When the world of the Superbike was at its height in the 80s, Honda decided its litre machine would be a comfy mile muncher. Genius.
The original CBR1000FH of 1987 arrived into an arena bursting with Japanese sports bikes, the second incarnation which we’ll be focusing on here arrived in 1989 and also lined up against much more focused machines from other manufacturers. The CBR1000F has stood the test of time much better than its more focused rivals, which is probably down to a mixture of Honda build quality and the fact the CBR rarely fell into the wrong hands. For a twenty odd year old bike its future hasn’t looked rosier. If you like your bikes with less factory fitted gadgets and appreciate quality then this could be just what you’re looking for.
Nothing too fancy going on here, a hunk of a water cooled engine beats away under acres of bodywork. A double overhead cam, 16 valve inline four kicks out an effortless 130bhp. This beefy power isn’t hidden high up the rev range, it’s exactly where you want it on a sports tourer: slap bang in the midrange. A clutch rattle at tick over isn’t anything sinister to worry about, it’s a genuine case of “They all do that sir”. Talking of rattles the cam chain rattling can also be an annoyance. The gearbox can be clunky, but fresh clutch fluid can usually sort that out.
This falls into two categories for most CBR pilots:solo riding and touring mode. Hard solo riding will show up the bike’s lack of sporty suspenders at each end, the plus side though is the modern wheel sizes (3.50×17 front, 5.50×17 rear) mean there’s a whole world of tyres out there to suit your needs. For a weighty bike (235kg) it hides its bulk well once moving, and its lard is actually a blessing when on a blowy motorway – it will happily sit planted mile after mile even in iffy crosswinds.
The CBR1000F is as happy doing 30mph down the high street as it is doing 150mph on an autobahn. The harmony of the triangle between bars, seat and pegs is pretty spot-on, even for 6ft plus tall riders. The seat is matched in comfort by the ample tank’s range, easily allowing 150 miles before either need attention. The standard screen does a good job and taller aftermarket items can only add to the comfort of mile munching. Night riding is a pleasure thanks to the two bulbs in the large headlamp.
Other than the colour coded grab rail there isn’t really any equipment to mention, the clocks are clear and purposeful though the fact there isn’t a clock annoys me more than it should. There’s plenty of room to stick a digital item though. The Christmas tree of idiot lights sit proudly above the almost car inspired console. The centre stand is a welcome addition.
The CBR1000F was built in an era when Honda’s finish was legendary throughout their entire bike range, the paintwork for example will still shine with minimal effort. The swing arm though is one area where a few yen was saved, under the silver paint lurks a steel item with all the associated negatives of rust if not kept thoroughly clean from muck. The standard shock and exhaust will be long gone by now, but replacement systems follow the original fitment 4-into-2 setup. Under the bodywork things are usually pretty healthy: hoses; fittings and wiring tend to survive in good shape.
1987 CBR1000FH is launched.
1988 CBR1000FJ arrives with sharper looking paintwork
1989 CBR1000FK is launched. Totally new model. 17 inch wheels at each end and a sleeker jelly mould design.
1990 CBR1000FL fresh paint otherwise unchanged until the 1992 FN model.
1993 CBR1000FP. The outgoing model gets a bit of a makeover style wise and linked brakes make an unwelcome appearance.
What to check
Look behind the fairing: the side panels have built in bumpers, a neat touch but any serious bump can cause problems behind the plastics. Shocks will be shot if original, even more so if the bike’s been used for touring. Regulators are a weak spot: replacements are cheap though. Chuck a piece of alloy plate under the new regulator to help it to dispel heat, being hidden from the wind doesn’t aid its lifespan.
One area where corrosion can creep in is on the cooling system: radiators are prone to collecting road crud, or worse, having their fins clogged or buckled All of these blights will affect cooling, but don’t be too upset if a previous owner has fitted an override switch to turn the fan on. A coolant change is a worthy investment.
Three overall pros
Superb budget tourer, build quality and reliability.
Three overall cons
The jelly mould looks aren’t to all tastes. It’s no lightweight. Finding one for sale… Owners tend to hang on to them.
Value for money
Try and find a bike that’s been loved, any sensible extras like luggage or Scottoilers are an advantage. Avoid aftermarket paintjobs – a sure sign it’s been crashed – and 4-into-1 exhausts don’t work any better than the stock 4-into-2 set up.
Most owners tend to change oil and filters before the suggested 12,000 miles quoted in service manuals. Valve clearances are good for 12,000 miles too. The hydraulic clutch fluid and brake fluid benefits from a yearly change.
Engine: 998cc, 16v inline 4 cyclinder, dohc.
Power: (Claimed) 130bhp@8,600rpm.
Bore and stroke: 77mm x 53.6mm
Chassis: Box section steel peimeter.
Suspension: Front. 41mm air assisted conventional forks. Rear adjustable mono shock unit.
Brakes: Front 2x 296mm discs, twin piston calipers. Rear 256mm twin piston caliper.
Wheels/Tyres: Front 120/70/17 Rear 180/55/17
Seat height: 780mm
Fuel capacity: 21 litres.
Colours: Red/white. Blue/white.
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