Honda CB1300 Review

Words: Marc Wendelborn Marc Wendelborn discovers the power of Honda's CB1300.

Honda CB1300 Review
Honda CB1300

The CB1300 is a whole lot of bike, with 1284ccs of intemperate air-fuel mixture gurgling with each stroke under the seat of your pants. Confirming the adage that there is no substitute for horsepower, or torque - the retro-styled chameleon leaves the rider with little doubt they're riding with more power than the average family sedan. Honda has been ever present in the burgeoning naked bike class with the Hornet and CB1000 models, and to the masses, the appealing nature of the brutish all-rounder has never been higher. Amicable performance, practical and stylish touches are what we want, and Honda aims to deliver with the CB1300.

The defining characteristic of the CB1300 is its smooth yet indomitable power delivery. The 1300cc liquid-cooled in-line-four engine produces 114hp, and a most impressive 117nm of torque that provides drive from anywhere in the rev range. But the low to mid rev range is where the CB excels, and the punch out of low speed corners in almost any gear has to be experienced to be believed. Because the CB has virtually no outward markings telling the world how many ponies it's packing, it's easy to imagine 600 sports bikes staring in amazement as the placid-looking CB obliterates them off the line.

Power comes in as low as 1500rpm and seems to taper off before reaching it's soaring red-line of 8500rpm. But, those who dare to reach this high are brave indeed and the engine seems impossible to harm. Roll on the power in top gear and the sudden sensation of your arms stretching will not be your imagination.

All of this is let loose into the atmosphere with a four into two into one stainless steel exhaust system. The CB has one of the most growling exhaust notes seen in the long history of Honda's exhausts, and at speeds over 50kph the bike is virtually silent to the rider. An aftermarket exhaust would deservedly do justice to the roaring CB engine. Honda's fuel injection means the CB's throttle response is smooth and accurate with no stuttering, snatching or gurgling and for all its strength, the CB's throttle is surprisingly user-friendly at all speeds, including walking-speed traffic.

The CB's tank holds 21 litres, including four litres reserve, and fuel consumption is mild. A combination of around town, open roading and a dollop of hoonery will last 250-280km before hitting reserve.

The 5-speed gearbox consists of a long first gear that will cruise comfortably at 40kph, while riding in top gear at 100kph will cruise at just under 4000rpm, giving a wealth of options at sensible speeds. Slipping into the next gear is a smooth and clunk-free experience and clutch-free change-ups are an option around 5000rpm. But the wide-ranging useable power of the CB1300 almost makes gear-changing an optional extra. Riders may well find themselves changing gears simply because after half an hour in the same gear, it just seems like the right thing to do.

Weighing in at a dry 224kg, the CB1300 isn't a lightweight contender, but its heavyweight status is hardly discernible once moving. The CB feels comfortingly solid in high cross-wind situations, and well-balanced in slow, dense traffic. But its solidity is countered with tyres that are skinnier than others in its class, making the CB surprisingly nimble and agile in a variety of situations. A short wheelbase, light steering and a good turning lock of 2.7m, help the CB to feel light and manoeuvrable.

To pull up this quarter-tonne of thundering motorcycle, the CB has effective twin 310mm wide-diameter discs with 4-piston callipers that provide impressive stopping force for a big bike. Under load, the brakes are not abrupt or grabby and the front lever provides good feel. Engine-braking also assists in scrubbing off speed before the next apex.

The only drawback is the slightly lethargic rear brake, a single 256mm disc that is not quite up to the standard found on the front. Suspension comes by way of 43mm unadjustable forks, while the rear is supported with twin-shock suspension that can be adjusted for preload and rebound damping. The standard suspension settings are an ideal compromise, offering a soft ride over all but the nastier bumps, and yet rigid enough to handle high speed cornering without agitation.

The ride is comfortable with ergonomic clocks, controls and a low 790mm seat height that is soft and cushioned. Two-up riding is a pleasure with a tasteful grab-rail and moulded pillion seat to avoid slippage.

But where the CB truly excels is in the practical touches. A spacious 12.4 litres of gear can fit under the seat and the offset handlebar risers can adjust the handlebars 20mm to give a customised riding position. The Honda Ignition Security System adds peace of mind while the horn is close to air-horn status.

But, the most cunning part of the CB is its on-board computer. Apart from the standard dual trip meter and coolant temperature, the readout displays clock, stopwatch, ambient air temperature, and a six-bar fuel gauge that flashes once the reserve is reached. It also features a daily accumulated mileage and countdown trip meter that can be used for distance to destination or servicing. A date-warning display, used for servicing, birthdays or court appearances completes an impressive package.