® A largish compendium of not-quite-random CBX glitches, quirks, peculiarities, observations, opinions, nuances and helpful tips

The CBX1000 is a charming, iconic motorcycle. It is also a bit quirky and thus holds a few surprises for folks who are unknowing and unprepared. Don't misunderstand. It's one of my favorite vintage machines. But there are a lot of not-very-well-known characteristics, gotchas and solutions relative to the venerable Honda CBX1000. Here are just a few of them.

  1. The ignition system requires a special degree wheel with cutouts be used for adjustment, like a pushrod Triumph twin
  2. There are two cam chains in the CBX engine, two cam chain tensioners also
  3. The CBX1000 is high-maintenance, as illustrated in its 4,000 mile interval complete service requirement
  4. The twin-shock models have "blueprint-fitted" valve buckets
  5. The valve shims are marked only nominally in 0.05mm steps, resulting in actual 0.02mm incremented shims
  6. Removing the valve cover makes a mess despite the manual's directions to lean the bike beforehand
  7. The choke cable does not install intuitively and incorrectly installed it negatively affects the engine idle
  8. The alternator drive coupling is a badly-engineered system designed to fail but is easily corrected
  9. Honda has run out of most of the replacement parts for the CBX, there is very little that is available
  10. All years of the US market CBX have a very adequate 350-watt alternator, which is more powerful than that of the GL1100
  11. Due to incorrect tightening sequence, nine out of ten CBXs have damaged main engine hanger threads
  12. The CBX is one of the last of the "windy", peakily-tuned Hondas
  13. With only a moderate tuning effort, this characteristic can be greatly reduced
  14. Synthetic oil, even just too-heavy petro oil, can cause the starter clutch to malfunction
  15. The cam chain tensioners adjust best without the engine running
  16. The onboard voltmeter is more style than substance
  17. The carburetors intimidate many, but they mostly just demand your being extremely meticulous when rebuilding
  18. The tach drive gear must be removed before removing the valve cover or the bearing will break
  19. The twin-shock cam end cap screws seize, the Pro-Link screws don't
  20. The carburetors' fast-idle mechanism allowing for convenient warmup is usually misadjusted
  21. This mechanism is adjusted one way on 79 models and a completely different way on 80-82 models
  22. The CBX valves are significantly worn by just 15,000 miles due to compromises in materials
  23. With this and other glitches expect the average CBX to exhibit only 130-140 psi of its original 170 psi compression
  24. CBXs are thus universally, through wear and tuning deficiencies, some 15hp down on power
  25. This can be recovered through a top end rebuild and some tuning, resulting in a documented 40hp overall gain
  26. Some of the power loss is attributable to very worn cam chains which retard valve timing
  27. The clutch and front brake levers are, oddly, posed at very different distances from the handlebar
  28. This is easily and inexpensively corrected
  29. The CBX's rear brake disc is huge to accomodate American riders' inexplicable preference for rear braking
  30. Aftermarket valve cover gaskets are false economy, being flimsy and squishy
  31. The CBX carbs hold 300ml of fuel, yet due to their angle on the engine less than 200ml can be drained
  32. The twin-shock models' ignition boxes' potting dissolves over time, the Pro-Link ones don't
  33. Unfortunately, though aftermarket ignition boxes are available, their long-term reliability record is not the best
  34. A ticking sound in the top end of a twin-shock engine is often caused by loose-fitting cam joints
  35. Special aftermarket oversize cam joints are available for these models
  36. The Pro-Link rear shock is a surprising performer, despite being low-tech and defectively-manufactured
  37. Forgetting the steel reinforcement plate when rebuilding the front brake master cylinder will cause it to leak
  38. The CBX's electrical connectors self-destruct but this can be overcome and even prevented
  39. The CBX engine runs so hot the fuel in the carbs evaporates in a very short time when the bike is parked
  40. The CBX's heavy mufflers rust from the inside-out though this is preventable
  41. A Dyna S ignition fitted to the CBX must be modified during install or the engine will overheat
  42. CBX riders learn to not expect fuel economy greater than 35 mpg
  43. This is because the CBX1000 engine is actually liquid-cooled--that liquid is gasoline!
  44. Due to the CBX's somewhat unique oil level checking procedure, this engine is often under-filled
  45. The alternator's copper slip rings are soft and will be damaged if aftermarket brushes are used
  46. The CBX is famous for bending the number one connecting rod as a result of cylinder hydrolock
  47. A bent rod can break and hole the engine crankcases, and many engine cases were replaced in the early years
  48. A vacuum valve fitted to the 80 and later models is designed to prevent this hydrolock
  49. The 80 through 81 vacuum-oprated fuel valves are not rebuildable
  50. A special vacuum valve was offered retail as a retrofit to 79 (78 Euro) models
  51. Be careful: a shorter height battery puts the positive cable very close to the frame
  52. As of 2022, a proper cylinder head rebuild costs $2,500, a complete top end done correctly $12,000-$15,000
  53. A factory cylinder head gasket, when one can be found, costs more than $200
  54. Expect to spend between $1,000 and $1,500 to have the carburetors properly rebuilt
  55. Hard starting on the CBX is often caused by a partially failing (high resistance) neutral switch
  56. The Pro-Link air filter is a better part than the twin-shock item and is retrofittable
  57. When reassembling this engine, the right side cams are installed first, then the left side cams
  58. If the left side cams are put in wrong, the cam chain will break due to the choppy, uneven cylinder firing order
  59. This engine's cam bearing bolts are often overtightened due to a misprint in the official manual
  60. An alternator conversion is available but its sole real-life benefit is longer brush life
  61. The front brake master cylinder is often assembled incorrectly when it is rebuilt
  62. A kit to convert US models to the Euro models' sportier bars and pegs orientation was available from the factory
  63. Parts can be had on the aftermarket with which to convert the Comstar wheels to old school wire wheels
  64. Due to intake anamolies, traditional hot-rodding is ineffective in this engine, thus turbocharging is popular
  65. As with most motorcycles, the CBX drive chain is almost always tensioned too tight
  66. The crankcase fume distillation box should be removed to preserve the cleanliness of the carburetors
  67. The OEM valves are long discontinued
  68. The aftermarket replacement valves are very low quality, and more importantly, can't be "tipped"
  69. Synchronizing CBX carburetors is an art and one of the quirkiest aspects of this iconic machine

Recommended reading:
CBX ownership challenges
CBX myths
Sixteen things you should know
The CBX page

Last updated April 2022
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