Honda CB1100, for the fogey in you

Dailies -


CB1100-fogey.jpgWhat looks to be an internal Honda marketing video for the CB1100 has naturally made its way to the Internets, and hilarity ensues with quotes from project leader Hirofumi Fukunaga like, “Hey Rider, you are in the leading role, so enjoy yourself” and “People around see you and think ‘Wow that’s cool.’” Childish giggling aside, Honda has now made it perfectly clear who they don’t care about this rather classy bike appealing to– anyone under the spritely age of 48.

In fact, Fukunaga explicity states Honda “wanted this bike to appeal to
the late 40 and 50 year olds, who used to ride when they were younger.”
That’s marketing schpeal meaning a cruiser for males who haven’t ridden
in decades, are out of shape, growing grey soul patches to make up for their growing bald patches, hate their jobs, possibly their wives and brats as well and want
need to feel exactly like the youthful demographic the bike
industry can’t seem to be bothered with. Not that that will stop the younger, financially flush bikers from snapping these retro cruisers up if the CB1100 makes it stateside.

Looking on the brighter side, we’re at least thankful Honda didn’t put a giant air-cooled V-twin in the CB1100 to go along with that tired business plan of marketing to and relying on a generation whose credit liquidity has recently evaporated. At least someone at Honda Japan finally remembered that motorcycling is emotional, and maybe that’s good enough for now. Baby steps, folks. Baby steps.

Thanks for the tip, Jason.

  • Scottie

    “spritely age of 48″

    I turn 50 this fall, do you want to challenge me in a 10k, marathon or triathlon? Your choice.

    • Grant Ray

      Scottie, you’re not the targeted demo for this bike and you know it. The fact is that Honda doesn’t even think buyers as young as 42, much less buyers in their 30s or, God forbid, mid to late 20s, are worth including as a target market for this machine.

      • Grant Ray

        I should also add that Honda doesn’t seem to put any emphasis on current riders being a target, either.

  • steve781

    Do I have to steal a milk crate from behind Piggly Wiggly again or is there a Honda branded option? Actually a full set of Givi’s would not look too bad on this.

  • PC Paul

    I bought my last NEW Honda in 1989. I still have it…It is a PC800. I AM the nerd that they market to. :-)

  • PeteP

    “a cruiser for males who haven’t ridden in decades, are out of shape, growing grey soul patches to make up for their growing bald patches, hate their jobs, possibly their wives and brats as well and want need to feel exactly like the youthful demographic the bike industry can’t seem to be bothered with. “

    I’m 53, and that description is 180 degrees away from me. I guess the bike is not for me.

    • Grant Ray

      The craziest part is that everyone I’ve talked to who knows about and wants either the CB1100 or a smaller version of it currently rides, knows and loves vintage UJMs, doesn’t care much for current sport bikes or V-twin cruisers, is between the ages of 26 and roughly 58, both male and female.

      Jason, the guy who tipped us, is a professional late 20-something from the South totally jonesing for and willing to buy this bike, and he’s not even a blip on the corporate radar. That’s how out of touch this marketing brief is with the American biker demographic. And from my experience, there’s an army of Jasons out there.

      My break-down wasn’t an attack, btw. I’ve just sat in on countless meetings where VP strategists will sum up a demo for a campaign in pretty much the exact same tone, using pretty much the exact same descriptors.

  • Doug

    “The craziest part is that everyone I’ve talked to who knows about and wants either the CB1100 or a smaller version of it currently rides, knows and loves vintage UJMs, doesn’t care much for current sport bikes or V-twin cruisers, is between the ages of 26 and roughly 58, both male and female.”

    Yep, that’s me (except I’m 25). What’s more, some of us dream of caf-ing out a CB some day …

  • Patrick

    Scottie’s right. as Grant finally admits in his last response to PeteP. Although I disagree when he tries to say his article “wasn’t an attack”. He belittles a demographic that Honda is trying to include.

    I’m 42, in great shape, have been riding my whole life, and I love this bike. The old school bikes are very popular. Where the hell do you think the naked warrior bikes came from? Young riders trying to approximate the bare bones look of cafe racers from the sixties and seventies.

    Look at the custom bike building trends the world over. Nearly all of them are going old school. The xs650 is once again one of the most popular customs. Japanese kids are building triumph flat-tracker look-a-likes. There is amazing diversity and creativity in this period of motorcycle history, one that has not been seen since… It is just starting to come back in the current product line ups of the various manufacturers. Two years ago, you had three choices: a full fairing bike, a cruiser, or a an offroad/dual purpose. All the various sizes in any of the three categories looked roughly identical.

    The new CB represents a another choice. A choice for people who remember a different kind of motorcycling. Less competitive and more just plain fun. I am all for it!

    • Wes Siler

      No one’s picking on you old fogeys, but Honda has changed its focus nearly exclusively to serving 40+ year olds and that’s the thinking that brought us the VFR1200, the Fury, the DN-01 etc. Honda’s continued insistence that Boomers will continue to bank roll the company for the forseeable future is exceptionally short sighted and just doesn’t take into account events of the last two years which have seen that generation’s buying power drastically reduced.

      Plus, as a 29 and a 33-year old, we just want some cool nakeds and the CB1100R.

  • Viceroy_Fizzlebottom

    If I’m not mistaken, the 40-50 demographic has taken quite a beating in the recession. Honda may wish to rethink their marketing strategy and try and aim for a younger crowd

  • Case

    Is Mr. Fukunaga the same guy they had rest-riding Shamu? Because he is small enough to stand on his own trophy.

    I like this bike, even if they are delivering a big slice of fail with their target demographic. At least they recognize the emotional aspect and are trying to tap into that.

    Shame it didn’t occur to them that often 50 y/o men have kids, and those “kids” might want to buy a bike like their dad had before his wife made him quit riding (heartless bitch). A bike with a big inline four in it, and no fairings that you could make either cafe racer or easy-park city cruiser. A CB750 that starts every time, with better brakes.

    Why aren’t they selling the practical sportiness of this thing to a demographic that doesn’t want to be Dani Pedrosa or a harley-riding knuckle dragger? I don’t get it.

  • KitFromCA

    I’m 23 and I like this thing! I may have to ditch my old KZ1000 to put one of these next to my Blackbird in the garage…

  • Mid life crisis

    Ah yes Hirofumi san, I too want to fully participate in the real enjoyment of the motorcycle that’s emotional naked.

    I really do. So what’s the difference between the type 1 and type 2? Stiffer springs?

    This website is such a riot- totally off the wall. Always goring someone’s ox.

  • mototom

    So to be clear, your idea of a cash flush demographic is the 20 something to 30 something male of whom 1 in 5, (that is 20% for you recent college grads) is unemployed and probably a similar percentage is under employed. Good luck with your next business project.

    As for being bald and old, no arguement here but the rest of your thesis is pure crap. Inter-generational arguements are always fun but would be even more so if those initiating the arguement were better informed.

    • Grant Ray

      Mototom, where did I say my projected demo was singularly male? Or only 20-30 something? And where did I pretend the bike would be financially valid as a mass market commodity? Which, at the price point the CB1100 will sell, it clearly will not be.

      Here in the US the CB1100 would, outside of a handful, strictly be a recreational vehicle, also known as a lifestyle purchase, which is just marketing spin for selling luxury goods to people who can’t afford said goods unless by debt. Working class baby boomers almost uniformly got their asses handed to them, regardless how fiscally conservative they were, thanks to devastated real estate, wiped 401Ks and mass-downsizing of middle management. Crazy enough, it’s those snot-nosed renting young’ins with no kids or mortgages, along the standard upper class, who are slightly more flush right now.

      The demographic has moved. So have their tastes for consumption.

      Also, I never said ALL fogies most likely hate their lives and need retro air-cooled inline-4 motorcycles to feel young again, just the ones Honda seems to be targeting with this video, based on Fukunaga’s descriptions and my experiences of how that language germinates in marketing roundtable brainstorms.

      • spectator

        @grant – good so you do get it. I still disagree, the richness has not moved down from 40+’ers to 20-30′s. Honda still wants to hit as big of a niche as they can, hence conjuring the old gentleman.

        And also, lets be real, the purchasing public for motorcycles is overwhelmingly male, so we are just talking about old guys.

        I am really annoyed that Canada gets the CBR 125R and we don’t. I agree with Mark D. let’s have some reasonably sized UJM’s around that don’t weigh a ton (I’m looking at you TU250X)

  • Ammerlander

    I wonder though, is it really of any consequence if Honda try to market this bike to one demographic or the other?
    I think all they have to do is make the bike available in north america and europe, give it to the press people so they can test it, and if it has no major flaws, the buyers will come.

  • mike

    So I really have to be the one to point out today’s date?

    I’m just wondering if Honda has a sense of humor or if Grant and/or Wes added the subtitles themselves…

    • Wes Siler

      We’re not that clever.

  • Mark D.

    Considering how long R&D and national testing for motorcycles take, I doubt Honda still thinks targeting 40+ nostalgic boomers is good idea. Unfortuantely, the product is being taken to market, and its the only viable marketing strategy. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, but they REALLY need to build a bike for beginner riders. Brand loyalty is alot stronger in the motorcycle market, and currently Honda has nothing to compete withe the Ninja 650s/SV650s of the world. Draw them in early, and they’ll be buying $15k touring bikes in a few decades! Honda, the under-30 crowd wants a $6.5k, classically styled, UJM CB500/750!

    • Wes Siler

      Oh, they still believe it. We were recently told by Big Red, “Boomers will continue to bankroll the industry for the forseeable future.”

      • Mark D.

        Ouch. Big Red may be in for some tough times ahead! Apparently their “foreseable future” is 5 years out, no further.

        Younger generation have been more hesitant to pick up riding, but I see alot of potential in electrics. Either Honda sees that potential, too, or they go the way of BSA, Norton, and the old Triumph.

        I can see it now: the 2035 “new” Honda CB750!

  • Mid life crisis

    I think you guys have put your finger on a trend with Honda- they are definitely running away from the youth market. They’re research and development department are busily rolling out “mobility aids” and robots for the elderly. There’s not nearly the innovation on their bikes that there was 20, 30 years ago.

    I read an article here some time back where the president of Yamaha was bemoaning that the younger generation was more interested in geeking out on computer games than riding. Maybe that explains it.

  • s0crates82

    I <3 UJM’s. I ride a fogey fast bike now, the FZ1, and would seriously dig owning this new fogey bike.

    I’m 27.

  • spectator

    Wes, Grant; think realistically for a minute here. If you are 20-30 you have 2 basic options – college track or non college track – the college track is not the largest portion of the demographic, and they are in the process of gaining anywhere from 40 – 120k in debt. Also, when they graduate, many won’t have jobs, and the few that do will make crap money.
    The non-college track will begin working/apprenticing and might earn between 40 – 120k in those same 4 years.
    The 40-50 year old market earns more money than the 20-30 market (moar exp points) and by that age most people have multiple income households and can support expensive ‘fun’ purchases. Further, motorcycles are not used as primary transportation in this country, so (on average) if you have a motorcycle, it’s your toy or secondary method of transportation. So, the largest, richest market for ANY motorcycles (which is something that large manufacturers are looking for) is NEVER going to be the 20-30 demographic.

    I am 25, I make more money than 50% of all american HOUSEHOLDS and I own 3 bikes (UJM, small metric cruiser, 600cc supersport), 2 scooters (50cc), and a pick up truck and I live downtown in a major east-coast city. I really wish people like me constituted a greater percentage of the buying public but it simply ‘ain’t gonna happen.’

    As for the CB, nice bike, if it’s not about the numbers why is the engine so enormous? (cooling? marketing to wussy-old-guy bikers?)

  • Eric

    I’m in my early 30′s and this is the kind of bike I’ve been waiting for, of course I’d really like the CB 750 they sell in Japan in classic Honda Racing colors but I guess there is no chance in that. I’m just not a cruiser guy and sportbikes are too uncomfortable, plus I really don’t want or need to go 150 mph.

  • JR


    Want to cafe this

  • Sen Heng

    You guys are forgetting this was made for the Japanese market. People in their 20~30s cannot find full-time jobs, many people are getting by by doing several part-time jobs at once, jobs that only pay half what you get as a full-time employee.

    This is targetted at the folks that are 40~50, because they had a job before the bubble burst in the 90s, and they still have their job now because of the job-for-life culture over here.

    • shinigami

      That is exactly correct- you people seem to have largely missed the cultural difference here- this message is for the Japanese market.

      I will further note there is much less stigma attached to the “late forties-50′s” demographic appelation in Japan than in the US.

      Lastly, the translation loses quite a lot of nuance and meaning.

      • Nick

        i agree. i watched the video expecting some sort of hilarity but the hype in the blog post fell well short. personally i didn’t see anything wrong or funny with this video.

  • NatefromOgden

    Tell them to bring it here, even as a 800 or 900 and I’ll go get my money fromthe bank to buy one. Yes, I’m part of the intended audience- 54, professional, kids out of the house, and I grew up on and around air-cooled 4 cylinder UJM bikes. I don’t give a fiddler’s damm about cruisers or sport bikes and if I’m going to cross state lines on a trip I’m going in a car not a Wing.

    The only motorcyles that are out there right now that I would consider buying are retro- the Bonneville or the Moto Guzzi and Honda hasn’t sold anything to get me inside their doors for years. This bike would get me inside their store.

  • PeteP

    My previous post was kind of tongue-in-cheek, but true. The real problem is kind of hinted at by other previous posts.

    When I was in my 20′s, a “good” new street bike was about $1500, while the cheapest useable car was about $7000.

    Today, a decent new bike costs around $7000, and the cheapest car from Korea or China costs about $9000.

    If, IF, this bike made it to the US, what would it cost? $10K? I figure $11,900.

    Want that old school jap 4-banger? There’s lots of cheaper ways to get one. I have the garage inventory to prove it.

    That’s why this bike will never be sold in the US. Too many cheap older bikes out there.

    Troll Craigslist and get a beat CB500. Teach yourself how to work on it. Earn your ride.

    That’s what I did 30+ years ago. It just takes a little dedication.

    I really like this bike. Trouble is, there are just too many other better deals out there. I recently bought a 2001 Triumph Speed Triple for $2200. Think this revamped CB is better than that?

    So, my point is, Honda can’t sell this bike (or any bike) to the people who want basic transportation. Too many cheap cars.

    They can not compete with the Japanese vintage market in the US either. Too many cheap bikes out there.

    The problem doesn’t only apply to this particular bike, it’s an industry wide problem


  • GeddyT

    PeteP just barely beat me to it.

    Here’s a story: I was just given a CB750. Runner, mechanically sound, still strong, no seat tears. My dad’s fiance got a new bike and doesn’t want to bother doing the tune-up and selling her old CB, so I told them I’d take it off their hands as a good weekend project. Carbs need cleaned and synced. No biggie.

    Were I to want to take it further, I’d cafe the bike out, try shedding some weight from it, make it fun. Personally, though, there are a ton of sub-$4000 bikes out there that will do everything–EVERYTHING–better than a heavy, wide, air-cooled UJM. Except fitting in at your hipster bike night, that is.

    What I’m saying is I still don’t see the point of this bike at that high of a price. My story is not unique; a friend of mine was also given an old CB750 by a co-worker for zero dollars. His was pretty rough, but it was free! And if you’re willing to spend a few thousand dollars on craigslist, the possibilities grow exponentially.

    The difference between me and the purchasers of this new 1100 will be the $12,000 still in my pocket. We’ll both have a wide, heavy, air-cooled UJM, and they’ll even look pretty similar to each other.

    If nostalgia or looking too hip to care that your bike is a relic is your thing, there are still plenty of UJMs out there that people would love to sell you for pennies on the dollar.

    Honda: Forward, please, not backwards. Your CBRs are incredible. Your dirt bikes are incredible. How about stepping up to the plate in markets you don’t already totally own? How about stepping up to Ducati’s new Multistrada? You could start by shaving over a hundred pounds from the new VFR… How about a competent entry level bike to take on the SV/Gladius? How about bumping up the CBR125R to 250cc and bringing it stateside? Or, hell, even just bring it down as it is! How about a batshit crazy motard? Or any fun single for the street? Hell, bring back the damned SuperHawk with fuel injection and a bigger tank! You know, FUN.

    Nah, we’ll just get a 40 year old UJM with better brakes, a 600 lb. “sport” “tourer” with a tiny gas tank, a gigantic scooter with an ATV transmission, and a 10-years-too-late chopper.

    I’ve owned as many Hondas as all of my other bikes put together, but unless I pick up a used ’08 Fireblade for a track bike some time soon, I won’t be riding red for the foreseeable future. Too many fun, exciting bikes from other manufacturers to even bother walking in the door to the Honda dealer. I haven’t visited mine in over two years now.

  • The Grudz

    Perhaps Honda made some kind of deal to trade their rider demographic with BMW…either way, air-cooled/liquid-cooled, motorcycles are wonderful and we are all nerds.

  • jpenney

    Honda really needs to market this like Harley markets their Dark Customs bikes. There’s a whole retro showdown in the making: Sportsters, Bonnevilles, CBs. It’s like 1969 … except I exist to see it this time.

  • Mid life crisis

    Putting aside all the marketing analysis stuff, this is a very nice bike. Casual riding in jeans and tee shirt is great, and there’s probably not a better bike for it.

  • cowpieapex

    Just as the past generation of V twin cruiser buyers were those who purchased a replica of the bike their bachelor uncle showed up on when he came to visit in 1955, the UJM is the machine lurking in the psyche of the following generation.
    The next page in this cycle will be a generation of “scooter trash” raising hell on clapped out and crudely modified Harleys dumped on the market.

    • todd

      Totally! (as we used to say back in the 70′s)

      When I was 14 the bike I would have given my left nut for was the 1976 RD400C. Cast wheels! F/R discs! 14.2 quarter mile! When I was 17 it was the CB750F. Triple discs! A real SUPERBIKE.

      Now those bikes are considered “standards,” but in my day they were the hottest, meanest, most ADVANCED bikes out there. That’s my fascination with these bikes – sure technology has moved on, but in my reptilian brain they still represent the baddest, coolest bikes evah.

  • kidchampion

    I highly recommend the Vanity Fair article about director John Hughes. At the peak of his success, he withdrew from the public eye because he realized the Baby Boomers were hogging too much of the cultural oxygen and casting too big a shadow. I thank him for that.

  • ycshammer

    Don’t forget, this video was produced for the JPN market, where 20 & 30-somethings definitely don’t have the purchasing power for (or interest in) a nostalgia bike like this, given the crap state of job prospects, living space and leisure time for people in that demographic. So the comments that “boomers are going to bankroll Honda for some time to come” from Wes is no secret to Honda Japan.

    As such they can unashamedly chase (and stroke the egos of) the 50 or 60 year old JPN male market segment, who will be the last generation of Japanese able to enjoy the fruits of the over-strained pension system and the only ones flush enough (with the yen, space and leisure time) to own this bike. The “silver fox” is a huge growth area for many JPN manufacturers & retailers right now, not just in bikes but all leisure/vanity products: designer clothes, styling products, etc.

    Are they cutting their throats a la H-D by focusing on such a narrow demographic? I agree with the comments from “Mid life crisis” – Honda is banking on selling to the elderly / retirement age folks for years to come and is putting a big chunk of R&D into that (in their domestic market anyhow), so probably not too worried. Simply take a look at the dearth of new bikes at the last Tokyo Auto Show to see if Honda is bothered. As for American Honda, well, I’m sure that all too often they get a bike that was designed for another market and just have to try to cobble together a plan to sell it as best they can.

    Last thought: the Japanese translation is simply poor, so I agree that “Rider, you are in the leading role” comes across weird, but IMHO the engineer’s comments to me actually don’t seem too far off from parts of Grant’s review of the Suzuki Gladius…

  • DoctorNine

    I have noticed a lot of comments like, ‘just buy an old bike and fix it’ being bandied about. This is all well and good for those who have more time than money. And in fact, it is something I really enjoy doing, even after all these years (decades.. how did I get this old…). But it ignores a couple facts. Most people with the ready disposable income to buy a new bike, are pretty busy these days, and might want to buy a bike straight up, rather than spend a couple months to get a used bike where they want it. And few if any of these older bikes are designed with fuel injection and the engineering conveniences seen on modern machines. This is exactly the type of bike which will bring people back into motorcycling. The styling fits the design philosophy for these ex-bikers. That congruence is part of the appeal. You can’t argue matters of taste. People like what they like. And boy oh boy, I like this CB1100.

  • Romano

    Very interesting discussion. I’m 28, doing relatively well off for someone in my demographic and I really dig this bike. However, it’s hard to see myself dropping anywhere near the kind of coin it’s going to cost to purchase new. In fact, it’s hard to see myself buying any new bike, with the deals you can get for lightly used bikes these days. Maybe a crazy markdown like what we saw for leftover Honda CBR1000s last year or some of the Buells when Harley was trying to clear inventory.

    Bottom line, there needs to be enough buyers out there to take the depreciation hit, so guys like me can swoop in and enjoy the markdown. I think the days of financing recreational purchases are over for my generation. We’ve been bitten by the recession harder then most, and I’m sure it’ll leave a lasting impression. Even if you have a good job right now, I think priority number 1 is building up that rainy day fund.

  • A*Man

    Does it matter the demographics that they are trying to appeal to? Given the bleak prospects for young workers in Japan, would this bike even have been built if the marketing campaign was geared towards them? Would it have changed the substance of the bike?

    I like the bike and the focus towards simplicity and enjoyment of the ride. This is what we need to draw new riders of all ages into the fold. You can ride this bike without having to dress up as a power ranger or a pirates.

    If you’re really keen on getting it to these shores, some buzz will need to generated amongst the dealers and corporate. If it worked for the Harley XR1200, why not for this?

  • Tomas Murdych

    I encourage everybody interested in the CB 1100 for the U.S. to call the Honda headquarters in California; I got their number from their web page (866-784-1870) and was told no, the bike is not destined for the U.S. at the moment (and I cannot put any money down or order it), and yes, other people have called already as well.

    I liked the comments from the reader in Japan earlier in the discussion. It somehow gave a different angle on the product planning. I did not find the video about CB 1100 development bad; the person responsible for developing the bike used the words “bike life” several times and there is nothing wrong with it.

  • PJ

    “ We realised a long time ago that what you make people feel is more important than what you make.” — BMW

  • A*Man

    Ripped from ADVRider – Honda seems to be riding one around SoCal to gauge interest. From the picture it looks like it made a stop at Cars and Coffee or something similar. Someone also linked to a petition to bring it to the US:

  • shovelhead82

    hey ray. anytime you wanna give this ol 53 year old geezer a hand shingling a roof or building a house for the day, or cutting my winter’s wood, or gosh, just an old fashioned bench press competition, just to demonstrate how much more youthful vigor you have than me, let me know. from this and other posts, i take it you find any demographic except the one you fit in, whatever that is, to be worthy of ridicule and not much else. as for the bike, i sorta like the retro style. i don’t ever see new bikes, regardless of brand name, that have the aesthetics of the older stuff.