Modern, refined, retro and timeless
The 2015 CB1100 DLX harks back to the days of ole'. Emulating the spirit and design of the Honda CB750, the CB1100 does a fantastic job of melding classic aesthetics with modern design.
At first glance, the Honda CB1100 DLX looks a bit boxy (mainly because of the fuel tank), but after walking around this meticulous machine, it’s difficult to deny it’s beauty. Much like the Triumph Bonneville and Moto Guzzi 8V SE, the Honda CB1100 has a commanding, vintage presence. It causes pedestrians and drivers to turn their heads and leer uncontrollably as if it were Scarlett Johanssen walking down the street in a beautiful red dress and Louboutin heels or Micheal Fassbender in a tailored suit (for the ladies).
2015 Honda CB1100 Deluxe Review
We picked up the bike from Honda's headquarters in Torrance, California the night before our big camping trip North through California ending in Portland for the One Motorcycle Show. We were to outfit a week's worth of undies, camera and camping gear to the back seat for the long way to the show.
Read My One Motorcycle Show Recap: The Best of The One Motorcycle Show Will Leave You in Awe | RideApart
Sitting in my home garage the night before the big ride I paced around the bike a number of times studying its various angles, falling in love with its design.
The next morning it was time to put the CB1100 DLX between my legs. I mention to most of my readers that I'm a tall guy—6’5’’ and a svelte 210lbs—so out of necessity, I gravitate toward bigger motorcycles. I will ride almost anything, but when a bike dips under 750cc I end up looking like a turtle humping a tic-tac or a grizzly bear pedaling a tricycle.
Pulling the bike off the kickstand and into its upright position required a little “umph,” but at rest, the 570lbs CB1100 DLX felt remarkably well-balanced and isn't as heavy as it reads on paper. The upgraded, ribbed gel bench saddle affords an ample seating area and also provides a comfortable area for a passenger or soft luggage. The standard seating position accommodates my stature well and my legs didn't impact the tank in an awkward way—nor were they bent at an uncomfortable angle. The handlebar ergonomics felt comfortable, and all the controls were simple and easy to operate. The brake and clutch levers have a nice range of adjustability for riders of various hand sizes and the mirrors offer adequate visibility.
My only gripe with the controls layout is the position of the horn and blinker buttons. The horn button is positioned above the blinkers, and I'm just accustomed to that being the other way around.
READ MORE: Best Retro Motorcycles Available Right Now
My favorite visual aesthetic on the CB1100 DLX is the instrument cluster. It’s nearly perfect for a stock bike: Two beautiful, easy to read analogue speedometer / tachometer combo with a lovely dark-green background, an LCD display dead center offering a digital clock, two trip meters , an odometer, mpg consumption, digital fuel gauge and large gear readout (in case you forget what gear you're in)—all of which are easily seen under bright lighting conditions. At night, the cluster glows a beautiful shade of blue. It's simply stunning. A similar layout to the original CB750 instrument cluster, but with a modern upgrade. Honda's design team nailed it, keeping some of the goodness of the original, while making a bike that fits in today's world.
First Ride Impressions
From the moment I hit the ignition and began riding, the only adjective that fully encompasses the nature of the CB1100 DLX is that it’s smooth. From the get-go, the engine idle remained smooth while I pulled out of the lot and onto the streets of Torrance. Everything from the pull of the clutch, the throttle response, power delivery, cycling and gear shifting...is smooth. There's no other adjective in the English language that aptly describes the nature of the CB1100 DLX. It's smoother than a jar of Skippy peanut butter and just as delicious and nostalgic to ride.
Possessing an almost uncanny smooth throttle response and power output, with no startling torque peaks or shift issues, the Honda CB1100 Deluxe trades liveliness for incredible refinement and forgiveness. During my first week riding this machine, I couldn't get over how forgiving this motorcycle was in almost every way.
It's almost hard to imagine that between your legs breaths a 1142cc air cooled inline 4 cylinder engine. Many will say that this bike is underpowered and too heavy, and it is but that’s not why you’re buying this bike. Even if you wanted more power, there are a number of modifications you could potentially make to give it a bit more zest.
The power output of this bike produces only 87 bhp and 66 lb-ft of torque—again, you're not looking at a super sporty bike—but when you want it, the CB1100 DLX produces the go-go juice and fulfills one's “occasional need for speed.” Merging onto the highway, zipping along on surface streets, passing cars on single lane highways, the Honda CB1100 Deluxe is far more than capable. The power comes on so smooth and even, it almost feels like an electric motorcycle.
Peak power output occurs in between 5500 and 7000 RPM in first through fourth gear, with no real noticeable loss in power on the top end. Fifth and and sixth gear offer a bit of pull between 4000 and 7000 RPM, but at these highway speeds and in these gears, the CB1100 DLX loses the fun levels of torque found in the lower gears. It simply creates a smooth cruising experience.
Some of the staff who have ridden the CB1100 noticed a soft flat spot in the rpm range, similar to the old 750s. They also noticed some some vibration at highway speeds, although this ain't no big, thumping V-twin, and more importantly they rode last year's model with 5 gears.
The 2014 model included the addition of a sixth gear, which makes the aforementioned highway cruising smooth and comfortable, but the bike could benefit from shorter gearing. While cruising along the highway, there were a couple of times where I was in 6th gear between 70-80mph and I found myself needing to drop down a gear or two to find the power to overtake another vehicle.
Due to the displacement and compression of this engine, the CB1100 DLX produces some rather noticeable engine braking when downshifting and closing the throttle. It took a couple runs up and down the canyons to get accustomed this characteristic, but once I found my groove, I came to employ it readily in and around town and on the highway.
The exhaust on the DLX is remarkably quiet...too quiet actually for my own taste, but on my long trip it was welcomed. The addition of the 4-2 exhaust system on the DLX over the 4-2-1 on the base model—aesthetically—makes the bike very beautiful, but it adds no additional power benefit and adds weight to the bike.
Exhaust gripes aside, through and through, the engine on the CB1100's power plant is smooth and tame. After acclimating to its nature and personality, you can have reasonable amounts of fun with it and unlock its understated potential.
The CB 1100 Deluxe comes with Nissin 4 caliper triple disc brakes (two in the front and one in the back), so braking on this big cafe bike is impressive and inspires confidence—especially with the linked ABS system. I put the brakes to the test on a couple of occasions, and I was impressed by how smooth and refined they were at not only stopping the bike in a short distance, but it also maintained weight distribution. For those looking to disable the ABS on the CB1100, you’re out of luck. I spent the better half of an hour pouring through the owners manual, searching online, and fiddling with buttons to try and disable the ABS. I was unsuccessful.
With Showa 41mm adjustable forks offering 4.2 inches of travel in the front and adjustable spring preload shocks with 4.5 inches of travel in the back, the 2014 CB1100 DLX has an average suspension package. Most of my time in the saddle on the CB1100 DLX was spent with the rear suspension set to 2 (1 being the softest and 5 being the firmest). I ratcheted down the pre-load to 5 for some canyon runs and it firmed up the suspension a fair amount, but nothing that would make a huge difference for the seasoned rider. For the everyday commuter and the occasional long haul trip, the suspension is a little above average and will feel fine day in and day out.
The CB1100 DLX does a pretty good job at maintaining a low center of gravity with its steel-tube full-cradle twin-loop frame and aluminum swingarm. Because of this, the CB1100 handles well at all speeds and inspires confidence in the mind of a young rider…CONTINUE READING
Fuel Consumption faired pretty well. At best the CB 1100 Deluxe averages 50 mpg when ridden calmly. That number drops down to 36-40 mpg when ridden aggressively. The 4.6 gallon tank averaged about 165-190 miles and never cost me more than $11.00 to fill. I did fill it to the point of no return, took it to the highway and rode it until I ran out of gas. I got exactly 210 miles out of the tank. Not too shabby.
The Little Things
They say its the small things in life that make the difference and I could not agree more. Honda adds in a few little accessories on the Deluxe model (I'm not sure if they come with the standard model) that I very much enjoyed.
The first being the extended tie down bolts under the passenger seat, which served as excellent mounting points for my Twisted Throttle DrySpec 38L bag and Redverz 90L bag. Because of these little bolts, I was able to stack em’ high and lug around 150lbs of gear for 11 days on the back of the CB without having to rig straps to the frame.
The CB1100 comes with a helmet lock built into the frame for your own helmet, a standby helmet for eventual passenger, or both! #HondaForTheWin
The engine oil viewport has a wiper blade to give you a clear view of where your oil level is. Awesome. The stock provided dual-tone horn is adequately loud and distinct. It also comes with a center-stand, which is always a nice option for routine bike maintenance and loading gear for a multi-day trip.
Under the seat (the release button is located just behind the helmet lock), there's a nice little stash space for your tool kit or a can of Pabst, your flask or you know...other personal items hipsters and aging hipster want to carry around. Also included under the seat is a storage space purely designed to carry a heavy duty U-Lock. This is perfect for those times when when you must park your bike in the shadier parts of town and want to ensure it's still there when you come back.
In recent years, retro styled bikes have been making a comeback and Honda’s attention to detail with the CB1100 Deluxe puts it in the creme de la creme class and so does it’s price tag. The base CB1100 comes in at $10,399 and the Deluxe at $11,899. It by no means comes in low on the pricing totem pole but with that cost it feels like you are getting an incredibly well built machine that has the pedigree and history of reliability Honda has been known for, for decades. The Deluxe model only comes in a candy red with black and grey pinstriping. In direct sunlight it is vibrant and poppy and in the shade it almost maintains a deep rich rose color.
The Honda CB1100 DLX is a premium level hearty (yet tame) retro cafe inspired motorcycle that Honda pulled no expense in creating. You will love this bike every time you throw your leg over it and pull out onto the street—not only for its insatiable performance and multitudes of rider-incorporated technology, but rather for its simplicity, bespoke nature, and homage to yesteryear.
It's a more than capable, comfortable commuter motorcycle that affords any rider the ability to venture to moderately far off places when the mood strikes. I would even go so far as to say the Honda CB1100 is the perfect big bike for beginners or larger/taller individuals and for those seeking a beautiful cafe-styled bike with more power and performance than a Triumph Bonneville or Thruxton—all while remaining cheaper than the Moto Guzzi 8V SE and BMW R-Nine T.
Jacket: Rev'it Redhook Jacket
Gloves: Racer Gloves - Mickey Glove
Boots: Red Wing 84206
Photos by Sam Bendall LiveMotoFoto and riding shots by Nik Wogan
Follow RideApart on Facebook and Twitter, along with @RideApart on Instagram.