2021 Honda CMX1100 DCT Review

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Honda has come out with an incredibly well-priced cruiser, the 2021 Honda CMX1100 DCT. This bike packs a surprising amount of power. Plus, it utilises Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) for optimal fuel economy and smoothness. Honda has set out to create an affordable motorcycle marketed towards a younger group of riders and introductce them to the world of cruisers. Sure, it may not have the nostalgic feeling of an American cruiser, but that likely isn’t the type of concern a newcomer to the market would have. Below is our 2021 Honda CMX1100 DCT review, outlining this and more in great detail. You can buy this motorcycle in Australia now. Plus, you won’t have any trouble finding aftermarket parts for sale.

Summary:

  • One of the cheapest cruisers you can buy
  • DCT technology has made great advancements, and it shows
  • Excellent handling
  • Feels lighter than it is, thanks to low centre of gravity
  • Packs a lot of power

Introducing the 2021 Honda CMX1100 DCT

2021 Honda CMX1100 DCT Review
Pictured: 2021 Honda CMX1100 in both colours (2021 Honda CMX1100 DCT Review)

Specs

Style: Cruiser

Top Speed: 177 km/h

Riding Position: Upright

Engine: SOHC liquid-cooled 4-stroke 8-valve parallel twin with 270° crank and Uni-cam. EURO5 compliant

Chassis weight: 223kg

Chassis construction: Tubular Steel Frame

Suspension: Honda Pro-Link

Dashboard: Offset 120mm negative LCD instrument display, USB-C charger

Tyres: Dunlop D428/F

Braking: Engine Braking

Pricing: $18,499 + ORC

Seat Height: 699mm

Learner Approved: No

Pros

+ Riding Modes Are Flexible And Work Great With DCT

+ Incredible Handling And Low Centre Of Gravity

+ One Of The Most Affordable Cruisers On The Market

Cons

No self-cancelling indicators

Front Brakes Don’t Feel Strong Enough

Summary
Performance
3.8
Handling
4.1
Aesthetics
3.5
Cost
4
Features
4
Versatility
3.5
Rating
3.82/5

Computer & Electronics

The 2021 Honda CMX1100 DCT is loaded with three preset riding modes and one user-defined riding mode. These modes all offer different power deliveries and utilise three levels of Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC), which monitors the rotational speed of each wheel and cutting power in pulses when there is a mismatch. It also offers three levels of wheelie control to stop the front wheel lifting when taking off. The standard riding mode utilises a relaxed curve initially, but as you put more power in, the revs rise. Rain is the safest mode to ride in, which lowers power delivery, and the engine braking is matched to high wheelie control and HSTC.

2021 Honda CMX1100 DCT Review
Pictured: Two people riding a Honda CMX1100 (2021 Honda CMX1100 DCT Review)

Gearing

The electronic capabilities of the motorcycle helps to assist gearing with Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), enabling automatic and semi-automatic shifting. DCT has three preset modes and a user-configurable mode. The first is standard, which is a balance between high-gear low-speed shifts and vice versa. The Rain mode is once again the safest option, which shifts into higher gears quicker, ensuring a far smoother ride. Sport mode aims for higher RPM, and lower gears will hold on to revs for a longer duration.

Downshifts occur at a higher RPM to enable an engine braking effect. Finally, user-mode allows the rider to use any DCT shift pattern in any riding mode. Normally, the preset riding mode and DCT shift pattern are the same. This is an excellent feature. However, most of the time, it is recommended to ensure the mode and shift pattern work with each other. This allows the motorcycle to adapt to different situations most efficiently.

For those less inclined to let the computers do all of the work for you, the Honda CMX1100 DCT allows you to use a manual mode. Although this is operated with the shift buttons on the left handlebar, it is located in an easy to reach position, so you won’t need to be moving your hand around too much.

Engine

The Honda CMX1100 DCT uses an Africa Twin engine slightly detuned, with some other minor alterations. To begin with, the flywheel has 20% more mass, which in turn increases inertia by 32%. This makes the low RPM response considerably stronger. Furthermore, valve timing and ignition settings have been revised, which is detailed in the image below.

2021 Honda CMX1100 DCT Review
Pictured: Valve timing and ignition chart (2021 Honda CMX1100 DCT Review)

As outlined in the specifications, the engine has a displacement of 1,084cc and is a parallel twin-cylinder engine with a 270° crank, which is managed by a throttle-by-wire system. The exhaust note is tuned to a low bass frequency initially, and as the power ramps up, it gradually plateaus at a satisfying high pitch. The dimensions are carried over from the Africa Twin, an adventure bike, so it is a lot more compact. This equates to a more centralised and low centre of gravity, with plenty of ground clearance, which makes cruising feel incredibly smooth and consistent.

Chassis

Utilising the signature tubular steel frame to highlight the stylings of sibling motorcycles, the Honda CMX1100 has steering geometry precisely measured to provide enhanced stability and handling at all speeds. Visually, it looks incredibly similar to the Honda CMX500 because the frame was designed with the particular themes of that model in mind. However, there are noticeable alterations, such as the frame’s main tubes now being 35mm, and the swingarm having much more bulk. The motorbike weighs 223kg but feels much lighter due to how low the weight is distributed. The maximum amount of lean that the CMX1100 can do is 35°, with an excellent turning circle.

Two 2021 Honda CMX1100 DCT side by side

Suspension

At the front of the motorcycle are cartridge-style front forks with black two-piece lowers, manufactured from die-cast and extruded aluminium. These connect to 43mm stanchions and have a dark navy titanium oxide finish coat. Located at the rear are twin shocks with a 12.5mm rod and a pressurised piggyback reservoir. Both front and rear have adjustable spring preload. Unfortunately, the rear shock is fairly stiff from my experience, and I started to feel sore after roughly three hours. Not only that, but if I rode over a bump while cornering, it felt like the rear wheel would skip at times.

Dashboard

The 2021 Honda CMX1100 DCS utilises an offset 120mm negative LCD instrument display, which shows you all the information you need on your ride. On the left-hand side of the frame is the ignition key, and there’s a USB-C charger located in the under-seat storage space. Unfortunately, if the sun is in the wrong position, it can greatly affect the visibility of the display. Additionally, self-cancelling indicators are not featured on the CMX1100, which is quite a shame, as it could have been a well-fitting and super-convenient feature on this motorcycle. Accidentally leaving your indicators on, especially on a motorcycle, is dangerous. There is a lot of potential for a crash if you are not perceptually vigilant.

Tyres

Thankfully, the stock 130/70 R18 front and 180/65 R16 Dunlop D428 tyres are a perfect fit for the steering geometry. They are wide, light, and incredibly accurate with handling. The chassis shape and stability further reinforce this.

2021 Honda CMX1100 DCT front view on road

Braking

The CMX1100 utilises cornering ABS powered by a six-axis IMU, as well as engine braking. This slows the motorcycle down after you release the accelerator and shifts down through gears. This helps reduce brake pad wear purely by using the decelerative forces of the engine. Since this is the DCT model, the clutch lever is replaced with a control for the rear wheel parking brake. Meanwhile, the right hand is used for controlling the radially mounted four-piston brake calliper on the front.

Speaking of the front brakes, they don’t feel strong enough for a bike with this much power. It feels like they could benefit from the addition of another disc. Although the braking is passable, it makes me hope that my reaction time is superhuman every time I get on to ride. This is my biggest problem with the bike.

Details

Most people will notice when riding the Honda CMX1100 DCT that the pillion seat is tiny and stiff. Thankfully, there are plenty of aftermarket seats available that are better in every way. It’s just a shame that you need to pay a bit more to get a comfortable ride. This motorcycle also has LED lighting all around, including on the bugeye headlights. In addition, thanks to the popularity of the CMX500, there are many third-party manufacturers creating aftermarket accessories for the CMX1100. So if you want heated grips, luggage racks, or different seats, it won’t be too difficult to find something for you.

2021 Honda CMX1100 DCT in warehouse

Pricing

The Honda CMX1100 DCT model begins at $18,499 + ORC. However, the manual version is priced at $17,499 + ORC. One of the main goals for the motorcycle was to build a competitive cruiser with a price tag lower than others on the market to appeal to younger riders. Honda has achieved this goal, as the CMX1100 is one of the least expensive full-size cruisers that you can buy. It is phenomenal that they have integrated so many electronic systems and optimised the power to the point where it feels like nothing is missing.

Conclusion

The Honda CMX1100 is an excellent introduction to the world of cruisers. Sure, the front brakes may not be the best on the market, plus the seat and suspension can feel limiting and uncomfortable at times, but these are all things that can be fixed. Honda has given us a canvas to create the cruiser we want, with the guaranteed abundance of aftermarket parts, thanks to the popularity of the CMX range in general.

It has a surprising amount of power on the low end, and it doesn’t taper off much at all as the revs increase. Witnessing the evolution of DCT over the years has been interesting and surprising, to say the least. This motorcycle shifts through the gears incredibly efficiently, the ride modes are well configured, and the ride feels smooth from start to finish. Overall, the riding quality is excellent, but there are obvious places to improve, and improvement is entirely possible.

Technical Specifications

Power: 86hp (64kW) at 7,000 rpm
Torque: 98Nm at 4,750rpm
Displacement: 1084cc
Engine: SOHC liquid-cooled 4-stroke 8-valve parallel twin with 270° crank and Uni-cam. EURO5 compliant
Transmission: MT: 6-speed Manual Transmission | DCT: 6-speed Dual Clutch Transmission
Front Suspension: Preload adjustable 43mm cartridge-style
Rear Suspension: Preload adjustable twin piggyback rear shock
Front Brakes: Radial mounted monoblock four-piston brake calliper, 330mm floating single disc
Rear Brakes: Single piston calliper, 256mm single disc
Length: 2240mm
Width: 853mm
Wheelbase: 1520mm
Seat Height: 698.5mm
Fuel Capacity: 13.6L
Wet Weight: 223kg
Warranty: 24 months
Model Code: CMX1100LM
Front Tyre: 130/70B18 M/C
Rear Tyre: 180/65B16 M/C

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