The Honda CB900F

It took a bit of complaining, but popular demand finally brought the Honda CB900F to the United States in 1981.

| January/February 2007

print ad for the Honda CB900F

Print ads for the Honda CB900F played up its European connection.

Photo courtesy of Honda

Honda CB900F
Years produced:
Total production: N/A
Claimed power: 89hp @ 9,000rpm
Top speed: 139mph (period test)
Engine type: 901cc, air-cooled four valve per cylinder inline four
Transmission: 5-speed
Weight (w/ half-full tank): 256kg (568lb)
MPG: 41-47
Price then: $3,495
Price now: $1,250-$3,000

Americans have their share of bad traits. The French have forever been labeled as rude, and the Irish aren’t exactly known as a quiet bunch. But here in the U.S., we can complain more effectively than few other groups out there. And what’s wrong with complaining, anyway? Well, in some cases, nothing at all. Case in point: the American arrival of the Honda CB900F in 1981.

Motorcycle manufacturers produce all kinds of bikes that never make it to U.S. shores. In recent years, Yamaha puzzled American enthusiasts by introducing the FJR1300 in 2001, then not making it available on our side of the pond. What happened? The collective two-wheeled “we” sent e-mails and whined to their local dealers until the suits at Yamaha headquarters buckled. At first you had to put down a deposit and special order an FJR, but eventually they made the bike available to anyone here with enough disposable income (or at least good credit). And while this doesn’t happen often with a foreign-spec bike many of us would love to have, it has happened before.

In March of 1979, Cycle World ran a story about the Honda CB900FZ, a 901cc bruiser that looked and rode like a faster, more powerful version of the then new DOHC Honda CB750F. “The argument against selling the CB900FZ in America is that the CBX six is the 1000cc big gun for Honda and a similar bike would fuzz its marketing,” said Cycle World. And yet, the CBX was available in Europe, where this new CB900FZ was being introduced, without worry of marketing issues, but those wanting the nine here were left waiting.

The funny thing going on was that the Honda CB750F that America received and the Honda CB900FZ that Europe received were developed alongside each other, but Europe didn’t get the CB750F and America didn’t get the CB900FZ. European Honda fans weren’t happy either, and complained for the Honda CB750F. Both sides, of course, thought the other was getting the best deal because they got more power or we got a better suspension.

Finally, when the 1981-model year rolled around, the Honda CB900F made its way to the U.S. Now, Americans aren’t the most patient folk either, but the fact that it took a few years for this bike to get here did have its advantages. When it arrived, we got a finished bike. This wasn’t a first-year design full of early-production bugs. This was a model that had already been thrashed on the curvy roads of Europe, and Honda had some of its early kinks worked out. It had more power, a better suspension and a less flexible chassis than the earlier European models.

5/4/2014 10:17:27 AM

Hi GreggC, Thanks for the tip and sorry to hear that happened to your bike! Glad to hear you have the same one and still own it. It is a great bike still love it after all these years. Mine had the original oil in it when it started to malfunction, it was only after I started to replace components one by one is when I switched to synthetic. I still haven't tried the vacuum bleeder yet? Don't have the cash to get insurance and tabs yet. I will post back when I get around to it? Thanks again....

4/20/2014 3:47:30 PM

Hi 900cc. I also have an 82 900F, also second owner - I bought it in 86 with 2000 miles. It's been a great bike! I had an identical situation several years ago after a shop tech at a dealer finally admittied to accidentally adding motor oil instead of brake fluid. They purged and refilled the system, and everything was fine. Maybe there's something about the synthetic that's causing this? Good luck.

4/19/2014 3:12:02 PM

Thanks Jhutbeer! I have a mechanic that has that type of bleeder for the auto... Should work!!

4/14/2014 9:35:30 PM

I suggest for bleeding your brakes, you use a vacuum bleeder. It will make your job easier, and may be able to get whatever air is still in your system out. You should be able to buy a Vacuum Bleeder for between $25 and $50 dollars.

4/12/2014 1:45:10 PM

Great Idea!! Thanks Keith, I will repost when I get around to it...

4/11/2014 4:29:22 PM

You'll have to chase the problem up from the calipers to the master cylinder to eliminate each component. Next time it's locked up, I'd try relieving the pressure further up the hydraulic line, at the splitter. If that works, then the problem is further up still and you'll have to repeat the pressure relief. You'll eventually get to the point where you can't release the pressure or you'll get to the master cylinder. Then you will have found the source.

4/10/2014 10:08:16 PM

Thank you for your response! No I completely took apart the calipers and replaced all gaskets in the original calipers, also swithdh to synthetic brake fluid. I replaced the master cylinder plunger and cleaned out the ports it also has a new master cylinder reservoir and gasket. It started doing it 4 years ago?

4/10/2014 8:35:40 PM

I rode several 900Fs when they first came out (and we were all excited about having a good-handling alternative to the CBX, which felt like it had an anvil strapped to the gas tank) and was very disappointed with the shifting. Lots of missed shifts and false neutrals. If I was looking at buying one now (personally I'd much rather have a GS1000) I'd definitely pay extra attention to the transmission.

4/10/2014 12:35:33 PM

Has it been like that since the beginning? Generally that sort of behavior points to contamination of the brake fluid, or air bubbles in the lines. It also could be a blocked relief port in the master cylinder, though you'd think that would show up all the time, not just sitting. Pure brake fluid shouldn't expand enough in the sun to pressurize the system.

4/9/2014 7:12:15 PM

Hello I have a 1982 CB900F super sport motorcycle I am the second owner I bought it in 1984 with under 15oo miles. Today there might be 20,000 miles on it, I am asking for from anyone that can give me information on why the front brakes slowly pressurize on hot sunny days sitting in the sun completely locking the brake system untill you crack the bleeder on the calipers only to function correctly for the next hot sunny day?

bike on highway

Classic Motorcycle Touring and Events.

The latest classic motorcycle events and tours.