In a biking world where you can easily pay around £20K and beyond for a new sports tourer there is an easy way around it: Buy a used bike of course! Ok the world of TFT screens, multi mode traction control and engine mapping will be alien to you, but do you really need all that stuff? A friend of mine has just picked himself up a swift (175 mph…). well built (it’s a Honda) and iconic bike for the right side of 3K! Ladies and Gentleman I give you the 2005 Honda CBR1100 XX Superbird Blackbird…
To get straight to the point, this is a phenomenal machine with impressive handling and smooth power delivery. When you combine this with it’s typically noughties aerodynamic curves and angled front end, you just have to love it. OK the headlight makes it look a bit old hat, but overall with it’s long aggressive frame and lines I think it stands the test of time very well.
The engine is beautifully smooth and delivers endless amounts of power and torque from any rev range and in any gear, for any situation. That being said, it definitely prefers going fast!
The handling blew me away when I first got on it, it’s so confidence inspiring and just not what you expect from such a big bike which was designed some 24 years ago. High speed cornering is effortless and I find I could have always pushed harder, except perhaps on the tightest of bends. Being a big long bike, I find the slow tight corners can be a bit challenging, particularly if there’s debris on the road which seems to easily upset the balance – although that’s probably more my lack of experience with the bike, so a thoughtful approach to such corners is probably all that’s required.
My bike has a custom seat which not only provides very good comfort, but also a sportier look compared to the standard so I’d recommend an upgrade. I’ve done a 5 hour trip on the bike with only 2 stops, which only the last hour I found uncomfortable. I have bar risers fitted and even then it’s still a surprisingly sporty ride position compared with most sport tourers, so I’m not sure I’d fancy a big tour on it. The dash is pretty comprehensive but missing a gear indicator, although it’s so smooth and quite easy tell which gear you’re in. I’ve managed to squeeze in a tom tom sat nav, but it is tight even with a double bubble screen. The tank range is about 170 miles with a mixture of giving it some and fast cruising, not bad and around £24 to fill.
To conclude, I think this bike is just brilliant, provides big smiles every time I get on it. A great bit of kit for getting a kick out of, but also capable of the more serious day to day stuff. Lives up to it’s legendary status.
Words: Paul Towers-France
Pictures: Tony Donnelly