2006 sees the 10th birthday of a modern motorcycling legend – the Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird. Since its launch in the last few months of 1996, the machine has been a cornerstone of Honda’s range, offering power, performance, practicality, precision and a quality un-matched by any of its rivals in the last decade.

In fact, the machine – which has hardly changed in its last 10 years at the top – has seen other rivals come and go. The whole ‘look’ of the 160bhp, 180mph sports-touring machine has hardly changed, but there have been some mild modifications done under the skin of the Blackbird.

The original carburetted model ran from 1996 to 1998, to be replaced by the ‘new’ model with fuel-injection, modified clutch, oil-cooler, airbox housing and air-ducts – which led to the change from mesh to louvred intake ‘snouts’. From the 2001 model, the new spark plugs, a catalytic converter, new digital clock layout and updated headlights and screen were all that was needed to keep it at the front of the pack.

But it’s been the traditional Honda strengths of quality, finish and reliability that has kept the machine at the top, winning a number of group tests in the UK’s specialist motorcycling press even against ‘newer’ rivals.

Mark Davies, Honda UK’s General Manager for motorcycling said: “The Blackbird is a true thoroughbred. Once you ride it, you know it’s built out of solid billet! It still does very well in magazine group tests against newer machines. The CBR’s looks haven’t aged and it still cuts a fine dash – it’s almost the perfect motorcycle.”

Anthony Kodack
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