The latest in a long legendary motorcycle lineage

I must confess to a measure of bias here. I’ve owned a couple of Honda CB motorcycles over the years, and loved them both. First was a beautiful 1982 blue/chrome 750 Nighthawk that I bought non-running from an automotive shop that had it collecting dust/rust out back, then came a 1996 Nighthawk with a custom candy apple red flame paint job, again non-running at the time. After some minor work to get both back on the road, I thoroughly enjoyed the bikes before being talked out of each by “had to have it” friends. These days, I wish I had at least kept that ’82, they are so prized now.

The original game-changer: 1969 Honda CB750. Photo by Throttlestop.

First launched in 1969, the original Honda CB750 rewrote the history books on motorcycling. An inline four, SOHC, four carb powerplant displacing 736cc, slathered in chrome, with comfortable upright ergos, the CB750 was targeted squarely at the American motorcycling market. Honda shook up the motorcycling world with the CB’s solid performance and affordable price point of $1495. Cycle World magazine in August of that year called it “the most sophisticated production bike ever.” Decades later in 2012, Motorcyclist magazine awarded the CB750 “Motorcycle of the Century” for its impact on the motorcycle industry and culture. The bike was a game-changer, setting in motion a “superbike war” among the Nippon brands, sending Harley-Davidson scrambling to compete stateside, and almost singlehandedly driving the final nail in the coffin of the once dominant British motorcycle industry.

The new-gen CB1000R Black Edition. Photo by Honda.

Today’s Honda CB line of motorcycles, though bearing little physical resemblance to their ancestors, nonetheless carry the legendary CB series DNA of excellent performance, bulletproof reliability, and high value for the money. The CB bikes of 2022 are classified by Honda as their naked sportbike “Neo-Sports Café” line, consisting of the CB1000R Black Edition, CB650R ABS, and CB300R. These bikes are stripped of fairings, windshields, bags and other creature comforts, instead focusing on viscerally feeling the bike and the ride, like their ancestors of old.

Simple and elemental, pure motorcycling.

We were granted the opportunity to sample a CB1000R Black Edition for a little over a month, and what struck me first was the attention to detail in this all-blacked out motorbike. No substantial chrome or brushed aluminum anywhere, from the tank and fenders, to the forks, wheels, radiator and airbox covers, swingarm, headers and pipes, you name it. Black on black. To top it off, Honda tacked on very nice machined bits all around, on the handlebar clamp, swingarm pivots, rear hub, wheel spokes, footpeg mounts and engine covers. This bike is an attention-getter, everywhere we’ve ridden and parked it.

The “dark side” is beckoning.

Beautiful, blacked-out and machined bits everywhere.

Those swingarm-mounted rear lights and plate bracket can be polarizing among many riders, but I personally like this touch. Being blacked out as well, the configuration really cleans up the rear of the bike, giving it that Euro cool vibe. The exhaust system is a claimed 4-into-1 by Honda, but that exit housing actually has two over/under pipes in it, so could we actually say its a 4-into-2? Either way, the exhaust note is surprisingly sharp, like an aftermarket system. We’ve enjoyed revving it, for sure. Sweet sound.

The CB1000R is powered by Honda’s previous-gen 998cc DOHC superbike mill, with some retuning for midrange to afford it better open road performance. Running a throttle-by-wire system for power delivery, the CB Black also now sports a bidirectional quickshifter and slipper clutch for solid up/down clicking through the 6-cog gearbox. Not as butter smooth as other quickshifters/slipper clutches we’ve sampled recently, but solid and reliable, as one would expect from Honda. We had fun running through the gears along deserted country roads out here in north central Georgia, feeling that thrilling surge around 6000 rpm that other publications have also noted.

Yeah, it’s difficult keeping out of that throttle.

As we’d say in the South, it’s a hoot to ride. 

Ripping around on the Honda CB1000R, we also noted how stable yet flickable the chassis felt. Down several roads we love with back-to-back, multiple sweepers and elevation changes, we found the big CB was quick and easy to dive side to side through the corners, aided by that flat handlebar. So easy to throw it into a curve then toss it over the other side for the next. Running on grippy Pirelli Diablo Rosso III shoes fore and aft, the bike is supremely fun to get your hooligan on with (not endorsing misbehavior, mind you. *wink).

At 5’8”, 150 +- wet weight, I found the rider triangle mostly comfortable. The handlebars pulled me forward just a tad, the footpeg position was only slightly rearset which I liked, but the seat was a brick to me. I’ve got little padding back there anyway (TMI, I know), and the hard, angular seat just exacerbated my personal lack of substantial cushion. But in all, I felt fairly settled riding out on the big CB. Phil rode the bike as well, and given our size differences (Phil is 6’2”), he liked the handlebar reach due to his longer arms, but felt cramped with the pegs up and back too much for his longer legs. Ted came in town for a week, so he got to ride it too, and being a 6’ sport bike guy, didn’t mind the handlebar reach nor the pegs. They both liked the seat shape and padding, so maybe it was just my scrawny @$$.

Easy-to-read and customizable TFT screen. Check out the kickstand indicator in the upper left.

The 5” TFT display is fairly easy to navigate, once you learn how to use the left bar toggle switch. I liked the display operation better on Honda’s Rebel 1100 DTC. The CB1000R has four Ride modes- Standard, Rain, Sport and User. This I did find similar to the Rebel, and really liked the versatility and customizability of the modes. Power delivery (throttle response), Torque Control, and Engine Braking are all accessible onscreen. The rider can switch between the Ride Modes, can change what information is displayed, can even switch on/off the ABS, traction control, or even the quickshifter if desired, although I’m not sure why anyone would want to do that. I’m getting spoiled by these. Definitely entertained by them.

“Fear not the darkness, but welcome it’s embrace.”-Assassin’s Creed. Black on black.

Geez, I love that hot single-sided swingarm! Honda hit a homer with its form and function, combined with that sweet 7-spoke cast aluminum wheel with machined accents. Pinching on Tokico brakes front and rear with a fixed ABS, the feel is sufficient, getting the job done when it’s time to scrub off mph. No complaints. Showa shocks up front are adjustable for compression, rebound, and preload, and the rear single is adjustable for preload and rebound. The factory settings suited me pretty well, but Phil and Ted added some stiffness for their rides on it. Easy to achieve, easy to adjust.

It’s a versatile bike, for sure.

Are we having fun yet? I’m thinking so,

The CB1000R weighs in at 468 lbs, full fluids and fuel, with a 32.8 seat height. I had no problem straddling and mostly flat-footing at stops. With a 4.3 gallon tank capacity, the CB can get around 40-42 mpg or about 175-180 miles on a tank, if you can keep your wrist out of the throttle. We could not, admittedly, and got in the upper-30s on average, about 150 miles per fill-up. Oh well, they were fun mpgs. The bike will clock a tick over 150 mph, so it’s capable of “stupid fast.” Can’t divulge how we know that. As fuel prices soar, I’m sure we’d use the throttle a bit more judiciously.

“Give me fuel, give me fire, give me that which I desire.” -Metallica. And curvy roads.

We very much enjoyed our time with the Honda CB1000R, and in typical Honda fashion, found it to be a solid, reliable, high-performing and high-value motorcycle for the money, which by the way runs about $12,999. Neo-sports, café, naked sport, hyper-standard, factory streetfighter, whatever label it may wear, the big black 1000R is a fantastic machine, worthy of carrying on the legendary CB moniker.

For more on the Honda CB1000R, click here:

Honda CB1000R

Rider Gear: Bell Eliminator, TexPort jacket, Diamond Gusset riding jeans, SA1NT riding gloves, Street & Steel riding boots.

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