Honda first introduced the CBR 1100XX Super Blackbird in
late 1996 as a 1997 model in the original colors: Black, Titanium and Red.
Being a great product, it soon became a popular motorbike for its
combination of smooth powerful engine, good handling, comfort, reliability
and quality. You will notice that the biggest CBR hasn’t suffered important
improvements through the years as it was bulletproof built from the
The year 1998 doesn’t bring any changes to this motorcycle except the update
to the thermostat housing. The colors available were the same (depending on
what part of the world you were in). As you already now the 1100XX Super
Blackbird could be delivered in any color as long as it was black (only in
the U.S in the first years of production).
In 1999 Honda decides to change to their PGM-FI Fuel Injection System.
Slight changes were also found at the tail light, air box, RAM Air ducts,
oil cooler, and clutch. They kept the Black color for the U.S. but in Europe
Blue entered the scene.
After those significant improvements and the adding of a new color, Honda
believed that their sport-tourer didn’t need any more changes for 2000 so
the motorbike remained virtually the same.
For 2001 the Blackbird was upgraded to a digital dash and Silver was added
for Europe. This is the year when the color changed for the U.S.: Red was
preferred instead of Black.
2002 doesn’t bring any changes except the adding of Silver for the U.S.,
only to return at their initial color (Black) in 2003 when the last model of
the 1100XX was released in the U.S.
Honda kept producing the Blackbird for the European market but it only
changed the colors: 2004 marks the introduction of two-tone Black/Silver
color scheme, the 2005 and 2006 models received Silver two-tone and Blue
two-tone while the 2007 1100XX features Iron Nail two-tone color scheme.
As you could see the Blackbird kept is original characteristics through the
years and it is still going strong in a class with much desired supremacy.
In any domain, but especially when it comes to motorcycle building, bigger
and faster is the aim and Honda made no exception when it introduced their
biggest model in order to steal Kawasaki’s crown. They succeeded and the
Blackbird became the world’s fastest production motorcycle. But the
happiness didn’t last long because
Suzuki had prepared their biggest model for 1999, the GSX1300R Hayabusa,
when the title “The World’s Fastest Production Motorcycle” was obtained with
5 extra mph.
Kawasaki later introduced today’s monsters and the main competitors for the
Blackbird and Hayabusa, ZX-12R and ZZR1400. Both Kawasaki models reached
more mph at the top end so the battle today is taken between Suzuki and
Kawasaki, Honda remaining a comfortable sport-touring alternative with a lot
of power only a twist of a throttle away.
When I first approached the Blackbird, back in ’96 I was
astonished of its size. This is a really large motorcycle and frankly it
kind of scared me because I was expecting Honda to follow the tendency of
increasing the amount of horse power positioned in a relatively small frame.
But they based the aerodynamic nose design on that of an aircraft which
owned the title of the world’s fastest aircraft for quite a while and that
is pretty cool as well as the bike’s design. A stealth motorbike, even a
pseudo stealth one, is unusual and I don’t think many shapes could carry it
off. This, however, manages to look classy and somehow sinister at the same
The initial design of the CBR 1100XX hasn’t changed through the year
because, as I already said, it is kind of the only thing that reflects the
motorcycle’s capabilities. The only thing that changed were the colors but I
believe that the matt black paintwork with pale gold wheels and titanium
detailing echoes the aeroplane even further.
Today we encounter the same fairing dimensions and sharp look that we
already gotten used to Iron Nail two-tone painted giving the impression of
bare metal, kind of the aeroplane’s fairing in the early days.
Would a motorcycle even count if it wouldn’t perform the way
it looks? I’m sure we all know the answer but thanks to Honda’s engineers
who made sure that the Blackbird will have a big heart (1137 cc
liquid-cooled, inline four cylinder engine which is compact and
lightweight), we don’t have to worry about awesome performance. Those same
smart Honda people came with the idea of incorporating a dual-shaft balancer
system, a unit which revs up very smoothly eliminating the annoying
secondary vibration. This evolved into a directly bolted engine to the dual
spar, triple box section aluminum frame without using rubber mounts,
obtaining even further overall rigidity.
The suspension system, combined with the motorcycle’s lightness, provide it
with outstanding agility and satisfying maneuverability while still
maintaining the main sport-touring characteristic: comfort.
Such a fast and big motorcycle needed a performance braking system in order
to come to a safe stop and Honda had it just ready for mounting. The
Dual-Combined Brake System, which actuates the front and rear brakes by
either pulling the hand lever or pressing the foot pedal is a ingenious
solution for fast stops in complete safe. Kind of what we would expect from