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Honda CB1100R

Mini profile – Honda CB1100R

Honda CB1100R


by Ian Falloon (December 2020)

Honda's CB1100R became the ground-breaker for a long string of race-bred homologation specials

Honda’s lack of motorcycle-racing success in the 1970s doubled its resolve to have a capable contender for the new decade. Enter the CB1100R. It was a no-holds-barred, limited-edition production racer. If this couldn’t get Honda on the top of the rostrum again, nothing would.

Although it was based on the CB900F, just about every component on the CB1100R was new. The black-painted engine was a bored version of the 900, with a nearly square bore and stroke of 70 x 69mm, to displace 1062cc. Camshafts were hotter, ports reshaped and a smaller alternator sat on the end of the crank, with different brushes so the gold outer covers could be chamfered for more ground clearance.

Honda CB1100R

Honda was proud that the CB1100R could attain a lean angle of 50 degrees. With four 33mm Keihin CV carburettors, the claimed power was 84.6kW (115hp) at 9000rpm, well beyond that of its contemporaries.

As a contrast with today’s racebike focus on compactness and lightness, the excessive CB1100R blatantly eschewed the idea of minimalism and, for a racing machine, it was massive. Like all Japanese manufacturers, Honda didn’t consider reducing weight a priority.

But in an era when engines generally outpowered the chassis, Honda made an effort to address this. The red-painted duplex steel cradle frame was a stronger version of the CB900FZ frame, without the removable lower section, and included a larger diameter steering head. The wheels were 19in and 18in reversed Comstar, and the 37mm front fork incorporated a balance pipe between the two legs for air-assisted fork spring preload.

Honda CB1100R

The CB1100R was the first production Honda with twin-piston brake calipers and nitrogen piggyback shock absorbers. Dry weight was a considerable 235kg, and the wheelbase a long 1490mm. Despite its bulk the CB1100R was the fastest motorcycle available in 1980, capable of more than 240km/h, and rock steady at those speeds. In the hands of an expert it raised the bar and made the Italian race replicas look ineffectual.

The last of the air-cooled Honda racers, the CB1100R remains one of the most appealing of all production Hondas. Racing motorcycles would no longer run with 19in front wheels and skinny tyres, and they became smaller and more complicated. These wonderful CB1100Rs represented the end of an era.

Honda CB1100R

Fast Facts

Honda produced just enough CB1100Rs for it to qualify as a production model for the Castrol Six-Hour race. Wayne Gardner and Andrew Johnson rode the CB1100RB to victory in 1980.

Gardner won again in the 1982 Castrol Six-Hour race, teamed with Wayne Clarke.

In the UK the CB1100R won every race in the 1981 MCN Streetbike series. CB1100Rs also filled the top three places in the 1982 UK Streetbike championship.

An updated CB1100RC was available for 1982, with an 18in front wheel, 39mm fork, and a full fairing. The final CB1100R was the 1983 D, with slightly different colours and a rectangular-section steel swingarm.

Honda CB1100R

Old Bike magazine in Australia has published a feature tracing the local race history of the series. See it here.

In the market

Honda CB1100R

Shannons auction 2018 – 1982 CB1100RC (above) sold for Au$25,000 (US$18,500, GB£14,000)

Honda CB1100R

Iconic online auction 2020 – 1982 CB1100RC (above) sold for Au$22,000 (US$16,500, GB£12,200)

honda cb1100r

Graysonline, December 11, 2020 – 1982 CB1100RC said to bein exceptional condition. Sold for Au$45,000 (US$34,200, GB£25,200)

Further recent listings via Rare Sports Bikes for Sale

Ian Falloon is the author of numerous motorcycle marque books and runs a classic motorcycle verification service.

honda cb1100rd

See a full-size version of the spec sheet above, right here.


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