The Honda CB900C is a "custom"-styled standard
motorcycle produced by Honda from 1980 to 1982.
The slightly modified and larger displacement
CB1000C was produced in 1983 only. It is a derivative
of the DOHC CB750K at the supposed requests
of the American consumer, according to Rider
Magazine, March 1980. It is equipped with a
handful of features that are unique for its
time. These included air assisted suspension
front and rear, shaft drive all from the GL1100
Goldwing of the same time period, most notably,
a dual range sub-transmission that allows the
operator to "split" any of the five gears in
the main transmission for a a total of ten driveline
An air/oil cooled DOHC 902cc engine with
4 32mm Keihin CV carburetors and electronic
pointless ignition produces 84 BHP @ 8500
RPM. Front suspension relies on air pressure
for preload while the rear relies more on
air for the actual spring action. Three disk
brakes arrest the momentum of the considerable
curb weight as listed in the Honda FSM (Factory
Service Manual) as 611 pounds or 277kg.
Both Rider and Cycle World reviewed this
motorcycle in 1980 with varying degrees of
disregard and dissatisfaction. The top complaints
were the lack of purity in the "custom" styling
and its effect on function regarding sport
or spirited riding. The soft suspension was
recorded as a hindrance to cornering ability
as was the highly reactive shaft-drive/sub-transmission
combination and the huge mass of the machine
in general. Comparisons were made to tractor
trailers. The bike garnered some appreciation
from Cycle World for its styling and tank
The genesis of the CB900C makes it a "parts
bin" bike. Honda produced two shaft drive
bikes previous to and concurrently with the
CB900C. The GL and CX series of touring motorcycles
of the time are the source of the final drive
and rear suspension assemblies of the CB900C.
The European model CB900F supplied the basic
frame extended two inches for the sub-transmission,
engine, and many other chassis components.
Full Hondaline touring equipment (Fairing,
Lower Leg Fairings, Saddlebags and Trunk were
available from the Honda dealer to make the
CB900C a complete Touring Bike.
The Sub-transmission is used as a "jack shaft".
That is, in order for Honda to use the CB900F
engine in conjunction with the GL swingarm
and final shaft drive, power must be taken
from the CB900F's left hand power take off
and transferred to the GL's right hand side
final drive shaft. The "Jack Shaft" was given
2 gear ranges ranges at relatively low cost.
Most CB900C riders use the 2-Speed Transmission
more like 6th gear overdrive. Leaving the
bike in low range while shifting through the
normal 5 gears, then shifting into high range
once up to speed on highway, reducing engine
rpm significantly at touring speeds.
Despite the lackluster treatment of the bike
by the media some 27 years ago, the CB900
Custom has gained a small cult following.
This phenomenon is not due to any one particular
attribute of the cycle, but rather to a culmination
of appreciation for its uniqueness (10 speeds),
styling, comfort, reliability, and ample power
output. "It looks like a bike should look,"
says a member of the "CB900C CB1000C Custom
Club" on Yahoo! groups (well over 2,000 members
strong). The CB900C CB1000C Custom Club had
been around in its current form since September
14, 2000 and existed on many other forums
for several years before settling on the Yahoo!
Groups forum. One of main reasons for the
clubs existence is to help owners get as many
of these bikes as possible back on the road.