Motorsports Network Street Test
1998 CBR1100XX - Sport Touring
What do you do
with the CBR1100XX once you've experienced it's incredible speed?
First, and very important, we added an aftermarket cruise control (throttle lock) - photo. The CBR's throttle return springs coupled with it's bent over riding position will certainly take its toll on your arm and shoulder as the hours roll on. We chose a unit listed for Hondas, but it didn't properly fit newer models so we modified ours for temporary use.
The next major item to attend to was replacement of the stylish yet unprotective stock windscreen. In stock form, the XX provides little wind protection as the direct wind blast hits at lower chest levels. For long rides, in the cold, or in the rain this just won't do. We added National Cycle's Cheetah SST replacement windscreen which retains a low profile but adds a raised lip to direct more of the oncoming air away from the rider.
Next came the addition of luggage. First we tried to add a standard tank bag but found it impossible to mount straps as the bikes integrated bodywork and linked brake lines prohibit it. As a result, we chose to use the excellent Eclipse "Elite" magnetic tankbag.
For saddlebag duties we chose a set of Tour Master SB-34 saddlebags. These excellent mid-sized bags have a removable neoprene pad which fits between the bikes bodywork and the bags. Since the CBR's side panels are angled out at a sharp angle it's imperative to use a bag with good padding or your side panels will be toast in one ride. These top loading bags are fully lined and convenient to use.
Once on the open road our preparations paid off. The added wind protection meant less fatigue over the long haul and greater warmth at night when the weather cooled. The addition of the cruise control meant we could set up straight, rest our throttle hand and generally move around more.
Our luggage capacity was all that we needed and the mounting straps on our overstuffed and overweight Tour Master saddlebags stood up to numerous wheelies, bumps and hard breaking - no small feat given the awesome acceleration of the CBR1100.
On long trips, the bike itself is a mixed bag. The low handlebars were a major concern yet proved to be acceptable yet higher bars would be of great benefit. The seating position with it's serious knee bend is a different matter. As the hours pass this knee bend takes its toll. The longer you press on the more painful it becomes, and there's not a thing we know of that can be done to change this. The seat is comfortable and well shaped for most rides but tends to feel a bit hard on all-day rides.
These things aside, the CBR1100XX posses some traits that make it very enjoyable on the open road. First of all, the unflappable chassis remains so even with the addition of extra weight and bags hanging off it's sides. In fact, we've never experienced a bike that changed so little with the addition of heavy luggage. The handling remains virtually the same and the taut suspension feels unchanged. This is a good thing as you wouldn't want a bike possessing so much performance to wallow or sag when loaded for a trip. The excellent brakes remained strong and controllable when loaded and allowed for spirited back-road riding.
You wouldn't expect a bike of this displacement or speed to get great fuel mileage but it does. We averaged 39 mpg on the road almost regardless of how we rode. Reserve was usually reached at about 180 miles with the maximum range stretching to 220-240 miles. This excellent range allowed for far fewer fuel stops, allowing us to stop more or less when we wanted.
On the open road the XX will effortlessly cruise at any speed you desire. After 5,000 miles or so the bike ran as fresh as day one, well, actually it felt faster. The chain held up well requiring only three minor adjustments.
The suspension is without a doubt on the stiff side, but this keeps the chassis from being upset by poor road conditions. There's enough sound coming from the engine that you can actually tell what the bike's doing over the wind noise (unlike some Hondas). If you snap the throttle open you'll be greeted with a pleasant audible snarl as the bike accelerates faster than anything this side of a rocket.
The CBR1100XX wouldn't be our first choice for a Sport Touring mount, but it's fully capable of such trips and it's always a blast to ride. In fact, this bike gives new meaning to the term "power touring". It's too bad the term "Road King" is already taken by another manufacturer as this term captures the essence of riding the XX. You simply feel as if you command the road when riding the XX.
CBR1100XX Road Test / Specifications / More Model Info/Photos
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