Bikes - June '99
test appeared in the June 1999 issue of Performance Bikes. They
set themselves a budget of around £2000 and tested a quartet
of grey import 400s. Apart from the CB-1 the bikes were a Kawasaki
ZX-4, a Suzuki GSX-R400 and a Yamaha FZR400R EXUP.
Grandad, we love
don't get much with the CB-1. Motor, steel tubular frame, a splattering
of plastic and that's about it. Compared with the others you get
very little metal for your molah. What you do get though, is far
more important. Instant gratification. It's one of the main reasons
we ride bikes in the first place. And for this reason fists flew
for ownership of the Hondas' keys.
because the CB wasn't the most powerful, fastest or even the best
handler. The reason for this popularity was it's manners. Gus: "Typical
Honda, you can jump straight on and go mental. It reminds me of
the Hornet because it's so forgiving. Sling it around, wheelie,
stoppie, anything and you know it's not going to bite back."
Almost makes it sound boring.
It's not even
the lightest. At 183kg the Honda is 6kg heavier than the bulkier
Kwak. Try slinging the ZX around like the CB-1 and you'll be needing
a new arse in your leathers. Is it any wonder the Little -1 has
become such a hit with despatchers everywhere?
of town the naked bike holds its own against the others. Even above
90mph, when most unfaired bikes are trying their hardest to tear
your head off, the CB's still cutting a groove thanks to those big
wind lifting clocks. But the Honda's wasted on long sweeping A roads.
Lanes and back roads are where it makes sense.
steering and low-slung weight mean the CB-1 can be tossed into a
bend like it's your last. A slight push through the pegs and it'll
tighten its line further. Even the suspension has survived the last
were no shaking heads when it came to the motor. "There's really
strong drive, even low down," raved Alex. "If I didn't
know better I'd say there was another 100cc lurking in there somewhere."
The motor's not all bottom end. There's a strong spread of power
to 12,5000rpm. Not surprising really, because the motor first made
its name pushing around the not at all bad CBR400 Aero (a smaller
ally framed version of the original CBR600). It's still doing the
rounds between the rails of the 400 Gull Arm.
on the subject of new bikes, the CB-1 rides as if it has not been
long off the production line. Everything from the throttle, brakes,
suspension and motor feel as crisp and taut as the day they were
bolted together. In this case the Honda's travelled less miles than
the others, but it's still over ten years old and probably stood
gathering dust for longer. Honda seems to build bikes to last and
this is proof if ever it was needed.
only signs of decay are slight pitting on the ally sidepanels and
forks. There's a scratch on the silencer plus a couple of blemishes
here and there, but hey, this is a used bike which has been shipped
half way round the globe in a salt filled container. If you want
more, spend more.
you won't have to do with the Hondas' front brake. While the other
bikes ranged between wooden and non-existent, the CB-1 dished out
a full helping of feel, progression and power. Stop on a sixpence?
Probably not. On a fiver, certainly
lack of a fairing, long trips are easier than on the FZR or GSX-R.
The seat's good enough to see you through 100 miles before a stop
- only nicotine withdrawal will see you in the services before then.
what about the bad points? Only the ugly tail light and back end
mark it down. There really isn't anything else that ruins the Honda,
especially when you consider the price. If two large is still a
touch on the steep side, fear not. Tatty, sold as seen CB-1s can
be had for half the price if you're prepared to tackle the servicing
yourself. A couple of years ago that sort of dosh would barely have
mustered a dog-eared RG250. The CB's a safe bet if you don't get
any warranty: the motor's unburstable, running gear's quality stuff
and the extra cash would see you right for a paintjob, pipe and
a complete chassis rebuild.
Only the Kawasaki
ZX-4 comes close to the CB-1, but if you're looking at one of them
it's unlikely you'll throw a glance at the unfaired Honda. Cheap
bike don't come any better than this. Even a tightarse on a tight
budget could afford to run a CB-1. Entertaining, affordable and
if it were my money I'd find it hard to believe I was that rich.
There is no
reason to pick the Suzuki. It looks old, feels old and really should
be competing with tackle in the £1500 bracket. The FZR's got
the potential to be a top little scratchier but suffers in standard
trim thanks to its lifeless motor. If you can find one that's not
too scarred and spruce it up....well, they're still worth a sniff.
the bunch has to be the Kwak. It's a real motorbike. Ignore the
styling and enjoy the motor because in the right situation, it's
got the guts to humiliate even budget 600s.
The king of
the skinflints though, is the CB-1. Nearly as much fun a 600 Hornet
for less than half the price.
do you think? Comment
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