If two was enough, and four supreme, then the industry-leading six-cylinder Honda CBX was nothing short of sublime
Photo by Ric Anderson
Years produced: 1979-82
Total production: 40,000
Claimed power: 103bhp @ 9,000rpm
Top speed: 140mph
Engine type: Four-stroke, in-line six-cylinder, four overhead cams
Weight (wet): 272kg (600lb)
Price then: $3,988
Price now: $3,900-$6,500
Call it six appeal, this enduring ability of the Honda CBX to draw a look of wonder, puzzlement, awe and amusement rolled into one. Dave Ditner has seen it countless times since he started riding the CBX, the six-cylinder package of engineering wizardry that Honda rolled out in the late 1970s. And while bike technology has blown by the CBX like a line drive by Charlie Brown over the last quarter century, the old flagship hasn’t lost a step when it comes to getting attention.
"You’ll go to a bike night or a ride somewhere and see some kids looking out the back of a truck," says Ditner, a retired development engineer for Ford. "They’ll start counting exhaust pipes, and their eyes go wide. That’s still fun."
There had never been anything quite like the CBX when it was introduced in 1978. Six cylinders. Six carburetors. Four overhead camshafts. Twenty-four valves. Some bikes get good reviews; this one got praise somewhere north of heavenly.
Read Greg Wassenberg's account of owning and riding a Honda CBX
Cycle called it "magic" and predicted it would be ranked with the "rare and precious motorcycles which will never, ever be forgotten." Cycle Guide hailed it as "the Vincent Black Shadow of 1979."
Ditner is among those whose face broke into the you-gotta-be-kidding-me expression when he first saw the CBX. "I was at a Honda dealer getting parts for my kid’s dirt bike, and one of the owners took it out and went for a ride. I looked at the engine and went, ‘Holy …'"
We’ll cut Ditner off there, but suffice it to say his exclamation didn’t end with the words moly or cow. Today, he owns nine CBXs and is as fascinated with the model as ever. "There is nothing as smooth as that engine. They’re one hell of a machine."
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