Reader Submissions: One goal and Four Honda CBXs Later

One goal and Four Honda CBXs Later

By Petrolicious Productions
December 15, 2014

Owner and photographer: Victor Van Tress

Year, Make, and Model: 1981 Honda CBX

Location: Rockypeak, California, USA

Photographer: Rock Store Photos

I made a promise to myself never to crash a car on the street. After a few years I decided to up the challenge and include motorcycles on that promise. I first began riding a CBX while working as a salesman at a Honda/Kawasaki dealer. It was a demo ’81 CBX. Smitten, I put 24k miles on it in a year and after quitting, I bought my own 1981 Honda CBX. After 75k miles the bike was hit while parked and I immediately bought another ’81 CBX which I put 120k miles on.

Then I bought my fourth CBX which just turned 80K miles (the one pictured here). I’ll probably buy another. The 1981-82 CBX has been called ‘Honda’s Moon Shot’ [Editor’s note: in 1977, Cycle magazine praised Honda, calling the CBX a “breakthrough for the Japanese motorcycle industry”]. When Harley guys ask “How do you keep all those carbs and valves adjusted?” I answer, “First off, do nothing. Then every 15K miles, do nothing but every 50K miles make sure you do nothing.” Basically, if the clutch basket doesn’t rattle, don’t touch it. Just remember–it’s a Honda.

Called a SuperSport, it’s a 24-valve air cooled six-cylinder and Honda’s first “Pro-Link” rear suspension bike with chassis mounted fairing and suit cases. I love that it is dead smooth yet has a stressed member mounted six-cylinder.

I ride this bike 24/7, hot, cold, wet, or dry. I take it everywhere. Being a race driver, I naturally have had many an occasion to chase other bikes with the CBX and have had many chase me. CBXs are not known as road racers but then again, has anybody else run one as hard for so many years?

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Phil Auldridge
Phil Auldridge
8 years ago

Ah yes,
I’ve had my “naked” CBX for about 2 years now. Of the 5 bikes in my garage (Bonneville, Norton Commando, BMW airhead, and Moto Guzzi California), when I want a real rush, I pull out the CBX. And I can’t agree more with the author’s assertions that these bikes are invincible. I’ve never touched my carbs, yet it idles smoothly and pulls like a freight train. It just always works.

One big surprise for me after acquiring mine: I had assumed that with a 9,000 RPM engine, power would be anemic at lower RPM’s, but such is not the case. The bike pulls smoothly from 1,500, but man, when you hit about 5,000 RPM at full throttle, hold on to your hat, because it’s only another second or so to nine grand!

My only complaint is the extremely low gearing of the bike. It runs at 5,000 RPM at just below 70 mph. Granted, the bike is happy at that engine speed all day long, but you always find yourself wishing for that next gear that doesn’t exist. Strange, because the bike does have plenty of pulling power at lower RPMs. My guess is this was all part of Honda’s plot to create the ultimate quarter mile (and top speed) buster, which they did, but at the expense of day-to-day cruising.

I prefer my bike on short hauls, as they constant 5k rpm cruise is mentally fatiguing if not physically.

I was so enamored with my CBX that I created a video showcasing it, and you can view it here on my blog:
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Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson
8 years ago

I just love these bikes especially the early “naked” ones. Such jewel like monsters. I can still remember when I got my new ‘Cycle’ magazine with the new CBX on the cover – love at first sight. Wow – 6 in a row and pipes tuned to sound like an Phantom jet! I’ve only ridden one once for a short distance so I’d probably end up preferring the later model too if I put in the miles this gentleman has. There’s something beautiful about getting to know one machine so well.

Matt Truelove
Matt Truelove
8 years ago

Lovely 🙂

Seb Zel
Seb Zel
8 years ago

A nice love story for an epic bike 😉