1980 Honda CBX Road Test - page 5

Hustling through a series of tight left/right/left/right corners with the ease of a 350 is beyond the CBX. When threading through esses, the Honda requires a firm pull on its outboard handlebar to change direction; some strength is needed to persuade the CBX through corners quickly.

Discretion at the throttle is necessary. The Dunlop rear tire, sufficient for much spirited cornering, provides no insurance policy for some fool who wants to snap the power full-on in the middle of a corner. You're dealing with so much power that a stupid throttle hand could turn you upside down. The password for fast and expeditious cornering is control; think ahead.

Those who really think comfort will find the CBX has some real advantages. The engine is extremely smooth. At 1000 miles, our test bike exhibited no unpleasant vibrations. Mid-range torque is good, allowing the Honda to be ridden with little shifting for passes or turns. And the CBX won't cramp you, your passenger or your luggage.

Surprisingly, the Super Sport wouldn't be out of place with a fairing and saddlebags - except for the bike's comfort shortcomings. Its seat is extremely hard - good only for those used to road racer saddles or who have bottoms accustomed to motocross-bike padding. By comparison, the sporty Honda CB750F's seat is a veritable king's nest. Our CBX's average fuel mileage was poor, unless we absolutely pampered the throttle. And engine heat can become uncomfortable on hot days or long, slow rides.

In 1980 form, like 1979, the CBX is dazzling; it's still a marvel of engineering. The 1980 Super Sport is neither as quick nor as fast as its forerunner, so if you want the quickest production street bike to date, go find a 1979 CBX. However, the 1980 model is inarguably a more complete motorcycle. It has greater suspension adjustability; it offers increased rider comfort; it has a more even power delivery with no lean spot glitches; and the new Super Sport with its updated suspension is more fun to ride on winding roads and more fun to be around for a long time.

The CBX remains an awesome motorcycle. As applied to this six-cylinder, 606-pound, 24-valve piece of hardware, some will understand awesome to mean appalling. There are those who are affronted by the CBX's complexity, its mass, its kingly consumption of natural resources - from aluminum to fossil fuel. Looking at things from another direction there are those who will be appalled that the 1980 CBX has been tuned-down at all in the engine department.

We continue to think of the CBX as awesome in another sense of that word; the six-cylinder Honda gives cause for solemn and profound wonderment simply because it functions so well in so many ways as a sports roadster. Total function encompasses far more than engine performance, and while we're disappointed that our test unit didn't run in the elevens at the drag strip and make over 80 horsepower on Webco's dyno, in no absolute way can you call a low 12-second bike slow. Even if the new CBX had run harder than its predecessor at the strip, that alone would not have made it a better motorcycle because quicker and faster are not necessarily always better. Other things make the new CBX superior: it is a more finished, more refined, more complete motorcycle than Honda's first production six-cylinder. And when you've said that, you've said a lot, because the first CBX was no mean feat itself.

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