The Legendary Honda Motorcycle Designed To Sound Like A Fighter Jet

Superbikes are about the closest thing you can get to a fighter jet without getting a pilot's license. Very few wheeled vehicles let riders fulfill their "need for speed" like a superbike with a large displacement engine and a canyon road to carve up.

The fighter jet iconography is literally part of the official product description for Honda's foremost superbike, the CBR1000RR. While an F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet will eventually top out at a brisk Mach 1.6 (about 1,200 miles per hour, according to Boeing), the CBR1000RR can reach 60 miles per hour in less than three seconds, beating out many super cars.

While you can't just go out and buy an operational fighter jet without raising a few eyebrows at the U.S. military or NATO, a mind-bendingly fast superbike is just a trip to the dealership away. The fighter jet comparison is fun for fast bikes, and watching Tom Cruise speed down a runway in a Kawasaki is a thrill. While it's hyperbole for most bikes, the fighter jet association was a major part in the development of one of the first ever superbikes, the Honda CBX.

The CBX fighter jet roots

First rolling out in 1978, the Honda CBX was a six-cylinder motorcycle that was capable of reaching 140 miles per hour. That may not seem like much now, but in the late 70s, it was like being launched off the deck of an aircraft carrier. Back then, it was the world's fastest bike by a significant margin (via Motorcycle World). The bike was designed from the ground up to destroy all competition by practically inventing its own segment and taking inspiration from the some of the fastest (and coolest) pieces of machinery around: fighter jets.

The instrument dials on the bike feature a black background and white tipped needles, much like the gauges in the cockpit of an F-4 Phantom or other contemporary fighter jets from the era. According to Motorcycle World, the choice was more than an aesthetic one. The dials were easy to read at any time of day or night, and while going incredibly fast. 

Initially, prototype versions of the CBX's exhaust were tuned to sound like a jet fighter roaring past. Unfortunately, when the bike saw production, the exhaust note was toned down (via Ultimate Motorcycling). Although that's probably for the best, as Honda likely didn't want to deal with complaints of people thinking World War III was immanent whenever a CBX sped by.