Flashback: Honda CBX1000 – The Massive Six Cylinder Marvel

Six-cylinder Honda CBX1000 – We delve into the past and dig up one extremely interesting liter class motorcycle. Read on to know more about it…

In this story we will talk about a very interesting classic motorcycle from the 1970’s – Honda CBX1000. The liter class CBX was a breakthrough motorcycle when Honda released it in 1978. People never saw such big, marvelous engines; and the performance of the motorcycle was unbelievable as well. It was truly an iconic superbike of its era. However, like others, it wasn’t perfect too.

Six-cylinder Honda CBX1000

This incredible machine was inspired by the Honda RC166 – a 250 cc Grand Prix road racing motorcycle, which won two races – in 1966 and 1967. RC166 was a six cylinder bike too (yes, no typos here!) with a monstrous looking engine and truckloads of power. That’s how the idea of building the first six cylinder production superbike began (for Honda).

The Honda RC166

Engine took only a year and a half to develop, because the basic concept was already there, on the old racing bikes. Both RC166 and CBX1000 engines were designed by the same man – the widely respected then Vice President of Honda, Shoichiro Irimajiri. The styling and design was done under the supervision of Norimoto Otsuka.

Honda CBX1000’s engine was glorious and those 6 chromed pipes, one from each cylinder, were a treat for the enthusiasts: No one had done such a thing like that before.

The six-cylinder motor was carefully designed and shaped; it wasn’t made just for power and loud sound. There were several types of engine coloring themes over the years (like pipes were black, cylinders golden etc) but the bold, simple original design (of full chrome) was the best.

Six-cylinder Honda CBX1000

Six-Cylinder Honda CBX1000 – Specs & Performance

Let’s us see some key specifications of this monster. The CBX1000 sported a twin cam, 24-valve, 1,047 cc air-cooled engine that was capable of pumping out 105 bhp of peak power at 9000 rpm and remember we are talking about the 1970s.

It was an inline-6, and since it was too long (to go parallel), it was placed perpendicular to the bike. The bike had 6 Keihin carburetors which took care of the fueling duties. With such a massive engine on the body, the CBX1000 weighed around 250 kilos, dry. Despite that much of a flab, the motorcycle was good for doing awe-inspiring top speeds of 220 km/h!

Peak torque was 70.5 Nm and it came up at 6500 rpm. Honda CBX was capable of finishing the quarter mile run (400 meters) in under 12 seconds. Because the engine was massive and wide, Honda engineers had to make various unconventional changes. The ignition equipment was positioned behind the cylinder block and there was a jackshaft that provided the drive to the alternator.

It was shiny gigantic power unit and there was even a special side frame for it – most probably to protect it from any possible collision.

Six-cylinder Honda CBX1000

Apart from the engine, Honda CBX1000 didn’t look anything special. Yes, it was classy, but there weren’t any radical innovations in design. There were two versions of the motorcycle. The first one, which was introduced in 1978, was a classy looking cruiser type bike, which looked solid and really likable. It had an oversized, rectangular tail-light and big, round speedometer and tachometer.

A new sport touring model was introduced in 1981 which did not look as good! While it wasn’t bad at all (with such an engine anything will look astonishing), the overall styling didn’t gel well.

Six-cylinder Honda CBX1000

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However, because of such a heavy weight and lack of technology the motorcycle’s handling was nothing extraordinary.

CBX got narrow tires (Front Tire – 3.50 V19, Rear Tire – 4.25 V18), and stability wasn’t the greatest, especially with such a humongous engine aboard. Riders needed to be very careful – such insane power was capable of causing loss of control.

This 6-cylinder marvel wore dual ventilated rotors (2 x 276 mm discs) at the front and they were also never seen on any commercial bike before the CBX. At the rear, Honda plonked a single 296 mm rotor. Despite the usage of such brakes, stopping power was just about manageable and much below today’s standards!

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Six-cylinder Honda CBX1000

Fuel consumption of Honda CBX1000 was around 16 kmpl. Fuel tank capacity was 20 liters which meant a range of about 300+ kilometers.

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Because of a high price tag, and below-par handling, Honda CBX1000 wasn’t a very popular mass production bike. It was produced only for 5 years, from 1978 till 1982. Don’t get it wrong – bikers loved it, but it wasn’t a bike that most of them could ride every day.

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Still, despite many flaws it is one of the most iconic motorcycles of all times. Many current owners still never trade their CBX1000s for modern bikes even at twice the price. Honda CBX1000 was simply magical and they do not make these kinds anymore!

– Aleks

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