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.
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.