Honda CBR1100XX Blackbird Rear End | Our Bikes
Here’s a thought for you good folk who are about to take to your motorcycle with something sharp: don’t. Or, if you do, and you’re about to hack away at something that might have some long-term value, think through what you’re trying to achieve. Because, if I see anyone blundering away and they can’t explain a clear goal, I swear I’ll come round and take your bike off you.
Right, got that off the chest – much better. What got me on this hobbyhorse was the tail end of my Honda Blackbird had literally been chopped short with a hacksaw (by a previous owner), while the original indicators had been replaced with a smaller and much lower-quality set. Worse, it was done with the use of some sort of filler from the local hardware store and the original wiring loom had been messed with. It’s been annoying me for months, because it looked second-rate.
Before you get worked up, I’ll hasten to add I have nothing against modifying motorcycles – far from it. But it needs to be done well. Chris Harris took to his BMW with the proverbial chainsaw some time ago (see the Airheads feature here) and it looks brilliant. It’s a great example of how to do it.
By way of contrast, the chap who attacked Bronson the Blackbird had actually lowered its value without gaining any performance or aesthetic advantage. It’s called snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Plus, I had to fit a dodgy-looking fender extension to get it through a roadworthy.
Because Bronson is a first-model Honda CBR1100XX in good nick and the ‘right’ colour, and I happen to like riding it, I’ve decided to keep it long term. It may even have minor collectable value one day. If or when I go to sell it years down the track, it will be old enough for people to want originality and that’s a whole lot easier to fix now, when the bike is just 18 years old (already?!) rather than when it’s more than 30 and eligible for club registration across the country. By then the bits will have become a whole lot more scarce.
So I bit the proverbial bullet and started sourcing replacement spares. Sadly, the rear fender, which had been cut and shut and filled, was part of a huge piece which acted as inner rear guard and battery carrier – effectively the entire underseat bodywork. I ended up buying new, though there should be a stack of them somewhere at your local wreckers. Indicators were no drama, as they’re a common Honda item. In this case, I had a slightly scuffed set laying around, which easily cleaned up.
Replacing that main panel looks hair-raising at first but, as is often the case in these situations, a patient and methodical approach wins out. You have to dismount the tail-light and indicators, the nearby engine control unit (this is where you take the greatest care as a mistake will be hideously expensive), plus the battery and miscellaneous wiring.
Removing the panel itself is a little fiddly as it’s a tight fit (a black belt in Origami would be useful) but some gentle persuasion does the trick. If nothing else, it turned out to be a good opportunity to clean out this whole area of the bike and touch up the paint on the subframe.
Getting it all back into place was easy, thanks to the fact I managed not to lose any of the fasteners (for once) and the parts are well-made, so they actually slot in without a major fight.
And the end result? To the casual observer, I spent an afternoon and a few hundred bucks making absolutely no changes whatsoever. However, if or when someone comes looking for an original first-model ’Bird in years to come, it will more than justify the investment of time and money.
KEEP SPARE PARTS
If you’re going down the road of some relatively mild modifications to the pride and joy, keep the original parts as they’ll have a value when you go to resell. Buyers with an eye to the longer term love the idea of being able to take the bike back to original, even if they never actually do it themselves.
Want to clean up the often-messy appearance of the back end of your bike? Consider getting a dedicated tail-tidy kit. Daughter Ms A junior recently got a UK-made kit branded R&G for her 2013 Kawasaki ER6-N. Her top workshop tip is to make your boyfriend fit it.
This example came with printed instructions plus an online video and took about two hours to fit. The hardest part was pulling apart the original guard as some of the fasteners had seized.
The end result looks great, but be warned that if it rains you end up with a stripe of dirty water up your back, thrown up by the rear wheel.