Honda CBR Blackbird

honda cbr blackbird

Welcome to the high-octane world of the Honda CBR Blackbird, a marvel of engineering that's as enigmatic as it is exhilarating. Known for its sleek design and unmatched performance, the Blackbird has captured the hearts of motorcycle enthusiasts worldwide. In this deep dive, we're revving up to explore what makes this speedster not just a bike, but a legend on two wheels.Wonder why the bike has gained so much popularity? Some say that the VFR 800 Fi has all you need for all round motorcycle. Well, look at the facts about production and the tens of thousands units shifted year after year. The design has gone through 15 years of refinement to satisfy you!

First introduced in 1996, the Honda CBR Blackbird has been a symbol of speed and sophistication. With its aerodynamic silhouette and powerhouse performance, it quickly gained a reputation as the fastest production motorcycle of its time. But speed is just the tip of the iceberg. Let's gear up and take a closer look at the intricate details, from its innovative engineering to the thrilling riding experience it offers, that make the Blackbird a true icon in the world of sport touring motorcycles.

In 1996, the Honda CBR 1100 XX Super Blackbird was launched, marking Honda's foray into the high-speed race dominated by rivals like the Kawasaki ZZR1100 and Suzuki GSX-R1100. At the time, the Honda CBR 1000F wasn't leading its class, paving the way for the introduction of the Blackbird. This machine quickly earned a reputation as a 'speed barrier breaker', thanks to its formidable power and masterful construction. It held the record as the fastest production motorcycle until 1999, when it was overtaken by the Suzuki Hayabusa, and later by the Kawasaki ZX12R. However, the true excellence of the Blackbird was revealed in its adaptability; post-1999, Honda shifted its focus from sheer speed to refining the Blackbird for sport-touring. This move, much to the delight of riders, enhanced its everyday usability without compromising its legendary status.

The major changes included the fuel injection, a Ram-air system, linked brakes, and a bigger tank. The body has remained the same over the years, a testament to its flawless initial design. It was crafted in a wind tunnel, and despite its large dimensions, it feels surprisingly slim. The Blackbird remains one of the most reliable motorcycles on the market, a fact reflected in the high price of high-mileage examples. Models from 2001 onwards feature a new digital instrument panel and a taller screen. Also, the power output was reduced from 164bhp to 150bhp in 2000, and then slightly increased to 152bhp in 2001. This resulted in a lower maximum speed, which, in practical terms, was of little consequence since the original top speed was beyond what most riders would utilize anyway.

motorcycle sport touring
honda cbr blackbird engine


The heart of the Honda CBR 1100 XX Super Blackbird is its in-line four engine, a classic configuration renowned for its reliability and performance. Despite its conventional layout, this engine is a powerhouse of efficiency. It excels in delivering low-end torque, a robust mid-range, and an explosive top-end rush that devours straights in mere moments. What sets this engine apart are the twin balance shafts, a clever design choice that dramatically reduces vibrations. This smoothness allows the engine to be rigidly mounted, contributing to the bike's overall lighter and stiffer feel. The result is a ride that's as thrilling as it is refined, with power delivery that's both exhilarating and manageable.

Suspension and Handling

When it comes to handling, the Blackbird showcases its prowess through its Super Sports suspension system. The suspension is finely tuned to balance sporty responsiveness with touring comfort, a challenging combination that Honda has mastered with the Blackbird. The front features a sophisticated fork setup that provides excellent feedback and control, allowing for sharp and precise handling even at high speeds. The rear suspension, with its adjustable preload and rebound damping, offers a plush ride quality, absorbing bumps and ensuring stability. This setup is not just about comfort; it's about confidence and control, especially in varied road conditions.

Braking System

Complementing the suspension is the Blackbird's advanced Dual Combined Brake System (DCBS). This system links the front and rear brakes, providing a balanced braking force that enhances safety and control. The DCBS ensures that even under hard braking, the bike remains stable and predictable. This feature is particularly beneficial in emergency situations, allowing for smoother, more controlled stops.

honda cbr blackbird

Main Features, Spec and Considerations

Specs - Main Features
ENGINE 1137cc, liquid cooled, DOHC, 16 valves (4-valves/cyl), in-line
MAX TORQUE 124Nm / 12.65kg-m / 91.5 ft-lb @ 7,250 rpm
POWER 164bhp (112kW) @ 10,000 rpm
FUEL CONSUMPTION 38mpg / 7.43l/100km
FRONT SUSPENSION 43mm telescopic forks, no adjustments
REAR SUSPENSION Pro-Link rising rate monoshock, preload and rebound adjustments
FRONT BREAKS 2 x 310mm discs, three-piston calipers
REAR BREAKS 256mm disc, three-piston caliper
TYRES (FRONT - REAR) 120/70 - 17 - 180/55 - 17
LENGTH 2160mm (85 ")
WIDTH 720mm (28")
WHEELBASE 1,490mm (58.7")
SEAT HEIGHT 810mm (31.5")
TANK RANGE 180 miles / 290km
WET WEIGHT 255 kg (563 lb)

The Honda CBR Blackbird is a heavy motorcycle, but thanks to its very low centre of gravity and outstanding suspension, its handling is exceptional and will satisfy most experienced riders. It's also a larger bike than it appears in photos, which can be misleading. One might normally expect Honda to house all this horsepower in a relatively small frame, but it's surprisingly sizable upon closer inspection. Certainly, the Blackbird is not a motorcycle for beginners. It's not advisable for those just learning to ride, as this bike might not foster the necessary confidence and could be intimidating at times.

No matter whether you opt for a version with a carburettor or fuel injection, or whether it's the 164bhp or 152bhp model, the power is released smoothly and steadily, without any jarring surprises. You can wheelie from second gear just by opening the throttle, but the bike does so in a way that the effect might not be immediately noticeable. The Blackbird has a relatively long wheelbase (1490mm) and a steep rake angle, which makes the bike very stable at high speeds and provides stability in various types of turns. However, due to its long wheelbase, it might feel a bit cumbersome to turn and won't be as responsive as lighter sports bikes. After all, it is a large sport-tourer.

honda cbr blackbird

Agility boost on Honda CBR Blackbird

To enhance the turning agility and responsiveness of the Honda CBR Blackbird, there's a remarkably simple DIY modification. This tweak transforms the bike's handling characteristics with minimal effort.

This common method is by adding a spacer (6mm) to the top of the rear shock absorber.

Here's a basic outline of how this is done:

  1. Put the bike on its centre stand or jack up the bike

  2. Lift the tank at its rear to access the top nut (10) of the shock absorber

  3. Loosen the nut (10) untill the clevis (1) drops down enough for the spacer

  4. Slip the spacer in between the clevis and the bike frame and tighten the top nut

This adjustment effectively raises the rear end of the motorcycle, which in turn alters the bike's overall geometry. Specifically, it changes the rake and trail, making the steering quicker and the bike more responsive to directional changes.

honda cbr blackbird suspension
honda cbr blackbird suspension
"This is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to improve handling on the Blackbird"
honda cbr blackbird

honda cbr blackbird

In urban environments, the high position of the mirrors allows you to weave through traffic, but remember that the XX is wider at the back due to its sizable silencers. On motorways, it's even more impressive. Its conventional yet perfectly tuned suspension makes long journeys at decent speeds a pleasure. However, to enhance the experience further, one might consider adding a taller windscreen, as the original is somewhat short and low. The rider's position is ergonomic and not tiring, allowing for an easy switch from a standard to a more sporty posture. There's ample space for two on the well-profiled seat. The only downside is that the passenger footpegs are positioned quite high, making the seating less comfortable.

Luggage does not come as standard on this bike, but the Honda CBR Blackbird can easily accommodate a large top box case and side panniers, as shown in our hard luggage section.


All in all, the build quality of the Honda CBR Blackbird is superior to most other options available on two wheels. No wonder many experienced riders opt for this bike and remain loyal to it for years, appreciating its unparalleled build quality and performance.

honda cbr blackbird with luggage

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Fun Facts

Did you know the world's longest motorcycle was over 26 meters long. It was presented and measured at Lakhota lake, Jamnagar, Gujarat, India, on 22 January 2014. The bike was more than 4 m (13 ft) longer than the previous record holder's.

To ensure that his super-stretched motorcycle would be able to perform like a conventional motorbike, the constructor rode it along a road for 100 m (328 ft) without putting his feet down.

Tip of the week:

Never grab the front brake; squeeze it!

Grabbing the front brake abruptly can cause the front wheel to lock, as it doesn't allow time for the bike's weight to shift forward.This significantly reduces the front tyre's grip on the road and may result in loss of control, posing a serious risk of an accident.

Did you know?

The aerodynamic drag on a motorcycle can increase by up to 40% just by the rider sitting upright instead of in a tucked position. It's a wind-resistance thing—like trying to walk through a pool vs. gliding through it!

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Having the camping gear with you grants the freedom to decide where and how you want to spend your nights, including the option of choosing a hotel bed if desired. Though it's common to camp every day due to the desire for fresh air and the outdoors when you're prepared.

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Hide and squeak!

Riding Techniques

Ready to elevate your skills from basic riding to mastering the road? This guide aims to do just that by uncovering crucial riding techniques that will boost your confidence, safety and enjoyment on the tarmac. But we're not stopping at mere tips and tricks; we're going the extra mile.

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10 Reasons Why You Should Ride a Motorcycle

Riding a motorcycle is like savouring a five-star Michelin meal when you're absolutely famished. It's an experience that not only satisfies an immediate craving but also leaves a lasting impression. Just like that first bite of an extraordinary dish makes you forget the world around you, so does the initial twist of the throttle. Your focus narrows to the sensation of the bike, the road, and the rhythm of your breathing. It's an immediate way to bring mindfulness into your day.

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So next time you feel weighed down by the demands of life, remember that your two-wheeled 'Michelin experience' awaits you. One session on the road can recalibrate your mood quicker than you can say 'Michelin star.' It's the sort of lifelong journey that never disappoints, always offering new flavours for your soul to relish.

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