2011 Honda CBR600F: a faired Hornet

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It seems like Honda’s big idea for 2011 was to repurpose existing or old models into brand new ones. First, the VFR800 turned into the 2011 Honda Crossrunner and now the Honda Hornet gains a fairing, transforming it into the 2011 Honda CBR600F. A simple approach, but is it an effective one?

The gap in the market for the CBR600F was created by this century’s trend towards ever more track-focussed 600s. Back when everyone was worried about the millenium bug, the CBR600 was all-round sports bike equally at home commuting two-up as it was lapping race tracks. By 2010, a MotoGP-inspired CBR600RR had come and gone and the current CBR is even more track-capable even if it is, again, comfortable. But what about a lower cost, easier to insure, easier to ride, all-round 600? Enter the F.

The Hornet’s chassis is an aluminum backbone that runs from the swingarm pivot up and over the engine to the headstock as opposed to the perimeter frame more often associated with the “CBR” monicker. Honda has also fitted this bike with the Hornet’s suspension — partially adjustable 41mm USD forks and a partially-adjustable monoshock — but says its given them specific and sportier tuning.

The engine too, is a Hornet’s. That’s no bad thing, derived from the CBR600RR, it makes 100bhp at 12,000rpm and 47lb/ft at 10,500rpm. It’s revvy and exciting to use, as well as fast. The whole bike weighs 198kg/436lbs (wet).

Like the Hornet, it appears that ABS is optional.

So far, so good, right? A more practical, sportier twist on an already very good motorcycle. There’s one fly in the ointment though: the Hornet is made in Italy, which, if you’ll remember the CB1000R, has led to production costs being too high to sell the bike in America. The cost of manufacturing in Euros just hasn’t, in the past, translated to a price that could be competitive in dollars.

  • KeC

    Perhaps Hondas only non-epic fail for 2011 :).

    I dont know maybe I’m beeing too conservative about Hondas ideas for 2011.

    • robotribe

      “Perhaps Hondas only non-epic fail for 2011″

      In Europe, perhaps. In the U.S., this is a likely non-starter, although I’d like to be wrong this time.

  • incon

    Who is honda selling to these days?
    Given a few dollar away from a CBR600RR who would bother?
    At least the Hornet had modern(odd) naked styling in its bag.

  • jake

    i see the practicality but i would rather a second hand slightly used CBR600rr value for money is where it’s at.

  • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

    That’s a gigantic fly in the ointment for the US market.

    I propose that Honda do a certified used bike program, then relatively inexpensive in-house customization at dealers to take all of the low-mileage CBRs into whatever a buyer wants. Streetfighter? No problem. Prefer a more traditional standard? Can do! Faux adventure? Awesome!

    • swfcpilot

      Heck, they need this for the new models for some options too. Why doesn’t Honda offer frame sliders from the dealer? Different handlebar options? Cruisers get books full of options and a CBR barely had more than a passenger seat cowl?

      I had to go to Honda Europe sites to get a useful parts selection for my VFR800.

      • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

        I agree, though I think they stand to make a lot more profit on the used end of it, while maintaining a more appealing price for the buyers.

        Kawasaki’s pretty crappy about dealer options, too. Not sure why they’re so interested in missing out on easy sales – especially things like sliders.

        • swfcpilot

          Suzuki seems pretty good on options. The Bandit catalog makes the VFR accessory page look like a blank sheet of paper.

          • http://www.twitter.com/beastincarnate Beast Incarnate

            I think the Bandit is more an exception borne of a tremendous platform lifespan. Then again, that holds true for many other examples, too. Yet, Triumph does a fine job with brand new bikes.

  • swfcpilot

    Finally Honda, a Hornet that may sell in the US. Now just don’t let its price fall victim to the Euro to Dollar conversion rate if you build it in Italy like the 599/919.

    I hear from quite a few people who want or had the looks of a sportbike but can’t own one because it’s just flat out uncomfortable to ride. The more “standard” riding posture of the Hornet dressed up in plastic may do the trick for them.

    Back when I had my 599 a few years ago, I had 3 new rider friends with Kawasaki Ninja 650R’s. They all liked my 599 and the 2 main reasons they didn’t consider one for themselves were the higher price, and the lack of fairings/wind-protection.

    • robotribe

      I’m a former 599 owner, but bought mine w/7 miles at much more reasonable $1.5k under MSRP. Unless Honda’s willing to ditch their margin on this bike, I highly doubt it’s coming to the U.S.

      That said, I really like this bike. If it were priced competitively with a Ninja 650 it would be worthy.

      • swfcpilot

        Oh yeah, mine was used too. I doubt I would have paid full price for it either. I wish I could have kept it for running around locally since the VFR gets a little heavy at times, but mainly garage space then money wouldn’t allow it.

  • ike6116

    Bummed America wont get this

  • GeddyT

    What’s uncomfortable about the new 600RR? I’ve put several hundred mile days on one like it was nothing! Not the bike I’d want to bring a passenger along on, but AWESOMELY comfortable for such a purposeful bike when you’re by yourself.

    I look at this new Hornet and like the concept overall. It’s not awful looking by any means for an “entry level” sportbike. And a thicker, softer seat and higher bars might make it a more comfortable ride (debatable). But then I notice the little toy brake calipers and shoddy exhaust covers and consider the assumption that suspension is, for sure, sprung softer than my couch…
    factor in the heavier weight and I’ve gotta ask myself, “Why wouldn’t I just bolt Heli Bars to a 600RR?”

    Why can’t comfort, decent hardware, and performance exist no the same machine? Why is it always, “This one has a comfortable seat and high bars… and 1997′s brakes and suspension…”?

    Or give me GSXR suspension on a used SV650 over this and I’ll get to pocket several thousand dollars as well. Always loved that SV’s engine.

  • Random

    Saw some photos of the redesigned Hornet, and similarities seem to be beyond the engine, chassis and suspension. Exhaust, seat/tail unit, footpegs and the new headlight are also strikingly similar to the ones in the CBR600F.

    It appears the models were designed with a very high degree of commonality: probably easy to bring both models to new markets (instead of just one), even easier to bring the new one to those that already offer the Hornet.

  • Chuluun

    I love the look of it this, properly sporty without looking like a race rep, not an easy trick to pull off.

    They’re obviously not going to give it anything like RR spec brakes and suspension, why would they risk damaging sales of that bike?

    Interesting that now Yamaha has ditched the FZ6 Honda is the only manufacturer with a full range of traditional naked, modern naked, half-faired, sport-tourer and race rep 4-cylinder 600s (CBF600, CB600F, CBF600S, CBR600F, CBR600RR). That’s a lot of those real-world bikes we’re always harping on about.