Some bikes have engine sounds and exhaust notes that make our insides tingle. For instance, in my case, the Ducati's Desmosedici or the MV Agusta 500’s inline three have a little je ne sais quoi that gets my heart racing. Those are more personal tastes of course, but I think there is one engine we can probably all agree on : Honda’s late 70s inline six. Rejoice: that video is all about that engine and the sound is on point.
After it introduced what is widely accepted as the very first superbike 50 years ago, the pressure was on Honda’s shoulders to top its CB750 Four champion. The OG UJM gave everyone a kick in the butt and big-bores started sprouting on the market like weed. The era of the Kawasaki Z1 and Suzuki GT750 helped define the Golden Age of the first proper sportbikes. Competitors got aggressive with their offering and displacements broke the one-liter seal for the first time. While others were soaring, despite its 1969 honorific title, Honda dragged its feet through the 70s.
A series of ok but short-lived and uninspired models even lead some of the competitors to believe that Honda had put bikes on the back burner to focus on the booming Civic and car segment. By the time the end of the roaring 70s rolled in, Honda finally woke up and went berserk with the introduction of the CBX1000 in 1978. The Japanese giant had done it again and this time, it had managed to cram a 1,047cc, transversal inline six into the frame of a motorcycle—a block only two inches wider than the 750’s popular inline four.
The most striking feature of the new model was undoubtedly the three-into-one double exhaust (or the crazy-looking three-into-one-into-three version) that gave the CBX its signature look. Six cylinders, six carburetors, 24 valves, and six pipes cascading at the front of the bike—what a sight. The bike was rated at a the then insane 105 hp. The engine underlying (or highlighting) the CBX was actually a trickle down from Honda’s GP racing mill and inspired by the 1966 RC166.
While the engine was a technological marvel for its time, the frame didn’t support its magnitude so well. A reader of RideApart commented on the bike, describing its handling as “squirrely”. The front fork was too thin for its own good and the rear swingarm and shocks fell short from the level of refinement that would have done the engine justice. Combined with the fact that the CBX weighed in at a massive 600lb and a price tag that, though justified, deterred buyers, the model was dropped from the lineup only four years later.
Nowadays, all we have to remember the CBX by are the perfectly preserved collection pieces taken out for sunny-Sunday strolls—and the odd crate find. That might not remain the case for very long, however. An ongoing rumor suggests that a modern-day CBX could be in the works at Honda’s and yes, the inline six is also part of the deal. What a time to be alive! If the rumor has any truth to it, sign us up, we’ll take 20. Until we know for sure whether the CBX will be revived, we get to close our eyes and enjoy the sweet music of the inline six.
Sources: Cycle World, Motorcycle Classics, Telegraph, Petrolicious