Warchild's review of the 2000 XX


People!

The following is one long-ass write-up of my personal observations/impressions of the 2000 Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird. This is Part One of two parts.

I picked up my 2000 Honda CBR1100XX about a week ago. I rolled it off the showroom floor with 0 miles on the odometer. The following observations and opinions are based upon the initial 1000 miles I've ridden this phenomenal super-sport machine. All of this mileage has been in and around the steppes of the Columbian Basin in southeast Washington, and the mountains of western Idaho. Temps have been between the low 70's and the low 100's, roads have been completely dry. Approximately 25% of this mileage was night time riding.

Executive Summary:
=================

Un-fucking-believable!

The 2000 Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird truly defies meaningful description. Clearly, this is the finest motorcycle I have ever ridden, without question, bar none.

Background:
==========

I first got hit with sportbike fever in August of 1998, when I "accidentally" came upon a black/red 1993 Honda CBR1000F at Crocodile Motorsports. Some poor shmoe bought it brand new in '93, rode it 4000 miles and then parked it... for FIVE years! He had to give it up during a bloody divorce, so Providence smiled upon me with a (basically new) big-bore CBR for a dirt-cheap price!

In the two years since, I've only managed to ride 22,000 miles on the CBR1000F (it's tough being a stable-mate with the ST1100), and became absolutely enamored with sportbikes in general and the big CBR in particular. Many times have I've ridden the CBR1000F at speeds well in excess of 150 mph indicated, and never thought I'd want/need any other sportbike.

Unfortunately, in August of 1999, I test rode Warren Harhay's Suzuki Havabrewski........ DYAMN!!!

The Suzuki Eye-Abuser was Pure Dope, immediately shooting my veins chock full of the highly addictive narcotic, motorcyclene. The traditionally rough Suzuki fit-n-finish was surprisingly absent from the Havabrewski.... the bike was refined and polished in a manner almost approaching Honda standards. The Eye-Abuser was not without flaws (ergos in particular), but I detected that deep down inside me, I had to have the World's Fastest production motorcycle, I just had to......

However, I subsequently had an opportunity to test ride a Blackbird in the Fall of 1999. I was immediately in love. The power surge above 7000 rpm convinced me that the Eye-Abuser would definitely have competition when it came time for me to make The Decision on which Super-Sport machine to get....

To further complicate matters, I then started reading reports about a new Kawasaki ZX-12, reputed to be staging a comeback as the new Speed King. Since, at the time, I was sorta in the death throes of trying to buy a new house, there was no immediate danger of buying a new bike anyway. So I decided I would wait until I could test ride the new ZX-12 when they became available.

However, after test-riding the big Kawasaki a couple months ago, it immediately assumed the position of Choice #3. Sorry, Kawa, but your shit is still ragged.

Then, only 3-4 weeks ago, I re-subscribed to the CBR list, and ran across more web sites, including the straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back: the opening graphic located at: http://www.cbr1100xx.org

I knew then that there would be no other decision to make. I went Blackbird Hunting.

Finding a Blackbird
===================

Initially, I was somehow foolishly convinced that I needed a BLACKbird, which initially ruled out the year 2000 models with that jarring "metallic titanium" paint. I also had to rule out the '97-'98 Blackbirds, and they are carbureted, no ram-air, and an earlier-generation LBS system. That only left the 1999 Blackbird.... problem was, I decided I wanted a completely new, unused one still in the crate.

T'was not to be.... there was not a single leftover 1999 Blackbird anywhere in the Honda warehouses. None, nadda, zip, ziltch. So, I had my contacts at various dealerships start looking for me. Ideally, I would buy one from a Honda dealership whose web site I maintain. The closest Honda dealership I perform web services for is Mac's Cycle in Lewiston, Washington { shameless plug: http://www.macscycle.com } Although they looked long and hard for me, nobody had any leftover '99 Blackbirds that they were willing to part with at a reasonable price.

In desperation, I started looking hard at the 2000 model Blackbirds. Same thing was found: this model year has been SOLD OUT, none left in any warehouses; any new XX would have to be had through a dealer lucky enough to still have one. We search all of eastern Washington, Idaho and east-central Oregon, and nobody even had a left-over 2000 XX sitting on their showroom floor. Then, luck struck!

After searching three states for a 2000 Blackbird, we found that there was only ONE brand new 2000 Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird still left on a dealership floor.... right here in the Tri-Cities! Most unfortunately, this dealership has a horrible reputation; the owner is a well-heeled used-car salesman, he doesn't give a shit about riding, he's in it for the money.

Nonetheless, I got a pretty awesome deal out of him after several days of reconnaissance inquiries. I rolled a brand new, 0-mile, 2000 Honda CBR1100XX off their showroom floor for $9100.

Now for the personal observations......


Cosmetics
=========

Many people find themselves either loving or hating the new Metallic Titanium paint on the '00 XX. I was in the latter group until I took possession of my XX. I thought the titanium paint looked like baby diarrhea under the showroom fluorescent lights, and remarked so to the salesman. "Yeah", he says, "but wait till you see this paint in natural sunlight, it will convince you".

He was correct. I now believe this Titanium paint is most definitely one badass color!

What also helped convince me to go with the Titanium paint was viewing several 97-99 Blackbirds that already had a few thousand miles on them. I'm sorry, but that particular black paint does NOT stand up to much abuse at all!! Black is always terrible to keep clean, but this Honda black is particularly bad at garnering fine hairline scratches from tankbags, Aerostiches, etc.

This Metallic Titanium is stunningly gorgeous after a proper polishing/waxing job. And it doesn't show a coat of dust after a desert run!! Dust blends exceptionally well. And as many have pointed out, the paint attracts every hourglass-shaped mega-babe within a quarter-mile radius. :^)

On the negative side..... the paint apparently blends you into the background to a disturbing degree. I have had more "close-calls" in the last 1000 miles on this XX than I've had on the ST1100 in the past 5 years/180,000 miles. Some close calls were the traditional car-turning-left in front of you, but others were just a situation where the fuckers would try to turn into my lane, etc. I managed to catch two of these brain-dead-cagers at the next stoplight and ask them why the FUCK did they almost kill me, and both replied with the standard answer: "I didn't see you", but one also said: "your bike blends in with the concrete buildings in the background". There may be some validity to this statement.

What to do? Install a Kriss headlight modulator! (http://www.kriss.com/) I ordered one and installed it, and MAN what a difference it has made! The effect this modulator has on BDC's is almost funny! Twice now, people have actually pulled over to let me pass them! They must think the I am some Emergency Vehicle, or perhaps a motorcycle cop, whatever... I HIGHLY recommend the Kriss headlight modulator; trust me, you WILL be seen a lot more with one installed on your bike.

The write-up (with photos!) for installing the Kriss headlight modulator in the XX will be the subject of another post.


The Powerplant
==============

What can I say about the XX powerplant that hasn't been said elsewhere?

I have ridden the Hayabusa, the Kawasaki ZX-12, and the XX, and the powerplant on all three are awesome. What makes the Blackbird's mill standout is the incredible smoothness. The only other bike I can liken it to is the V-4 found in the ST1100.... and I believe the XX is smoother! The secret, I believe, is in the dual-shaft counterbalancer.

Previously, you couldn't find a high-performance sportbike that used a dual-shaft balancer in its design. Honda claims the new dual-shaft balancer design featured in the XX almost completely eliminates high-frequency vibration. The first balancer shaft is located in front of the crankshaft, spinning in the opposite direction of the crank, while the second balancer shaft is located above and behind the crankshaft, spinning in the same direction as the crank, the combination of the two shafts supposedly eliminating the effects of secondary vibration.

And, on the road, while underway at great speed.... the system just plain WORKS! There is no vibration. None. p>At all.


Servicing
=========

Taking the body panels off this machine can be an adventure if you are not familiar to the puzzle-like design characteristics engineered into all Honda body parts. To help keep the engine small in size, a number of engineering decisions took place that resulted in the serving technician taking the shitty end of the stick. (Example: the official Honda Shop Manual calls for removing the oil cooler and radiator just to remove spark plugs!)

Fortunately, routine oil changes are a snap. The drain plug is easily accessible. When I performed the initial 600-mile servicing, I learned that (contrary to what the manual tells you), there is NO need to remove the lower body cowling whatsoever. You can reach right up and grab the oil filter with no interference (obviously, you need to wait until the exhaust headers are cooled down some prior to performing this task!)


Upgrades
========

The CBR1100XX had significant and numerous upgrades starting with the 1999 model year. The biggest was the introduction of the Honda Digital Electronic Fuel Injection system coupled with a Ram-Air system. Mid-range power was improved by the introduction of ram-air intake ducts, differentiating the lengths of two of the four velocity stacks and using 3-D maps for throttle position, ignition timing and intake pressure. Honda has also developed a "knock sensor" that adjusts spark advance while minimizing knock and improving mid-range, particularly in the 3000 - 6000 rpm zone, a range often used when commuting to/from the track. :^).

The ram air openings at the nose of the XX were originally ('97-'98) the openings to direct cool air to the bike's oil cooler. Now, they are connected to a couple of snorkels that feed high pressure air into the XX's big-ass 9 liter airbox, providing for a boost of power at high speeds. The EFI system takes up less space than the carbureted models, so the fuel tank was able to be enlarge by 2 liters, bring total capacity to 6.3 gallons.

Another upgrade was aimed at reducing that unpopular first gear clunk that seems to be a complaint on '97-'98 Blackbirds. The XX has a rubber friction damper on its transmission main shaft, which slows the shaft when the clutch is disengaged, reducing the difference in speed between it and the motionless counter shaft when shifting at a stop from neutral into first gear.

The Linked Brake System (LBS) was also upgraded to match the performance of the VFR800 Interceptor. I loved the first-generation LBS system on my CBR1000F, and can not believe how well this newer, late-generation version works. When you apply the brakes, you just come to a halt without any fanfare or drama. The system works precisely as advertised; it is as unobtrusive as it is effective.

Other upgrades include a larger oil-cooler, a re-designed tail light, and a new aerodynamically-shaped brake lever, and a few other upgrades.


Gripes:
======

I did considerable searching of various archives throughout the internet to see what other owners have had to say about their XX's, and found many of the same complaints that they mentioned:

1) "Hot-Running Engine": The XX engine tends to run warm. It routinely will climb into the upper 1/3 of the temp gauge range, and has a tendency to stay there. The engine and engine bay remains hot long, LONG after you've shut the motor down. Once you are underway on the road, the temp gauge will fall into some mid-way point, as it should be. But once you get stuck in city traffic, expect to have your fan to kick on a lot.

To investigate why the motor tends to run hot, I have checked all the usual items (coolant level, leaking hoses, radiator cap, air in system, etc) and they all appear to be fine; no discrepancies noted. The fan activates when it is suppose to. The temp gauge never actually goes into the red, but my years of experience seems to indicate that in this particular case, this is simply a consequence of design. I plan to address this issue with a lower thermostat. The stock thermostat is suppose to open between 176-183 degrees F, and be fully opened at 203 F.

2) "Ergonomics": As soon as I swung a leg over my new XX, I could immediately discern that the seating position was much more aggressive than even my old CBR1000F. After a couple hundred miles, it became obvious that, like many Elder Squids of my generation, Heli-Bars are going to be necessary soon. Pretty damn pricey for a couple of hunks of metal, but, I guess that's price you pay for reaching an age where you can refer to yourself as "The Elder Squid".

3) "Fuel Consumption": I've read the stories of less than stellar mpg figures, and was disappointed to confirm the meager numbers. I got somewhere between 34 and 39 mpg for the first 1000 miles. We'll see if this changes after the bike is thoroughly broken in and/or I start to exercise a bit more throttle discipline. :^)

4) "Lighting": The "piggyback" style of the headlamp offers one of the finest beam patterns I have ever seen on a stock motorcycle headlamp system. The low-beam "cut-off" at the top of the housing is crisp and focused. However, on low beam, when you go to actually lean the bike over, you are now PLUNGED into darkness. Both the upper and low beam lamps are single-filament 55-watt Stanley H-7 bulbs. I plan to replace them with either the Osram (Sylvania) bulb or the PIAA Super White H-7 bulb, when available.

Other minor gripes: the light bulb for the dash clock is positioned so poorly, I can't read it worth a shit at night. Also, during bright sunlight, all dash gauges become hard to read because the instrument glass is so shiny it reflects the sunlight everywhere. Unusual for Honda to miss this.

(Next installment) Part II: Riding Impressions/Modifications/Maintenance issues

- Warchild

'00 CBR1100XX
'97 ST1100V

STOC Archive Of Wisdom (AOW)