Skip to main content

Honda CBX1000

Honda CBX1000 1970s Japanese classic motorbike

Italian motorcycle designers have been accused - no doubt, falsely - of being not quite so concerned about how their bikes worked, as how they looked. Or, in other words, of putting form before function. The subject of electrics - mentioned in the same breath as bad weather - has been known to 'spark' such debates! An equal and opposite slander may have been made against the Japanese giants - that is, that in the Seventies, they were not nearly as concerned about a bike's visuals, as they were about its performance. The Honda CBX1000Z might well have been cited as evidence, to that effect. That is, that the design of its engine - by a one-time GP engineer - may have had more to do with its tech spec than aesthetics. Which is not to imply that it was a bad-looking motor. Just a tad 'over-size' in its surroundings!

Given the girth of its 6-cylinder block, the 'CBX' handled reasonably well. The bike's manoeuvrability was still more remarkable when its cycle parts were factored in. The frame, forks and wheels were '70s-style-spindly - and dwarfed by the mass of that motor.

Flat out, the CBX was good for 135mph. Impressive as that figure was, it was as nothing next to the noise the bike made getting to it. The high-pitched howl of a CBX at full chat was something once heard, never forgotten. Especially, with a slightly 'less than legal' pipe fitted. In which case, it tended to sound more like a jet fighter, than a motorcycle! The CBX could be seen as something of a Honda 'folly'. Certainly, it did not sell well - and, over time, would be diluted into less extreme machines. But, motorcycle history would be the poorer without the 'CBX'. Flawed, for sure ... but fantastic fun, nonetheless!


Popular posts from this blog

FN Four

In terms of breakthroughs in the history of motorcycling, there cannot be many to rival the first in-line four engine. Belgium was the birthplace of this landmark layout. FN was the much-to-be-thanked manufacturer.The FN Four first hit the highway in 1911. It produced 4bhp. That, from a 491 cc capacity. At the time, such figures described state-of-the-art technology. Top speed for the FN Four was 40mph. Not bad - for an 8-valve inlet-over-exhaust set-up. Oh, it was air-cooled.The FN Four was light - tipping the scales at 165lb dry. Not only the motor, but the chassis, too, was avant-garde. It featured an early form of telescopic forks. A new-fangled clutch - and 2-speed 'box - only added to the FN Four's slick box of tricks. Solid shaft-drive output the power. Who, then, designed this visionary vintage? You will not hear the name Paul Kelekom shouted from motorcycling's rooftops. But, you should - for it was he who fashioned the FN Four. In so doing, he ki…

Gilera Saturno

Gilera was a big player in the realm of 1950s motorbike manufacturing. After that, the firm met with mixed fortunes. Gilera's Fifties flagship - the Saturno - was launched in '46. Rolled out in 'Sport', 'Touring', and 'Competition' modes, the Saturno would sell well for years.The Saturno 'production racer' was a hit both on road and track. Competitive for many seasons, it remained so for some time after its production run finished - at the fag-end of the '50s.In road-going form, the Saturno stayed tethered to the tarmac - thanks to its telescopic forks, and vertical rear shocks. Indeed, it would gain a reputation as a 'performance bike' of its day. Towards the end, Gilera was linked with Piaggio, Vespa - and the scooter scene, generally. Illustrious though those names still were, Gilera's glory days were behind it. Bikes like the Saturno, though, still shone a light for past success.

NSU Ro80

The styling of the NSU Ro80 was ahead of its time. At first glance, masses of glass were straight out of science-fiction. Closer inspection revealed the gently rising line of its profile - giving it a low front, high back stance - which would influence automotive design for years to come. The 5-seater body was supremely aerodynamic for a saloon car - making cruising at speed a breeze. So flawless was it outwardly that it was hardly touched in ten years of production. Just the tail-lights were modified, on later versions.The Ro80's handling was equally impressive. FWD - and precision power-steering - kept it perfectly pointed. The long-travel strut suspension soaked up bumps. High-efficiency disc brakes were fitted all round. The 3-speed semi-automatic transmission swept through the gears with aplomb. Top speed was a sound 112mph.But, of course, nothing is perfect. The Ro80 was powered by a twin-rotor Wankel engine. Unfortunately - in a rush to get the car into showroom…