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It may not be the biggest selling segment in the market, but the big naked bike sector is still getting plenty of interest from manufacturers, which means the punter is being offered some good choices. Honda's latest entry is an updated version of CB1300
'80s throwback
Stand back from it a little and you can't help but be reminded of the 'dinosaur' class of the mid 1980s, like the 900 and eventually 1100 Bol d'Or (or "rollerdoors" as they were affectionately known). However the fairing borrows most of its curves from the more exotic CB1100R, right down to the little air inlets in the snout. Middle-aged folk will recognise the styling immediately.

Underneath it all is a mix of modern and old thinking. The powerplant is a derivative of the CB1 naked that was on the market some years ago. It became a 1300 in a model we never sae here, and was then updated with the company's in-house injection for the bike we see on the showrooms today.

 It claims a relatively modest 113 horses at 7500rpm and a healthy 117Nm of torque at 5500. Redline is at 8500. The stock power is ample for the job, though we know they respond well to a more open pipe, Power Commander and some careful dynotuning.

Typical of injected Hondas, starting is matter of stabbing the button and giving it 30 seconds or so to warm up enough to work its way off fast idle. It's an ultra-smooth powerplant, with strong bottom, spectacular midrange and a healthy enough top end. Mid-range punch is really where this powerplant is at, which can make it huge fun through a set of curves. We were getting around 16km/lt out of it, which means the 21 litre tank gives a 300-plus km range.

There are no complaints with the five-speed transmission. The shift is accurate and easy, while the hydraulic clutch is progressive.

 Suspension has rebound and preload adjustment up front, with the protector blades for the 43mm sliders being a useful addition. The rear is conventional twin shock with piggy-back reservoirs also with preload and rebound options. Overall the package is on the soft side - set for more for comfort than race track. You can rebuild it for sharper handling, but frankly I'm not sure I'd bother until the originals started to get tired.

Steering is about medium speed and over all the machine comes across as a good-natured, predictable and friendly giant. A series of bumps on a tricky turn can overwhelm it, and really high speeds can start to see it getting a little untidy. In any case you get plenty of warning and if this really becomes an issue, you might want to consider a Fireblade.

Brakes are pretty stock fare - four-piston Nissins up front and a single-spot rear. There's good power and feel.

 Rider and pillion accommodation is generally good. It's not huge on legroom for the rider, but that's partly down to the fact it has a low seat and generous cornering clearance - you can't have everything. Nevertheless at 190cm tall I found it okay, while the pillion has good space, is not big on legroom, but has a generous grab handle.

Good news
The good news is you don't have to be a giant to ride it. We found a 162cm (5'4") rider could manage it.

Instruments have a traditional analogue two-dial presentation, with a small digital screen that adds, fuel, clock, tripmeters and temp gauges. Bothy handlevers are adjustable. So overall the rider is catered for pretty well.

As a package it's a big easy bike to ride. Good around town and fun on sport roads without being particularly sharp. It's got no shortage of competition, but to our way of thinking is well priced at $15,390 plus ORC. For that you get the retro look wrapped over a modern mechanical package that is likely to be trouble-free for a very long time.

By Guy Allen, Pics Lou Martin

Specifications - Honda CB1300S
Model Name: CB1300S
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled 4stroke 16-valve DOHC inline-4
Bore x Stroke: 78 x 67.2mm
Displacement: 1,284cm3
Compression Ratio: 9.6 : 1
Carburettor(s): PGM-FI electronic fuel injection
Maximum Power: 85kW/7,500rpm
Maximum Torque: 117Nm/5,500rpm
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital transistorised with electronic advance
Starter: Electric
Transmission: 5-speed
Final Drive: 114-link sintered link chain
Dimensions (mm): 2,220 x 790 x 1,120mm
Wheel Base (mm): 1,515
Seat Height (mm): 790
Ground Clearance (mm): 135
Fuel Capacity (litres): 21 litres (including 4 litre warning light reserve)
Front Wheel: 17M/C x MT3.50 U-section 5-spoke cast aluminium
Rear Wheel: 17M/C x MT5.50 U-section 5-spoke cast aluminium
Front Tyre: 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tyre: 180/55 ZR17
Front Suspension: 43mm cartridge-type telescopic fork, 109mm axle travel
Rear Suspension: Duel conventional damper with 5-step adjustable spring preload, 116mm axle travel
Front Brakes: 310mm dual disc with 4-piston callipers, and sintered metal pads
Rear Brakes: 256mm single-piston calliper disc and sintered metal pads
Dry Weight (kg): 230

Published : Thursday, 19 October 2006
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