Sec­ond­hand gold: Honda CBR600F

It’s a crime this gen­er­a­tion CBR is so over­looked

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week in MCN - By Tony Hoare CON­SUMER ED­I­TOR

What we said then

‘Honda have given us the mod­ern-day equiv­a­lent CBR600F. It is ev­ery inch a prac­ti­cal sports­bike and would make a bet­ter bike for an aw­ful lot of rid­ers, es­pe­cially those who ride out­side of their lim­its but won’t ad­mit it or don’t re­alise un­til it’s too late. A hun­dred horse­power in a good pack­age is more than enough to have fun.’ MCN launch re­port | March 16, 2011

But what is it like now?

It’s a lot more fun than we made it sound back in 2011, hark­ing back to the all-round ap­peal that made the pre-rr CBR600S so damned at­trac­tive. The rid­ing po­si­tion is flat enough to con­tem­plate a long trip with­out book­ing into a chi­ro­prac­tor at the other end, and the en­gine is perky enough to dish out kicks with­out re­serv­ing all of its power for the last few thou­sand rpm.

This is the CBR that took the Hor­net 600 and used it as a base for a road­fo­cused al­ter­na­tive to the track refugee RR. It shares the de­tuned 2007 RR mo­tor used in the Hor­net, which also do­nates its frame and most run­ning gear, but with clip-on bars and a fair­ing that ex­tends back as far as the en­gine.

It only lasted from 2011 till be­ing dropped in 2014 in favour of a more hum­drum CBR650F and I’d go as far as to say it’s the for­got­ten gen­er­a­tion of CBR600. In re­search­ing this test, it took some ex­plain­ing to get some peo­ple to even re­mem­ber the bike. And that’s a shame, be­cause it’s more than just an ad­mirable project – the bike is damned en­joy­able.

Within min­utes of jump­ing on this well cared-for ex­am­ple that’s for sale at MCN’S lo­cal BMW deal­er­ship, there’s a friendly fa­mil­iar­ity about the CBR. The seat­ing po­si­tion is ex­actly what peo­ple re­fer to when they go mistyeyed over the CBR600 of the ’ 90s and the han­dling is per­fectly neu­tral.

The en­gine pro­vides easy coast­ing power up to 6500rpm be­fore bar­ing its 600Rr-de­rived teeth and chomp­ing off into speeds that would go well into triple fig­ures.

This one’s cov­ered just 8400 miles in five years and feels crisp in both en­gine re­sponse and steer­ing re­ac­tion. It rolls neatly on barely worn tyres and the Abs-sup­ported brakes are strong. The Abs-equipped bikes stop bet­ter, and not just be­cause of the elec­tronic as­sis­tance – they came with stronger op­pos­ing-pis­ton brake calipers rather than the twin slid­ing pis­tons ex­pected to haul up the non-abs bikes.

Ride qual­ity isn’t ex­actly magic car­pet ter­ri­tory, but for bike that was £7000 when new, it’s sup­port­ive and com­pli­ant. An af­ter­noon on one of th­ese is an af­ter­noon well spent.

Any ob­vi­ous faults?

This ex­am­ple bears no ev­i­dence of known prob­lems – no rat­tle on start-up to sug­gest cam­chain ten­sioner is­sues, the ABS light goes out when it should and the bars turn smoothly so no fears on the head bear­ings. Noth­ing presents it­self as clear ev­i­dence of po­ten­tial trou­ble with this bike.

Or worth­while ex­tras?

A lack of crash pro­tec­tors means no po­ten­tial is­sues with seized crash bob­bins (see me­chanic, right). The front mud­guard ex­ten­der, tank pro­tec­tors and heated grips are all prac­ti­cal ad­di­tions, but won’t be to all tastes (Mo­togp brand­ing is racier than the bike and the grips are quite thick). The tyres are bud­get-con­scious Miche­lin Pilot Power, but they’re new (side­wall mark­ings show they were made in Fe­bru­ary 2015) and barely used.

Con­clu­sion

Fans of fran­tic dashes through the coun­try­side while try­ing to tame a loft­ing front wheel need not ap­ply but this is no dull, wor­thy ma­chine. The up­side-down forks, classy Nissin calipers and over­all qual­ity level put it above the CBR650F that has tried to fill its spot in Honda’s range. Now th­ese are all be­tween three and five years old so there are enough on the used mar­ket to make them well worth a look.

THANKS

To Balder­ston BMW in Peter­bor­ough for the loan of the bike. It’s for sale for £5495. www.balder­ston.net

Damned with faint praise at the time, this is a real gem

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