Some motorcycles are built for comfort, others are built for speed, every so often a manufacturer combines the two perfectly, that’s exactly what Honda did when they designed their CBR1000F, which went by the name of ‘Hurricane’ when sold in the States. One of the original ‘Sports Tourers’ the first models came and went quite swiftly as the world wasn’t quite ready for the jelly mould looks of the 1987 FH model, but by 1989 Honda had listened to the criticisms levelled at the first model and launched the CBR1000FK. The FK was still clinging onto those smooth lines but they had been made much sleeker and the addition of a bigger headlamp made it easier on the eye. With 125bhp lurking behind all that plastic, a top speed of 160mph was achievable in the right conditions. This wasn’t big news when compared to the opposition, but Honda had an ace up their sleeve. The CBR1000FK came with a saddle that offered sofa levels of comfort, combined with a very sensible riding position that used low pegs and well placed handlebars and suddenly it all clicked.
With a tank range of around 160 miles you could effortlessly ride until the tank needed feeding again. Another weapon in the Honda armoury was the build quality, not just in its attention to detail, but by the way every part of the parcel was finished off. All these years later it means finding a good used example is that bit easier. It wasn’t all happy days though, the big CBR1000 does have a few blights to its name. The most obvious one is the clutch chatter, but with this bike it really is a genuine case of “they all do that sir”.
The noise isn’t anything to worry about, but if you’ve never owned one before it can make you ponder upon buying one. Don’t let that be the case. The CBR1000FK had a few paint changes over the next few years, the bold red and white ones are the most handsome, while the pinky coloured ones are less popular. In 1994 the model got an update, the bodywork had a few nips and tucks but the biggest change was the adoption of the CBS linked brake set up. The model went on to sell in steady numbers but its time was up, with the CBR1100XX Super Blackbird waiting in the wings, the CBR1000F was no more.
What’s it like to ride?
It’s a big bike, not just physically to look at but also to haul about when on the move. Motorways are its natural habitat and where it makes the most sense. The welcoming saddle means you sit comfy, the tank is wide and the bars are well placed but a bit of a stretch. Pillions get a grab rail and the other half of that plush seat, for two up riding it’s a great bike. Brakes aren’t overly sophisticated, up front are two twin pot calipers, they never cause any alarm, just lack that extra stopping power if you need it, again the weight doesn’t help their job. These bikes are getting on for 30 years old now, so don’t expect cutting edge technology.
Wheels are both 17 inch items and that allows for modern tyres to be fitted. For a fast bike it doesn’t ever set your pulse racing, there’s no step up in power delivery, it’s just pure grunt all the way.
Gearboxes can be clunky from neutral to first, but after that the rest of the cogs will click into place with ease. Handling can be interesting, the suspension is non adjustable at each end, any bikes with an aftermarket rear shock will usually ride better. Everyday stuff like the mirrors are well thought out, they are big and sit out nice and wide. For an old design it can still cut it, and with that effortless power at your disposal you can go far and wide with no bother.
What to look out for?
We spoke to Vinny Styles, sales manager at Wheels Motorcycles, Peterborough. He said: “We still see a few of these presented in part exchange, most owners have returned to bikes and see the CBR1000F as a good way to tour on a budget, once they get the bug they then want to buy a more modern bike. Exhausts are the main thing I look at, replacements are expensive. The CBR is also heavy on suspension, not just the shock but also all those linkages and bearings, also fork seals can pop on tired fork sliders. The engines are solid, so big miles with shouldn’t alarm you if there’s a service history.”
What goes wrong?
We called up Chris Tombleson from Grumpy 1260, a bike breaker based close to King’s Lynn. He added: “We don’t see too many of these in for breaking but do see a fair few in for service work. That engine is good for 100,000 miles if you look after it. Cam chain rattles can be dealt with by fitting a manual cam chain adjuster and it’s a cheap and easy conversion. Rectifiers can play up but there are no tell tale signs, they just chuck the towel in without any notice.”