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History of the 1979-1982 Honda CBX
Honda was on a roll in the 1970s with the flat-four, water-cooled shaft-drive Gold Wing and the first generation of the CB 750. Honda had nothing more to prove, but the company rounded out the decade by blind-siding the motorcycle world with an incredible new performance bike. The six-cylinder 1047 cc DOHC 24-valve CBX debuted in 1978 to universal acclaim.
Inspired by Honda’s six-cylinder RC 166 of 1966, the CBX was also designed by Soichiro Iramajiri, who had been involved with that ear-shattering 18,000 rpm 250 cc race bike that Mike Hailwood rode to victory in 10 out of 10 1966 World Championship races. With 64 bhp and a seven-speed gearbox, it had a top speed of 150 mph.
Naturally, the CBX was a considerably larger bike at 572 lbs, but it made up for it with 105 bhp at 9,000 rpm. The quarter mile came in 11.36 seconds at 117.95 mph and the top speed was 135 mph. It wasn’t the first transverse engine six-cylinder street bike (the Benelli Sei of 1972-78, based on the Honda 550-4), but it was the best.
Although the CBX’s six-cylinder engine looked quite wide, the alternator and ignition were placed above the gearbox meaning so at 23.4 inches wide, it was just two inches wider than the four-cylinder CB 750 at the bottom, permitting acute lean angles.
The engine leaned forward 33 degrees, and was made a stressed member of the tubular frame, which lacked a front down tube. The 5.3-gallon fuel tank fed six carburetors, and exhaust pipes led to only one silencer on each side. The CBX had 35 mm front forks and three disc brakes.
The press was lavish in their praise, and the CBX sold an incredible 25,000 units (of 40,000 total) in the first year. Sales dropped off sharply in 1980, which some critics claim was due to a faulty ignition which slowed the bikes, so the company shifted gears in 1981 trying to turn the CBX into a sports tourer with a full fairing and later fitted side bags.
The engine was then detuned to 98 bhp, 39 mm air adjustable front forks were fitted along with a rear Pro-Link mono-shock, and Comstar mag wheels. The public was unenthusiastic, however, as they could already choose from the CB 750 and the Gold Wing range. Plus, the six-cylinder engine was intimidating to some. At the end of 1982, the CBX was discontinued.
Today, the CBX stands out as an extraordinary piece of engineering and a testament to Honda’s design prowess. Provided the fuel is treated over the winter and the carbs are kept clean, there isn’t much to go wrong with them and many bikes have relatively few miles. Provenance is essential when buying a CBX, and it’s important to check for crash damage. Patience in waiting to find a good one will be rewarded on the first ride, however, and a CBX is sure to draw a crowd at any motorcycle gathering.
1979 Honda CBX Super Sport Info
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