Honda CBX

If two was enough, and four supreme, then the industry-leading six-cylinder Honda CBX was nothing short of sublime

| January/February 2006

  • Honda CBX

    Photo by Ric Anderson
  • Imposing: It's the only word that effectively sums up the visual impact of Honda's massive in-line 6-cylinder engine used in the CBX
    Imposing: It's the only word that effectively sums up the visual impact of Honda's massive in-line 6-cylinder engine used in the CBX.
    Photo by Ric Anderson
  • Other manufacturers tried to go the same route, but only Honda successfully brought the power of six to the mass market
    Other manufacturers (notably Italian builder Benelli, who made unabashed copies of Honda's SOHC 4-cylinder engines, but with two extra cylinders) tried to go the same route, but only Honda successfully brought the power of six to the mass market.
    Photo by Ric Anderson
  • In its 1980 promotional material Honda's marketing machine positioned the CBX for the sporting rider
    In its 1980 promotional material Honda's marketing machine positioned the CBX for the sporting rider. Later promotions focused on the bike's touring capacity.

  • Honda CBX
  • Imposing: It's the only word that effectively sums up the visual impact of Honda's massive in-line 6-cylinder engine used in the CBX
  • Other manufacturers tried to go the same route, but only Honda successfully brought the power of six to the mass market
  • In its 1980 promotional material Honda's marketing machine positioned the CBX for the sporting rider

Honda CBX

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
MPG: 25-40

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."



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