Garry Scott

'Now that's a proper motorbike.' It's hard to argue with my father-in-law's verdict on Honda's revamped CB1100RS. It's got two wheels, a seat and handlebars. That's it.

There's no fairing, no adventure-style beaks, no digital dash with a blizzard of settings to confuse the unwary rider. In short, the air-cooled four-cylinder Honda looks like almost every motorcycle did in the 1970s and into the 1980s. The difference is, of course, that this retro muscle bike cafe racer-inspired machine promises to handle and stop as well as it goes. And that's what I'm aiming to find out.

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But let's go back to the start of the day when I pick up the bike at Victor Devine. It's raining, well, it is August in Scotland, and I have already felt the rear wheel on my Triumph Daytona sliding on a particularly greasy Govan roundabout. I resolve never again to believe the BBC Scotland weather woman, the lying temptress with her tales of sunny spells and dry roads.

There are two versions of the CB1100. The EX comes with spoked wheels, higher handlebars and traditional Honda colours including a version with a yellow tank which reminds me of the old 400x4. The top of the range RS has chunky upside Showa forks and remote reservoir twin rear shocks, radial Tokico brakes and 17-inch wheels in place of the EX’s 18. There's twin analogue chrome dials for the speedo and rev counter, with an understated LCD display for fuel and the gear indicator.

Both are splendid-looking machines. Honda has pushed out the boat and everything about them whispers class. The lustrous paint and quality fasteners look like they'd repel the worst of the Scottish weather and the welds on the swing arm are almost works of art. The rear lights are chrome, with rubber seals, none of that plastic shiny junk that disfigures other some manufacturers' retro machines, and everything that looks like metal, such as the mudguards and side panels, is metal.

Throwing a leg over the saddle, the first thing I notice is the seat height. At 795mm most people will be able to plant both feet firmly on the ground – which is just as well as it's not a light bike at 252kg.

I turn the key and the engine purrs into life with a pleasing rumble as I head off into the gloom, wary of Glasgow's wet, diesel-soaked roads and the possibility of dropping this beauty.

This is a Honda, however, and it takes care of me in the way in which only a Honda can. I'd wager if you blindfolded any rider and put them on a bike they'd be able to tell if it was Honda. Don't try this at home, kids, but there's something about Hondas - a rightness - that makes them feel like they've been thought through from start to finish by grown ups.

The big CB cuts through the city without any fuss. The engine, the first big air-cooled power plant produced by Honda in 20 years, is smooth and the fuelling is perfect. There's no nasty surprises or jerkiness. I filter through a traffic jam on the Erskine Bridge, the bike has got plenty of road presence and the low seat height gives me confidence that I'll be able to handle any sudden dramas if/when a dozy driver pulls out on me.

The road starts to dry as I hug Loch Lomond and I wind it up a bit. The power is turbine-like, and although the 1140cc 'only' produces 88bhp, it's plenty for fast, safe overtakes. It's got a bit of character, too, and is surprisingly vibey around 4000rpm.

I take a right at Crianlarich and the road is mercifully free of tourist traffic and these sort of flowing A roads make the Honda happy. I want to try it out on a B road so take the B824 from Doune which runs past the statue to SAS founder David Stirling. It's a twisty 10 miles or so and I'm surprised how easy to handle the big CB is there.

Then it's onto the M9. Motorways are never the most exciting roads but I'm interested to see what a naked like this is like at motorway speeds. I get a bit of a head and shoulders workout but it's perfectly pleasant and it would be no hardship handling a few hours of this.

Back in Glasgow, I stop to admire the bike and get a few photos and a van driver gives me the thumbs up.

I reckon he thinks it's a proper motorbike, too.

Loan bike from Victor Devine, Hydepark Street, Glasgow, 0141 225 8100. The Honda CB1100RS is £11,139, and the EX is £10,765