Motorbike

Honda CB600F Hornet (2005 - 2006) review

Smoother, more refined version of an already accomplished middleweight. Only poor tank range lets it down
Details
Manufacturer:
Honda
Category:
Naked
Price:
£ 5049
Overall
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)
Good levels of performance that won't intimidate the inexperienced, a classic.
The engine vibrates a bit and tank range is poor.

There are very few changes from the previous model. The most obvious update was of course to the front suspension. Showa 41mm USD front forks, taken straight from the ’05 CBR600RR, have replaced the previous conventional set-up, but without any adjustment.

On the styling front Honda has added a colour-matched mini cowl and a re-designed front mudguard for a sharper, more aggressive look. The old-style analogue speedometer has been replaced by a tidy hi-tech LCD affair that recalls not only speed but also incorporates two trip meters, a fuel gauge, clock and a stopwatch – not a lap timer, but a stopwatch for timing journeys rather than hot laps around Donington Park.

Conventional orange indicator lenses have been ditched in favour of clear ones and the seat has also under- gone a re-design in the shape of a new dual-textured anti-slip seat material being used on the pillion section for some added grip, just in case you were in the habit of losing the wife off the back from time to time. Apart from that and the new paint schemes, everything else on the new Hornet remains the same as on its predecessor.

The test route chosen around the southern Spanish city of Seville took in a variety of road types from horizon-bashing super long straights to fast sweeping bends and tight mountain turns – all under cloudless blue skies, perfect for giving the Hornet a thorough going over.

The new clock layout comes alive when the ignition is turned on. The rev counter needle bangs round to the red line and settles back on zero while the LCD display shows the rider exactly what it is capable of. Already the new Hornet felt better, more hi-tech. Once fired into life the Hornet has that very familiar CBR sound to it, a reliable sound that has been around for years and is so distinctly ‘Honda’.

Because of its size and its ease of use the Hornet has always appealed to a wide range of customers from novices to ladies, and to those who have had enough of 180mph missiles. In fact, just about anyone who enjoys riding a two-wheeler. It’s not a bike you have to put a lot of effort in to get where you want to go, so the first couple of miles or so I ambled out of town and headed towards the hills to see how well the new model would cope once the pace was upped.

Although Honda claim to have not changed the carb set-up on the new model, it felt so much smoother than the ’04 Hornet we tested a few months before. No unwanted vibrations at any speed, no hesitation and even in top gear at 15mph the new bike pulls beautifully without any judder.

As I neared the hills the long straights gave way to high-speed sweeping bends. Again I remembered our test at Millbrook just a few months before and recalled the ’04 Hornet just getting a little twitchy and easily upset if the road surface changed or you ran over a cats-eye, but not the later version. Despite purposely aiming for one or two potholes I couldn’t fluster the new Hornet in any way, rolling on and off the throttle through mile after mile of fast turns was a veritable walk in the park.

And it was just as happy when I reached the slower, tighter turns up through the hills. So far everything we, and many others, had knocked the old Hornet for had been addressed and improved upon. The front suspension gave much better feeling and feedback, and in no time the footrests were scraping as I found myself hanging off the bike in full ‘trackday’ mode trying to set a new lap record around the Spanish hills.

But just as I was really getting into it, one problem that had bugged me on previous Hornets tugged annoyingly at my hem once again. In all the excitement I hadn’t been paying too much attention to the new clock layout and missed the fact that I was almost out of fuel. Fortunately our planned lunch stop was not too far away and I managed to chug my way back for a re-fill. In this day and age a bike that isn’t capable of covering much more than 100 miles is, in my mind, a bit poor. I know I had been giving the new Hornet a bit of a hard time but it is all the more annoying when you remove the seat and see all the open, wasted space beneath that could so easily accommodate a litre or more fuel.

Apart from the poor tank range it is very difficult to criticise the new Hornet in any way.

There are very few changes from the previous model. The most obvious update was of course to the front suspension. Showa 41mm USD front forks, taken straight from the ’05 CBR600RR, have replaced the previous conventional set-up, but without any adjustment.

On the styling front Honda has added a colour-matched mini cowl and a re-designed front mudguard for a sharper, more aggressive look. The old-style analogue speedometer has been replaced by a tidy hi-tech LCD affair that recalls not only speed but also incorporates two trip meters, a fuel gauge, clock and a stopwatch – not a lap timer, but a stopwatch for timing journeys rather than hot laps around Donington Park.

Conventional orange indicator lenses have been ditched in favour of clear ones and the seat has also under- gone a re-design in the shape of a new dual-textured anti-slip seat material being used on the pillion section for some added grip, just in case you were in the habit of losing the wife off the back from time to time. Apart from that and the new paint schemes, everything else on the new Hornet remains the same as on its predecessor.

The test route chosen around the southern Spanish city of Seville took in a variety of road types from horizon-bashing super long straights to fast sweeping bends and tight mountain turns – all under cloudless blue skies, perfect for giving the Hornet a thorough going over.

The new clock layout comes alive when the ignition is turned on. The rev counter needle bangs round to the red line and settles back on zero while the LCD display shows the rider exactly what it is capable of. Already the new Hornet felt better, more hi-tech. Once fired into life the Hornet has that very familiar CBR sound to it, a reliable sound that has been around for years and is so distinctly ‘Honda’.

Because of its size and its ease of use the Hornet has always appealed to a wide range of customers from novices to ladies, and to those who have had enough of 180mph missiles. In fact, just about anyone who enjoys riding a two-wheeler. It’s not a bike you have to put a lot of effort in to get where you want to go, so the first couple of miles or so I ambled out of town and headed towards the hills to see how well the new model would cope once the pace was upped.

Although Honda claim to have not changed the carb set-up on the new model, it felt so much smoother than the ’04 Hornet we tested a few months before. No unwanted vibrations at any speed, no hesitation and even in top gear at 15mph the new bike pulls beautifully without any judder.

As I neared the hills the long straights gave way to high-speed sweeping bends. Again I remembered our test at Millbrook just a few months before and recalled the ’04 Hornet just getting a little twitchy and easily upset if the road surface changed or you ran over a cats-eye, but not the later version. Despite purposely aiming for one or two potholes I couldn’t fluster the new Hornet in any way, rolling on and off the throttle through mile after mile of fast turns was a veritable walk in the park.

And it was just as happy when I reached the slower, tighter turns up through the hills. So far everything we, and many others, had knocked the old Hornet for had been addressed and improved upon. The front suspension gave much better feeling and feedback, and in no time the footrests were scraping as I found myself hanging off the bike in full ‘trackday’ mode trying to set a new lap record around the Spanish hills.

But just as I was really getting into it, one problem that had bugged me on previous Hornets tugged annoyingly at my hem once again. In all the excitement I hadn’t been paying too much attention to the new clock layout and missed the fact that I was almost out of fuel. Fortunately our planned lunch stop was not too far away and I managed to chug my way back for a re-fill. In this day and age a bike that isn’t capable of covering much more than 100 miles is, in my mind, a bit poor. I know I had been giving the new Hornet a bit of a hard time but it is all the more annoying when you remove the seat and see all the open, wasted space beneath that could so easily accommodate a litre or more fuel.

Apart from the poor tank range it is very difficult to criticise the new Hornet in any way.

Length (mm)2100
Width (mm)710
Height (mm)1070
Dryweight (kg)178
Seats0
Seat Height (mm)790
Suspension Front41mm telescopic fork, 120mm axle travel
Suspension RearMonoshock damper, 128mm axle travel
Adjustability Rear7-step adjustable preload
Wheels Front17 x MT3.50
Wheels Rear17 x MT5.50
Wheels Made OfHollow section triple-spoke cast aluminium
Tyres Front120/70-ZR17 (58W)
Tyres Rear180/55-ZR17 (73W)
Brakes Front296mm x 4.5mm dual hydraulic disc with dual-piston callipers
Brakes Rear220mm x 5mm hydraulic disc with single-piston calliper
Tank Capacity (litres)17
Wheelbase (mm)1420
Ground Clearance (mm)140
Trail (mm)98
ChassisMono-backbone; rectangular-section steel tube
Cubic Capacity (cc)600
Valves16
Max Power (bhp)95
Max Power Peak (rpm)2000
Torque (ft/lb)46
Torque Peak (rpm)9500
Bore (mm)65
Stroke (mm)45.2
Valve GearDOHC
Compression Ratio12.0
IgnitionComputer controled digital transistorised with ele
CoolingLiquid cooled
Fuel DeliverySlanted flat-side CV-type carburettor x 4
Stroke TypeFour Stroke
DriveChain
Max Torque42.6
Max Torque Revs9600
Top Speed133.3
40-50mph2.76
40-60mph5.55
40-70mph8.31
40-80mph11.44
40-90mph15.53
50-100mph19.38
Standing Quarter Mile - Terminal Speed MPH111.61
Standing Quarter Mile - Time12.29
Max Power87.6
Max Power Revs11600
Good levels of performance that won't intimidate the inexperienced, a classic.
The engine vibrates a bit and tank range is poor.

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