1980 Honda CBX Road Test - page 3

Honda's major effort with the front fork has been twofold: provide a more supple fork action and greater adjustability. Honda has added teflon-type sleeve bushings to reduce the stiction in the fork and provide greater responsiveness. The air feature permits a greater range of adjustability for the individual owner. The standard recommended pressure is 10 psi, with a range that extends from seven to 13 psi. At seven psi, the stiction-free fork responds wonderfully to the slightest ripples on a boulevard cruise. We found that too soft for our riding. Eleven was our number; that was soft enough so the front wheel would soak up small irregularities, yet it was firm enough to keep the nose of the CBX from diving down under hard braking and using up the fork's travel. When the CBX is ridden briskly, the air fork with 11 psi tends to keep the motorcycle from pitching front-to-back on its suspension, and thus holds the steering geometry more constant upon entry and passage through a corner. Even at 11 psi and higher pressures, you can reach down and feel the sliders dancing over rough spots in an apparently smooth highway.

Outside of the fork and shocks, the only components that raised Cycle's collective eyebrow in February 1978 was the original CBX's swing arm and pivot-pin/bearing assembly. Any motorcycle gets updated as a matter of course, but in the case of the CBX there were few areas available to refine. One area selected for refinement was the swing arm and its method of attachment to the frame. The swing arm has slightly heavier gusset plates and a larger diameter tube surrounding the pivot bolt. The pivot-bolt diameter has been increased by two millimeters, to 16mm. This larger pin rides in needle bearings on the left (chain) side and tein angular-thrust ball bearings on the right. This arrangement replaces the oilless nylon bushings used last year.

There have been some minor changes in the CBX frame though no one ever accused the frame of being flimsy in the first place. According to Honda spokesmen, the swing-arm/pivot-pin/frame connection has looked more important to motorcycle journalists than to Honda engineers and their computers. The handling (and ride) improvements, they say, stem more from the selection of shocks, tires and rim sizes. Nevertheless, we welcome the new pivot-pin and bearings; if nothing else, the new system promises longer service life.

Rim-wise, nothing has changed up front; it remains a 2.15 x 19-incher. At the rear, a 2.50-inch rim has replaced the earlier 2.15-inch hoop. The result is a bit larger tire contact patch, a slightly broader print in cornering modes. Both ComStars carry V-rated Dunlop Gold Seal tires, which are engineered for sustained speeds of 130 mph. The front tire is a 3.50 V 19, and the rear a 4.50 V 18. Each is tubeless and uses rubber and steel valve stems. No rim locks are utilized, and no wheel casting leaks need be fretted over - the Honda rims are extruded aluminum: one piece, and joined in a single place by inert-gas welding.

Dual single-piston calipers clamp the front wheel's twin 5mm thick, 276mm-diameter stainless rotors, and a single-piston caliper and 7mm-wide, 296mm-diameter disc brake stop the rear. No rotor-runout pulsing is evident with this year's CBX.

Stemming from each fork tube is a one-piece, forged aluminum alloy I-beam clip-on handlebar, same as last year. The bars ($78 apiece) are stylish and well located for touring and fast mountain road work, although a lower set is available from Honda for an amazing $80.30 each. In fact, a "Grand Prix" Sports Kit including lower handlebars, shorter choke and clutch cables, a short front brake hose, and rear-set foot controls are available for about $180.00. Good sense would dictate purchasing the entire kit rather than just lower handlebars. In order to cover an immense engine, the CBX's steel fuel tank is wide, but it narrows at the rear for your legs. A "vacuum-operated" petcock with off, on and reserve positions has been added for rider convenience.

The six's tail section and unyielding 32-inch high saddle comprise one unit, and this year a tail-section storage compartment that locks includes a cable and air pressure gauge. The six-foot cable may be hitched to a fence or pole, then attached to the Honda's left-side frame-mounted helmet lock. To secure a helmet and the cable a small chain is provided that winds through the helmet's D-rings, then back to the lock. The CBX has no real storage area beyond that in the tail section, and this is pretty well taken up by the cable itself. Tools are located under the left side panel in a lockable tool box.

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