BMW Motorrad Spezial

Honda CB1100R

Honda CB1100R
There’s something strangely compelling about 1980s superbikes. The French have a phrase for it: jolie laide, meaning both pretty and ugly at the same time. To my eyes, Honda’s CB1100R is a classic example of this. It’s a ‘homologation special’, produced in small numbers so that the bike qualified for production-class racing in Europe, South Africa and Australia. (As far as I can tell, this model never made it Stateside.) The bike was based on the CB900F Bol d’Or, with a similar but higher-quality steel frame and a solo seat. According to the CB1100R Owners’ Club, the air-cooled motor was bored out to 1062cc; it was also fitted with aggressive camshafts, forged pistons, a wider primary chain and an upgraded gearbox. Output, according to whom you believe, was between 100 and 115 bhp. There are little race touches everywhere, with a lightened alternator and, on some Rs, a lightened starter clutch gear too. The tank is aluminum and holds 24 liters (6.3 US gallons), perfect for longer races. This particular machine is a late-model CB1100R from Japan, and it’s got to be one of the most pristine examples still on the road. Hopefully it’s still ridden in anger. [Via Bike Bros.]

Honda CB1100R
Honda CB1100R
Honda CB1100R

  • Something about 1980s “pro-future” jet fighter aesthetic is extremely attractive to me. especially in the side views, the bikes are always perfectly proportioned and lined up as if somebody with a straightedge and a degree in architecture was left to draw it.

    but man, check out those rims! are they 2 pieces? i want those!

  • Gregyotz

    Not a big fan of straight sport bikes but love this blur of cafe racer to sport bike.
    Really like the look of these rims. Are they a latter model of the ones that were used on the EX500s?

    • I believe the wheels on the original were ‘boomerang’ Comstars, I guess that’s what these are.

  • I’m a huge fan of this Honda sporty era, VFFs, 900 Bol d’Or and so forth until the NS400R. I love their style which is just in between the seventies and the real design explosion of the eighties (that, to me, started to happen around 1985 with Thierry Henriette’s creations). Besides, I love this color combination, blue / white / red with a touch of gold … It’s vintage, it’s smart and I WANT THIS BIKE.

  • I always loved, and had quite forgotten this one, thanks for bringing back the sweet memories of boyhood lust, and the memory of how quickly the GPZ900 changed everything just a year or two later.

  • Frightening how quickly time passes and bikes from the ’80s are now regarded as classics or vintage, but I agree about the idea of ‘jolie laide’ – the Suzuki slabside GSXR being an example of a machine that when I was 20 years old in 1987/88 seemed like another Jap four but now appeals to me massively as a product of that era (that I couldn’t afford), especially in black and red!!

  • Tinman

    Good design looks good forever, unfortunetly, ugly lasts forever also. Many 80s bikes border on hideous and have cartoonish excess. This 1100R looks pretty good, but no better than the 1983 1100F I recently freshened up for a friend. The F Hondas avoided the heavy boxy look that many of the early Hondas had.

  • I couldn’t agree more, so ugly, yet strangely beautiful. In five-ten years these bikes will be will be fetching top dollar, just like CB’s are right now. Stock up while they’re cheap.

  • Dave

    You’ve hit the nail on the head with the description. Theres something alluring about its beautiful ugliness.

  • It’s funny seeing mirrors fixed directly the fairing and turn signals so low. Definitely carries the race model made street legal styling.

  • Simon

    The wheels are indeed comstars. They were rivetted together with strangely shaped rivets to stop people trying to straighten/rebuild them themselves. At least thats what I remember about them…….. **wavey lines**

  • Laurent

    Well I like this style of bike, maybe they were the top bikes when I was young! And you have to admit they are getting old and so, they are going to be the classic of tomorow!

    ( As a french guy, I have to say, we never say ” jolie laide” ! It s french words of course but I ve never heard this phrase in my life in France!!! After a quick search, I realise it s a common phrase in USA, but never used in France… Nothing to do with bikes I agree, but there s not only wheels and motors in life!)

  • Hiwatt Scott

    Well Laurent, as a lifelong resident of the USA, I can’t say I’ve ever heard the term (in any language), although we do sometimes say that something is “so ugly, it’s cute”. A pug dog, for instance, would fall into that category.
    At least these bikes from this decade looked significantly different from each other. No problem telling this bike from my GPz900R!

  • Dave Ditner

    Those wheels look like the wheels that came on the Canadian 1100F. If they are, I’ve got a set in my basement, scheduled for installation on one of my early CBXs

  • PeteP

    Be careful with those old Comstars. I understand the rivets loosen up over time. It’s been 25 years, ya know!

  • Mike J

    Awesome..! Classic air cooled muscle. How about a nicely moded GSX1100E/EF/EFE (GS1150)? Surely they also qualify as jolie laide.

  • ed

    I used to race my brothers 1100rb when i was 19 years old was a handful because we had no money for race tyres so i used michelin m48s and boy did they get hot !!!!!!

  • NoH2Oh

    One of the few Honda bikes that I have considered trading one of my kids for. :)

  • jeffree

    I love thes old bikes because when I look at the mechanics of them I understand what I am looking at.I could imagine owning one and being able to maintain it without much trouble.Something that can’t be said of todays machines.The motorcycle industry should take notice as I believe this is a key ingredient of the grassroots intrest in the cafe and vintage bike scene.

  • Zaipai

    Dang that is NICE!! Great work!

  • Shawn

    Always loved these 80’s Hondas. Dad had two 750 Boldors (I was about 10). The CB1100f and CB1100r were the best. Red, white, black, silver and gold colors all on one bike, very flash for the time.
    When is Honda going to release the modern CB100R !!!!!!.

  • BRG

    I remember when these came out, there was a guy who had one of the first ones in Aus, I remember it disappearing (quickly) into the far distance as I was trying to keep up revving my bike so hard it was close to self-destruction! They were so fast it was nearly unbelievable, but I saw it with my own eyes. These things definately heralded the age of the superbike…

  • NutCracker

    A classic bike from a great era in Japanese motorbikes.

  • KIK

    its like the girl who lives next door, pretty in jeans but hell of a lot better naked…

  • Tim

    new to the hobby. I love this bike!!!!!!!

  • Gnitfard

    I believe there a NOS one of this particular model still in its crate in Australia