First Ride

Niall's Spin: Honda CB1300 ABS review

Honda's retro design: robust and rewarding or disastrous and disappointing?

Click to read: Honda CB1300 owners reviews, Honda CB1300 specs and to see the Honda CB1300 image gallery.

THIS BIG RETRO Honda feels like it's been hewn out of solid steel, and has that secure, robust, bulletproof feel that only the big H can provide. From the slick controls to the positive feel of the suspension, you just know the CB1300 is not going to let you down. Ironically, all this perfection is what sometimes turns riders away from Hondas, often claiming they are boring and lack the odd quirk that could give them some character.

I like this chunky monkey partly because much of its styling dates back to the CB1100Rs of the early '80s - and especially so the half-faired CB1300S (in red and white, of course), which will set you back an extra £300 and tip the scales by a further six kilos. This was a cracking era in racing when I watched Haslam, Gardner and Dunlop swapping paint with the 1100s in what was at the time the UK's top production series.

Having a giant motor means giant torque, so whichever version you choose this bike is happier in higher gears. However, with the usual super-slick Honda transmission I even found thrashing one round Donington Park was fine, providing you kept aware of the limited ground clearance. Giving sports bikes a run for their money in a straight line is fine - just don't try going round corners with them! And when it comes to stopping, ABS now comes as standard.

Big dials on the dash means everything is clear day or night and I also found the small optional headlight cowling provided some protection when comparing it with other big retros.

Our former editor (now a full time Airfix model builder) Bertie Simmonds ran one of these for a while and he said it suited him down to the ground. I likened the CB1300 very much to Bertie: a bit rotund but always great fun in the right company. Also, like Bertie, the CB1300 tended to be a bit thirsty if pushed hard on a day out.

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