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Honda Blackbird

Blackbird by the numbers

(by Guy 'Guido' Allen, Feb 2022)

A recent workshop bill gave us cause to look at how the Blackbird stacks up long-term

Okay, so it wasn't a million dollars, but at a total of around $1200, this was by far the most money I'd spend on the Honda CBR1100XX in nine years of ownership. And what did we get? New fork seals, brake pads and tyres (more on them later), professionally fitted.

It seemed like a substantial amount of dough, probably because the bike had only cost Au$3500 (US$2500, GB£1800) back in 2013. A first model (1996) it was in pretty good shape with around 57,000km on the odo. I've added 11,000km to the total – the lowish number in part explained by the fact there are several other vehicles in the shed.

Honda Blackbird

Despite the competition, it has often been my go-to motorcycle when I want something that's easy to handle, quick and low-stress. A good example is when heatwaves hit, which can see the temperatures ride to over 40 degrees, I know the Blackbird will handle the situation – even heavy traffic – without fuss.

In fact, I've owned three examples over the years. They're well-made, quick, handle respectably and are super-reliable. See our backgrounder feature on the series.

What has it cost to run? Very little. I indulged in fitting a jetting kit early in the relationship, to smooth out the less than ideal tune. That seemed reasonably successful. Otherwise, it's just been the usual run of tyres and fluids, plus a chain and sprockets. Valve lash intervals are 24,000km and this one hasn't required an adjustment during my ownership.

Honda Blackbird

When it came to the tyres, the folk at Pablo's fitted a set of Pirelli Angel GT II, a good choice. As is often the case, the fresh rubber (no doubt helped by clean fork oil) transformed the feel of the bike. It's once again a pleasure to swing through the turns. This is my first experience with the GT II rubber and first impressions are positive. See a Bennetts tyre test here.

Weirdly, the Blackbird may have actually gone up a little in value since I bought it. That's something probably caused by the overall rise in the market, driven by the effects of Covid. See this search on Bikesales. High-milers (well over 100,000km) are priced from $2800, while medium-use examples are in the $5000-7000 range. Low-milers are asking more like $8000-9000.

Honda Blackbird

They're a terrific ride and easy to own. Perhaps the biggest downside is ABS was never offered on this range. Instead they have a linked braking system.

In states with a 25-year cut-off, the first models like mine are eligible for club plates, which greatly reduces the registration cost.

Over time, this has been an inexpensive and fuss-free machine to run, that delivers a lot of performance.

It's a big call, but the Blackbird could turn out to be the smartest buy among a shed of sometimes downright odd decisions...

See our backgrounder feature on the series.

More on this bike, here.

See our 2013 video review – note the prices are now out of date.

More features here

See the bikes in our shed


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