Any motorcycle with six pistons is going to feel and sound pretty special, and while it wasn't the first six-cylinder bike (the 1974 Benelli Sei took that honor) or the biggest of the era (that accolade belongs to the Kawasaki Z1300), it was the 1979 CBX1000 that people remember. Just looking at it, it's not difficult to work out why - it had real presence on the street. Its wide bank of six cylinders with chrome downpipes combined with the skinny forks and rims meant you could be forgiven for thinking it was just an engine on wheels. It handled well for such a heavyweight and was the first bike to use radial tires and break the 100 HP threshold. While Honda went from drawing board to production line in record time thanks to its six-cylinder racing history, the CBX was never a massive seller due to high cost, complexity and something else that people spent their money on instead - Suzuki's GS1000.
Honda re-positioned the CBX from sportbike to sport tourer by adding a fairing, Pro-Link suspension and boosting mid-range power, but the CBX lost its brutal edge; it's the first generation that is the cult classic today. We have an idea of what it could look like if it was brought back.
Our CBX has the original 1047cc, 24 valves and double overhead cams, all cooled the old-fashioned way with alloy fins on the engine block. Of course, being the 21st century we'd expect to see fat FI throttle bodies squirting the go juice instead of the bank of six 28mm Keihins previously used. The CBX is still thirsty though - you'd be lucky to hit 30 mpg. With lighter internals and improved breathing we think a reliable 140 HP should be achievable. As before, we'd keep the motor as a stressed member - it'll keep that magnificently monstrous engine on display too.
Honda's recently unveiled CB1100R concept is our starting point for donor parts. We'll take the frame, swingarm, wheels, brakes and the rear suspension - we love the look of the heavy-duty piggyback Showa units, and we'll gladly ditch the stock 1979 35mm items and take the fully adjustable 43mm USD Showas from another big naked Honda - the 2009 CB1000R.
While the old bike's fuel tank held a respectable five-gallon capacity, ours will have to be bigger externally to match the chunk of the space underneath devoted to the airbox. Two scoops flank it either side and feed cool air into the airbox as well as the cylinder heads. The side panel is a modified original part and hides a bigger battery (always a weak point on the first bike) while the restyled ducktail tail unit now sports a grab rail. There's no fairing, but the headlight and gauges are raked to provide smoother airflow.