Secondhand gold: Honda CBR600F
It’s a crime this generation CBR is so overlooked
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.
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.
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