In the mid 1990s, Honda was determined to produce the world's fastest production motorcycle and to take over the associated bragging rights and marketing impact, at the time held by Kawasaki's Ninja ZX11. This led to the creation of the CBR1100XX Super Blackbird. The Blackbird name is a nod to the Lockheed SR-71 aircraft, the world's fastest production aircraft.
In the February 1997 issue of Sport Rider magazine, the CBR1100XX was tested at a top speed of 178.5 mph (287.3 km/h), compared with 175 mph (281.6 km/h) for the ZX-11.
Its supremacy over the ZX-11 was confirmed in April 2007 by Motorcycle Consumer News, although the speeds achieved were slightly lower and the margin was narrower.
In 1999, the Suzuki Hayabusa overtook the CBR1100XX. It was listed in the 2000 Millennium Edition of Guinness World Records as the world's fastest production bike with a top speed of 194 mph (312 km/h).
Production of the Blackbird began in 1996 and halted in 2007. Imports to North America ended in 2003 but sales continued in Europe until 2007. Major changes to the Blackbird were introduced in 1999, when Honda switched from carburetors to PGMfuel injection. The 2001 Blackbird received an LCDinstrument cluster. Since then, mostly the color schemes have changed but the exhaust and fuelling systems have evolved to meet emission standards and maintain or improve fuel efficiency.
Specific variations to the initial model are:
Modification to the thermostat housing. The other changes are minor.
PGM FI fuel injection system is introduced.
Ram-air system is introduced. It provides engine with more air at high speeds (above 200 km/h or 120 mph) using aerodynamic pressure, thus raising power output to a claimed 164 bhp (122 kW) at 9,500 rpm (at the crank).
Revised linked brakes with altered proportioning between front and rear.
Fuel tank capacity is increased from 22 to 24 liters.
The choke lever is removed from the left side switch assembly as it is no longer necessary.
To accommodate the ram air tubes, the oil cooler becomes lower and wider.
The inner and outer fork bushings are wider, changing the fork lowers and sliders.
The sidestand warning light on the instrument cluster becomes the FI warning light.
The wide part of the front axle (left side) becomes 10 mm longer, which makes the left-front axle space 10 mm shorter.
The two bulbs in the tail light are vertically aligned, in previous years they were side by side.
Front wheel hub is enlarged, the brake rotors are changed.
The ignition switch is changed, and the keys are longer.
The rotor carriers, stator cover and clutch cover are a light titanium color.
The number of clutch plates is reduced from nine to seven.
The rear inner fender changes shape to accommodate additional electronics.
Manufacturer's power and torque figures are 164 hp (122.3 kW) and 91.5 ft-lb (124 Nm)