The ups and downs of owning a classic motorcycle
Greg Wassenberg and his Honda CBX.
Bike: Honda CBX
Owner: Greg Wassenberg
Hometown: Salina, Kan.
Occupation: MRI technologist
Etc.: Greg Wassenberg wasn't bowled over by the Honda CBX, but it grew on him over time: “I first came across the CBX after I graduated high school, and I liked it once I got over the shock of having that much engine on a bike," says Greg. "However, I preferred the look and feel of the Yamaha XS1100 and the Kawasaki 1000 LTD. Fast forward about 20 years, and I suddenly developed an intense desire to own a them in black. I started looking in '97 and finally found the one I own now in 2000. I justified the purchase by calling it a 40th birthday present to myself.’’
What was your first impression of the CBX?
“Of course, the first thing that stands out is the engine. On the '79 and '80 models it was out in the open, in all its glory. I never got to ride one when they first came out, but I did get to hear one run and I was amazed at how smooth and how quiet it sounded, especially considering the fact it’s air-cooled and has all those parts moving around.’’
What kind of reactions does your bike tend to get?
"Most folks don't notice anything different until they start counting header pipes. Then they start asking questions. People who have been in motorcycling for a while notice it immediately. Then they start asking questions.”
What would you describe as a couple of the CBX's main strengths and weaknesses?
“The CBX, though somewhat maintenance intensive, is quite dependable and tough. The '79s had a nasty habit of bending the No. 1 connecting rod if the bike was left on the sidestand with the fuel valve left on. Gas would drip into the No. 1 cylinder when the intake valve was open due to a lack of good drainage for the No. 1 carb. When you went to start the bike, you’d be trying to compress all that gas in the cylinder and a bent rod would be your reward. The '80-'82 models had a vacuum petcock assembly fitted to them that would only allow gas to flow when the engine was running. Also, the '79s had nylon bushings for swingarm bearings that basically disintegrated with age and/or abuse. The front forks were skinny for such a large bike and could adversely affect handling with a fairing or windshield installed. Honda responded in '80 by fitting air forks in the front and going to needle-and-roller bearings in the swingarm. Other than that, as long as the Honda CBX is given proper care, they are quite long-lived and reliable.”
Read more about the motorcycle mentioned in this article:
• Yamaha XS1100