Alright, let’s get this party started again. And what better way to light the flame once more than to feature one of my all-time favorite bikes: the Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird. Frequent readers of this site know that I have long harbored a weakness for the Yamato class of sportbikes; as a teenager I wanted an FJ1200 so badly that I put FJ1200 stickers on my BMX bike, and in my twenties I lusted for a Kawasaki ZX-11. I am now the owner of the final-boss cruise missile, the Kawasaki ZX-14R, but as recently as last October I was trying to purchase a decent example of the Super Blackbird.
Jeff has a “Dos Equis” Honda that’s been in his fleet for seven years. But as you’ll see below, it’s no longer his favorite way in which to pay tribute to The Gorilla Who Knew Too Much.
(If you have a bike that you’d like to see featured here, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
So the 2000 Blackbird has been my long distance ride since 2010 when I found her with only 8k miles down in Newport Beach. Now she’s got 43k and still runs like a top. A top with a rocket shoved up its pigu.
If you want to see one of my coast trips on the bird I did a forum write up a while back. The writing is mostly forum drivel but there are a lot of nice pics.
When I moved to Seattle in 2014 her 530 some odd pounds were were a little much for my commute downtown. On some of the most broken, crazy steep and sopping wet pavement I’d ever seen. Not to mention when the roads did open up I was at constant risk of getting her impounded. I learned to ride in Las Vegas where the average speeds are much higher and I would regularly flaunt those limits. She just makes it so easy.
Enter the 2007 990 Duke. A stripped down flyweight naked. I had never owned anything other than Japanese bikes before. This thing blew away all my preconceptions. On paper it doesn’t look all that great. It never won a comparison in its day. The competition offered more for less money. It barely makes more power than a 600 supersport! But it has… something. It really is more than the sum of its parts. The bird is so perfect it’s anodyne but the duke will slap you in the face and shove it’s hand down your pants. KTM just woke up one day and said (in your best arnold) “ya, we make za street bikes now!” And this one has been race prepped. The exhaust is a sewer pipe. Braaaps like a dirt bike. The springs are made of uranium. It has 10 sliders. 10. It’s sliders have sliders. There is some serious inception stuff going on here. The throttle is a bear even after having it dyno tuned. The brakes are sensitive and she loves to slide that back wheel; when she’s not lifting the front. I’m not sure why I thought this would make a good commuter. I call it Cato, my little orange friend, because it’s constantly trying to kill me.
I used to laugh when people would bring up “character” as a defense for their clearly inferior rides. And I would go back to trying to spreadsheet my way to happiness. Never again. My Honda is relentlessly reliable, user friendly, and will get me across the country time and time again – and in no time – but my KTM has provided more butt puckering, stomach clenching, adrenaline dumping, rediculous sensory overload than I ever thought it would. I’m in love with a stripper.
Well, Jeff, I’ve been in love with a stripper as well, and it didn’t have the happiest of endings. I hope your love affair with your Austrian girl works out a little better!