Sharp-suited, tech-savvy 2021 Honda CBR600RR sportsbike takes bow

The 2021 Honda CBR600RR middlweight sportsbikes gets a refresh with a sharp Fireblade-inspired look and some premium gadgets to play with

2021 Honda CBR600RR

The 2021 Honda CBR600RR has had its official unveiling in its native Japanese market boasting an updated look and a wealth of premium tech designed to give the venerable sportsbike the edge over its rivals both on the road and most likely on the track.

After months of rumours that Honda was preparing to follow-up it huge global launch for the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade with nip and tuck for the ageing middleweight CBR600RR, the Japanese firm finally confirmed earlier this month that it was indeed on the way on August 21.

That day has come and here it is, looking almost reassuringly identical to the renders and teaser shots we’ve been fed over the past few weeks. That means the CBR650RR has been getting back into the family line, boasting new HRC colours inspired by its bigger brother and sharper, sunken headlights that brood under a bluff front-end.

Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP (2020) Review | Sound Engine |

Elsewhere things appear more familiar, so it’s worth pointing out that the 2021 Honda CBR600RR, for all intents and purposes, is a relatively minor update for a machine that alas won’t be commanding the sales it once did. Indeed, such has been the slump in global demand for the 600 et al. sportsbike market that few would have been surprised if Honda had pulled the model altogether. 

As it happens, this remains the case for Europeans and (for now) Americans as Honda haven’t tweaked the engine enough to get it through strict emissions regulations, limiting the CBR600RR to Asia and Australian markets instead.

Under the skin, the 599cc inline four has undergone a minor change with peak power up to 14,000rpm, while new camshafts, vale springs and cranks help keep weight down and the exhaust has been modified to raise peak power from 113hp to 119hp. That brings it into line with the Yamaha R6’s 117bhp, but remains down on the 127hp of the Kawasaki ZX-6R.

Though it doesn’t gain the extra ‘R’ it’s 1000cc big brother received with its update, the 2021 Honda CBR600RR has had a play in its toolbox and dressed itself in a full colour TFT dashboard and LED lighting, while it also comes loaded with new throttle modes, traction control, wheelie control, engine braking models and lean-angle sensitive ABS.

So why the fuss to update a motorcycle that won’t be sold globally and isn’t quite all-new…?

Well, it’s likely this will form the basis of a more dedicated push from Honda to reclaim its honour out on track in the Supersport racing category, much like it is trying to do with the CBR1000RR-R in the WorldSBK class. 

Indeed, Honda’s record in Supersport is second to none. Once upon a time the likes of Chris Vermeulen, Andrew Pitt, Kenan Sofuoflu, Jonathan Rea and Michael van der Mark dominated the WorldSSP class on Honda machinery.

However, in recent years the CBR600RR has been outclassed by Kawasaki, MV Agusta and especially Yamaha to the extent you’ll only find three bikes on the 2020 grid, each from the same team and not front runners.

In the year that has seen HRC return full factory capacity to WorldSBK, it’s reasonable to assume it will siphon that resource to a WorldSSP team and get back to nurturing the stars of the future.

While the series isn’t mentioned specifically in communications, Honda has showcase a race-bred model alongside the roadgoing one to give a clue as to what could be hitting the European racing scene in 2021.

2021 Honda CBR600RR Specifications (Japan-spec model)

Model nameCBR600RR
Model typeHonda 2BL-PC40
Dimensions (L x W x H) (mm)2,030×685×1,140
Wheelbase (mm)1,375
Ground clearance (mm)★125
Seat height (mm)★820
Curb weight (kg)194
Seating (persons)2
Fuel economy *6(km/L)As submitted to Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport
Steady state fuel economy*7 (km/h)
23.5 (60) <2 people seated>
WMTC mode ★ (class)*817.3 (class 3-2) <with 1 rider>
Minimum turning circle (m)3.2
Engine ID/typePC40E, liquid-cooled 4-stroke DOHC 4-value inline-4
Displacement (cm3)599
Bore x stroke (mm)67.0×42.5
Compression ratio ★12.2
Maximum power (kW[PS]/rpm)89[121]/14,000
Maximum torque (N・m[kgf・m]/rpm)64[6.5]/11,500
Fuel supply systemElectronic (PGM-DSFI)
Starter ★Self-starter
Ignition ★Fully transistorized, battery powered
Lubrication ★Force-fed and splash
Fuel tank capacity (L)18
Clutch ★Wet, multiplate with coil springs
TransmissionConstant mesh, 6-speed return
Gear ratio1st2.615
Reduction (Primary★/Secondary)2.111/2.562
Caster angle (degree)★/Trail (mm)★24°06´/100
TiresFront120/70ZR17M/C (58W)
Rear180/55ZR17M/C (73W)
BrakesFrontDual hydraulic disc
RearHydraulic disc
SuspensionsFrontTelescopic front fork
(Inverted Big Piston Front Fork)
RearSwing arm (Unit Pro-Link)