Motorcycles

Honda's CB4 "Interceptor" concept imagines retro cafe racer of the future

Honda's CB4 "Interceptor" conc...
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept catapults the retro cafe racer style into the future
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept catapults the retro cafe racer style into the future
View 19 Images
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept catapults the retro cafe racer style into the future
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Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept catapults the retro cafe racer style into the future
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: single sided swingarms always make the back wheel look a million dollars
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Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: single sided swingarms always make the back wheel look a million dollars
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept
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Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: 400cc engine in this concept model
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Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: 400cc engine in this concept model
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: all black, all the time – it's a fine philosophy for motorcycling
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Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: all black, all the time – it's a fine philosophy for motorcycling
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: last year's CB4 concept turned out to inspire the design of this year's CB1000R – could the Interceptor inspire a production bike soon?
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Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: last year's CB4 concept turned out to inspire the design of this year's CB1000R – could the Interceptor inspire a production bike soon?
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: angel eye and turbine style headlight
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Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: angel eye and turbine style headlight
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: hides in dark alleys
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Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: hides in dark alleys
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: apparently there's a touch screen hidden on that tank
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Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: apparently there's a touch screen hidden on that tank
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: nifty looking tail section will never make it onto a production bike
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Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: nifty looking tail section will never make it onto a production bike
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: bikes look so damn clean with no mirrors, indicators and license plates
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Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: bikes look so damn clean with no mirrors, indicators and license plates
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: push button ignition and racing style fuel cap
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Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: push button ignition and racing style fuel cap
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: 4-into-1 exhaust enters the tail section and exits immediately afterward
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Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: 4-into-1 exhaust enters the tail section and exits immediately afterward
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: design sketch
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Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: design sketch
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: with designer Valerio Aiello
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Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: with designer Valerio Aiello
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: with designer Valerio Aiello, seated and stroking the handlebar
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Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: with designer Valerio Aiello, seated and stroking the handlebar
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: with designer Valerio Aiello, looking cold
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Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: with designer Valerio Aiello, looking cold
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: without designer Valerio Aiello
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Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: without designer Valerio Aiello
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: could we see a production version at next year's EICMA?
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Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: could we see a production version at next year's EICMA?

Honda's European design studio is back with another super-sexy concept bike based on the CB400. The CB4 Interceptor takes the retro cafe racer style and flings it into the future with a faux-frameless design and some very cool touches.

This time last year, we got our first gander at the CB4 concept, a retro/futuristic Euro-look styling exercise by Honda's design team. For this year's EICMA expo, the Design Studio team has taken the CB4 in a different direction with the CB4 Interceptor concept.

Another sharp dresser, the Interceptor bears no relation to the old VFR bikes that bore that name from the early 80s onwards. Instead, this thing takes the retro idea of the cafe racer and fires it forward into the future with a super-sleek and very cool design.

Let's start with the frame. There doesn't really appear to be one, or if it is, a lot of it has been very cleverly hidden. There's a small structural unit behind the engine block, to which the subframe, footpegs and gorgeous single-sided swingarm appear to mount. But the engine itself seems to be responsible for some of the heavy lifting on the way up toward the steering head.

Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: could we see a production version at next year's EICMA?
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: could we see a production version at next year's EICMA?

Perhaps some load bearing is also handled by the upper bodywork and tank, or concealed beneath it.

As a concept, there's no commercial practicality required. So this thing's fitted with black and gold Ohlins suspension and a fairly serious looking set of Brembo brakes. There's no mirrors, indicators or license plates, the seat appears to be trimmed in Alcantara, and there's an angel eye light ring around the weird turbine-shaped headlight.

Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: angel eye and turbine style headlight
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: angel eye and turbine style headlight

The tail section's interesting too. The 4-into-1 exhaust system that defines the lower shape of the bike in profile snakes up into the tail behind the rider's seat, only to poke out the back a few inches later. LED pattern brake lights look great, but we're not sure why this bike has "1000R" written on it when it uses the 4-cylinder, 399cc engine from the CB400

Wacky. But not as wacky as this: "The front of the bike features a fan used to convert the motorcycle's kinetic energy to power the touch-screen located on the tank." How is that more efficient than running it off the bike's regular electrical system?

Speaking of the touch-screen, it's supposed to handle navigation, connectivity and entertainment, but I can't work out where it actually is – maybe that glossy black central strip on the tank is actually the screen itself.

Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: bikes look so damn clean with no mirrors, indicators and license plates
Honda's CB4 Interceptor concept: bikes look so damn clean with no mirrors, indicators and license plates

Regardless, mark me down as a fan of this design. I think it looks great and they'd sell by the truckload in today's image conscious market. But the whole exercise really raises a big question for me: if Honda's got people capable of designing bikes that look this good, why don't they? Personal preferences here and all that, but look at the current CB series naked bikes. They're competent little machines, but yikes, you'd either want to put a paper bag over their headlight while you're riding them, or put one over your own head in case you get seen.

I only complain because I care. My first two bikes were Hondas, and I still carry a quiet fondness for the brand, despite not having ridden much in the last 10 years that rings my bell.

But perhaps there's good news coming. The CB4 concept from 2016 appears to have driven some of the design language behind Honda's new CB1000R, which, while it's probably not going to win too many beauty contests, is certainly the best looking production Honda naked in some time – and with the use of a 145-horsepower detuned Fireblade motor, it seems to be packing some grunt to boot. So maybe this Interceptor concept will bear children down the line and Honda can get some stylish bikes on the road. Only time will tell.

Source: Honda

3 comments
DavidRogerBrown
Well written,Loz. Honda have been slack with few exciting new "real" models for years. They used to lead but now mostly follow. Maybe they're waking up? The new Goldwing seems like a lighter,big improvement. Honda models are generally heavier but African Twin is actually lighter than the KTM 1090. How often does that happen? Once in a blue moon. Now if we can get young people to put down their electronics and learn a new activity.
Damo el Guapo
This is just a 'Hondafied' copy of the 'Husqvarna Vitpilen 401 Aero Concept' which made its debut at last year's EICMA show. Come on Honda - you've had so many interesting concept bikes produced that never went into production and yet you resort to imitating the Europeans. Oh well, 2 steps forward with the Gold Wing and Africa Twin updates and 1 step back with this. Admittedly, it's a nice package though.
Mayakovski
Build it, make it affordable, say $5500.00 and I will be first in line.