Honda CBX1000 road test

Honda CBX1000 road test is something I’ve been meaning to do for some time. It’s an iconic motorcycle which firmly placed Honda back on top as the best Japanese motorcycle manufacturer from its introduction in 1978. This six cylinder beast placed the sports motorcycle crown back firmly on Honda’s head, after their range had become a little jaded and tired compared to the competition. The price tag was hefty, but the 105 BHP made it irresistible, however, news of owners destroying their motors did not help the bike to shift from showroom floors. Many 1978 CBX1000s weren’t sold until 1980 as they were £2,750 new and the Suzuki GS1000 was only about £1700 new, making it comparably very expensive. News of Honda having to replace engines under warranty didn’t help with sales either.

Red Honda CBX1000 RHS
A stunning looking iconic motorcycle

Honda CBX1000 history

The Honda CBX1000’s history for Honda, and its place in motorcycling’s history, cannot be underestimated. The Japanese manufacturer was flagging, having been nudged off top spot with its CB750 by Kawasaki’s Z900. Honda’s big capacity bike was now very tired after nine years in the market. Honda were being left behind by Kawasaki, the new Suzuki GS1000 and Yamaha with the XS1100. They developed the CBX1000 in two years modelling it around their six cylinder 250 and 300cc racing motorcycle engine’s layout. When the CBX1000 arrived all the dyed in the wool British motorcyclists, who snapped “Jap crap” when ever a Japanese motorcycle passed them while they were trying to fix their oil soaked British motorcycle, fell silent. Motorcyclists understood that Japanese motorcycles were here to stay and Britain had no motorcycle manufacturers left by 1983. Even the bikers who built British only choppers in their sheds threw in the towel and the CB750 became the weapon of choice. By 1983 Honda CBX1000 choppers were winning motorcycle shows for best engineering.

Red Honda CBX1000 LHS in corner
Sure footed as it pitches into the corner.

Honda CBX1000 test ride

The Honda CBX1000 test ride only applies to a correctly set up and investment grade example, it does not apply to the mails being pedalled around the market place. These machines have to be set up correctly and almost no one takes the time, trouble or even has the patience and understanding to do this today. The Honda CBX1000 is a far more accomplished motorcycle than it was ever given credit for. With modern tyres it handles sure footedly enough to deal with modern riding. The motor is what this motorcycle is all about and it pulls cleanly from tick over, which is often as little as 800 RPM. Once warm and off the choke, it is as smooth as Barry White serenading his true love. Power is smooth all the way through the rev range and between 8000 RPM and the 9500 red line it seems to travel at warp factor as things get blurry. This is a great motorcycle for scratching on twisty roads, despite its bulk, and for long distances too.

Honda CBX1000 road test
Almost touching down in corners is not a problem with modern tyres.


The handling can be scary if you spin the back wheel on gravel, or on some diesel, due to the weight of the bike. You have to shut the throttle very quickly to remain in control if the back does let go like that, but it is well within most rider’s capabilities to do so. Keeping the power on through corners serves this weighty behemoth the best, although if you shut the throttle or even have to break mid corner, it’s far more forgiving than you would imagine. Getting into corners, like most Japanese machines of this era, it’s best to drop your shoulder and focus on the exit with a fair bit of throttle. The bike is far more focused and fun than we have been led to believe. Although the forks are flimsy, the tyres skinny and the rear shocks not the best in the world, the CBX1000 handles remarkably predictably. Even at illegal (in the UK) motorway speeds, with modern tyres, white lines don’t bother the big Honda very much it’s a sure-footed motorcycle.

Honda CBX1000 Motor
The Honda CBX1000 is all about the motor.


Engine is what the CBX1000 is all about and always was about just that. Although it sticks out on either side, giving the motorcycle an aggressive and serious stance, it’s actually only 2 inches wider than a Honda CB750. Six cylinder motors always seem to be revving far higher than they actually are, because they fire half as many times again as a four cylinder motor and that’s a lot of explosions per revolution. This machine is silky smooth and will pull away from tick over, provided it’s warm and off the choke. It’s best to get some heat into the motor before pulling away because they are no fun to ride with the choke on. These motors are very big with lots of moving parts and inertia, so they need a bit of love when cold. If you thrash this motorcycle from cold it will repay you with exceptionally large engine rebuild bills. This is not because the motor is weak, it’s because it is complex and a big six cylinder. Look after this motorcycle and it will look after you and easily cover vast mileages. The super smooth six is absolutely perfect for spending days in the saddle blasting along motorways and scratching around twisty mountain roads. As long as the oil is changed every 1000 miles, the filter every 2000 miles, the shims are checked every 3000 miles, these are great high mileage and reliable machines. The CBX1000 is equally at home keeping up with modern bikes as it is bumbling along at 30 MPH in top gear. 

Honda CBX1000 road test
The Honda CBX1000 is not just comfortable two up, it handles well too.


Brakes are adequate but not fantastic on the CBX1000. With original brake lines now dangerous to run, they should be replaced every seven years, braided steel brake lines really help this bike. Although it lacks four piston calipers all round, what it has will work fine with braided steel brake hoses. I’ve never noticed any brake fade on a CBX and they will pull up quickly enough if the pads are in good condition too. The only time I’ve had a concern about braking is when I have been riding way too fast, which happens from time to time. This is because the engine is so strong, it accelerates effortlessly and I’ve found myself travelling at far higher speeds than I intended. Just keep an eye on the speedo to avoid such worries, as the brakes are good enough to haul this machine up from any legal speeds. Once you’re into Autobahn speeds, the front brakes need to be used very forcefully, be at such speeds they still work fine.  Just bear in mind that this is not the latest sports motorcycle with six piston calipers. 

Honda CBX1000 coming out of a corner
A fantastic machine in every respect.


Comfort is a surprising bonus with all of these large capacity Japanese motorcycles from the 1970s. The seats are firm with plenty of support, they’re very wide and long enough far our larger middle age frame. The Honda CBX1000 is fine for all day riding and will carry you across continents with ease. Both rider and passenger footpegs are perfectly placed for optimum comfort. Passengers don’t have to hang on for dear life with their ankles by their ears, like on a modern sports bike. These machines were really thoughtfully and ergonomically designed to offer the greatest comfort, because so many motorcycles in the 1970s were used as daily transport. If you’ve ridden a modern motorcycle, your back and buttocks will applaud you when you ride your Honda CBX1000.

Honda CBX1000 road test
A magnificent looking motorcycle, especially on the move.

Honda CBX1000 investment

Honda CBX1000 investment has proven itself a wise move, especially since 2010. Just look at our ROI charts here and you’ll notice it’s performed beautifully. These machines are very rare, if you want an investment grade example. As such, they will continue to deliver great tax free profits for investors as the machine holds a great place in motorcycling history and is a joy to own and ride. If the correct work is done properly to bring the motorcycle up to spec and it has all the ingredients of a an investment grade example, then values are only going one way. Auction house and eBay fodder will not offer such profits and as values increase, such machines will be left to languish in the torpor of tyre kickers.

Honda CBX1000 road test

What to look out for

What to look out for when buying a Honda CBX1000 is that it has original exhausts, shocks, mirrors, indicators and the machine is as authentic as possible. Age is taking its toll on these machines, like most motorcycles over forty years old. You can see here what we do to every Honda CBX1000 we supply to our customers, included in their purchase price. Engines should tick over sweetly at about 800 RPM when warm and the throttle should never hang at all. Clutch baskets can be a bit noisy and there is usually a little bit of cam rattle in the centre of the cam chain tunnel where the right hand camshafts join the left hand camshafts. If the cam chains and cam chain tensioners have not been replaced and the cylinder head has not been given a clean bill of health from an engineering shop then don’t buy it. Honda CBX1000s have cylinder head and cam chain and tensioner issues related to age which you can read about here. Ignoring such problems can be ridiculously costly no matter how much of a bargain the motorcycle seems to be.

Silver Honda CBX1000 front

Enjoyable investment grade Honda CBX1000

Enjoyable investment grade Honda CBX1000s is what The Motorcycle Broker is all about. In fact, all of our classic motorcycles are about that. You can ride and enjoy your investment grade classic motorcycle if it’s correct and set up correctly. All of these machines are twenty five to fifty years old and require a lot of work to chase out the dreadful work that’s been done to them over the decades and to set them up as if they are a new motorcycle from the factory. If you want to invest safely in classic motorcycles and to acquire investment grade classic motorcycles, call The Motorcycle Broker.

Paul Jayson

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