Honda CB 1000 Big One Super Four
An attempt, a few years ago, to lure the ageing and lapsed motorcyclist back on to two wheels, many of the motorbike manufacturers adopted what is known as the Retro look.
Time was when all superbikes were gas-guzzling monsters unadorned by acres of fibreglass bodywork. A superbike was a machine with a very powerful engine, two wheels and a seat. They required nerves of steel and a will of iron to tame, and they had a brutish appeal almost totally absent from most modern superbikes . . except for the retro ones.
The retro superbikes are designed to appeal to those who are old enough to remember unfaired muscle-bikes the first time round - those who rode bikes in the '70s and who aren't now limber enough to squeeze themselves aboard a state-of-the-art race-replica. The born-again biker is the target market for these bikes, and one of the best examples of these retro machines is the Honda CB1000.
Using a de-tuned engine from a Honda CBR1000F, the CB1000 harks back to the days of the CB1100 and the CB900. The water-cooled, double overhead cam, 16-valve, in-line four cylinder engine is a far cry from the air-cooled eight-valve engines of the '70s, but it is the focal point of this superbike. Pumping out lOObhp at 8500rpm the CB1000 has a top speed of around 140mph.
The engine is capable of producing a lot more power than it actually does, but Honda have tuned it for low and mid-range output, and brute acceleration, rather than top speed. This is because without a fairing on it, the CB1000 is a struggle to ride at speeds over 120mph. So it might as well be tuned for eyeball-popping acceleration instead.
I the USA muscle-bikes such as Yamaha's V-Max have proved to be very popular, combining brute power with an upright and unfaired riding position. The retro bike is a similar animal, offering old-fashioned good looks with straight-line acceleration that is the envy of the sportscar world.
In Japan the CB1000 is called the CB1000 Big One, and with good reason - this is one BIG motorcycle. Weighing in at 5201bs dry, with a seat height of 31.5ins, and with a wheelbase of 60.6ins, the CB1000 is a massive machine. It's not in the
same league as bikes such as the Gold Wing or the Harley tourers, but compared to modern sportsbikes the CB1000 is massive. Anyone without a 32-inch inside leg measurement and the upper body strength of Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to have trouble manoeuvring this machine at walking pace.
But once you get it moving, the CB1000 doesn't feel quite as ponderous as you might think. The acceleration is awesome, rattling off standing-quarters in the 11-second bracket and laying 50-yard strips of rubber on the road behind if you give it all it's got. And even through the turns the Honda's steel cradle frame and traditional suspension (non-adjustable 43mm telescopic forks at the front and a pair of Showa shocks adjustable for preload only at the rear) keep the bike handling well. The CB1000 isn't going to win many races, but it actually handles considerably better than you'd expect from a bike that weighs this much and comes with a relatively low-tech chassis and suspension.
But the real appeal of the CB1000 is its brutish but linear power delivery and its traditional good looks. It is the essence of the retro look, and that look seems to be here to stay.
Source Super Bikes by Mac McDiarmid