Does Honda need a new retro motorcycle?

Honda CB110 Concept Type II retro cafe racer

Honda needs a decent retro version of its bland CB1100 cafe racer and the release of the sexy Concept CB Type II at the Osaka Motorcycle Show could be that bike.

The stunning solo-seat bike features fat gold forks, Ohlins shocks, 17-inch alloy wheels, reshaped bare aluminium tank, Brembo brakes, upswept Over exhaust, LED headlight, bar-end mirrors and acres of chrome.

It looks more like the revived Norton Commando than the previous bland UJM (Universal Japanese Motorcycle).

The concept is a marked improvement on the CB1100 which was an uninspiring, half-hearted attempt at a retro model.

The CB1100 was briefly available here before Honda Australia decided to withdraw it through a lack of customer interest.

Hopefully they will have a rethink on the new model when they realise how popular the BMW R nineT is and how quickly the new 900cc and 1200cc Bonnevilles sell.

But let’s hope they come up with a better name than CB Type II.

Honda really needs something as sexy as this bike because their current line-up – Africa Twin aside – is looking rather boring.

Honda CB110 Concept Type II retro cafe racer
Retro Pirellis on the CB Concept

One of the big winners from this modern-classic revival is Pirelli whose retro tread pattern is similar to the Phantoms of the 1980s. The tyre features on the CB concept and the new Bonneville range.

Ducati’s short-lived classic models of a few years ago was the first to use these classic Pirelli tyres.

Speaking of which, it’s a shame Ducati dropped their Sport Classic models just as the retro revival kicked off.

They now have the Scrambler, but it’s not a cafe racer like the Commando, R nineT or new 1200cc Thruxton.

8 Comments

    1. Hi “Cormanus”,
      Yes, I did love riding it – six years ago! Even then I said it needed a sixth gear and wire wheels.
      But now, by comparison with the R nineT, revamped Norton, Ducati Scrnmbler and new 1200 Thruxton R, it looks quite bland an uninspiring. Six years is hardly “suddenly”.
      Honda needs to lift their game and keep up with the competition.
      This concept could be just what they need.
      Cheers,
      Mark

  1. A Honda 4 UJM cafe racer? More like “Ugh!”. How can a heavy 1100 hope to impersonate a cafe racer? It can’t. It didn’t make sense then and it still does not make sense. And why would Honda want to remind us about the ill-handling 750’s which frame companies like Rickman made a tidy living from?
    If Honda really want to tap into nostalgia, how about reviving something like a CB1100RB or RC? That could spark my interest but I’m just an old fogey who can remember when a Suzuki Katana had radical styling.
    But it is nice that the makers want to offer bikes that do not look like demented “Transformers”.

    1. I think you have to cut the japanese a bit of slack with the 750 they at least got the
      engine right. The brits had been in the game a lot longer and in the end got nothing
      right. Most cafe racers out there are fine for skinny short arses, .But blokes six foot
      or over tend to look like they just escaped from the circus

  2. There is actually a lot to be said for the much maligned ujm
    Something you could commute on one day and throw a set of bags
    over and ride across the country the next, flat comfortable seats
    easy reach handlebars and foot pegs you could use to raise your
    bum for the worst of the potholes. Most cruisers turn you into a windsock
    and sportsbikes into pretzels and most tourers are covered in plastic
    and high tech gizmos. the ujm simply harks back to a day when
    motorcycles where viewed as an alternative form of transport.
    Not just something parked next to the 4wd for sunny weekend
    posing.

    1. Totally agree. Honda doesn’t need a “retro” bike for purely marketing purposes. But the market could definitely use more practical, utilitarian workhorses like the good ol’ UJMs. The last time Honda brought out the CB1100 in Australia, it was marketed as a “retro” bike targeting cashed up middle-aged weekend riders. It wasn’t meant to be utilitarian and was certainly not priced as such. It bombed.

      I have a CB400SF that I am perfectly happy to commute with. But I also wouldn’t mind if it had a bigger engine for a more relaxed ride on 110kph motorways. I wouldn’t be surprised if many CB400 owners feel the same way.

      I am currently mulling over the incredibly practical yet unbelievably unsexy NC750, but a more sensibly priced CB1100 would certainly cure that.

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