Saturday, December 13, 2008

Secondhand Honda CB600F Hornet, Toughest Bike

The engine from the old model Honda CBR600 sportbike, detuned via smaller carburetors for more midrange, in a new steel backbone frame but with wide, flat bars and no fairing. It has budget clocks and basic specifications. Early models had a 16 inch front wheel this was later switched for a 17 inch. A 5mm increase in the wheelbase tamed the Honda Hornet's manic nature a little. Later on there was a half-faired option. The Honda Hornet was revamped in 2003.

Early models of the Honda Hornet CB600F can be twitchy. The engine's great, but the 16 inch front wheel and bouncy suspension can make it a handful on bumpy roads, though the wide bars help you keep it pointing in the right direction. Fuel efficiency and poor range spoil the picture 12.5km/l. And 145km to reserve is typical, so don't try touring on a Honda Hornet CB600F. And forget throw-over panniers with that high-level exhaust. In late 1999 it got a 17 inch front wheel to improve handling, with a 120 section tyre in 2000 to sweeten the steering.

For the people thinking about quality of the Honda CB600F. This is one of the toughest motorcycles ever built – and it's detuned to boot. Keep the oil changed and it won't break. The one weakish spot is the camchain tensioner, which may stick – listen for a rattle on start-up that goes away as the engine warms. Unbolting the tensioner unit from the back of the block and fitting a new one is a 15-minute job and the unit costs not that much. Enthusiastic wheelie merchants might break second gear and will certainly nadger the steering head bearings, but that's it.

The Honda CB600F Hornet is somewhat of a cult bike, so holds its value quite well. Yamaha's old-model FZS600 Fazer is the obvious rival: similar performance, better economy and range, excellent throttle response, comes with a centrestand and top fairing but without the Honda Hornet's lunatic edge.

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