valves make checking tyre pressure easy.
Together with the look of the exposed engine, the shape of the fuel tank - its curves and lines - go a long way to give a naked motorcycle its character and appeal Honda’s engineers wanted to maintain a 300km plus range, but were also focused on creating a truly hand-made look.
The 16.8L fuel tank they came up with does away with the seam-welded lips along both bottom edges, and pays homage both to CB history and contemporary style with a cutaway section that displays the cam cover to the rider. It’s topped with an aircraft style filler cap.
Building on the modern café racer theme the sidepanels are constructed of pressed aluminium with a textured ‘hairline’ finish while the seat is stripped back to a slim, sporty profile. The black seat frame rails add seamless lines without clutter and the black chrome steel rear mudguard has a more rounded cross section.
A compact black resin front mudguard skims the front tyre and ties in subtly with the machine’s minimalism. A long sidestand makes it easier to get the machine upright.
The handlebar is clamped 7mm forward (compared to the previous design) and more compact, sleeker die-cast aluminium hangers mount both rider and pillion footpegs. Standing proud, the round front headlight – an LED unit with spiral running light – crowns the front of the CB1100 RS and is held with aluminium stays flanked by compact LED indicators.
The CB1100 RS will be available in Candy Prominence Red and Graphite Black with a super smooth finish suggestive of repeated, and fastidious, wet sanding.