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All You Really Need: 1990 Honda CB-1 for Sale

No one is arguing that we don’t live in an era where “learner bikes” aren’t very sophisticated machines, but no matter how impressive the electronics found on modern small-displacement bikes may be, and no matter stone-axe reliable the mechanicals are, there’s something distinctly uninspiring about the weedy exhaust note of a single-cylinder KTM RC390. It’s a great motorcycle in pretty much every way, especially considering the affordable price-point, but it definitely doesn’t sound sexy. Something like this Honda CB-1 however, might appeal to both new and experienced motorcyclists, especially those a bit shorter in stature or riders who’ve realized the truth of the old axiom, “It’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast than it is to ride a fast bike slow.”

There’s no problem with a lack of sexy here, although that’s probably because the CB-1 wasn’t really designed as an entry-level motorcycle: the 399cc inline four that motivates the CB-1 was shared with the sportier CBR400 that never officially made it to the USA, although they do show up from time-to-time as grey market imports. As you would expect, this mini-sportbike powerplant is very sophisticated, and has four tiny cylinders, sixteen valves, and dual overhead cams operated by gears, instead of the expected timing chain. The little four made 55hp and could push the 400lb machine to a top speed of 118mph. The frame is a less-sophisticated tubular steel unit instead of the CBR’s aluminum beam frame, valves are bit smaller, and the CB-1 has a single-disc front brake set up, but it is otherwise very similar in terms of performance, except in top speed. Of course the CB-1 was geared a bit shorter and actually felt quicker in real-world riding than its sportier sibling.

This example appears to be very clean, although the gauges could use a little help. A trip to eBay should eventually turn something up, or fit something cool and modern from Acewell or Motogadget. The carb service mentioned by the seller is a nice bonus, as that could be a headache for a new rider, or even for an experienced wrench.

From the original eBay listing: 1990 Honda CB-1 for Sale

This is a fine specimen of a CB-1. It does not at all look its age. It’s not museum quality, there are a few minor blemishes, but it is very close to perfect. The bike was just serviced: the carburetors were cleaned & synched and new tires were mounted. It runs perfectly, all the lights work, etc. It needs nothing but a new owner to enjoy the ridiculously smooth high-reving beauty.

The seller is asking just $3,100 for this particular bike, a bargain considering the performance and sophistication found here. There are near cult-like levels of devotion surrounding the somewhat forgotten Honda CB-1 and it’s v-twin stablemate the Hawk GT, although that hasn’t translated into increased values, as these are still very affordable bikes and offer performance, rarity, and relatively easy maintenance. Although handling is limited by the budget suspension, bolt-on upgrades from the era’s CBR should sort that out easily and improve stopping as well with a second front brake disc and caliper. In an era of relatively simple and economical small-displacement machines, something like this offers up big-bike thrills in a very sophisticated, manageable package, with a low price tag, street cred, and good looks.

-tad

12 Comments

  • Honda start making bikes like this again.

    • Agreed!
      This was out in 1990 … along with other “ignore me now, desire me later” Honda models like the Hawk GT and the GB500. Unique, interesting, stylish motorcycles. Come on, Honda! Dare to chance again!

    • Along with the recent CB1000… Honda’s got a real track record of introducing bikes that were ahead of their time and sold poorly because of it.

  • I own one of these. There is something about the sound of the exhaust and engine rumble that make this a truly unique bike. Being a shorter rider, Tad is correct, it makes stoplights less nerving. Suspension upgrades are almost a must, as the rear really does sag. But overall a great little bike to own.

  • SOLD ! That was quick.
    Whereas the one in Bloomington, MN hasn’t sold in over a month. Not quite riding season up here though.

    • I too have seen that one for sale, why do you think it hasn’t sold? Seems like a deal and the weather here is getting warmer! I’m already out on my vfr

  • Someday good, unmolested ones will go for big buck$.

  • Takes me back. I loved mine but modded and crashed mine to death. The savagery of youth. If I acquired another suspension work would be appreciated. The front tire size did not leave great choices though. The rear size was equally tough in the day. With a resurgence of ~300cc machines these days, I think there may actually be better options now than there were back in the day.

  • Wow, a CB-1 like that was my first bike. Loved the engine and it’s high revving nature and sound. Suspension was extremely soft on these, however.

  • Hey Tad, Go to Cota and savor the Moto 3 bikes. You’ll change your tune after hearing their tune.

    • I hear you, and a single/twin with a nice pipe can sound great: I’m continually shocked at how nice an FZ07 can sound with just a slip-on. But dead stock, stuff like the RC390 sounds like you get it running with a pull-start.

  • Some lucky buyer is going to be very pleased with that purchase.

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