|GS1100 vs CBX - page 10|
The Suzuki was a bit easier to manage than the Honda in tight situations. The GS felt more nimble when making full-lock U-turns or while dodging through traffic. The CBX wasn't a handful, but the extra weight was noticeable.
Our day of intensified city riding concluded with a ride down Van Nuys Boulevard, L.A.'s prime profiling strip. Both bikes got a lot of attention. The GS1100 drew enthusiasts, who already knew it by reputation. But, even though the CBX has been around for two years, it usually drew the most attention. The uninitiated would look at the GS1100 and apparently see just another Japanese Four. On several occasions we pulled the GS1100 up at lights next to other riders, even riders of other big Suzukis, and got no reaction after they glanced at the bike. Nothing registered. But no one ever ignored or overlooked the CBX. The eye can't miss that huge engine with all those pipes and cylinders, and the CBX's quick-revving six-cylinder engine sounds unique. Even after two years, the Six still draws plenty of attention because of its unmistakable mechanical presence. Even uninitiated onlookers can't ignore that. The Suzuki relies on a budding performance reputation to turn heads, but that apparently doesn't work as well as mechanical pulchritude.
... And on the seventh day we put our heads together, compiled our notes, examined figures and started writing. Actually the riding and testing went on for about three weeks as we continued to monitor fuel consumption and reliability and double-check details of our findings. Surprisingly, no one felt any passionate desire to own either of these motorcycles. It wasn't that we were put off by any performance overkill, because all that power is very appealing to us. With a twist of the wrist, you can see an honest 130 mph. Or you can leave every stoplight in a cloud of rubber smoke. You want to wheelie? No problem. These superbikes can do all sorts of thrilling stuff without breathing hard and that's fun where we come from.
We weren't bothered by the complexity either, since many people look to technical trickery as much as sexy styling to make a statement about the bike. All those valves and cylinders would make an impression, even if they didn't do anything that simpler layouts couldn't do.
However, there's more to life than black streaks of burnt rubber and flashy ego-inflating rides. We were disappointed about the variety of niggling problems on the Suzuki and its vibration. Likewise the CBX's taut ride and not-so-taut handling were disappointments. We loved the CBX's engine, its feel and sound. We generally enjoyed the GS1100's handling and we were awed by the enormous power of this new beast from Hamamatsu. Still, we regretted that both bikes had drawbacks that you couldn't ignore.
If you must have one of these pavement-wrinklers, which one do you buy? Well, if straight-line tire-smoking performance is your only criteria, the GS1100 is your only choice. It is the fastest, meanest boulevard-burner ever. However, it you just want a superbike to turn heads, the CBX will probably do a better job with that big, wide, eye-grabbing engine and the prestige of six cylinders - and don't forget that Porsche-like sound. If touring is primary objective, there are a handful of better choices than either of these, although the GS1100 is more comfortable, torquey and economical than the CBX. The GS1100 has an edge-but not a big one-on winding roads.
Five staffers rode the bikes, and three voiced slight preference for the CBX. One chose the GS1100 and one was undecided. Neither bike fulfilled the requirements for our fantasy superbike, a bike which could fly at the dragstrip, glide on the interstates, cavort in the canyons and make eyeballs bulge on the boulevards - all with equal aplomb. We're still waiting for that perfect superbike .... the one that runs 11 seconds flat at 125 mph, that has a smooth, stylish engine in a comfortable, stable chassis, one that gets 55 mpg and ...