The Four Horsemen - Kawasaki Z750, Suzuki Gladius, Honda Hornet, Yamaha XJ6 - Hornet - 1

Small, light and available in a variety of colours and flavours, never before has the congested middleweight street bike market been so fruity

Posted: 6 April 2010
by Rob Hoyles

 6 of 10 

Honda CB600F

CBR600 powered Honda chassis genius for just £5300

Steve Davis had a lot to deal with in his heyday. Being very good at something, becoming almost machine-like in your consistency after a lifetime spent honing your skills, isn't always well received by the masses. Especially if those years of dedication mean there’s no charismatic, cheeky chappy to interview when the fat lady has sung and the crowd has long since departed. It’s all too easy to get tagged as boring.

Like Davis, Honda’s CB600F Hornet has become much more interesting with age. Where the old Hornet could have once been accused of being a little bland, even a touch sterile, now there’s an air of flamboyance, from the sexy sideswept downpipes through to the sharply styled headlamp cowl and seat unit. Just like our deadpan, carrot-topped friend, there’s a whole new sense of fun with the Hornet.

The CBR600-derived engine has evolved over the years into a bulletproof motor with few faults, but until just recently, not a great deal of character. Happily, since the 2007 revamp, it’s had a bit of personality injected into it, with an angry, terrier-like growl from the stubby exhaust and a wicked little kick to the power once the tacho needle hits 9,000rpm. There’s plenty of excitement in the higher reaches of the rev-range but, unlike the XJ6, there’s midrange too.

While the Hornet isn’t quite as quick as the Z750 in a straight line, the broad spread of power combined with near-perfect gearing makes the Hornet more than a match for the Kawasaki.

There’s a general ease-ofuse that comes built into the Honda as standard, from the thoughtful ergonomics of the switchgear through to a riding position that’s forgettable for all the right reasons – the fact that no one mentioned a Honda negative during the test speaks volumes. At the many fuel stops, there would invariably be someone bemoaning the Kawasaki's hard seat, scrabbling for earplugs to escape the din from the constantly screaming Yamaha or frantically gesticulating to the rest of the group to stop to fill the Suzuki's tiny fuel tank.

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