Hor­net such a big buzz

Honda’s dra­matic-look­ing new­comer is smooth and quick, writes CRAIG DUFF

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Bikes -

COM­PRO­MISE can be the best so­lu­tion — just look at the Honda Hor­net. This 600cc naked bike uses an en­gine de­rived from its RR rac­ing sib­ling and an al­loy chas­sis that begs to be pointed at cor­ners.

It’s nim­ble, good un­der brakes and has more than enough grunt for road work. The dra­matic looks — cour­tesy of the over-and-un­der head­light set-up — just add to the pack­age.

A de­cent two-up ride shows the Hor­net to be a will­ing per­former, with only the steep­est in­clines giv­ing you cause to work the gear­box and rev range on the in­line four-cylin­der.

Mid-sized en­gines shouldn’t be this tractable and in the light chas­sis it trans­lates into smooth, con­trolled and quick rid­ing.

The snub-ended ex­haust

is an en­gi­neer­ing work of art — it looks too short to be Euro3 emis­sions com­pli­ant — and en­hances the min­i­mal styling, but needs a touch more bark to match the bike’s bite.

Rid­den in­tel­li­gently, 300km trips are achiev­able from the 19-litre tank. Work the midrange on a run through the hills and you will still get bet­ter than 200km be­tween fills.

And you can ride it all day. The rid­ing po­si­tion is fairly neu­tral and doesn’t cause any stress on the wrists or fore­arms and the seat is rea­son­ably com­fort­able and only 800mm off the deck.

Honda’s aim with this bike was to im­prove han­dling by cut­ting weight and the Hor­net begs com­par­isons in price and per­for­mance with Tri­umph’s Street Triple.

Given the Triple has a gem of a 675cc en­gine, it’s a com­pli­ment to the Honda, but there’s no doubt a com­mit­ted rider won’t be dis­graced on the Ja­panese bike.

It coaxes per­for­mance from the rider by com­mu­ni­cat­ing ex­actly what it’s do­ing and giv­ing you a fair idea of when it’s go­ing to stop do­ing it. That in­vites late brak­ing and early twists on the grip.

You’re buy­ing to a price point here, so the front sus­pen­sion doesn’t have any adjustment and the rear end of­fers seven steps on the preload, but you’re al­ready in a world of pain if you’re bot­tom­ing out the Hor­net.

It’s such a ver­sa­tile per­former there are few sit­u­a­tions in which you will find it want­ing. Ex­cept per­haps, in show­rooms, where it will sit along­side its 900cc big brother — and be ig­nored be­cause too many peo­ple are cap­ti­vated by ca­pac­ity, rather than ca­pa­bil­ity.

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