Itís been a long time coming, but thankfully Honda has given us a new Honda
CB600F Hornet for 2007. The only similarity to the old model is the name; itís
an entirely new bike running the same engine as their current
CBR600RR. It shares the old Honda CB600F Hornet's qualities, it's easy to
ride; great handling and fun. The new Honda CB600F Hornet should appeal to wide
audience with its new Italian funky styling.
At just over £5000 the Honda CB600F Hornet is exceptional value for money, it
can commute, tour, the jack of all trades if you like. Compared to the
competition the Honda CB600F Hornet is competitively priced and as itís a Honda
should hold its value, when it comes to trade in for a larger or newer model.
By Dave Abrahams
There's a lot to be said for a straightforward
streetbike with an upright seating position and
accessible handlebars for everyday, round-town
riding and weekend rides with a partner.
If its engine has a strong mid-range for
grabbing the gaps in the traffic and the major
masses are centralised for agile handling Ė then
you've got a kick-ass commuting tool.
Honda's CB600F Hornet is based on exactly that
premise; the original 1998 version was built
around a detuned CBR600 engine with a simple,
rectangular-section steel backbone frame and
budget brakes 'n suspension.
But it worked and for nearly a decade it was a
mainstay of Honda's European streetbike range
Naked bikes are about mid-range, of which
this bike has plenty
. Now the revised and
updated 2008 Hornet has been released in South
Africa Ė but it's no budget bike.
Motivation is provided by a retuned version of
the current CBR600RR engine with revised
cylinder head, pistons and camshafts, for which
Honda quotes 75kW at 12 000rpm and 63.5Nm at 10
500rpm, a four percent improvement on the
The stainless-steel exhaust system has been
moved from under the saddle tailpiece and curled
up under the engine where it takes up less room
and its not inconsiderable mass is kept as low
and central as possible.
It's a remarkably untemperamental engine that
pulls without complaint from 3000rpm but comes
into its own above 5000. In classic Honda
fashion, there's no distinct power band; the
engine just gets stronger as the rev-counter
needle climbs the dial
There's no distinct power band; the engine
just gets stronger as the rev-counter needle
climbs the dial
Above 7000rpm a little vibration creeps in
despite the presence of a balance shaft and the
engine begins to speak for itself Ė but it's
above 10 000 where the big ponies lives,
accompanied by a spine-tingling howl from the
I couldn't do a performance test on this week's
launch run in Gauteng but I saw 212km/h on the
digital speedometer a couple of times while
Naked bikes are not about top end, however,
they're about mid-range, of which this bike has
plenty; anywhere above 7000rpm there's enough
torque for rapid, safe overtaking.
Keep it spinning between nine and 12 and the
Hornet's performance is more than enough to get
you into serious trouble with Plod.
The rest of the drive train is just as good; the
clutch is light, positive and progressive while
the six-speed gearbox is slick enough to allow
clutchless shifts in both directions despite
being vertically stacked, which usually results
in a very notchy shift action. Nice one, Honda.
Die-cast aluminium frame
The previous steel backbone chassis has been
replaced by a die-cast aluminium frame - also in
a backbone layout but with two cast-in arms
extending down the front of the engine from the
Together with a very tapered fuel tank and a
narrow seat nose it makes the bike very narrow
in the middle for extra comfort and to allow the
toes of the vertically challenged to reach the
The Hornet is very comfortable indeed; the
seating position is nicely poised, leaning
slightly forward, and all the controls fall
neatly to hand. The triangular instrument pod
has two crowded but legible LCD screens and six
The two headlights are mounted in a separate pod
below that while the matte-grey air box is
styled as part of the centre section and the
swoopy rear subframe splits into two levels Ė
the seat and its base above, mudguard and tail
light below. Sounds odd but it looks really
The mirrors' stalks are too short, giving you
not much more than a good view of your own
The launch ride took us across the northern side
of Johannesburg, where the Hornet displayed its
utter competence in heavy traffic, with little
or no jerkiness from the fuel-injection and
quick, accurate steering.
Then we moved out on to the back roads around
Maropeng, the Cradle of Mankind, to the
north-west of the city; average speeds rose and
the bike revealed some handling quirks.
The suspension Ė 41mm Showa upside-downies in
front and a rear monoshock without rising-rate
linkage - is adjustable for rear pre-load only.
Spring rates and damping are both on the harsh
side of firm, which was fine on good roads but
became jarring on others.
Several riders hit the same bad bump on a long,
fast left-hander and experienced a strong weave
with both ends of the bike seeming to wiggle
independently Ė very disconcerting but soon
I also managed to bottom the rear suspension a
couple of times on nasty bumps despite the firm
spring; most of Gauteng's back roads are in
appalling condition. OK, I'm 106kg, but the
Hornet is supposed to be able to carry a
The bike copes well with tight, choppy corners,
however, and the brakes, although pretty basic
(twin-piston floating callipers in front and a
single-piston calliper at the rear), take up
with reassuring bite and power.
Honda has positioned the CB600F Hornet as a
"premium" streetbike, with the accent on the
engine's performance credentials, at a
class-topping R73 390.
Fit and finish, and the superb drive train,
certainly live up to that billing with only the
questionable suspension letting it down a
little. Definitely the class of the class.
|The Honda CBF600F Hornet is another addition to
Honda's range of middleweight Naked class bikes and is set to
impress even the most blasť rider. With an engine similar to the
Honda CBR600RR, the CBF600F Hornet has been developed
specifically for street riding with attitude. Its superior
performance on the road is further enhanced by a completely
reworked chassis that has been constructed from die-cast
aluminium rather than the tubular steel used in previous models.
This use of aluminium makes the Honda Hornet lighter and more
rigid than previous models, with the bike's weight reduced to a
mere 381 pounds.
The style of the 2008 Honda Hornet is sleeker and more
streamlined, with multipurpose headlights set in a new low-slung
instrument pod. The result is an aggressive, ďarmour-plated"
look for a mean street riding style statement. Adding to the
Honda CBF600F's distinctive new look is its low-slung exhaust
positioned under the engine. The fact that the exhaust is so
low-slung reduces weight from the bike's extremities, and this
redistribution of weight into the centre contributes to a
greatly improved handling ability.
One of the most distinguishing features of the 2008 Honda
CBF600F Hornet is the inclusion of Honda's latest-generation
combined brake system. This new braking system allows for
stronger and more responsive braking control than the standard
linked braking found in previous models. Other impressive
features include the HISS (Honda Ignition Security System)
anti-theft system to prevent to bike from starting without the
The Honda CBF600F Hornet marks the graduation to a new
generation of Honda street bikes that offer pure streetfighter
riding enjoyment in the form of a powerful package that's
pleasing on the eye.
2007 Honda CB600F Hornet - First Look
By Bart Madson
The Intermot show has been the scene of many '07 debuts this week, and now Honda
has joined the fray with the unveiling of its mid-sized naked streetfighter
incarnation, the 2007 CB600F Hornet. Having been in the Honda lineup since 1998,
the Hornet (called the 599 in America) has received a thorough redesign for
2007. The new changes include a more aggressive styling, a motor based on the
2007 RR and a new aluminum frame.
At the heart of the new Hornet's changes is the Inline-Four developed in tandem
with its new supersport cousin, the 2007 CBR600RR. Benefiting from the same
powerplant upgrades we detailed in our
2007 Honda CBR600RR - First Look article, the Hornet's mill remains
599cc via 67mm x 42.5 bore/stroke figures. The engine is a significant 11 pounds
lighter and more compact to help create a more agile handling mount. PGM-FI
electronic fuel injection should aid in a smoother throttle response. While the
Hornet and CBR600's engines were developed together, the Hornet's motor has been
tuned for specific streetfighting duties. The six-speed naked being tinkered for
higher midrange power and torque for marauding the streets. It's sure to be a
step up in power over the current 599, as Honda claims 100.6 hp at 12,000 rpm
and 46.8 lb-ft of torque at 10,500 rpm. With an approximate 10% being lopped off
by the time it hits the rear wheel, expect about 90 horses at the rear wheel
compared to the 83.4 of our last 599 test bike.
Right off the bat the Hornet's aggressive new looks grab attention. The Honda UK
PR describes the Hornet's new styling theme as "Edged Armour Form" explaining
the Hornet's new lines as being "based on the elaborate suites of armour once
worn by medieval knights of olde." Uhm, okay. The reasoning may sound a bit
cheesy to us who live in countries without castles and a titled gentry, but the
result of Honda's changes to the Hornet translate into a sleeker meaner look
from tip to tail.
A dual-bulb over-under headlight configuration is placed amidst mini side
cowlings. Another small cowling is located above the light, the other side of
which houses the instrument cluster derived from the CBR1000RR. It's centered by
a large analog tachometer with an LCD display screen for the speedo and other
various info located on either side. A 5-gallon fuel tank carries the curvy
lines back from the side cowlings. Grey metallic finish to the wheels and engine
are offset by the four-colors available for the minimalist bodywork: Pearl Night
Star Black, Pearl Amber Yellow, Candy Xenon Blue, and Pearl Siena Red.
Aside from the overall lines and bodywork, one of the most distinctive styling
changes to the new Hornet is the dramatic low-slung under-engine exhaust.
Shunning the underseat exhaust of its predecessor, the current Hornet collects
exhaust fumes through four header pipes cascading down the front of the engine
before combining into a single pipe, which enters the main muffler underneath
before exiting through a secondary muffler in the right-side outlet next to the
swingarm pivot. As you would expect from a 2007 model, the exhaust system is
Euro 3 compliant, courtesy of the O2-sensor and catalytic converters.
The low-slung exhaust also contributes to an improved centralized mass by
reducing weight at the extremities of the machine, which Honda claims should
enhance the overall handling, even though the wheelbase has extended by a scant
15mm (0.6 inches). The extra length is due in part to the new dual-box aluminum
swingarm, which replaces the 5mm-shorter but heavier box-section unit from 2006.
The '07 chassis design retains the same essential Mono-Backbone frame of its
predecessor, but is now constructed out of aluminum through a new gravity-fed
die-cast process instead of the older (and heavier) steel-tubed configuration.
In addition to being lighter, the welded aluminum chassis is said to be more
rigid for sharper handling at higher limits. The total weight reduction drops
the claimed dry weight from 392 lbs to 381 lbs.
The suspension remains the same for 2007, with a 41mm inverted fork providing
120mm (4.7 inches) of travel. A monoshock rear is a seven-step preload
adjustable unit, which delivers 128mm (5 inches) of travel. As the previous
model, there are no provisions for damping adjustments. The new Hornet's 5-spoke
cast aluminum wheels have grabbed two extra spokes for 2007 but are said to be
lighter. They sport tires in the 120/70-17 and 180/55-17 sizes used in the
Braking duties are carried out up front by a pair of floating 296mm discs that
are pulled to a stop by twin-piston calipers. Out back, the '06's 220mm single
disc is upgraded to a lone 240mm disc and is in turn squeezed down by a new
single-piston caliper similar to the configuration of its CBR cousin.
The new Hornet will offer as an option Honda's latest-generation combined brake
system and ABS. The combined brake system uses a pair of three-piston calipers
up front that links the center piston of the right-side three-piston caliper up
front with the rear brake pedal. A delay valve is used in the line so that light
application of the rear brake doesn't activate the front.
Honda Europe will offer several options for the new Hornet, including the HISS
(Honda Ignition Security System) anti-theft system, which prevents the bike from
starting if the original ignition key isn't used. Also available are electric
grip heaters, a flyscreen, seat cowl and rear hugger fender.
So, the question remains: Will Honda bring this new Hornet to the U.S. as a
replacement for the competent but pricey 599? American Honda, naturally, is
neither confirming nor denying. But if we were guessing, we think we'll get our
version in the next 12 to 16 months. If it does happen, expect a price tag near
the $8000 mark.
And, Honda, if you don't mind, please call it the Hornet. It's eminently more
likeable than the characterless 599.
Engine: Liquid-cooled four-stroke transverse four.
Bore x stroke: 67 x 42.5mm.
Compression ratio: 12.0:1.
Valvegear: DOHC with four overhead valves per cylinder.
Power: 75kW at 12 000rpm.
Torque: 63.5Nm at 10 500rpm.
Induction: PGM-FI electronic fuel-injection with four 36mm throttle
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital transistorised with electronic
Clutch: Cable-operated multiplate wet clutch.
Transmission: Six-speed constant-mesh gearbox with final drive by chain.
Suspension: 41mm Showa inverted cartridge forks at front, monoshock
adjustable for preload at rear.
Brakes: Dual 296mm discs with Nissin twin-piston floating callipers at
front, 240mm disc with single-piston Nissin floating calliper at rear.
Tyres: Front: 120/70 - ZR17 tubeless. Rear: 180/55 - ZR17 tubeless.
Seat height: 800mm.
Fuel capacity: 19 litres.
Dry weight: 173kg.
Price: R73 390.