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Cycle World - July '90

STANDARD TIME

Honda CB-1

When the CB-1 used in this evaluation showed up in the cinder-block shrine that is the Cycle World garage, much coffee-besotted bench racing ensued, with this little blue bolide as its object. The consensus? Mostly that the CB-1 is just about a perfect model of a real motorcycle.

The multi-day, all-singing, all-dancing standard-off, in which all ten of the bikes seen here were flogged so hard their little tongues hung out, over all kinds of roads, in drizzling rain and in pouring sunshine, resulted in a somewhat modified opinion: the CB-1 is a real motorcycle, its just three-quarters scale.

That is by no means an indictment of this bike. Small isn't necessarily a negative attribute. As it happens, in spite of its 53.9-inch wheelbase, and 30.5-inch seat height, the CB-1's smile-per-mile quotient is right up there with the best of them, thanks to its taught suspension, a riding position comfortable for all but the tallest riders, and an incredible little engine that just begs the rider to turn the throttle.

In fact, in order to extract any sort of performance from the CB-1, its throttle must be twisted with some vigor. The liquid-cooled, four-valve-per-cylinder, short- stroke engine's rev limit is a spine-tingling 13,500 rpm, and it doesn't really get into the fattest part of its power curve until about 10,000 rpm. If you have any mechanical empathy at all, turning any engine into five-digit rpm numbers takes some getting used to, both in terms of seeing those big numbers on a tachometer dial, and in terms of hearing the exhaust note such speeds yield. After a bit of time however, the CB-1's test riders found themselves assured that the engine not only could tolerate such speeds, but that it thrives on them, and felt less concerned about zinging the tach needle around to the redline. Once that happened, and once they got used to using the bike's clean-shifting six- speed transmission to keep the engine where it made max horsepower, they discovered that the CB-1's brakes and chassis are every bit a match for its willing little engine.

The bike's frame is of steel tubes bent in perimeter style, its steering head aligned to provide a sportbike-like 25.1 degrees of rake and 3.9 inches of trail. Its non-adjustable fork uses 41 mm tubes, and its single-shock rear suspension allows only spring-preload adjustment. Both ends provide a kind of Everyman's spring/damping compliance designed to work with the most common denominator. Which means it's a bit soft on both ends, especially for backroad honking.

Nevertheless, handling is quick and direct, with no surprises. Braking performance is, by virtue of a twin-piston caliper that grips a 12.2 inch vented rotor, excellent, and in keeping with the general overall fine balance this bike provides.

What we really wish is that the CB-1 was a 750, and that it was bigger overall. Nevertheless, its an entertaining piece, a pint-sized standard that delivers quart- sized fun.

SPECIFICATIONS:

List price: $4298
Weight: Tank empty 394 lb.
Fuel capacity: 3.3 gal.
1/4 Mile: 13.16 seconds@102.15 mph
Top gear time to speed 40-60: 4.3sec
Measured top speed: 119 mph.
Average fuel mileage: 42 mpg

 

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