Happy birthday, pandemic! It’s been a long, strange year since the COVID-19 pandemic started spreading like wildfire and the world went into lockdown. With vaccinations rolling out, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. But this time last year? Not so much.
Days before the initial lockdown in California, Honda had delivered a couple of new motorcycles to us. One was a Monkey in a new color, Pearl Glittering Blue. My original plans for it were nebulous at best. Honestly, I just loved the color, and I figured the story would come to me when it was ready. As it turned out, I was right, in an unexpected way.
The streets in my neighborhood were eerily empty. Shops and restaurants were closed, so there was nowhere to go even if you wanted to. Even the beach was off-limits. There wasn’t a lot of smiling going on, as we all tried to find our footing in this suddenly off-balance world. When I looked at the Monkey it brought back fond memories of the press launch event, held what felt like a millennium ago on Catalina Island. Wherever we rode, people mirrored our smiles. The cute little Monkey bike is impossible to frown at.
“That’s what we really need now,” I remember thinking one day last April. “A reason to smile.”
So I grabbed my open-face helmet and headed out for a ride. You’ll never ride far on a Monkey, but around town, topping out around 35 or 40, it’s the bees’ knees. I stuck to residential streets, many of them with people in the front yard, grilling or gardening. Mothers walked with kids in tow. No one was smiling. And there I was, putt-putting by on a miniature motorcycle with 12-inch balloon tires, ponytail giving a 25-mph wave, enjoying the rare sensation of the breeze on my face and grinning the grin that the little Honda Monkey provokes. And people smiled back.
COVID-19 might be contagious, but so is happiness.
Small businesses everywhere were struggling, including the karate dojo where I trained three times a week B.C. (Before COVID). Like many others, the Sensei (head instructor) was scrambling to adapt to the “new normal,” transitioning to online Zoom classes even as he lost students to their own economic struggles. We wanted to show our support for him and for the dojo, so we organized another new normal activity: the drive-by party. Minivans and pickups filled with kids in their white karate uniforms lined up for the parade, festooned with signs that read, “We love you Sensei Shawn.”
When I rode up to join the line, wearing my white karate gi and my blue belt matching the Monkey’s paint perfectly, it was decided that I’d lead the parade. It’s Monkey magic.
We motorcyclists are often seen as part of some dangerous societal fringe, but I like to remind the Average Jane or Joe that we’re just like them. We ride because it brings joy to our hearts and cleanses the mind and soul. It’s exactly what we needed in those early days of the lockdown, and what we will continue to need in the days ahead. The little Honda Monkey, as it turns out, tells that story very well. In the face of despair and darkness, it induces smiles and connection. It’s a super-spreader of happiness.
Honda, Yamaha, KTM, and Piaggio have all signed a letter of intent to stage a swappable electric battery consortium for EV motorcycles and lighter EV’s.
Together, they will collaborate on batteries that can be swapped amongst each of their EV lineups. This will make it possible to use a universal battery across all models. This initiative will take some time before coming to the streets however the letter of intent is a huge step in the right direction.
From the press release: ‘The aim of the Consortium will, therefore, be to define the standardized technical specifications of the swappable battery system for vehicles belonging to the L-category; mopeds, motorcycles, tricycles and quadricycles. By working closely with interested stakeholders and national, European and international standardization bodies, the founding members of the Consortium will be involved in the creation of international technical standards.’
Honda Managing Officer of Motorcycle Operations Noriake Abe said:
“The worldwide electrification effort to reduce CO2 on a global scale is accelerating, especially in Europe. For the widespread adoption of electric motorcycles, problems such as travel distance and charging times need to be addressed, and swappable batteries are a promising solution. Considering customer convenience, standardization of swappable batteries and wide adoption of battery systems is vital, which is why the four-member manufacturers agreed to form the Consortium. Honda views improving the customers’ usage environment as an area to explore cooperation with other manufacturers while bringing better products and services to customers through competition. Honda will work hard on both fronts to be the ‘chosen’ manufacturer for customer mobility.”
Activity on the new consortium will begin in May 2021, while invitations have been extended to other manufactures to join in on the initiative. Once this initiative is live and available to the consumer, it will mean huge benefits for all EV owners. It will mean less time charging and more time traveling – since you will be able to simply swap your battery and go. This concept isn’t anything new but with major players in manufacturing stepping up means it will be a matter of time before it becomes reality.
Ever thought to yourself “wow, this motorcycle is fast. I should put a turbocharger on it”? Well, if you are as crazy as myself, you should be pleasantly surprised that Honda already took that liberty for you when they built the turbocharged CX500 Turbo back in the ’80s.
This CX500 Turbo is currently up for auction on bringatrailer.com with 3 days left in auction and bidding sitting at $6,000. The bike is located in California and has a clean Cali title in the seller’s name as well as 10,000 miles on the odometer.
Let’s start with the major selling point of this motorcycle: the engine and turbocharger. This bike is propelled by a 497cc V-twin syle engine backed up by 19 psi of turbo-spooling greatness. The bike produced a comfortable 82 horsepower when new, but the way the powerband provided said power was nothing like you have ever experienced due to the turbo-lag and boost. The engine is fuel injected and there are four valves per cylinder for a total of 8. The turbocharged engine is mated to a five-speed transmission with a fully enclosed driveshaft.
This bike has seen its fair share of touch-ups and maintenance in the 10,000-mile lifespan it has endured. The motorcycle had paint applied to the left side of the frame, side stand, and center stand after a battery leak. You can see the corrosion continue to the pegs, headers, turbo, and wheels.
As mentioned previously, this bike’s bidding currently sits at $6,000 with three days left in the auction located here. If you’re interested in owning a turbocharged piece of motorcycle history, this may be the bike for you.
Honda released a CB350 H’ness (Highness) in India not long ago. Almost as soon as it was revealed people began discussing scrambler and cafe racer versions of the motorcycle.
The H’ness was envisioned as a challenger to Royal Enfield’s Classic 350, and in order to do that, it does indeed look like Honda will craft some other versions of this bike. According to GaadiWaadi, Honda has plans to introduce a new cafe racer model in India.
An unnamed source told the publication the motorcycle is currently in the works, and will likely come out sooner than many people expect. That’ means it will likely hit the market sometime in 2021.
I’d expect it to have the same 348cc single-cylinder air-cooled engine but sport some minor updates and feature a slightly higher price tag than the standard CB350 H’ness.
At the moment, the new CB350 is an India-only model, but I would love to see this come to other markets, and I think the bike could be a hit in Australia and in North America. If it goes anywhere after India, though, I bet Honda will release it in the UK, and then expand from there.
Concept motorcycles and mock-ups are the life-force that keeps motorcycle enthusiasts tied-over between big releases. If you are suffering from dream withdrawal and are looking for a fix, Honda cooked up this vintage-inspired CB1000F just for you.
This aged roadster concept was based on honda’s current CB1000R naked sportbike with your favorite parts from historic motorcycles tied into a modern-day chassis and form factor. There is no way to tell if this concept bike is ever going to see production, but according to MCN, rumors from japan compounded with the original unveiling of the CB-F Concept last spring could suggest otherwise.
The current CB1000R already a beautiful looking motorcycle, but this F edition takes the best features from the R – such as the single-sided swingarm and light-weight modern rims – and packages it along with Honda’s dangerously smooth 998cc DOHC inline-four to create this pre-modern masterpiece. It’s safe to assume that if this motorcycle came to production, the engine would be slightly detuned much like Kawasaki’s Z900RS.
The same steel spine frame and aluminum swingarm will come right from the CB1000R along with the forks and brakes; so you know this motorcycle will ride its way into a much higher category of performance than what it’s appearance may initially lead you to believe.
The body features a very vintage seat and tank, along with the graphics and headlamp looking they were ripped straight off an 80’s CB. Personally, the CBX1050 is my favorite motorcycle of all time, and I think this bike is a beautiful throwback to honda’s golden age of industry domination.
Let’s see if Honda can turn this dream into a reality.
Honda has filed a patent with the US Patent Office regarding the possible development and production of a brain-machine-interface that allows your brain to completely control the motorcycle.
The patent images are pretty comical actually. They depict a motorcycle rider using his mind to pop a wheelie on what looks like a CBR600RR. In the next photo, he’s doing a full front-brake stoppie.
It’s up to Honda and how they want to develop this hardware/software, but It’s safe to assume that this new BMI (brain-machine-interface) will link you up with the sensors and assists already on the motorcycle to hopefully prevent crashes and have the motorcycle perform more like you hope it would, without the failure of user inputs.
“The control circuitry may determine control information indicative of an intention of the user to perform a specific task using one or more components of the vehicle. The specific task may correspond to one of a vehicle acrobatic maneuver, a vehicle driving maneuver, or a hands-free control of the user assistive device inside the vehicle. Examples of the specific task may include, but are not limited to, a wheelie, a stoppie, a hyper spin, a switchback, a burnout, a left turning maneuver, a right turning maneuver, a braking maneuver, a reversing maneuver, an accelerating maneuver, a decelerating maneuver, a parking maneuver, a traffic circling maneuver, a stopping maneuver, or an overtaking maneuver.”
Nostalgia is a powerful thing and the folks at Honda know it. With the kind of rich history that Big Red has, we can hardly blame it for periodically plucking an iconic model from Honda’s extensive backlog, tarting it up with all of the modern technological fixings and using it to tug our heartstrings. And my, oh my, does the 2021 Honda Trail 125 ABS give those yarns a yank with its $3,899 MSRP.
Dating back to the early 1960s, these lovable motorcycles initially became popular with outdoorsmen, much lauded for their user-friendly semiautomatic transmission and centrifugal clutch combo, as well as their off-road capability. What also helped propel these bikes into the limelight was their affordability, and many CT/Trail saw duty as faithful grocery-getters strapped to the back of RVs, or as stout compatriots on the farm and ranch. They were everywhere and many still are.
During its nearly three-decade tenure, the CT/Trail series saw several revisions and sold more than 725,000 units in the U.S. before being discontinued in 1986. Globally, the CT/Trail lived on in many other markets, further solidifying its grand legacy. Mention the CT/Trail to anyone hailing from New Zealand or Australia and they’ll recognize it as the “Postie Bike” of their neighborhood postal carrier.
More than 30 years later, the Honda Trail 125 has come home to the States. What better way to welcome it back than with a collapsible fishing kit strapped to the rack and Lake Cuyamaca in our sights, tackling the fire roads and mountain twisties surrounding Julian, California.
Just like its forefathers, the 2021 Honda Trail 125 proudly carries on the tradition of being a quaint and understated dual-sport machine. The steel backbone frame, upright handlebar, square turn signals, upswept exhaust, high-mount snorkel and luggage rack have all been transported into the 21st century, and so, too, has the go-getter spirit of the original CT. It’s a charmer, having the same adorable qualities seen in a variety of fluffy creatures. Sadly, the spare fuel canister didn’t make the cut, while it does one-up its ancestors with an accessory charger, fuel injection, disc brakes and LED lighting.
Part of the rambunctious “miniMoto” lineup, which also includes the popular Honda Grom and Monkey, the 2021 Honda Trail 125 is an offshoot of the Honda Super Cub C125, sharing its frame and engine. However, there are several crucial updates to suit the Trail’s off-road proclivities.
Toss a leg over the reshaped 31.5-inch seat, grab onto the upswept handlebar and let those sentimental feelings percolate. A comfy upright seating position awaits and my 32-inch inseam can get boots on the deck confidently. The vintage-styled LCD display needs to be a little brighter and when standing, the heel-toe shifter will cause you to go a bit pigeon toed. Luckily, the foot controls don’t feel clumsy when seated.
The Trail’s frame and swingarm are reinforced in critical areas like the head tube and suspension mounts. To increase stability, the wheelbase has been lengthened by 0.5 inches to 49.4 inches. Front suspension travel grew to 4.3 inches, 0.4 more than the Cub, and ground clearance is hoisted to 6.5 inches. The cast alloy rims were ditched in lieu of wire-spoke 17-inch wheels and IRC GP-5 dual-sport rubber with inner tubes. Lastly, fuel capacity is upped 0.4 gallons to 1.4-gallons total — it’s a fuel sipper, too.
To say that riding the Trail 125 is “easy” simply doesn’t do it justice — M class license tests don’t stand a chance against it. Powering the Trail is a 125cc single-cylinder engine equipped with a 4-speed semiautomatic transmission and centrifugal clutch. Fire it up with the electric or kickstarter, give the heel-toe shifter a tap into gear, twist the grip and let the big dog eat! Arooo! Power delivery is as welcoming as can be and it has enough pep to playfully zip around in traffic. I managed to achieve a blazing 55 mph, as indicated on the basic LCD instrument panel. Land speed record setter it is not, but it is a silly amount of fun and with modern fuel injection, it wasn’t wheezing at 4,000-plus feet while exploring the Cuyamaca Mountains.
The rear sprocket gets an additional three teeth for a little extra oomph in the dirt and the fuel tuning is optimized for low and mid-range power. Also, the upswept pipes and high-mount intake will allow a modest water crossing.
Where the twist-and-go philosophy pays off is on the trail. With no clutch to feather, stalling in tricky sections is impossible and all one needs to do is manage the throttle, which reinforces the ease-of-use ethos that Honda injects into many of its models. However, there is a downside — downshifting without rev matching results in a jarring ca-chunk, since you cannot slip the clutch manually. A properly timed blip of the throttle circumvents the issue. Also, the auto-clutch can struggle when starting out on steep inclines, something that the dual-range transmission of the original Trail probably wouldn’t have been fazed by.
The Trail’s beefed-up chassis and non-adjustable suspension perform admirably on the street. Adequately sprung and damped suspenders keep everything balanced well. It’s light, agile and incredibly easy to maneuver, with a wet weight of 258 pounds. That gives the bike a load capacity of 264 pounds against its 522-pound GVWR. Neither a passenger seat nor footpegs are available, so don’t plan on carrying a co-pilot unless it’s furry and fits in a milk crate on the giant luggage rack.
Off-road, it’s a similar tale, as long as you respect the CT’s limits. Attempt the same amount of hang-time you would on a dual-sport and you’ll quickly bottom the suspension out, although it doesn’t become squirrely. The Trail 125’s suspension and 17-inch wire-spoke wheels gobble up obstacles respectably well and it won’t deflect erratically in rocky terrain.
Compared to a traditional ADV or dual-sport motorcycle, the Trail has an advantage due to its simplicity and low center of gravity, making quick recoveries a snap. This is as unpretentious as it gets, so, sit down, relax and amble along to your campsite or watering hole.
A single caliper and 220mm hydraulic disc, featuring non-switchable ABS in the front, handle braking duties. There is plenty of stopping power and it has a soft initial bite. In the rear, a single caliper and a 190mm disc without ABS offer decent feel and unmitigated fun while in the dirt.
As a successor, the 2021 Honda Trail 125 does right by its ancestors, providing the same fun, casual riding experience that the original CT/Trail built its famed reputation on. It isn’t quirk free, namely in respect to the awkward foot controls, but in every other way, the Trail 125 impressed me with its can-do attitude. At long last, Honda’s prodigal son has returned and the loveable scamp is still making us smile.
Honda has announced the latest addition to its Rebel family, the 2021 Honda Rebel 1100. Available in manual transmission and DCT versions, the Rebel 1100 now takes the title as the biggest Rebel in Honda’s longstanding cruiser lineup. In fact, it’s the largest displacement Rebel that’s ever been produced. The Rebel 1100’s aggressive price-point is even more exciting — $9,299 for the manual transmission version and $9,999 for the DCT variant.
Powering the Rebel 1100 is a retuned version of the 1,084cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine found in Honda’s recently updated Africa Twin platform. Complete with a 270-degree crankshaft design, the 1084cc engine is expected to provide ample low-end torque and tractable power delivery, suitable for this cruiser application.
Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmission, which is available as an option on other models such as the Gold Wing and Africa Twin, enables computer-controlled automatic shifting. However, riders can still retain control of shifting by using the “manual” transmission mode and perform gearshifts via handlebar-mounted switches. The conventional transmission Rebel 1100 is equipped with a slip and assist clutch.
A full suite of electronic aids is standard on the 2021 Honda Rebel 1100, including four selectable riding modes: Standard, Sport, Rain and a customizable mode. Each mode alters the throttle map and power delivery. Four-level Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) is also featured, which incorporates traction control, wheelie control, engine braking and DCT settings. Cruise control is standard.
The Rebel 1100 uses fairly typical cruiser chassis geometry with a lengthy 59.8-inch wheelbase, 28-degree rake and 4.3 inches of trail. Notably, the seat height is a low 27.5 inches, carrying on the Rebel line’s tradition of accessibility for riders of varying sizes. The maximum lean angle is cited as 35 degrees. The claimed wet weight is 487 pounds for the non-DCT version and 509 pounds when equipped.
Handling suspension duties is a conventional 43mm fork equipped with cartridge damping and 4.8 inches of travel, along with twin Showa shocks featuring piggyback reservoirs and 3.7 inches of travel. The fork also uses a titanium oxide finish for a blacked-out appearance.
A single radially mounted monobloc 4-piston caliper and 330mm disc take care of braking in the front. In the rear, a single-piston and 256mm disc rounds out the braking components. ABS is standard.
Honda is also offering a plethora of accessories, ranging from simple cosmetic customization options to more focused touring components.
Stylistically, the Rebel 1100 takes essential cues from the cruiser world with steel front and rear fenders, as well as a seamless 3.6-gallon fuel tank. Modern touches come in the form of LED lighting all-around and an LCD instrument panel, which displays a speedometer, tachometer, gear-position indicator, fuel gauge, riding modes and more. Two color choices are available, Metallic Black and Bordeaux Red Metallic.
The 2021 Honda Rebel 1100 is scheduled to be available in dealers in January 2021. MSRP is set at $9,999 for the DCT model and $9,299 for the manual-transmission option.
I just covered Honda’s official unveiling of the 2021 Rebel 1100 (CMX1100) that took the legendary engine found in the Africa Twin and brought it to a cruiser style motorcycle. Rumour has it that this engine could also be finding its way to a touring style motorcycle, hinting to a possible CB11000X.
AutoBy.jp, a Japanese motorcycle outlet, wrote that it is rumored that this twin-touring dream may soon become a reality. They state that the rumor originates from Europe, but there’s no way to confirm this to be true.
The site’s resident designers quickly put their heads together to draft up what a CB1100X would potentially look like, and they ended up making the design essentially from scratch. Although there are a few bits and pieces borrowed from the CRF line up as well as the NC750X, everything else looks fresh – just as Honda would do it.
Could honda’s 1084cc parallel twin become their new breadwinning engine? With award-winning reliability paired with a dependable powerband, it would come as no surprise if this specific engine managed to find its way into a few new Honda models along the line now that the Rebel 1100 has been confirmed and in production.
The source that the Japanese news site sourced their rumor from, stated that the CB1100X could potentially become a reality at some point in 2022. I have my doubts – we all know how motorcycle rumors go – but again, with the Rebel 1100 becoming a reality I don’t see why Honda wouldn’t take this engine and integrate it into other bikes now that it’s no longer model specific.
Royal Enfield recently released their vintage-styled Meteor 350, and it was a resounding success. With the Indian market being a coveted area for brands to fight over due to the wickedly-high amount of low displacement motorcycle sales found there, it was only a matter of time for Honda to chime in and seek victory over Asia.
The Honda H’ness CB350 may very well be their answer. Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India launched the CB350 around a month ago, and the company is already recording amazing sales. The company managed to sell 1000 units in 20 days after the motorcycle launched into the Indian market. The initial splash that a motorcycle has can’t always be indicative of how successful the model will be over a full lifetime, but for now, the executives over at HMSI have something to celebrate over.
With the bike finally being released to the open public, it will only be a matter of time for the H’ness CB350 and the Meteor 350 to be put head-to-head in the reviewing gauntlet, which can dramatically affect the future sales between the two bikes. The current sale streak for the CB350 could very well be directly related to being launched around the time of Diwali (lots of holiday shopping) and a hefty dose of dealer incentives; but regardless, 1000 bikes in 20 days is a feat nonetheless.
It will be interesting to see how this bike fairs against Royal Enfirends Indian market domination with the Meteor, and I’m looking forwards to sharing some review videos between the bikes as they come out in the near future.