Buying used: Honda CBR1000F
Long before the CBR1000RR arrived, the CBR1000F represented Brand Red’s litre-bike aspirations. While the two may share the bulk of their respective model denominations, Honda’s current sporting flagship and its comfy sports tourer of yesteryear are chalk and cheese.
Launched in 1987, by today’s standards the bike is devoid of any aesthetically redeeming features. At the time some people thought it was unbelievably futuristic, others thought it had grown up in a forest of ugly trees.
It features a liquid-cooled, DOHC, 998cc, four-cylinder 16-valve engine, which makes a claimed 130hp or thereabouts. A balancer shaft keeps things smoothish below 5000rpm, making it very civilised until it gets a decent wind up its skirt.
The engine is housed in a steel perimeter chassis, while its suspension comprises 41mm air-assisted forks up front and a monoshock down the back
The year 1989 saw modifications made to the model’s cam chain tensioner, to try and stifle the dreaded rattling that occurred at disturbingly low kilometres, but really amounted to nothing more than an irritating noise. Apart from that, the forks became more sophisticated, wheel sizes grew to accommodate radial tyres and it got heavier.
More importantly the bodywork underwent a significant change, which immediately made it easier on the eye and lowered its seat height at the same time.
Honda’s Dual Combined Braking System appeared in late 1992, where the front brake lever operates the front calipers and also proportionally applies the rear brake, and the back brake pedal operates the rear caliper and one piston of each front brake caliper.
Much maligned at the time, DCBS has since evolved into a sophisticated and worthwhile piece of equipment.
From there onwards the changes were small but aimed at making the quality and appeal of the bike continue, which it did.
The CBR1000F is quite rightly an icon, and even now, 15 years after our photo model was produced, it represents a great used bike buy.
ON THE ROAD
The CBR is a big bike in the old style of long-and-stable; it’s a roomy ride that allows the more generously proportioned among us to enjoy the scenery rather than worry about how to relieve the pressure spots. It’s also pillion friendly, with a roomy perch, good legroom and decent grabrails.
Early models need some speed before the steering really lightens up, but thankfully once moving it steers fairly easily despite the weight of about 260kg wet.
The downturned clip-on bars are relatively comfortable, while the footrests are comparatively low – and therefore do little to aid cornering clearance.
The combination of a low seat (780mm), a semi sporty riding position, good fairing protection and a decent fuel range of well over 300km from the 21lt tank make the CBR very good at fast touring, although it gets significantly thirsty if you up the pace.
As if to recognise this fact, the reserve tap is big and easy to find, even in winter gloves, and the bike is covered in similar thoughtful details that are appreciated over time.
Lights are big and bright, and while the dash is very dated now, it’s neat and typically Honda. It even has a centrestand – considered a real bonus in new bikes these days.
Below 5000rpm the engine is as close to a magic carpet as it’s possible to get. It pulls from nowhere with a purring silkiness that is as muscular as it is friendly, and although the bottom end power isn’t exceptional, it’s certainly enough.
Our photo bike, blagged from our mates at A1 Motorcycles in Ringwood, sported a full and very period four-into-one Tingate system, and it has to be said it felt as fast and strong today as the model did new.
There’s plenty of muscular midrange that builds in a nice, dependable way, but once the tacho needle hits seven thousand, the engine boosts forward all the way to the 10,500rpm redline and an indicated 250km/h. So I’m told. Make no mistake, the CBR Thou’ is still a fast motorcycle.
Handling in the twisty stuff is resolute and needs some shoulder work, although it takes a fair bump to disturb the otherwise plush suspension.
Things may scrape, but the bike is enormously forgiving and is capable of being ridden well by riders of all abilities. In the event that things do get out of hand, the twin 296mm discs gripped by four-piston calipers (or three-piston in later models) still provide exceptional stopping power.
The DCBS may take some adjustment, but it works and works well.
IN THE WORKSHOP
Sevicing costs are quite reasonable, as really the CBR is pretty simple, with valve clearances being made by a screw adjuster. A basic service is recommended every 6000km with a valve clearance check at every 12,000km.
The cost for the service comes in at approximately $190 for the minor and about $280 for a major, if no adjustments need to be made.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The CBR1000F is a very reliable motorcycle with virtually no known recurring problems. Bikes with more than 60,000km on the clock can get rattly cam and alternator chains, but it’s a relatively easy and affordable fix.
If the rest of the bike is beaut, just strike a bargain based on a mechanic having a listen.
While on the subject of cam chains, some owners report that the carbs go out of balance quite quickly, which accentuates cam chain clatter at idle.
Balancing the carbs helps here, but setting them up perfectly can be hampered if the carbs themselves are worn.
Watch for the gear linkage getting gummed and stiff, likewise the brake pistons – a quick clean should rectify both.
When buying, if it sounds okay then it probably is. There are stories of igniter boxes playing up but I don’t personally know of a single case. Spend your time checking out the things that wear, such as bushes and bearings, and then the consumables, that together can add a surprising amount to the purchase price if you have to replace them.
Because of its size and weight, chains, sprockets and tyres can get a hard time if the rider is aggressive with the throttle.
However, because the CBR tends to be the choice of more mature riders, it’s not unusual to find that the bike will come with all manner of ‘sensible’ extras, like racks, panniers, chain oilers etc, which can help offset the cost.
Look for accident damage. The CBR has clever little fairing protectors built into the side of the fairing, which are very effective at preserving the panels in the event of a drop, but they do nothing for the mufflers. They are also fairly cheap to replace should they get marked.
Other indicators of damage may be found around the fairing mounting holes. Look for crazing in the plastic, which shows that the plastic has been stressed at some time.
If nothing else it may give a clue to the type of Neanderthal that may have been entrusted with the servicing at some stage.
Naturally the suspension will be way past its best unless someone has spent money on it, and so will the brakes. So make sure you check the fork seals and disc thickness. Once again though, neither should put you off, just adjust the price accordingly.
In my opinion the advent of the linked braking system in 1992 puts anything before that out of the equation. The year 1993 saw different carbies thrown on to give better throttle response, plus a restyle that endured to the demise of the model in 2000.
In terms of what would be the best, there’s not a lot to choose from between them; your decision can safely be made according to price, condition and what extras are likely to be thrown in.
For mine the later models got better looking; I liked the colour schemes and they looked classier than the VFR.
A set of 36lt panniers from Givi or the 30lt units from Honda’s own catalogue are very handy for serious touring.
After that a pair of Staintune mufflers, which are lovely to look at and produce a really beautiful, mellow note.
Heated grips for year-round riding would also be a worthy addition if you live down south – then just a freshen-up of both brakes and suspension, some higher, flatter handlebars and you can leave well alone.
The CBR1000F is classy, refined and a truly great bike, and it represents everything for which Honda is renowned.
The fact that it is considered bland may in fact be its finest attribute, after all – not everyone needs to make statements about themselves or their choice of mount.
As a used buy for a person who wants to ride for the sake of the ride, it’s still one of the most relevant and practical bikes in the marketplace.
Type: DOHC, four-stroke, 16-valve, liquid-cooled, in-line four-cylinder
Bore and stroke: 77 x 53.6mm
Fuel system: 4 x 38mm CV carburettors
Type: Six-speed, constant mesh
Final drive: Chain
CHASSIS AND RUNNING GEAR
Chassis: Steel box-section beam frame
Front suspension: 41mm telescopic forks, non-adjustable
Rear suspension: Monoshock, adjustable for preload and rebound
Front brake: Twin 296mm discs with DCBS three-piston Nissin calipers
Rear brake: Single 256mm disc with DCBS three-piston Nissin caliper
DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES
Seat height: 780mm
Dry weight: 235kg
Fuel capacity: 21lt
Max power: 130hp at 8600rpm
Max torque: 8.3kg-m at 6500rpm
1987 – $4300
1990 – $5800
1992 – $6400
1995 – $7800
1998 – $9100
2000 – $10,000
1995 Honda CBR1000FS
Quote: $340 (12 months)
Standard excess: $400
Sum insured: Market value
Comprehensive insurance: Western QBE private use insurance premiums allowing for a 30-year-old rider with 60% No Claim Bonus (Rating 1), cover restricted to policy holder only, travelling less than 8000km a year and living in Melbourne. GST and stamp duty are included.
Other options are available.
(Quotes current as at Sept 2011)