Niall's Spin: Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird

Honda's trusty supersports tourer, loved by thousands, but what does Mackenzie make of it?

Click to read: Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird owners reviews, Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird specs and to see the Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird image gallery.

SO MUCH MORE than the fastest bike in the world (pre-Hayabusa, anyways... ). Honda's slick, polished Blackbird remains the best supersports tourer 10 years after being introduced. And what's more it was so right from the beginning, with only minimal changes to the original spec along the way.

The Blackbird takes virtually anything in its stride. It'll handle two plus luggage and get them to the Alps inside a day. Plus when there, it'll dice with lighter, sportier machines. Linked brakes, liked, indeed loved, by many owners but still not in favour with some riders, can be expensive to overhaul but at least they work well.

Low depreciation is a bonus but most are well cared-for machines which justify high used prices. Pay £3500 or so for an '02-'03 machine with a loving previous owner and FSH and you'll be riding away on a super fast, super powerful, super easy to ride bike that's nearly as good as new. If your budget doesn't stretch to that there are older used examples going for under three grand. Pre-'99 bikes had carbs and performed similarly well but will need more maintenance in the long run. But whichever model you choose, that turbine-like, inline four-cylinder motor is a winner. It'll pull from tickover to a genuine 180mph in top gear and, provided oil is changed and the service book kept in order, will keep thrumming away for 100,000 miles and beyond.

Finish is tough although not immune to corrosion, particularly on the more hard-worked examples. Huggers and fender extenders are useful aftermarket add-ons to look out for when choosing a used example. Breakdowns are almost unheard of, although earlier, carb'd examples did suffer electrical gremlins.

Some riders fit higher screens and bars - the originals are designed for top speed, not comfort. The motor is plenty quick enough for most, although loud cans/pipes are common. Make sure you get standard kit for MoT time. A well-set-up Power Commander will improve throttle response and may give one or two extra mpg if fitted to an otherwise standard motor, or will make the most of any aftermarket exhaust.

Suspension can be usefully improved, either to freshen up tired shocks and forks on higher milage machines, or to sharpen up the stable standard set-up. Suspension specialists K-Tech (01530 810625) even went so far as to knock up some specially made shocks for the Blackbird. They may have some left.

The Blackbird is surprisingly tyre sensitive. Bridgestone made some BT-020s specially for the bike, and the correct replacements should be fitted or it slows down the steering - a BT-020W front
and BT-020L, run at 42psi front and rear. Their unique profiles lower the front of the bike and lift the rear respectively.

Key ID: stacked 'over and under' headlight - it aids aerodynamics

Don't fear: higher mileages with fsh - a well cared for Blackbird can run well past 100,000 miles

Also consider: 2005 Kawasaki ZZR1200, 2002 Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa