2017 Honda CB1100 EX Review | Retro, With A Modern Ride

Gone from the Honda lineup since 2014, the big retro four returns as the 2017 Honda CB1100 EX. Rather than treat it as an update, the gap has been long enough that it’s worth revisiting the CB1100 EX as a new bike.

Here are the essential fast facts we found while riding the 2017 Honda CB1100 EX.

1. The 2017 Honda CB1100 EX doesn’t recall any single vintage Honda era. The air-cooled DOHC motor is definitely patterned after the legendary 1983 CB1100F, while the wire-spoke wheels, flat seat and abundant chrome represent the 1970s. The tank is all its own—a beautifully sculpted affair that recalls CB tanks from the 1960s to the 1980s. Put it all together and the 2017 Honda CB1100 EX is a timeless design.

2017 Honda CB1100 EX review
2017 Honda CB1100 EX Review

2. The air-/oil-cooled motor is smoother than it is quick. It’s not a high-revving motor with generous output. Instead, the 1140cc powerplant has a hitch-free ultra-flat torque curve. That means it pulls consistently through the rev range, though never particularly hard. It’s an incredibly easy motor to live with, but you won’t get much satisfaction by flogging it. Just ride with a good flow and enjoy the smooth experience.

3. Weighing in at 562 pounds, the CB1100 EX has gentlemanly handling. This is a big retro, dare I say, sporting cruiser. With a leisurely 27 degrees of rake and nearly 59-inch wheelbase, along with some serious poundage—it’s 13 pounds heavier than a Harley-Davidson Roadster 1200—the Honda CB1100 EX is a substantial package. You feel a great connection with the road, and don’t feel like imperfections will toss you around.

4. Don’t expect to change direction quickly. Cornering is done deliberately on the CB1100 EX, from entry to exit. If you’ve selected the right line, you’re going to feel quite satisfied. Prepare to add muscle if you feel the need to deviate from the approved glide path. This is a thinking man’s motorcycle, designed to reward smart choices and good planning.

2017 Honda CB1100 EX first look test
2017 Honda CB1100 EX Review

5. The Showa suspension is dialed in. You can only adjust for spring-preload—expect a wide range of weights among CB1100 EX owners—but that’s not a problem. Honda and Showa have worked together to perfectly set the damping up to match the chassis dimensions, weight, and power output. While the dual Showa shocks are minimalist, they complement the modern Showa Dual Bending Valve forks exactly. The balanced ride works in town on trashed city streets, as well as rougher rural roads and beat-up canyon routes. With the road is smooth, the CB1100 EX glides.

6. Braking is matched to the rest of the bike. Honda did a brilliant balancing job with the 2017 CB1100 EX. Everything just fits together when it comes to performance and handling. The braking is satisfying and easily modulated. Two-channel ABS will try to bail you out, should you make any grievous errors; it’s definitely not overly intrusive.

7. You are expected to ride like an adult. Other than ABS, there are no electronic aids. You won’t find traction control, wheelie control, launch control, or any other controls. This is a great bike for a seasoned rider who knows what he wants out of a motorcycle, and understands what he’s riding. However, it’s so easy to ride that even a less-experienced rider can hop on and love the CB1100 EX, as long as he has a good head on his shoulders. I should mention that it does have an assist-and-slip clutch, and the result is a delightfully light touch needed for the left-hand lever.

2017 Honda CB1100 EX outside city
2017 Honda CB1100 EX Review

8. There aren’t many demands put on the tires. One aspect of the CB1100 EX that separates it from a sport bike is the use of 18-inch wire-spoke wheels. The extra inch of diameter enhances the traditional, stable character of the handling. The choice of Dunlop Sportmax Touring rubber tells you quite a bit about the focus of the CB1100 EX. The cornering clearance is fairly limited—on Mulholland Drive I touched down unexpectedly in a tight turn and almost hit a Botts’ dot—so there’s not much the Dunlops need to do. Regardless, they are predictable tires and have a fine feel.

9. The 2017 Honda CB1100 EX’s ergonomics define standard. When people talk about a “standard” motorcycle, this is exactly what they are referring to. The ergonomics are as neutral as Switzerland, and as comforting as a Swiss Miss. When I was a kid, dreaming of riding a motorcycle, the CB1100 EX has exactly the feel I imagined. Oh, and the new sculpted tank—which features beautiful paint—has knee indents that make the EX feel smaller than it is.

2017 Honda CB1100 EX engine horsepower
2017 Honda CB1100 EX Review

10. Round clocks and headlight look and work great. That round headlight with a chrome nacelle looks retro, but it houses impressive LEDs. You get big sweeping hands for the engine speed and bike velocity, with an LCD panel between them that gives you info such as gear position. Okay, you really don’t need to know the rpm when riding this bike, but it’s a classic design. Switchgear is modern, with comfortably ergonomic sculpting of the switches. The twin round horns up front are also a nice detail, and they sound pretty good.

11. A beautifully balanced motorcycle, the 2017 Honda CB1100 EX is a tremendous ride. Everywhere you go, people will be admiring its style—you’ll bathe in luxuriously reflected glory. This is a motorcycle that can mix with any street bike crowd and quickly be the center of attention. No one needs to know how fast your bike goes—they only need to know that it’s an absolute joy to ride anywhere you deign to take it.

Riding Style:

2017 Honda CB1100 EX Specs

ENGINE

  • Type: Inline-4
  • Displacement: 1140cc
  • Bore x stroke: 73.5mm x 67.2mm
  • Compression ratio: 9.5:1
  • Cooling: Air and oil
  • Induction: EFI
  • Valve train: DOHC; 4vpc
  • Ignition: Digital transistorized w/ electronic advance
  • Transmission: 6-speed
  • Final drive: Chain

CHASSIS

  • Front suspension: Spring-preload adjustable 41mm Showa Dual Bending Valve fork
  • Rear suspension: Spring-preload adjustable Showa shocks
  • Front tire: 110/80 x 18; Dunlop Sportmax Touring D205F radial
  • Rear tire: 140/70 x 18; Dunlop Sportmax Touring D205 radial
  • Front brakes: Floating 296mm discs w/ 4-piston calipers
  • Rear brake: 256mm disc
  • ABS: Standard

DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES

  • Wheelbase: 58.7 inches
  • Rake: 27º
  • Trail: 4.5 inches
  • Seat Height: 31.2 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 4.4 gallons
  • Curb weight: 540 pounds

2017 Honda CB1100 EX Color:

  • Candy Red

2017 Honda CB1100 EX Price:

  • $12,199 MSRP

2017 Honda CB1100 EX Review | Photo Gallery