Pros: Unparalelled. The James Bond of motorcycles- classy, yet will kick butt
Cons: Weight on wrists (stock), windblast, insurance costs, recent recall.
Ever since I first laid eyes on a CBR1100XX Blackbird, I've wanted one. To me, it represented the holy grail of motorcycles- refinement, amazing power, and understated styling.
Last March (2004), I purchased a brand new, still-in-box 2003 model with less than 3 miles on the odometer. Where to begin....
I've been riding for over 20 years at this point, and thank the heavens for that- this bike should NEVER be a beginner bike. My very first ride on it was nerve-wracking because I was tentative to use the full power of this beast. If you aren't holding on when you wick the throttle open, you'll part ways quickly. Within half an hour of picking my bike up, I was pulling away, rather quickly, from a stop-sign and admiring the totally smooth acceleration and how the handlebars evidenced absolutely no trace of wobble and hardly any vibration. Then, the front wheel touched down. I had wheelied away from the stop and wasn't even trying.
Although my XX is a 2003, (the last year they were manufactured for the states- they're still available, in different color schemes in Europe), very few changes have occurred. Early models of the XX were carbureted, mine is Fuel-Injected. Early models had all-analog gauges, with the speedometer front and center in the instrument cluster, mine has a central tach and a digital speedometer.
Fuel mileage varies, but I typically get 38 to 40 mpg, enabling longer trip legs with a 6.3 gallon tank. Speaking of fuel, this is my first bike with a fuel gauge and I don't trust it. I use mileage on the trip odometer (one of the two digital ones onboard) instead. The fuel gauge reads full for longer than possible, drops quickly from full to 1/2, then drags for the last half. Since I don't necessarily ride that way, I use it for reference only.
Also, this bike doesn't have a reserve (again a new one for me). When you're low on fuel, the last arc icon of the fuel gauge (which shows full dark when the tank is full) simply blinks. THATS your reserve warning- better pay attention.
I'm used to cruisers, primarily, and the riding position was a new one for me. Unless you adjust the clip-ons (sport-bike handlebars), the riding position might get to you. I've taken the bike on a couple of 400-mile-each-way trips, and I was hurting for awhile. Some minor adjustments, such as raising the bars, and an aftermarket windscreen make trips much easier.
Would I do those same trips again, right now, if the weather was nicer? Absolutely.
Speeds well in excess of 100 mph are EVIDENTLY possible (not that I would ever do such a thing) and the bike APPARENTLY handles the same at 150 as it does at 50. The platform is totally rock-solid- so they say.
Power is absolutely linear and incredibly smooth. Fit and finish is typical of Honda- absolute perfection.
There are thousands of aftermarket parts for the Blackbird- new exhausts, seats, tires, footpegs (both to lower and raise them), cruise controls, windscreens, luggage, etc.
Before purchasing any sportbike, be sure to check on your insurance costs- this bike is running me approximately 1200 a year (thats with no tickets, accidents or other claims for the past 5 years).
There is a fairly new recall out on the XX, which deals with the proportioning valve for the braking system. The XX has linked brakes- activating the front brake also actuates the rear and vice versa- some riders love it, some hate it. It causes no issues with me. My bike is effected by this recall, and as soon as it thaws out enough to ride it to my dealer of choice, I'll do so.
Until then, I'll just wipe it with a soft rag and keep it looking gorgeous.
Trust me when i say that you CAN'T do better than an XX.