A Honda six for under £10k? That’d be the Pro-Link model then.
The classic world Is a genuinely strange and bewildering place especially for the uninitiated. Take any iconic model and the chances are that the first of the breed will be the most desirable, most sought after and most expensive of the genre. Kawasaki Z1s are a prime example; the 1972 analogue will easily sell for a three or four fold premium over the later 2900. Ditto the ubiquitous CB750/4; the final K6/K7 iterations are actually much more real-world practical yet the sandcast is the model everyone covets. This month we look at another end-of-line model and ask why wouldn’t you buy one?
When Honda launched the CBX 1000Z everyone knew the machine was a chest thumping exercise to prove Honda was still top dog. Although jaw-droppingly awesome the bike actually didn’t tread too much new ground in terms of technology. Most of what was there had been seen before but not necessarily all in one package. As a flagship model the CBX was right up there but as a techno-fest the Goldwing that had preceded the six was substantially more advanced. In reality the largesse of the CBX was as much a curse as it was a blessing; those that really wanted a reliable six-cylinder bike now had options but as a sports bike the mass and bulk was ultimately too much. New ideas were starting to take shape and the days of simply maxing-out were drawing to a close. A new order was just around the corner where size and weight would be heavily scrutinised. The end of the brawny muscle bike was nigh but Honda had a minor-suite ace up its sleeve as a parting gesture. The CBX 1000 moved from sports bike to sports-tourer and in the process would, latterly, evolve into one of the most overlooked bargains of the classic world.
The Honda CBX 1000 Pro-Link actively addressed several issues that had affected the original naked Z models. The most obvious differences were the fitting of a fairing and the adoption of a mono-shock suspension system. The former brought the bike in line with many of its competitors where aerodynamics was now being considered as a performance and rider aid. The updated tail end reflected the general advances made in suspension technology since the mid-1970s but there was another bonus that many overlooked. The rear swinging arm was now fabricated in aluminium as part of a weight saving plan which would ultimately improve handling via the reduction on unsprung mass.
The front end was also similarly upgraded from the original flex prone 35mm stanchions to a beefy set of industry standard, air assisted, 39mm units. Advances in fork bush technology had already seen Teflon-lead-bronze alloy from Honda’s motocross machines used on the previous A models and similar science was applied to the units in the new B model. Various engine issues that had afflicted the Z models were seamlessly addressed leaving the bike at the top of its game. The gearbox was now less inclined to jump out of gear while the potentially oil-leak prone front camchain tensioner was upgraded thereby ensuring that stunning engine wouldn’t be oleaginously blighted. Reprofiled cams boosted midrange power and whole host of other subtle revisions ensured the motor’s potential was fully realised. Brakes gained dual-piston calipers up front and ventilated discs; Honda was determined to keep its flagship bang up to date.
A slight increase in wheelbase and tyre width might just possibly have taken a gnat’s do-dah off the hike’s low speed manoeuvrability but the overall riding experience was substantially enhanced. Stability and ease of use increased and the new fairing that some decried reduced rider fatigue. While some might complain the original ethos of the bike had been spoilt those that actually committed to buy came away more than impressed. The silky smooth power delivery of a six-cylinder motor was almost made for a high speed, long distance machine and here it was for anyone who wanted it. Sadly the new model only ran for two years before being deleted from the model range. Exhaust and noise emissions were beginning to cause issues for air-cooied motors, technology had moved on and Honda was focussing on mass centralisation. The new water-cooled V fours that would be the signature of the company’s range for the next three decades were already in the wings.
If the undeniable joy of six appeals but the price of an original Z model makes you wince the Pro-Link B and C models might just be the way to go. There’s the kudos of that iconic engine along with all the later upgrades and the ability to travel long distances behind a fairing. Sounds like a done deal to us here at CMM.
WHAT TO BUY AND HOW MUCH TO PAY
It’s possibly stating to blindingly obvious but we’d strongly recommend steering well clear of a project Pro-Link bike missing key engine or transmission parts. Numerous components transfer over to the Z and A models as considered upgrades so you could end up with a royal pain that’s never going to run. Conversely examples with missing trim etc, may not be such an issue as eBay in particular seems well stocked with both new and used parts. Prices are just starting to move upwards as aspirant CBX owners realise the costs of the early model but it’s still early days. Well used, high mileage examples occasionally turn up for £2000-£3000; if the engine is quiet and the rear end’s not seized you’ll have yourself a bargain. Top end for a minter would be £7000; anyone asking more is probably dreaming. We’d most likely go for the final C model in white simply because they look just a little different. Somewhere out there, between £4000-£5000, there’s a well maintained low mileage example with our name on it.
Engine type Air-cooled, 1047cc, four-stroke si*, dohc, four valves/cylinder
Bore and Stroke 64.5mm x 53,4mm
Claimed Horsepower98hp (?2.9kW) @ 9000rpm
Maximum Torque 61.5lb-ft @ 7500rpm
Transmission type Five speed
Compression ratio 9.3:1
Carburettors 6 x 28mm VB Keihin
Tyre 3,50 X 19 (F) 130/90 x 18 (R)
Brakes — Front 2 x 276mm discs
Brakes — Rear 296mm disc
Fuel Capacity 22 litres
Dry Weight 268kg
Wheelbase 1495mm (58.86in)
Length 2220mm (87in)
Width 780mm (31in)