Hornet such a big buzz
Honda’s dramatic-looking newcomer is smooth and quick, writes CRAIG DUFF
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.