Used Bike

Blackbird Owner Manual p3

The ultimate buyers guide to the Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird written by the people who actually own the bike…

Hard luggage
Almost exactly half the bikes in our survey had hard luggage fitted. Givi is the most popular brand by far and people are generally pleased with it. Some use Givis own fitting kits and some use SW Motech ones which can accommodate different brands of hard luggage and can be removed rapidly when not needed. Quite a few owners use Kappa luggage which fits Givi mountings but is cheaper.

Honda luggage is rare – just three owners had it. Bob Philips recons it made the bike unstable above 100mph while Tom Jackson liked their looks but pointed out you can’t fit a topbox with that system, just side panniers.

Hard luggage can affect high speed stability. The majority of riders thought panniers didn’t cause a problem but some reckoned a topbox could make for some weave and wobble at a ton plus. Special mention goes to Andy Sandham who’s a musician / music teacher. He carries a £7,000 French horn in one box, a £2,000 cornet in another and his DJ or tails in the third. His bike came with Nonfango luggage which he reckoned wobbled too much so he swopped it for Givi.

What goes wrong
Very, very little considering the mileage and age of some of these bikes. The number one niggle is an electrical fault which effects all fuel injected models. There’s a factory diagnostic plug on the wiring loom which starts corroding internally, this spreads into the loom and this can make the FI light flicker or the engine cut out all together. The best solution is to cut the plug out all together and solder the wires instead.

There’s a guide to how to do this on excellent Blackbird website www.bikersoracle.com/blackbird.
The regulator / rectifier can fail on carburated bikes, especially if the battery’s tired. It’s not a hard fix.

Some injected bikes encounter a problem with a generator coil failing. Jaws Motorcycle Services does good pattern replacements for about £85 (Honda OE are more like £300).

The slave cylinder on the front forks which operates the combined brakes can seize if not regularly greased.  The linked brakes are a sod to bleed and even worse to completely overhaul.

One good tip is to be aware the four bolts which hold the front mudguard on go into captive nuts – as they’re captive in the plastic of the mudguard itself. So it’s worth greasing these often otherwise when you do try and remove them, they break the mudguard. Another is not to overtighten the front wheel spindle (just 59NM / 44ftlb is correct) as it can pull the wheel and brakes out of alignment.

All things considered, the Blackbird is one of the most reliable bikes out there – possible THE most. They rack up huge miles with next to no problems.

Suspension
A decent set up as standard if not top notch or as adjustable as some would like. The front sags after about two years if the bike is regularly left on the side stand. An easy check for this is to measure from the top of the mudguard to the bottom of the nose cone. If all’s well this will be 95-100mm. If not, fork springs are needed and it’s well worth changing the oil while you’re in there (budget about £60 for parts if you go DIY, £150 for a shop to do it or £250 to get them uprated).

The rear shock also goes off somewhere between 15,000 and 25,000 miles. Jaws Motorcycle Services can get them re-built using oil over oil (rather than the OE gas over oil) for about £115.

About ten percent of owners have fitted a spacer to the rear shock (most are 6mm, one says theirs is 5mm) and all of them say it makes a huge difference to the handling, making the bike far more nimble.

Modification
Peg lowering kits were fitted by several owners as are bar raisers. Lots of double bubble screens are fitted and aftermarket seats or gel inserts in the original one.  Rear huggers and fender extendas are common to keep the bike tidy and Scottoilers to minimise chain maintenance.Exhausts are less popular than on most bikes. The standard cans work well plus owners don’t want the police attention, their bikes are fast enough. A few have end cans, but not many.

Owner Case Study: "My bike has 91,000 miles on the clock"

Andrew Gray 

“I bought my 1998 Blackbird about five years ago. It already had 45,000 miles on the clock and I paid just £2,400 for it. I use it for a 50 mile round trip commute every day in all weathers except snow and it’s now showing 91,000 miles. During all those miles it’s only gone wrong twice. The rear wheel bearing failed at 70,000 miles but that was an easy DIY fix. Once, a main dealer didn’t put one of the vacuum pipes back on the fuel tank properly and it fell off – but again that was easy to fix. Otherwise I haven’t had a single problem with it. I had BMWs and Yamahas before and they weren’t a patch on this Honda.

“The finish is excellent. I don’t wash it often but when I do a blast with the pressure washer brings it up beautifully.

“I’ve found Honda main dealer service to be poor and their parts are expensive but I do most of my own servicing and get bits from David Silver Spares or Jaws Motorcycle Services. Jaws do the major services too.
The only problem with the CBR is that the engine creates a lot of heat which I can feel on my legs. It can be nice in winter, but not good in summer. Otherwise I absolutely love it. If I got something else it’d be another Blackbird.”