Honda has been teasing us all with a four-cylinder adventure bike for a couple of years. During the last EICMA in 2019, Honda has teased us with the CB4X adventure sport concept. It was powered by the same 650 cc four-cylinder engine seen in the Honda CB650R. However, nothing much was revealed about the bike and whether or not it would jump from concept into production. Right now, Honda just took a step further by filing a patent with the European Intellectual Property Office revealing a potential inline-four powered adventure tourer, a motorcycle they’ve never produced before.
Based on the sketches of the patent, it doesn’t seem that it veered away much from the concept revealed in EICMA other than some details to make them more appropriate for production like its front brake calipers, rear shock, and tires.
Generally, inline-four engines have not been a popular choice for adventure motorcycles. For the past forty years, bigger adventure motorcycles have used singles, V-twins, parallel twins, flat twins, and even triples but only a few motorcycles used inline-fours. The Kawasaki Versys 1000 and the BMW S1000XR are the only two adventure bikes that sport inline-four engines. However, even after looking at them, these motorcycles are still meant to spend more time going the distance on the pavement rather than going off-road. Its cast alloy rims, rather than spoke wheels make it clear that they’re intended more for asphalt where they’re more suitable for. The reason being is that inline-fours generally have a wider profile than other engines. Adventure bikes are typically designed to be narrow, and larger inline-four engines work better for more street-oriented sports motorcycles rather than big adventure tourers. Inline-fours usually build their horsepower and torque on a high rev. Adventure motorcycles generally thrive on low revving torque for off-road purposes.
With much success seen in Honda’s middleweight engine seen in their very own CB650R “neo-sports cafe”, they’re now using it as a footprint for developing more motorcycles, such as the CB4X concept. This kind of move is not unprecedented as we have seen the same engine of the CBR250 evolve into the CB300R, Rebel 300, CRF250L, and CRF250 Rally. Thus, building a new inline-four based adventure motorcycle is a bold move from Honda, but considering that the motorcycle will be borne out of a very successful platform, it only makes sense that more motorcycles would be produced out of it.