Late in 1978, Honda uncorked a knockout punch
onto the world of motorcycling with the incredible six-cylinder
CBX. An early-release 1979 model, the CBX was created with
the inspiration and experience derived from Honda's all-conquering
six-cylinder RC166 250cc Grand Prix road- racing motorcycle.
the RC and CBX were the brainstorms of Shoichiro Irimajiri.
When Honda unveiled the CBX, it simply exploded conventional
notions of what a high-performance motorcycle could be.
six cylinders fed by as many carburetors, and double-overhead
cams operating 24 valves, the air-cooled 1047cc CBX engine
pumped out 103 horsepower at the crankshaft. Class-leading
11.55-second quarter-mile times came easily to the CBX. It
was the quickest, most powerful production motorcycle the
world had ever seen, and an unbelievable technological achievement.
With a sweep of its hand, Honda once again established total
from the awe-inspiring powerplant, the original CBX was fairly
conventional in execution, but no less exceptional. A steel
backbone frame, along with telescopic fork, twin-shock rear
suspension and triple-disc brakes, provided handling prowess
that equaled that of the era's best big-bore streetbikes.
But, of course, it was that engine, with its amazing power,
ethereal smoothness, unforgettable exhaust note and sheer
visual theater that made the original CBX such a showstopper.
American press were overwhelmed by the CBX. Cycle magazine,
which published the first road test, had this to say: "The
bike is more than fast; it is magic. The exploding glitter
of its technical credentials lights up the sky. To know the
motorcycle is to know the only rules Honda follows are Honda's
own ... it is uncompromised and utterly self-assured, and
it is the most exotic, charismatic motorcycle we have ever
CBX is an immensely flattering bike with perfect elegance
and total class, and history will rank it with those rare
and precious motorcycles which will never, ever be forgotten."
praise? The CBX deserved every word, and to this day a ride
on the CBX is every bit as awe-inspiring.
CBX had but a short, four-year production run, the first two
years as a pure sports machine, and the last two as a sport-touring
model with fairing and saddlebags. Despite its excellence,
the world wasn't ready for a six-cylinder motorcycle quite
yet ¾that would come later, with the introduction of the six-cylinder
Gold Wing® in 1988, and the Valkyrie® in 1997.
was the original 1979 CBX, though, that demonstrated once
again the sheer audacity of Honda's engineering. Building
a six was one thing, but putting one into mass production,
one that lived up to Honda's standards of performance, durability
and ease of use, was a marvel. The CBX is one of a long line
of Honda motorcycles that amounted to a thrown gauntlet, a
two-wheel dare that said, "Top this!" To this day, nobody