RD500

RD500

 The Yamaha RD500LC is a high-performance, two-stroke sports motorcycle, also known as the RZ500 in Canada and Australia. A lightened but detuned version known as the RZV500R was developed for the Japanese home market. Strict United States Environmental Protection Agency regulations meant that the RZ500 was not available for sale in that country. Produced for a short period between 1984 and 1986 it has become a sought after collector's machine.[1]

With the success in the early 1980s of Kenny Roberts and the Yamaha YZR500 in Grand Prix motorcycle racing Yamaha realised that a road going replica of their 500 cc racing machine would sell well. Using the similar technology of the smaller RD series of two-stroke motorcycles the RD500LC was launched in 1984.

This RD500lc is a one previous owner example with full service history the original rear wheel stand spare key service book and owners manual, it has just under 20000 miles on the clock.We acquired this example form its previous owner on 10/08/2010.

FZR1000

FZR1000

 

The Yamaha FZR1000 is a motorcycle produced by Yamaha from 1987 to 1995. The 1989 version, crowned the "Bike of the Decade" by Cycle World, had 0-60 acceleration of 2.9 seconds, and a top speed of over 167 mph.

The unique feature that gave the 1989 and onward models their Exup name (for Exhaust Ultimate Power Valve) was Yamaha's four-stroke power valve system, a servo motor-driven exhaust valve. This allowed large bore exhaust header pipes (for excellent gas flow at high engine speeds) coupled with the valve restricting flow at lower revs, to speed the gas through. It gave pulling power from low revs, seamlessly, up to the red line at 11,500 rpm. It also allowed extremely radical high lift cams that gave a very lumpy idle when unplugged in the open position or when using a full aftermarket exhaust. Yamaha used this valve system on the YZF models which followed (Thunderace) and the R1 models from 1998.

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History

  • 1987–1988: FZR 1000 "Genesis"
  • 1989–1990: FZR 1000 "Exup", major motor and chassis redesign, two round headlights
  • 1991–1993: FZR 1000 "Exup", USD forks fitted, one rectangular headlight
  • 1994–1995: FZR 1000 "Exup", Revised USD forks, uprated brakes, two "fox-eye" shaped headlights.

In some countries old stock was carried on to sell in later years, notably 1996 models which are identical to 1995.

End of line

The FZR1000 quickly went out of production following the 1994 introduction and sales success of the Supersport series, led by 1992's introduction of the Tadao Baba developed Honda Fireblade.[1] It was not until the 1998 development of the Yamaha YZF-R1 that Yamaha again caught up.

This particular model was 1st registered on 20/8/1990,we added it to our collection on 10/08/2010

YZF-R1

YZF-R1

1998 First generation: 150 HP, 177 kg
The first R1 shook the motorcycle world by putting the 1000cc class supersports back on the map. Japanese competitors had launched 900cc models in the ‘90s aiming for the best compromise in power and in weight. Yamaha decided for a ‘no-compromise’ approach. The development team were given 3 clear targets: to make the highest power, the lowest weight and the most compact dimensions.
What Yamaha’s engineers created was a new 998cc engine featuring a 5-valve design, big-bore 40mm downdraft carburettors and 4 into 1 exhaust featuring Yamaha’s EXUP system for improved midrange (which the first generation R1 was famous for).

The compression ratio was 11.8 to 1 with a bore and stroke of 74 x 58 mm. The cylinder and crankcase were designed in 1 piece which was lighter and stronger than the conventional ‘bolted’ designs. The complete engine was designed to be a stressed member in the latest generation aluminium Deltabox frame.

The engine featured a revolutionary new tri-axis design where the crankshaft, drive shaft and main shaft are not arranged in a horizontal line (as normal) but in a triangular layout so that the overall engine build could be much shorter.

This more compact engine design enabled a layout with a very short wheelbase (1395mm) for excellent handling, combined with a very long swingarm which is beneficial for traction and stability. This layout structure is still up to date today, and many competitors have followed this development.
 

We purchased this example on 21/10/2013 complete with a full service history and previous mots 

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In the evolving line of Yamaha two-strokes, the YDS7 of 1971 is notable as the one in which the till-then popular rounded look was replaced by a more angular line, at the same time becoming slimmer, lower and lighter.
Peak power of the YDS7 was set at 7,500rpm which, with top (fifth) gear engaged, came up very easily, the bike being a trifle under geared, and worked out to a road speed of 90mph.

A small rider, crouched, could extract a further 5mph with no great difficulty. Steering geometry (62.5° castor, 4.2 in trail) to give a fast response made the bike very diverting transport on winding roads; 30bhp, combined with the effect of a short wheelbase (54in) and low weight (300lb), would keep the front wheel in only light contact with the tarmac.

For this model Yamaha introduced an 'excited field' generator for ignition purposes, which worked well and emitted an eerie whistle as the ignition key was first operated and the system set itself up. In this connection, a more obvious step forward for 1971 was the positioning of the ignition key in the top of the steering head instead of under the nose of the tank.

Life before the RD?

Yes, there was one!

It may well come as a bit of a shock but there was a perfectly good and happy life to be had before the arrival of the Yamaha RD series of machines all those years back in 1973. The Yamaha 250cc twin cylinder dynasty actually began as far back as the winter of 1964 with the YDS3, with a 350cc version, the YR3, joining this a little over four years later. These very early models were just like over grown 125cc machines with their vertically split casings and lightly finned heads and barrels, performance wise, whilst generally being a match for British designs, they certainly were no competition for some of the hotter machines being made by other oriental producers.

The YDS7 and R5 appeared on the scene at the turn of the seventies, not only to counter the threat from Suzuki, who were also making some pretty impressive small capacity two strokes, but also out of a need to save money for the middleweight race projects. Not that the factory racers needed cheaper parts for their machines, the OW’s that did all of the winning in the hands of the various Grand prix stars that rode for the tuning fork brand were vastly different, it was the production bikes that had to be built to a price. The cheapness of the air-cooled TR and later water-cooled TZ’s was directly attributable to the many similarities found in cycle parts and engine castings of the roadsters.

YDS7It wasn’t only the engine that bore a remarkable resemblance to the race bikes, the chassis too was strikingly similar to the Yamaha racers of the period, hence the new roadsters rating as a fine handling and eminently manoeuvarable piece of kit. Much store is placed in the RD’s family heritage, but as gene pools go, the YDS7 and R5 are far more closely related to the piston port race machines than the later roadsters ever could be.

Within a few short weeks of their launch the road going twins, and in particular the 350 version, were being ranked as giant killers with staggering superiority around the twisty bits and with a top speed in treble figures, at least some of the time, almost unmatchable straight line ability too. The combination of light weight and good reliable horsepower figures giving a sprightly performance in all areas.

Yamaha YDS7They are very stylish machines, with lines so much sleeker and all up weight considerably lighter than their immediate successor, the more bulbous RD A and B series. In actual fact the RD series continued to pile on the pounds with each and every new version right up until the launch of the featherweight LC range in 1980. Despite very similar design features, and an almost identical looking engine unit, the bike actually shares very few components with the later RD version. The five-speed gearbox is not directly interchangeable, despite the early RD’s having the use of only five of the six gears ratios available (another story for another day!), and many other engine parts are not useable between the two types.

Riding any of the piston port twins is a rewarding experience once the idiosyncrasies of the type are mastered. The need to keep the engine buzzing, and with it the engine comfortably up in the power band, can sound to innocent bystanders as reckless, loutish behaviour but its all part of living with an early seventies two stroke. Once up onto the pipe the little Yam, with its lack of reed valve induction, gives a far bigger kick to the seat of the pants than the same capacity RD ever could despite putting out less power at the rear wheel. The sensation remains all the way throughout the arc of the speedo, providing you keep throwing in those gear ratios with sufficient speed the acceleration remains constant and even by today’s standards, impressive. It is crucial not to short shift as once the revs have dropped off the pipe then all the engine does is bellow at you until you clutch it and downshift eventually getting the bike buzzing again.

YDS7It is important to mention that the noise created at tick over is not in any way confidence inspiring, the early air-cooled engines certainly do make some mechanical noise. We have, in the last twenty years or so, grown too cosseted with the water-cooling and body work serving to cocoon the whirling and clattering engine components and effectively damping any engine noise. With the Yams a heady mix of piston slap, small end bearing jangle, exhaust ding and fin rattle combine to create a din, not too dissimilar to a bag of spanners being thrown around an empty industrial unit. Once the engine is given the go ahead however the mechanical noise either diminishes or takes more of a back seat, making way instead for the hollow resonating roar of the tiny metal air filter box and the sharp cackling dissonance of the one piece, cigar shaped silencers.

Corners appear quite quickly and the need to slow the whole plot down a bit soon becomes a matter of urgency. A quick squeeze of the most important lever on the right yields little initial response worth calling a brake as the 180mm diameter, twin leading shoe, drum set up found at the bottom end of the cable needs some waking up. The first thought is always that the brake has failed to operate in some way as the cable gives a fair bit of spongey feel to the lever but, keep hold of it and the initial grab that was so lacking at speed makes itself apparent in a more subdued way as the shoes begin to heat up and consume the kinetic energy. Judicious amounts of the identical diameter, albeit a single leading shoe design, rear drum adds to the stopping experience no end, unlike a more modern disc rear that have little impact upon the trajectory of a speeding bike the Yamaha drum actually does something. Although not as immediately efficient as the later race replica cast iron, twin piston, disc stopper, a well set up Yamaha drum brake can be ridiculously fierce at pedestrian pace and once hot, full of feel at the higher end of the velocity spectrum.

Yamaha YDS7With the speed comfortably scrubbed off the story found with the later RD’s is all too evident with the bike that started it all, you have to get the front working very hard. The forks are not happy when slack, the front wheel has to be relied on fully for the sharp handling that the type is renowned for. On both models a primitive, friction type steering damper, running directly through the headstock, is fitted but in reality its use was never really necessary on the smaller version and only very light settings useful with the 350.

Tyre sizes are small by modern day standards but this adds to the general manoeuvrability both at low and high speeds, these tyre sizes are perfectly adequate for the power of the engine with the 250 machine never giving cause for concern although the R5 can be a bit more of a handful. Of course with such little power on tap you are never going to light the rear up so there are few if any problems to speak of with that end. Even so the small horsepower outputs that are evident do create some problems especially with the standard rear shocks and their total inability to damp and spring at the same time once a few miles had passed underneath the little twin. Fortunately Japanese suspension has moved on, literally in leaps and not so many bounds, from those early days. Those YDS7’s and R5’s that are in use either have replacement units or rebuilt Yam items those, hopefully, work better than the original 1970’s jobs.

YDS7Any capacity Yamaha twin is a simple machine to live with, easy to work on and cheap to run. I feel the YDS and R5 have just that little bit more of an air of mystery and attractiveness, providing a far better insight into the world of the racing two stroke than any of the later RD series. Finding one in original condition could prove difficult as most were modified with after market and later RD parts to create a mismatch of bikes that effectively is worthless as a collectors item but will be a rewarding ride none the less.

This machine was 1st registered on 28/07/1972 and added to our collection on 08/04/2011

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This was a super sport model developed with the TZ250 as its base. It immediately created a big sensation after its stunning debut at the 1979 Tokyo Motor Show. Its liquid-cooled 2-stroke, 2-cylinder engine pumped out high power equivalent to 140 hp per liter of displacement.

This was mounted on a double cradle frame with a Monocross suspension and other features like lightweight cast wheels to produce unprecedented running performance. Even today it remains a legendary model with a devoted following.

Almost as quick as its 350 brother, the 250LC earned extra notoriety in 1980 with a top speed in excess of 100mph. Fond parents said that selling a 250 as fast as this was tantamount to Yamaha inviting the (British) nation's youth to commit hara-kiri in the run up to the L-test. It all added up to a very effective send-off for the LC, which (of course) became overnight the learner's favourite bike.

Based — but very loosely, like the 350LC — on the layout of Yamaha's five-year-old watercooled racers, the 250 had a reed valve as an aid to easy induction and separate barrels where the competition TZ had had the pair as one unit; an obvious similarity was the water impeller driven from the right end of the crankshaft. Ports were smaller on the road bike, as were the Mikuni carburettors.

 Cylinder head design, too, was different.
But in concept, and looks, the LC displayed much of the racer's style. Its performance was ahead of that of the earlier air-cooled RD, which in its day was reckoned to be king of the 250s, in speed if not in sales.

This machine was 1st registered on 19/12/1980 and added to our collection on 06/10/2012

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Yamaha CS5E. 1972"ish. The bike transforms more into the early RD look. There is NO such thing as a CS4E. The 4 is a very unlucky number in Japan, hence No model 4. Also for some strange reason some CS5"s also have a CS3 frame marked frame under close inspection, which does create a lot of model confusion. You will even find this look bike described as a RD in some referance books.

 

This machine was 1st registered on 09/02/1973 and added to our collection on 20/07/2010
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The FS1 was a Yamaha moped of the 1970s. Various letter suffixes were added to indicate model variation to suit local regulations, such the FS1-E for England, FS1P/DX NL and others.

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FS1-E UK model

The FS1-E was the UK model. Machines registered in the UK from 1 August 1977 were restricted to a maximum of 31 mph (50 km/h).[1]

Design

Originally the FS1-E was built as a five-speed transmission light motorcycle. It was originally called the FS1. Due to the regulations in Europe, the FS1-E was downtuned with a four-speed transmission.

The Yamaha FS1-E has a 49 cc single cylinder two-stroke air-cooled rotary disc-valved engine with a four-speed gearbox. The FS1-E was the FS1 with the suffix E, which stood for England (differing from the models sold in other countries as the FS1-E had more cycle parts in common with other UK-imported Yamaha models). Yamaha introduced various improvements such as a front disc brake (FS1-E DX model) over the years, and later an autolube model with a two-stroke oil tank and oil pump, with no need to manually mix two-stroke oil into the fuel tank.

About 200,000 were produced for the UK market. An award winning short film was produced in 2006 and is available entitled 'Fizzy Days' encompassing the bikes and the era.

Pedals

The FS1-E had the ability to be powered by pushbike type pedals since this was a legal requirement for registration as a moped in the United Kingdom and some other European countries at the time.

The special pedal cranks allowed both pedals to be rotated forward so that the pedals would form motorcycle-style footrests in normal operation. To engage the pedals, the left-hand pedal crank could be rotated forward and locked and a drive gear engaged allowing the user to pedal. A short chain connected the pedal drive to the main engine-chain drive system. Pedalling was hard work for the rider: there was no freewheel and the pedal gearing was very low. The engine could be started with pedal drive engaged, causing the pedals to rotate under engine power when the bike was in gear. In practice, the cam and shaft arrangement to engage the pedals frequently seized (in normal operation, a rider would very rarely engage pedal-drive as it was less tiring to push than to pedal).

The design of the pedals was done by Henk Dullens, a former employee of "Het Motorpaleis" in The Netherlands. The pedal system was designed for a Yamaha F5, which was basically the ancestor for the FS1-E.

Specification

Engine: Two-stroke single cylinder rotary disc valve induction, four gears, running on a 20:1 mix of petrol and two-stroke oil.

Frame: pressed steel tubular backbone type.

Electrics : Magneto ignition with integral 6V AC for the main running lights (including high and low beam on a switch). The indicators, brake lights, neutral light and horn ran separately on 6 v DC from a three-cell lead acid battery that received a trickle charge from the magneto. On most models the three position ignition switch (on a key providing off, run and lights) was mounted on the L/H side panel, however the switch was moved to the conventional position between the handlebars on the FS1-E DX (front disc brake equipped model) and later FS1-E models.

The right hand side panel contains a basic toolkit in a plastic case, pliers, 3 spanners, double ended screwdriver, plug spanner.

The competition

The second most popular moped of this era came from Honda, the SS50. They had a similar speed, and thanks to their 4 stroke design were cleaner, more economical and potentially longer lived though without quite the same acceleration or style. All suffered the same legislative fate in August 1977. For a short time after this date some smaller manufacturers (particularly Italian) brought in machines that could easily be derestricted without the use of any additional parts or any machining.

This particular fs1e was sold by us on 11/07/1976 having had 2 previous owners we found it locally when we delivered a new moped to a customer lying in the corner of his shed on 04/09/2009, after a 2 year restoration this is the end result

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In my view one of the nicest motorcycles Yamaha ever made, the YL-1. The relatively long stroke (bore 38 x stroke 43) motor was (and is) very quiet and spins like an electric motor.

The seems to be a lot of interest in the YL-1 (you can see that as a "Webmaster"), so here are the brochures from all the production years, also in large size.1966 model., This model had a silver painted front fender, small rearlight and very small flashers and a black/white seat.

The 1967 model looks (the brochure) already more "flashy", but the model was the same. Maybe Yamaha thought: "never change a winning specification"... Interesting is that the frame down pipe is painted red on this model and black on the 1968 model, but chromed on most of the other machines.

The 1968 model had a chrome front fender, mufflers of a different shape (like the AS1), a larger rearlight and larger flashers and a black seat, which was also slightly more comfortable (backside of brochure). But on the frontpage the 2 bikes have the "old" silencers, a short chainguard and silver painted front mudguards.....!

Also the rear shockabsorbers are of the shrouded type. This machine pictured is a 12 Volt Electric start type, you can see that on the bulge on the crankcase cover.

Strangely, in 1970 the YL1 is seen again with a silver painted front fender and the old-style mufflers, although the black seat remains.

Summarizing you can see that Yamaha changed specifications a lot, depending on the countries the machines were exported to. I have seen many restored YL-1's without a full cahincase but that is absolutely wrong. They all had a full chaincase. Electric equipment was 6 Volt or 12 Volt (electric start).

This machine was 1 st registered on 14/02/1968,it came to us on the 12/10/2006 from a local source who restored it ,showing only 1 former keeper and complete with original log book spare key owners manual , this yl1 was sold by ourselves new in 1968.

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The Yamaha YG1 80 ccm rotary valve was one of the first machines that found worldwide recognition and fame.

It was sold in very large numbers, the first ones did not have the famous Autolube system. You can read on the technical specifications that a 20 : 1 mix was advised. The YG1 was introduced in 1963 and featured a ball-lock gearchange system. Oh! And its price was only $ 340,00 POE Los Angeles when introduced mid 1963 !!

we acquired this example on 12/10/2006 from alocal collector who previously restored it, the machine was originally sold by us new in 1969

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The prototype CBX test bike was released back in 1978 to combined murmurs of amazement and cries of protest. People who were already razzing the big Fours as being too tall, wide and heavy now rolled their eyes and clutched at their hearts in feigned or real fits of disbelief. "A 600 lb. 1047cc Six?" they said. "Who needs it?"

The answer of course, was that no one needed it. Not the CBX nor any other motorcycle with more than 15 bhp. The truth is, we could all get along just fine on castiron 250cc two-strokes with mudflaps, made behind the Iron Curtain.

No one needed the CBX..... Except people who like big fast, glamorous machines full of exotic tricks and lovely noises, powered by engines lifted off the blueprints of famous, successful racing bikes.

And the first CBX certainly was fast. It ran through the quarter mile in a tiresmoking 11.46 sec. at 117.95 mph and topped out at 134 in the half-mile dash, all of which made it the fastest bike around. There were problems, however. The prototype had been released, tested, photographed and lusted after but Honda was slow in getting the bike off the production lines. By the time the first production CBXs hit the showroom floors it was 1979. Late 1979.

By that time some other big bikes had arrived to play the numbers game. The production CBX was even quicker than the prototype, running an 11.36 sec. and 118.11 mph quarter mile. But its late introduction and relatively low exposure had a good part of its potential market going over to the Yamaha XS11, Suzuki GS1000 and Kawasaki KZ1000 Mk. II, all of which provided excellent - if slightly less spectacular - performance with simpler four-cylinder engines.

In 1980 Honda changed the CBX in two ways. They improved the chassis and dropped the horsepower. The frame got an improved swing arm with, ball and roller bearings, better rear shocks, air assisted front forks, improved steering geometry . . . in short, the handling it deserved. The engine was another story. Feeling the hot breath of Ms. Claybrook and her fellow low performance enthusiasts down its 103 bhp neck, Honda decided to detune the engine just a tad. More conservative cams and a revised ignition curve did the trick.

In the meantime the Suzuki GS1100 arrived with excellent handling, a four-cylinder engine, 105 claimed bhp, 11.39 sec. at 118.42 mph, 47 mpg and "only" 556 lb. of rolling mass. Suddenly the only reasons for owning a CBX - not to be discounted - were brand loyalty, aesthetic preference, and the mechanical glamour of The Six.

Which brings us to 1981, home of the Kawasaki GPz1100 and an even quicker new Suzuki GS1100. And the 1981 Honda CBX.

Why the change in character, the switch to touring garb this year? Several reasons. First, Honda has brought its CB900F, formerly available only in Europe, to the U.S. The 900F is the core of Honda's Superbike racing effort this year and the model most likely to succeed with the road race and twisty road crowd. No sense having the company competing against itself for sales. Second, Honda lost interest in continuing the horsepower battle with the big Six.

And third, the marketing people at Honda noticed an unexpected phenomenon last year. They found that a large number of 750F buyers had outfitted these sport machines with small fairings, low bars, and soft luggage and taken them touring. It was apparent that not everyone who went touring cared for the plush bulk or the conservative image of cruisers like the Gold Wing. Interest was growing in the fleet, unburdened approach to travel. So with that market growing, why not take the smooth, sophisticated flagship CBX and offer the fast touring set a sporting alternative? Why not indeed, they said, and did just that.

While the most noticeable changes for 1981 have been in the chassis and fiberglass departments, the engine has once more been reworked in subtle ways. Mid-range and rideability, rather than peak power, were pursued this year and the CBX got new cams with more lift, less duration and a little more mid-range at the expense of peak power.

In the interest of more level float bowls, smoother idle and better low-speed running characteristics the rubber carburetor insulators were unkinked to drop the six 28 mm Keihin CV carburetors to a more horizontal position. The 6-into-2 exhaust system now has a crossover tube just behind the collectors, the claim again being better torque and mid-range. To the same end, the ignition advancer has been redesigned as a two-stage unit which gives maximum advanize at 3000 rpm, rather than 2500.

Most other engine changes this year were done to keep it quieter and more rattle-free. The clutch hub, for instance, now uses coil springs to soak up the load, rather than the rubber plugs of yesteryear, as the rubber had a way of stretching and degenerating with age and heat. The primary driven sprocket on the jackshaft is no longer keyed firmly to its shaft, but floats on splines and has an oil-feed hole beneath the sprocket to cut down spline wear and noise. Honda has also changed the brand and design of its piston rings on the CBX, going with a double thickness of chrome plating on the upper compression ring, more taper angle on the second ring, and a thinner three-piece oil ring.

These minor changes, of course, are less exciting to contemplate than the sheer complexity and sophistication of the basically unchanged CBX engine. The first Honda Sixes, designed by Soichiro Irimajiri, were the highly successful 250 and 350cc GP bikes Honda used to dominate those classes in the mid-Sixties. When it was decided 10 years later to build a super road bike in the same tradition, both Irimajiri and a huge fund of six-cylinder technology were on hand for the job. The result was, and is, a true exotic among street engines.

The CBX engine, being an oversquare (64.5x53.4 mm) inline Six, is wide across its cylinder head, but relatively narrow at the crankcase. The crank runs on seven plain main bearings and has no real flywheel. Instead, the crankshaft counterweights and regular firing pulses are used to keep the engine spinning smoothly. The Six has three pairs of crankshaft throws, spaced 120° apart, so there is always one power stroke in progress. Width of the cases is kept to a minimum by running the alternator and ignition off a jackshaft behind the crank. The alternator, incidentally, is a very healthy one with a 350 watt output. So healthy, in fact, that the rotor would be hard pressed to keep up with the quick-revving Six, so a friction clutch is provided in the alternator drive to cushion the transitions.

Viewed from the front, the CBX engine spreads its mass upward in a V shape, which means cornering clearance can be as good or better than that of most Fours (and is) even though the cylinder head is a stunning 23.5 in. wide. The head is virtually identical in design to that on the 750F, with a couple more cylinders of course. It has four valves per cylinder, operated by a pair of two-piece camshafts and uses Honda's pentroof combustion chamber shape. Valve clearances are set by removeable shims above the valve buckets. The cams are turned by not one but two HyVo cam chains; one from the crank to the exhaust cam and the other stretching backward from the exhaust to the intake cam. This makes for less overall chain length, which makes tensioning and cam control more accurate.

The six 28mm CV carbs are angled inward for knee clearance beneath the tank, and as a result have unequal intake tract lengths. This inequality is compensated for by unequal length intake tubes in the air box. A single accelerator pump on the number three carb feeds the entire row. Ignition switching is transistorized, and the plugs are fired by three ignition coils, each responsible for two cylinders.

What all this means is a quick-revving woofy sort of engine that is a little reluctant to get off the line unless gunned and slipped at the throttle and clutch, and an engine that is less than awesome in raw torque much below 3000 rpm. Above 3000 it begins to pick up confidence and horsepower and from 4000 to redline it comes on with the nicest silken rush of power this side of a 727 recently cleared for takeoff. At any highway cruising speed, legal or il-, the Six is matched by few other bikes for pure smoothness. The closest comparison may be with Honda's own Gold Wing.

Unfortunately, the CBX also sounds a little too much like the Gold Wing. Out on the open highway the CBX puts out a combination of subdued whirring sounds that are remarkably Wing-like, and little in the way of exotic clamor reaches the rider. We know there are strict sound laws in this country, but hardly anything on earth sounds sweeter than a highly-tuned Six (except maybe a highly-tuned Twelve) when it is allowed to resonate and project just a bit. Would that the CBX's muted fury were not quite so muted. Perhaps if a richer tone could be sneaked in under the nose of the federal db meter ... Not louder, just richer.

Transmission ratios in the Honda's fivespeed box are unchanged from the 1980 CBX, as are primary and final drive ratios. Gear ratios are well spaced and riders can pick from a wide selection in the useable range of rpm depending on urgency, what with 57.4 mph available at redline in 1st gear. The engine purrs along at 4228 rpm at 60 mph in 5th gear. Final drive is via 530 O-ringed chain. Would touring riders mind a big roadburner without a shaft, we asked the Honda people. No, they said. Most people who think of themselves as sport riders still prefer chain drive; the touring popularity of the 750F has shown that.

Starting the CBX is easy, if you don't do much work. When the engine is cold the drill is to push the handlebar-mounted choke lever full on and punch the starter button without so much as touching the throttle. The engine is neither hot nor cold blooded; it likes a little warmup to really run with conviction, but can be nursed away on partial choke if you are in a hurry. Hot starting also works best with a light, or absent, touch on the throttle. As mentioned, the CBX can be a peaky devil on takeoff from stoplights, a trait not helped by slightly vague clutch engagement. After one or two lunge-and-bog movements in traffic, the rider learns to feed some revs into the clutch as he slips it, and then everything is fine. Really lively throttle and clutch work can produce easy, predictable wheelspin on demand.

When we first rode the CBX, a tankful of low-rent gas from our friendly Fly-By-Night station had the engine pinging badly at every launch. With better fuel, however, the problem went away and we had no such problem using unleaded premium or leaded regular. Worth noting, however, that the Six is sensitive to fuel quality. It also likes a fair amount of fuel; not hoggish by any standard, but a bit thirstier than the mere run-of-the-mill Four. On our legal-speed test loop the CBX got 41 mpg. But in a spirited search for hidden radar - which we found, by the way - mileage hovered just over the 30 mpg mark. The tank is big, with 4.6 gal. of ON and 0.7 gal. of RES. available, but hard riding makes the big tank a welcome feature on a long weekend loop.

Hard riding also builds appreciation for the chassis and suspension improvements wrought on the new CBX. The big change this year is the switch to Honda's Pro-Link monoshock rear suspension. The Pro-Link system uses a set of hinged levers beneath the heavy-duty aluminum swing arm to feed suspension movement into a single large spring and shock absorber unit which is situated in roughly vertical position just in front of the rear wheel. Changes in leverage during swing arm movement cause the arm to lose progressively larger amounts of mechanical advantage over the spring and shock as suspension is compressed toward full bump. The ratio between swing arm and spring varies from 2.78:1 at full extension down to 1.92:1 with the suspension bottomed out. This rising rate arrangement allows the suspension to move easily and compliantly over small road irregularities, but firm up as shock loads and riding conditions force the swing arm closer to the end of its travel.

To further enhance the progressive nature of the suspension the rear spring and shock unit uses compressed air to assist the coil spring. Air too provides a progressively stiffer resistance to movement as it is compressed, and the CBX relies heavily on the air charge in the shock for its rear suspension. An air valve just behind the right sidecover is used to fill the shock, and the owner's manual recommends 28 to 56 psi. If for some reason air pressure is lost, a warning light will flash on the instrument panel. If this light comes on, the rider is supposed to reduce speed to below 50 mph and proceed immediately to the nearest service station to add air. "Do not continue riding," the manual warns, "because stability and handling may be adversely affected."

The ride on our test bike felt best, for combined comfort and stability, with air pressure at the maximum level. As an added variable in the rear suspension package, the CBX has a three-position knob to adjust shock damping. The push-pull knob protrudes from the bike just beneath the right sidecover, or behind the rider's right ankle, and once you know where to reach without looking, can be adjusted as you ride. The softest setting felt good on bumpy freeway surfaces, though the bike wanted to wander and hunt a little more over rain grooves and pavement seams. For all other conditions - especially hard riding through the mountains - full damping felt best, giving the bike a noticeably tauter, more precise feel.

The front suspension, too, is air assisted, and fork diameter has been increased from 35 to 39mm, same as the GL1100. To accommodate the extra thickness, the fork legs are now an extra 10mm apart. Dual syntallic low-stiction fork bushings are used. Also changed is fork geometry. Using the Pro-Link suspension lengthened the wheelbase from 59 to 60.4 in., and the forks have been angled to give an increase in rake from 27.5° to 29.5°, while trail has remained at 4.7 in. Wheel widths on the ComStars have been bumped up front and rear. The front is now 2.5 in. wide rather than 2.15 in. and the rear is up to 2.75 in. from 2.5. The tires are Dunlop V-rated Gold Seals, suitable for speeds beyond 130 mph, a 3.25V-19 up front and a 130/90V-18 rear.

If all this sounds like a recipe for a long, slow steering bike, it is and it isn't. The CBX is long and feels it and the bike has a stability in sweeping, high-speed corners common to motorcycles with slow steering geometry The nice part, however comes in riding around town and pushing the bike through slower corners, because then you discover how little penalty there is for those good road manners on the open highway. For a big, heavy, wide and reasonably long motorcycle the CBX makes it over the slower hurdles in life with remarkable ease. On mountain roads it feels like a fullback with three years of ballet lessons under its belt. Steering is precise -- the bike goes where you point it -- and sudden changes of line in fast corners (as when an oncoming pickup truck loses the rear end halfway through the curve) are handled with grace and the pleasant absence of tank-slapping motion. In most of the sudden demands of fast daily riding, the bike is hard to upset. Even quick transitions through an S-bend demand relatively little effort -- more effort, certainly, than an RD400 would require, but not as much as you would expect from a 662 lb. superbike with a fairing and saddlebags.
The CBX's cornering clearance is much better than the imposing width of the engine might lead one to suspect. Most big Fours have cylinder heads that are 4 to 6 in. narrower than the CBX's 23.5 in. head, but they are wider at the cases. The GS1100 Suzuki, for instance, has a cylinder head only 18 in wide, but the crankcase is only a fraction of an inch narrower than that of the CBX. The CBX, with its cylinders tilted forward at 33°, carries its crankshaft plane fairly high in the frame, and beneath it the sump tapers downward toward the centerline of the bike. This, along with a set of very tucked in mufflers and rearset footpegs, lets the bike lean over hard without grounding anything. When things do touch down, the footpegs hit first, and these have replaceable acorn nuts screwed to the bottoms of the pegs to take up the wear from dragging.

Most of the frame changes on the new CBX have been made to accommodate the Pro-Link suspension. Various attachment points were also changed for the redesigned seat and sidecovers and to fit a larger tool box under the seat so an air gauge for the suspension could be included. The tools, by the way are a step up for a Japanese bike; the wrenches now have polished heads, an actual box wrench is included, and the tools are stored in a leatherette bag. The swing arm is aluminum this year, rather than steel as before and the chain guard, for some reason, has been changed from black plastic to chromed steel. In a small detail improvement, the sides of the airbox are padded for knee contact, these pads probably intended mostly as heat shields, as the air box can get quite hot in traffic with all that heat being wafted back from the wide Six.

The triple disc brakes on the CBX use Honda's dual-piston calipers, and the front discs are a first for Honda; ventilated stainless steel rotors. Using casting techniques reportedly perfected by Honda’s automobile division, each disc is actually two thin discs joined by a web of inner cooling vanes. Whether or not they actually work any better than solid steel or cast iron rotors for the demands of the sporting street rider is open to dispute; the point is, they look trick, Honda figured out how to make them, they are the fanciest discs around, and therefore they belonged on the company's $5495 flagship.

Stopping distances from 60-0 mph were not exceptional for the CBX, though firmly in the ballpark for a bike of this size and weight. But in everyday riding they feel good and work very well. Only moderate lever pressure is needed to haul the bike down smartly for tight corners, and both lever and rear pedal have a solid, progressive feel, as though nothing is moving or flexing but the brake pads. Unfortunately, our front brakes developed a squeal after only a few hundred miles. The brakes were silent during really hard use but squealed under light lever pressure at moderate speeds and when easing to a complete stop. Honda has had brake squealing problems on a number of other models, and we were hoping that the CBX with its fancy new rotors might be immune.

We also hoped for a better seat. Hard unpadded seats are a traditional part of the sport bike ethic; the idea being you ride the bike on race tracks or tortuous roads where constant movement in the saddle is required, preventing any one spot from going numb. That, or you are supposed to be too preoccupied with cold sweat and looming disaster to pay much attention to the state of your bum. The CBX seat works beautifully as a sport saddle, allowing you to shift your weight easily and quickly in rapid switchbacks but on the long straight haul it begins to feel overly firm. Not outright painful, but just a bit too narrow and hard. (This criticism directed to the rider's portion; passengers had few complaints.) The seat is the single spartan element in the CBX's personality that prevents the Touring fron being 100 percent Grand.

Unless you mind the fairing. How much you like the CBX fairing will depend on past experience and point of view. Riders accustomed to full-coverage touring fairings, like the Windjammer or Gold Wing Interstate's, may find it a bit skimpy, while those raised on bare sport bikes or bikini quarter fairings will pronounce it a marvel of gas flow dynamics and Pullman car comfort. As sport fairings go, the CBX provides good coverage, but the windscreen is fairly low and streamlined and a good part of the deflected air passes through the vicinity of the upper helmet. Not a serious problem with a full-face helmet or secure face shield, but the wind will probably dry the eyeballs of those who like to ride in sunglasses and it tends to rattle the rivets in a loose visor or face shield. When the weather or air temperature becomes truly intolerable it is possible to slouch neatly out of the airstream into a pocket of tranquility behind the screen.
An unexpected bonus in air flow comes at the handgrips. Though they appear to be unprotected by the fairing, the grips get little blast because the built-in mirrors, though a foot or more away, seem to deflect air away from the hands. During the road test we were caught in a mountain snowstorm at 7000 ft. and survived without the usual frozen claw routine.

The fairing lowers also work very well to hold the engine heat around the rider's legs. And there is plenty of engine heat. Enough, in fact, that riders in warm climates may want to remove the lowers, especially when a lot of stop and go city riding is required. But for moderate-to-cold riding they are a welcome accessory. The upper fairing has a couple of nice convenience features. There is a headlight adjusting knob on the inside of the fairing, just to one side of the steering head, which can be reached when seated. The fairing also has two sidepockets with removable covers; one opens with a knob and the other is lockable, so valuables can be stored on the bike. Unfortunately, the lockable panel on our bike refused to stay locked and popped off the fairing twice when we hit bumps in the road. Fortunately we caught it both times before it slid off the fairing. Under each cover is a tray insert, so small items can be kept handy, rather than rattling around lost in the forward hold.
The saddlebags are another convenient design. In keeping with the sport image of the bike, they are not exactly cavernous but provide enough space for most of the things people need to carry on a weekend trip. They can be loaded or unloaded on the bike, hinging downward from double locking clasps, or easily removed by unlocking a small retaining rod on each side and sliding it backward. A folding carrying handle is built into the top of each bag. The finish on all the color-coordinated accessories on the CBX is first rate, and except for the pop-off locking compartment, the bags and fairing pockets were handy for running all kinds of errands around town, as well as traveling. Another standard add-on, a set of chrome case guards (we don't call them crash bars anymore) for the engine, is probably a good idea. Owners who have priced a set of crankcases will probably sleep better at night.

The CBX handlebars, as in past years, are not really handlebars at all, but forged aluminum I-beams, one for each side. Though a bit higher than the bars on most sport-touring machines, they are fairly comfortable in relation to the seat and rearset footpeg position. A variety of sizes and shapes of riders tried the bike and none had any real complaints. Which is good, because you can't just lob another set of $19.95 bars on the bike. The individual handlebar beams have limited adjustment fore and aft, but their height is fixed.
The good-looking instrument panel has aircraft-like tach and speedometer faces, and voltmeter so you can see how the battery is feeling if electrical problems develop -- and the usual collection of idiot lights with that new member, the RR SUSP AIR PRESS light added. Handlebar controls are standard Honda, and no one had any trouble finding anything. Throttle pull is remarkably light, especially considering the chorus of valves being opened and closed.

The controls, fairing, bags and general styling of the bike all blend together in a unified, highly finished look. Smaller details like the aluminum footpeg brackets, the pegs themselves, the molding around the tailpiece, the black brushed aluminum grab handles beside the seat, the vaned brakes and a lot of nice engine detailingall show a polish and aircraft-like attention to material finish. We are told the styling work on the bike itself was done by Pete Nakano at Honda Research in Torrance, California. Nakano also did the styling on the 750F and the CX500 Custom. The fairing and saddlebags were designed in Japan, with cooperation from Nakano, and blend in with the basic style as well as you could hope for with accessory add-ons.

These added features, of course, all have weight. They represent extra pounds on a bike that was already struggling to keep its weight in the vicinity of 600 lb., mostly through the use of the lightest possible chassis components and magnesium pieces wherever possible in the engine. (The engine itself weighs about 240 lb.) The touring fiberglass, Pro-Link system, wider wheels, new brake discs, heavier fork tubes and a variety of other small changes have all driven the weight of the CBX up to 662 lb. with half a tank of gas, as compared with 605 lb. on the unfaired 1980 model.

While handling hasn't been hurt by the changes -- the new bike handles better, if anything -- but of course quarter mile times and top end are down compared with the bare bones version. The '81 CBX ran through the traps in 12.13 sec. at 109.84 mph with a speed after one half mi. of 124 mph. Our 1980 test bike did the quarter in 11.93 sec. at 114.06 mph and ran out to 129 mph.

In the real world of riding that isn't much of a loss, especially measured against the chassis improvements and the utility of the touring package. No owner of a new CBX is going to climb off the bike and shake his head, mumbling about the sorry lack of power and excitement. The bike can count itself among the small handful of machines capable of transporting a current license plate from one point to another about as fast as you would possibly want to go.

Quarter mile figures are not the end-all here. Few bikes can pass a slow-moving train of cars, trailers and campers on an uphill mountain road with such total impunity, then brake hard and dive into the next corner with such self-assurance. The combination of turbine-like power and effortless high speed handling allows the CBX to sift through slower traffic on winding roads with almost casual ease. In this sense it is a true GT machine. It will deliver its rider to his destination in reasonable comfort, regardless of straight or meandering pavement, minutes and hours sooner than the other poor mortals on the road have come to expect from their own, lesser machines.

The trade-off here is the undying attention and devotion of men who drive squad cars, the pain of transfering $5495 from savings to checking (or worse, from the Friendly 18½ percent Loan Co. to the dealer) and the pleasant confusion of attracting a small crowd wherever you park the bike.

But for the person, or persons, who like to travel quickly with a particular flair and style the cost of a radar detector, the loss of mere dollars and the occasional explanation of the bike's virtues are all worthwhile penalties for enjoying the sweet road music of six cylinders.


this particular machine was taken in part exchange on 04/02/1991 with less than 20000 miles

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The prototype CBX test bike was released back in 1978 to combined murmurs of amazement and cries of protest. People who were already razzing the big Fours as being too tall, wide and heavy now rolled their eyes and clutched at their hearts in feigned or real fits of disbelief. "A 600 lb. 1047cc Six?" they said. "Who needs it?"

The answer of course, was that no one needed it. Not the CBX nor any other motorcycle with more than 15 bhp. The truth is, we could all get along just fine on castiron 250cc two-strokes with mudflaps, made behind the Iron Curtain.

No one needed the CBX..... Except people who like big fast, glamorous machines full of exotic tricks and lovely noises, powered by engines lifted off the blueprints of famous, successful racing bikes.

And the first CBX certainly was fast. It ran through the quarter mile in a tiresmoking 11.46 sec. at 117.95 mph and topped out at 134 in the half-mile dash, all of which made it the fastest bike around. There were problems, however. The prototype had been released, tested, photographed and lusted after but Honda was slow in getting the bike off the production lines. By the time the first production CBXs hit the showroom floors it was 1979. Late 1979.

By that time some other big bikes had arrived to play the numbers game. The production CBX was even quicker than the prototype, running an 11.36 sec. and 118.11 mph quarter mile. But its late introduction and relatively low exposure had a good part of its potential market going over to the Yamaha XS11, Suzuki GS1000 and Kawasaki KZ1000 Mk. II, all of which provided excellent - if slightly less spectacular - performance with simpler four-cylinder engines.

In 1980 Honda changed the CBX in two ways. They improved the chassis and dropped the horsepower. The frame got an improved swing arm with, ball and roller bearings, better rear shocks, air assisted front forks, improved steering geometry . . . in short, the handling it deserved. The engine was another story. Feeling the hot breath of Ms. Claybrook and her fellow low performance enthusiasts down its 103 bhp neck, Honda decided to detune the engine just a tad. More conservative cams and a revised ignition curve did the trick.

In the meantime the Suzuki GS1100 arrived with excellent handling, a four-cylinder engine, 105 claimed bhp, 11.39 sec. at 118.42 mph, 47 mpg and "only" 556 lb. of rolling mass. Suddenly the only reasons for owning a CBX - not to be discounted - were brand loyalty, aesthetic preference, and the mechanical glamour of The Six.

Which brings us to 1981, home of the Kawasaki GPz1100 and an even quicker new Suzuki GS1100. And the 1981 Honda CBX.

Why the change in character, the switch to touring garb this year? Several reasons. First, Honda has brought its CB900F, formerly available only in Europe, to the U.S. The 900F is the core of Honda's Superbike racing effort this year and the model most likely to succeed with the road race and twisty road crowd. No sense having the company competing against itself for sales. Second, Honda lost interest in continuing the horsepower battle with the big Six.

And third, the marketing people at Honda noticed an unexpected phenomenon last year. They found that a large number of 750F buyers had outfitted these sport machines with small fairings, low bars, and soft luggage and taken them touring. It was apparent that not everyone who went touring cared for the plush bulk or the conservative image of cruisers like the Gold Wing. Interest was growing in the fleet, unburdened approach to travel. So with that market growing, why not take the smooth, sophisticated flagship CBX and offer the fast touring set a sporting alternative? Why not indeed, they said, and did just that.

While the most noticeable changes for 1981 have been in the chassis and fiberglass departments, the engine has once more been reworked in subtle ways. Mid-range and rideability, rather than peak power, were pursued this year and the CBX got new cams with more lift, less duration and a little more mid-range at the expense of peak power.

In the interest of more level float bowls, smoother idle and better low-speed running characteristics the rubber carburetor insulators were unkinked to drop the six 28 mm Keihin CV carburetors to a more horizontal position. The 6-into-2 exhaust system now has a crossover tube just behind the collectors, the claim again being better torque and mid-range. To the same end, the ignition advancer has been redesigned as a two-stage unit which gives maximum advanize at 3000 rpm, rather than 2500.

Most other engine changes this year were done to keep it quieter and more rattle-free. The clutch hub, for instance, now uses coil springs to soak up the load, rather than the rubber plugs of yesteryear, as the rubber had a way of stretching and degenerating with age and heat. The primary driven sprocket on the jackshaft is no longer keyed firmly to its shaft, but floats on splines and has an oil-feed hole beneath the sprocket to cut down spline wear and noise. Honda has also changed the brand and design of its piston rings on the CBX, going with a double thickness of chrome plating on the upper compression ring, more taper angle on the second ring, and a thinner three-piece oil ring.

These minor changes, of course, are less exciting to contemplate than the sheer complexity and sophistication of the basically unchanged CBX engine. The first Honda Sixes, designed by Soichiro Irimajiri, were the highly successful 250 and 350cc GP bikes Honda used to dominate those classes in the mid-Sixties. When it was decided 10 years later to build a super road bike in the same tradition, both Irimajiri and a huge fund of six-cylinder technology were on hand for the job. The result was, and is, a true exotic among street engines.

The CBX engine, being an oversquare (64.5x53.4 mm) inline Six, is wide across its cylinder head, but relatively narrow at the crankcase. The crank runs on seven plain main bearings and has no real flywheel. Instead, the crankshaft counterweights and regular firing pulses are used to keep the engine spinning smoothly. The Six has three pairs of crankshaft throws, spaced 120° apart, so there is always one power stroke in progress. Width of the cases is kept to a minimum by running the alternator and ignition off a jackshaft behind the crank. The alternator, incidentally, is a very healthy one with a 350 watt output. So healthy, in fact, that the rotor would be hard pressed to keep up with the quick-revving Six, so a friction clutch is provided in the alternator drive to cushion the transitions.

Viewed from the front, the CBX engine spreads its mass upward in a V shape, which means cornering clearance can be as good or better than that of most Fours (and is) even though the cylinder head is a stunning 23.5 in. wide. The head is virtually identical in design to that on the 750F, with a couple more cylinders of course. It has four valves per cylinder, operated by a pair of two-piece camshafts and uses Honda's pentroof combustion chamber shape. Valve clearances are set by removeable shims above the valve buckets. The cams are turned by not one but two HyVo cam chains; one from the crank to the exhaust cam and the other stretching backward from the exhaust to the intake cam. This makes for less overall chain length, which makes tensioning and cam control more accurate.

The six 28mm CV carbs are angled inward for knee clearance beneath the tank, and as a result have unequal intake tract lengths. This inequality is compensated for by unequal length intake tubes in the air box. A single accelerator pump on the number three carb feeds the entire row. Ignition switching is transistorized, and the plugs are fired by three ignition coils, each responsible for two cylinders.

What all this means is a quick-revving woofy sort of engine that is a little reluctant to get off the line unless gunned and slipped at the throttle and clutch, and an engine that is less than awesome in raw torque much below 3000 rpm. Above 3000 it begins to pick up confidence and horsepower and from 4000 to redline it comes on with the nicest silken rush of power this side of a 727 recently cleared for takeoff. At any highway cruising speed, legal or il-, the Six is matched by few other bikes for pure smoothness. The closest comparison may be with Honda's own Gold Wing.

Unfortunately, the CBX also sounds a little too much like the Gold Wing. Out on the open highway the CBX puts out a combination of subdued whirring sounds that are remarkably Wing-like, and little in the way of exotic clamor reaches the rider. We know there are strict sound laws in this country, but hardly anything on earth sounds sweeter than a highly-tuned Six (except maybe a highly-tuned Twelve) when it is allowed to resonate and project just a bit. Would that the CBX's muted fury were not quite so muted. Perhaps if a richer tone could be sneaked in under the nose of the federal db meter ... Not louder, just richer.

Transmission ratios in the Honda's fivespeed box are unchanged from the 1980 CBX, as are primary and final drive ratios. Gear ratios are well spaced and riders can pick from a wide selection in the useable range of rpm depending on urgency, what with 57.4 mph available at redline in 1st gear. The engine purrs along at 4228 rpm at 60 mph in 5th gear. Final drive is via 530 O-ringed chain. Would touring riders mind a big roadburner without a shaft, we asked the Honda people. No, they said. Most people who think of themselves as sport riders still prefer chain drive; the touring popularity of the 750F has shown that.

Starting the CBX is easy, if you don't do much work. When the engine is cold the drill is to push the handlebar-mounted choke lever full on and punch the starter button without