2017 Honda CB1100 EX: Smooth Ride From New Front Fork

We will have multiple articles on our 2017 Honda CB1100 EX test bike, but we wanted to provide a quick first impression on the new front end settings.

When Honda announced changes to the CB1100, it identified two new models, including the RS and EX. We were not sure the EX model, which is now in the U.S., would get the Showa Dual Bending Valve fork slated for the sportier RS. Fortunately for the U.S. market, this impressive new fork is included (albeit, with 41 mm fork tubes, rather than the 43 mm found on the RS in other markets).

Our first ride on the big, classic Honda underscored how much this fork, together with a revised lower triple clamp, improves front end suspension compliance and damping. It doesn’t hurt that the wheels are 18″ in diameter with steel spokes. Together, this package offers an extremely smooth, controlled performance, which works well with the twin Showa rear shocks.

Honda has a history of finding excellent compromise settings on non-adjustable forks (ride just about any older VFR, for instance), and the new suspension on the CB1100 EX is consistent with this. Only spring preload adjustment is available.

This kind of attention to detail (e.g., the lower triple clamp, which was redesigned and slightly re-positioned to improve front-end compliance) is found throughout the 2017 model. One ride on this bike reveals just how smooth and refined the whole package is.

Regardless of what you think about the CB1100, which trades a flat torque curve (with generous thrust from just above idle) for the arm-ripping top end found on other bikes, this is one impressive motorcycle that reflects Honda’s respect for its inline-four heritage. Much more to come.

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