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Vintage Honda

1979 - CBX
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.

Both 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.

With 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 performance supremacy.

Apart 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.

The 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 tested.

"The 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."

Ebullient praise? The CBX deserved every word, and to this day a ride on the CBX is every bit as awe-inspiring.

The 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.

It 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 has.