After starting to ride over the past couple of months I’ve slowly developed a soft spot for motorcycles. While I’ve always liked and appreciated them, and vividly follow MotoGP, I’ve never really had a lot of opportunity to experience them. While they will never replace going flat out on a track in a car, they provide a thrilling experience no matter what the conditions. Maybe it’s because my 200SX has been going through a lot lately and I’ve haven’t had the chance to drive it, but there really is something about bikes.

So I decided to buy one for my own. I’ve been riding all the bikes that I have available at work but I don’t think it will ever replace learning and experiencing your own, and of course, I would like to modify one too.

I didn’t know this bike even existed until I started looking for one; it’s a Honda CB1100SF X-11. A naked version of the CBR1100XX Blackbird, with a slightly detuned engine (135hp) for more low end torque. There are a few other differences of course but in principle that’s what it is. It’s a big bike and a heavy one, but as I’m well over 6ft it fits me nicely.

I weighed the bike on automotive scales with a full fuel tank:

Total KERB weight: 256.5 kg
Front Weight Percentage: 47.8%

I’m surprised how rear biased it is.

The bike has these very distinct front cowls for the radiator that direct the airflow through the radiator and around the bike. Honda says they’re to improve cooling and also provide downforce and increase stability!

The bike is mostly stock, but the previous owner made a few tasteful and functional mods, which I appreciate. Firstly the front hand controls have been replaced with a proper handle bar from LSL and risers. The front fork springs have been replaced with progressive Spiegler units and there’s a nice billet upper triple clamp cover too, also from Spiegler. At the end of the handlebar there are some nice retro/cafe mirrors.

At the rear the shock has been replaced with an adjustable Wilbers one. It’s quite stiff.

There are a few cosmetic changes too, like LED indicators and rear light.

The braking system is easily the most complicated one I’ve ever seen on any bike or car. Honda call it the Dual-CBS, which stands for Combined Braking System. As the name implies both hand and foot brake levers apply braking pressure to both the front and rear calipers, in a proportioned manner. The RH front caliper is fixed, while the LH one car rotate and apply pressure to a second master cylinder which is in turn connected to the rear caliper. The hand lever only applies pressure to the two outer, larger pistons. The smaller inner pistons are actually pressurised from the rear foot lever to provide braking force at the front. So far, from a few emergency braking tests the system seems to perform very well and I’m sure it is quite secure for on-road panic braking, if you don’t have ABS. Although I would be interested in seeing how it works on a track environment where the rear wheel gets quite light.

The first things I’m going to do are remove the centre-stand (weight reduction, bro), replace a few service and damaged items, and then repaint the radiator cowls.

October 4, 2015

August 3, 2011


Honda reliability is no myth. It took just two kicks to get it started and all my childhood memories riding it came back in a flash.

July 30, 2011


After being at home in Italy for over a week is was already feeling a little useless, so I decided to finally get the Z50J back up and running after 6 years inside.
Being unpatient and poor I decided to make a throttle cable instead of ordering one. I stole a brake cable from an old bicycle and made the correct cable ends for the throttle, worked damn well. Then went ahead and flushed the engine and tank of the 6 year old fuel.

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The Ruckus of the past? I think so. So freaking awesome, wish mine was done up like that.

The Monkey Bike

May 23, 2010

Here’s something a bit different:

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A Honda Z50J from the 70s. This little monkey bike has been in the family well before I was born and my dad bought it in Zambia before he moved to Italy. When the time came to move to Italy he didn’t want to part ways with it and shipping it up would be too costly. Given its small size he decided to strip it down and pack it into his suitcases and simply fly it over with him and then reassemble. You couldn’t do that nowadays!

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From what I can remember the bike has never been road registered but my dad used to take me on it often for a little spin. I would eventually use it to ride around our small town occasionally. Damn I was awesome, no one else had a bike with an ENGINE at like 12.

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It hasn’t been running for about 6 years now due to the throttle cable snapping during a home made motocross time attack session we had but boy was it fun. Smacking the bump stops off even the smallest of jumps, I don’t think grown men were mean to…

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The best thing about this bike was how easy it was to ride. A 3 speed semi-automatic gearbox, no clutch handle, just a centrifugal clutch. Push down the front peddle to change up, push down the back peddle to change down. Done.

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The Tach gave you the suggested speed to shift at, but the bike would top out at 35km/h. Really hasn’t done much mileage, it’s still on its factory tires.

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The bike is in need of some TLC. I’ve since taken off all the parts that needed replacing but never go round to actually replace any.

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The impressive 2.5hp @7000rpm 50cc engine. I don’t think ours peaked that high, might need some tweaking.

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I hope I can afford to fix it up soon, I’d love to cruise around in this thing again. The comfy seat is a good enough reason to ride it…

A little piece of vintage.