1 offensively displaying or intended to arouse sexual desire.
2 smooth and slippery with oil or a similar substance.
A mobile contradiction in terms the Honda CBF1000 is at once lubricious and not. Designed in Germany, this upright standard’s looks teeter between friendly and bland and are evocative as Grandma’s flannel nighty. Those looking for lurid spec-porn will hardly trouser-twitch at the 1000cc plant yoinked from the previous generation CBR1000RR. They’ll be disinterested in its detuned 96hp, down from the donor’s claimed 174hp. Their loss, because to ride the CBF1000 is utterly lubricious in every subtle slippery way.
That’s not based on looks of course; parked on the streets of Toronto this spring the CBF1000’s chic extended to 50-somethings who twanged on about it reminded them of “my old bike”, which was inevitably an early eighties Japanese universal. The CBF1000 attempts to be utterly inoffensive with a dollop of passionless-ness on top. That’s thanks to it being a European hand-me-down, where practical and versatile are not motorcycling dirty words.
Practical and versatile it truly is though. Honda Canada has brought the CBF to the Great White North in the guise of an “adventure bike”. Making it evident that Marketing will not only hop on any trend, but has some big brass ones to boot, given that a cursory glance of the CBF1000’s street tires which speak to any surface but dirt. Any other destination from city, to highway, to back roads and back again is well within the CBF preview, and these tasks are executed with a manifest smoothness of operation.
It’s a well oiled ethos that flows through the CBF1000 accompanied by a heft and solidity that speaks to quality.
The clutch is light and arcs gracefully through its range. Shifting through the six-speed transmission is an effortless waft between ratios. The compliant suspension glides you along, unflustered by near any road surface.
In short the controls are silky smooth as if lubricated by a enchantment and molybdenum. Then there is the engine. The CBF1000 is not a torrid and passionate relationship, it is that most special of bikes – a sleeper.
Here are two statistics for you. There’s 64.4 ft-lbs of torque available from 3000rpm, and a peak 68.7 ft-lbs reached at 6,500rpm. Manufactured in Italy the CBF won’t be offended if you put on your best stereotypical accent and say, “That’s-a meat-y mid-range!”
Translated to a twist of a throttle that means you will experience a smooth surge and a swell of acceleration in any situation. There is no lurch, no stutter, no harsh fuel injection onset, just Herculean amounts of go, until 8,000 RPM where there is a vertiginous profitless drop in power.
Best to hit at the peak of the swell at 6,500, and take advantage of a transmission lubricated with angel’s tears. Or don’t, third gear will do everything from traffic to highway making the CBF1000 a nearly automatic bike.
On the highways every turn of the throttle is overtaking nirvana. Traffic is dispatched with balanced slickness of an ethereal missile. Indeed this triumph of torque over horsepower only has one sticking point, a vibration that is to this poetic kinesthesia what chewing tin foil is to old school dental work.
Then you turn the throttle and shoot towards the horizon with elastic effect, completely failing to miss the CBR1000RR’s extra ponies.
You slip through the twists like simmering liquid sin thanks to the narrow (for a sport bike) 160-section rear tire, and yet there is a granite stability to the CBF1000. A tidy trick for a bike with non-adjustable 41mm front forks and only preload to play with for the rear shock.
As much as the engine and handling swift you through the world with an fluent absence of stiction, the Combined Braking System brings the CBF’s 250 kg (551 pound) mass to a stop with equally reassuring fluidity. There is power here to match the engine. Admittedly the CBS has a slightly numb feel, but for every day use having the rear brake proportionally activate when you apply the front throws a blanket of security over the procedure. So too does the ABS, with Honda still setting the standard for controlled panic.
And as you back away from the heft, substance, and effortlessness of use demonstrated by the CBF1000, you realize that despite being the motorcycle equivalent of practical shoes it has other charms.
The CBF1000 seat, handlebars and screen are adjustable accommodating a wide range of riders. Admittedly even at it’s highest setting the CBF is friendly to shorter inseams, but there’s enough range to suit most riders with an Allen key, the will to twist it, and a coffee to sip over the course of the process. It’s not a quick process. It’s not perfect, the windscreen is low for freeway work regardless of adjustment, but at least there are options.
The seat is plush and comfortable. The seating position relaxed. The windscreen… too low and buffeting, but that leads you to the accessories catalogue where you discover well thought out luggage (a la the VFR 800) and other touring options such as heated grips and the Garmin Zumo GPS. Suddenly the decision to buy a VFR just got a lot harder, and that’s because Honda’s other all rounder never offered this whopping rush of torque.
The Honda CBF1000 doesn’t feign the come hither bedroom eyes of its sport biking siblings. Instead the CBF1000 offers a practical option for those commitment-phobic riders who can’t choose just one flavour of bike, so what’s your fancy? A little road, a little city, and (given the handling) even a little track? All are executed with lubricious intent as the CBF1000 shows you what’s underneath the grey flannel frock and launches for the horizon.