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.