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OG Race rep: 1981 Honda CB1100RB

It’s hard to fathom exactly how far motorcycle design has come in the last 38 years without a concrete comparison. I could spill superlatives and adjectives for the next 600 words and still not touch it. Instead, please Google “Ducati Panigale V4R” and compare what comes up to the bike you see here. I’ll wait.

1981 Honda CB1100R for sale on eBay

With that out of the way, consider that these two machines are versions of the same thing, but separated by a generation. The 1981 Honda CB1100RB was, at its birth, the scariest thing your dentist could afford. With precious few concessions made to comfort or practical daily use, it was, as the Panigale is now, built for well-heeled enthusiasts to see how fast they could mess their leathers.

Even by today’s standards, the thing is pretty stout. The big, air-cooled four pushes out 115 horsepower — as much as a late ’90s Honda Civic — but weighs less than your fridge. On terrifying, narrow early-’80s rubber, there is absolutely no need for more. It will still out-handle, out-brake and out-accelerate your feeble mortal mind.

To earn its ‘R’ badge, the 1981 Honda CB1100RB eschewed a pillion seat, gathered a long list of lightened engine internals and bigger carbs, and got air-assisted forks and prodigious brakes. Modern reviewers still rave about how seamlessly the whole package works, and how eagerly the bike goes, stops, turns, and eats tires, chains, brakes and sprockets.

This example appears to be in excellent, clean condition, despite having close to 50,000 kilometers on the dial. The seller provides little detail, but says it runs as it should and retains its original exhaust.

From the eBay listing:

For sale

Honda CB1100R B type

very rare bike

very good condition, runs perfectly

Original exhaust

Recent service, New tyres and brakes

French registration

The asking price is a shade under $15,000, which is in keeping with similar models we have seen over the years. With fewer than 1,100 of these beasts produced, the price gets you a bike you will not see at Cars and Coffee or your local ride in.

18 Comments

  • I’d rather have this than anything Honda makes today. What a bike.

  • No kidding, I remember this thing and it was nuts.

  • Noh2oh, you are 100% correct. Not only would I not buy any current motorcycle, I would most certainly not buy any current Honda.

    I was a loyal Honda owner since my first motorcycle, an MB5, when I was 16-years old (went to high school by day, worked a job by night, and I paid for it, myself). As time went by, I watched as great bike, after great bike, either went to Europe, was in prototype and never materialized, or was put into production, as a miserably watered-down version of what was promised . The latter is what finally had me leave Honda. And, for the record, my last Honda purchase, off the showroom floor, was a 2001 CBR600F4i (still have it).

    I then discovered Ducati (2002 750 SS). It was a good relationship, right up until they changed direction and believed they could actually Out-Japanese, The Japanese. When I do buy another Duc, it will be an older model, from the used market. Kudos to you, Ducati!

    The motorcycle industry took its death-spiral when it started to make bikes for Women (just like the Auto Industry did, and the Aircraft Industry did, when Airbus unleashed the A320). Euro-Emission Standards, both in Form & Function, put the final nail in the proverbial coffin.

    Thank God for the Used Motorcycle Market (and the Used Auto and Aircraft Markets).

  • This same seller also has an 82 and 83 for sale on ebay.

  • You learn something new everyday. I’ve considered myself a hardcore enthusiast for over 25 years, roadraced for 10 and have ridden on the street throughout. However, this is the first I’ve seen or heard of one of these….Love it! So unlike a Japanese manufacture to make a bike for the street with a solo seat cowl like that, first thing that drew me in. Could it be considered to be the first full faired Japanese race replica?

  • Just to qualify my definition of a race replica, I’m thinking in terms of low clip ons, rearsets, the same type stuff that the GSXR made common place.

  • Auspuff, I hear your frustration, but it isn’t all Honda’s fault. Brand loyalty can set one up for disappointment somewhere down the road. Every maker has great bikes, new and old, and you’d be missing out if you hadn’t tried the lot. I’m older too, though, and for a lot of reasons like older bikes. But sometimes nostalgia ain’t what it used to be…
    As for your sexist comment about bikes for women, have you been to a WSBK race lately?

  • We’re these ever officially imported to the USA? Have never seen one here, on the road or for sale, at least not for sale with MPH speedo

  • Yeah, per normal practice the closest we got was the ’83 CB1100F. Maybe because Honda decided there wasn’t an endurance race series available to compete in. Superbike in “81 and “82 must not have been worthy enough to import.

  • Forgot, Superbike in “81 and “82 had a 1,000cc limit. But I think Kawasaki imported some 1,000cc ELR replicas on steroids to compete.

  • Alan, in defense of Auspuf’s “sexist” comment about building bikes (and cars, etc) for women, could he have meant that as soon as a bike, or car, or airplane is designed for a specific gender-based audience, it becomes something greatly different from the original?
    Just my 2¢. . .

  • Hi All,
    Just in case you are interested in a story before the RC30 was even a twinkle and HRC did not exist, the First True Homologation Honda Race Bike available to joe public.
    The Honda CB1100R was an exotic Honda model that was produced in limited numbers from 1981–1983. It was a sport bike based on the Honda CB900F. The R suffix denotes a racing version, however the CB1100R was a road-legal machine produced by Honda and offered for sale to the public. It was produced only in numbers sufficient to meet the homologation requirements for the R to be classed as a production motorcycle in markets into which it was sold. It was Honda’s first ‘homologation special’ and was raced in the production class racing in most major markets: including Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. It was not sold in the US.
    In 1981 the CB1100R won the New Zealand Castrol Six Hour ridden by Australian pair of Malcolm Campbell and Mick Cole. The CB1100R won the premier Australian production race in 1982, the Castrol Six Hour in the hands of future 1987 500cc GP World Champion Wayne Gardner and teammate Wayne Clark. Other CB1100Rs finished the race 2nd, 3rd and 4th, with 6 CB11000Rs finishing in the top 8 spots. The Australasian success of the CB1100R lead directly to the development of the Suzuki GSX1100SXZ Katana homologation racing specials.
    The model designations are CB1100RB (1981), CB1100RC (1982), and CB1100RD (1983). In 1981, 1050 units were sold, followed by 1500 per year in 1982 and 1983. The 1981 ‘RB’ was half faired with a solo seat only. The 82 and 83 models have different bodywork including a full fairing, aluminium fuel tank, and pillion seat covered with a removable seat cowl. The 82 (RC) and 83 (RD) were largely similar in appearance, yet with considerable differences in the full fairing and dashboard layout. None of the faring parts of any of the 3 models are interchangable wih one another! The RC fairing, fairing bracket and dashboard combo was only made for the RC and does not interchange in any way with the RD, which had a slightly shorter overall length. Other differences include the paint scheme, rear swing arm design and color and front fork design. In 1983 the Honda CB1100F was launched that essentially was a blend of the CB1100R and the CB900F, for a broader market. The 1981 CB1100RB had a claimed 115 hp (86 kW) @ 9000 rpm.

    4782 RC30’s between 1987-1990, 4050 CB1100R’s between 1981-1983 – who wants one?

  • “The motorcycle industry took its death-spiral when it started to make bikes for Women (just like the Auto Industry did, and the Aircraft Industry did, when Airbus unleashed the A320). Euro-Emission Standards, both in Form & Function, put the final nail in the proverbial coffin.”

    What are you talking about? A320 for women? How is it for women? What a ridiculous, sexist, statement. Maybe seek some therapy.

  • I think what he means is that the OEM’s have sanitised everything now to the point where nothing is interesting anymore, and I agree completely. This is why I run an ’85 GPZ900, not something modern.

  • One of these sold at Mecum for $6600. It did not have the front fairing and probably other mods. I’m not that familiar with these bikes, so not sure of the originality of the one sold at Mecum.
    https://www.mecum.com/lots/LV0119-347514/1981-honda-cb1100r/

  • Vince, what has that to do with an Airbus A320? And what a slur against women. It’s an unacceptably misogynistic comment and Auspuff sounds like he suffers from fragile masculinity. Not appropriate.

  • I run a 78 Moto Guzzi Le Mans (after getting rid of a 95 Fireblade) because I like old 70s style, but to say modern bikes, whose styling is not to my taste, are sanitised is an inaccurate and stupidly reactionary comment to make. What’s the modern Kawasaki H2R like, Aprilias, Ducatis (not modern Guzzis, they’re awful)? They are all monster bikes! Auspuff need a therapist.

  • Richard Cameron , appreciate your lovely exert on the CB1100R history . I know you appreciate that nostalgia as well as certain German model VF1000Rs 😉 And Auspuff you are an archaic outdated dinosaur with very out-dated and ass-backwards view of women . I am sure if you have a wife / girfjriend or daughter that they are none to proud of you . Getting women into the bikes has only enriched the sport , not damaged the industry ! Women rock !

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