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What You Can’t Have: 2011 Honda CBR600F

Another one for the “No Bike for You, America!” file: this tasty-looking resurrection of Honda’s F-series of middleweight sporty-bikes. It’s called the CBR600F, and it brings back the tradition of comfortable, easy-to-ride sportbikes—just not for us in the USA.

The new bike continues the legacy of “F” -model CBRs that were sold in the European market until 2006. Less sport-focused than the other middleweight sportbikes, the F models had relaxed seating positions, good wind protection and roomy passenger accommodations. However, they were based on a more-sporting brother bike, sharing their speed and handling. We actually had one of these models, called the CBR600F4i here in the States, from 2004 to 2006, an outstanding all-arounder that could commute, tour or do trackdays with equal aplomb.

Honda’s Euro-model CB600F Hornet was a good-performing, comfortable sort of bike as well, but it needed a full fairing to really be a true all-around machine. That’s where Valerio Aiello—chief designer at Honda’s Italian design studios in Rome—came in. He crafted the swoopy, elegant shapes you see here. “We wanted to create a design that will remain attractive for a long time, not just for a year or two,” explains Valerio. “Overall we wanted to create a strong single shape, like a piece of sculpture. I think of the finished design like a cobra ready to attack; compact, fluid and full of dynamic potential.”

Aiello added a new tank, bars, and instruments to complement that sexy fairing. The other components are basic Hornet, not that there’s anything wrong with that. The current-generation Hornet, which made its debut in 2007, is completely revised from the older Hornet, which you might have known as the 599. The newer bike gets an aluminum single-backbone frame, inverted fork, and the motor from the 2007 CBR600RR, tuned for torque, indeed, but still producing a claimed 100 horsepower at the crank. Braking isn’t with the premium radial-mount calipers you’d find on the CBR600RR; riders will have to be happy with two-piston calipers and 296mms discs (the ABS model gets 3-piston calipers). But the 41mm inverted cartridge fork, adjustable for damping and preload, should deliver a nice ride. Wheels are 17-inchers, shod with sportbike-spec radial rubber. Total wet weight should be north of 450 pounds, although Honda hasn’t released those numbers yet.

Of course, this is all moot for us American riders—you can’t get it here. However, it seems like a no-brainer for an aging market always on the lookout for fun-to-ride, comfortable bikes that won’t break the bank. That could be a problem—like the Hornet, this bike is assembled in Honda’s Italian factory, which means it would be priced at a premium over competing models. A price tag over $10,000 wouldn’t surprise me at all. That means small sales, small margins and lukewarm dealer interest in a bike like this.

American Honda won’t comment about future product or even the direction their product line might go in the future, so who knows if they are considering bringing this bike in or not, but your comments (and you better believe Honda’s people read the comments!) might influence that decision.

96 Comments

  1. Jack says:

    For the purpose of demographics, I am 59, love my Ducati,
    and would buy this bike.

    Report this comment

  2. Paso100 says:

    Why is it so hard for Honda and other makers to understand something so simple? Take the current CBR600RR or CBR1000RR, lower the pegs about an inch, raise the handlebars about an inch and bring them a bit closer. Enlarge the fairing SLIGHTLY along with MINOR improvements in seat and passenger comfort. Leave the engine, chassis, suspension and brakes ALONE. Voila, my (and I bet most others) perfect sport-tourer. Helloooo? Kawasaki is learning, how about everyone else?

    Report this comment

    • Tim says:

      Everything you want to change is available through the aftermarket. Bar kits, peg lowering brackets and a custom seat. DIY dream bike.

      Report this comment

      • MikeD says:

        Personally, to me is a BOTHER, WHY can’t it come like that from the OEM? I rather have it handed to me put togheter than having to piece it myself.
        Ninja 1000 anyone? lol.

        Report this comment

        • Paso100 says:

          I agree. I actually like some of Honda’s designs and wouldn’t want a piece-meal style of motorcycle. I would buy a well-integrated, well-designed sport-tourer that had the same engine and suspension as an RR. That way the 1 percent of the time I’d ride it like a supersport I wouldn’t be disappointed. That really would be the do-it-all bike for me. And I’d pay $10,000 for it, too.

          Report this comment

  3. Scorpio says:

    If they’re going to press the edge of the mold, why not make an actual lightweight sport tourer with a stronger emphasis on sport than the VFR? The ZZR comparisons are apt, but imagine naked bike ergos (with a seat that doesn’t push you into the tank), easily detached/attached hard luggage, heated grips, and maybe even some gee-whizzery using your iPod. That would appeal to me, and while I’m not the average American demographic, Honda does seem to throw out answers to questions nobody asked pretty regularly (DN-01 anyone?), so it could happen…

    Report this comment

    • Tim says:

      You’ve very nearly described the new Z1000SX, (Ninja 1000 – I hate that name).Nobody really knows about the seat yet but the erst is spot on if you don’t mind installing a set of Symtecs and a Powerlet yourself.

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  4. Marty says:

    Maybe instead of bringing this bike in Honda could wake up and bring in an adventure touring model or 2, I know they have them overseas. I’m tired of riding expensive BMW GS’s and the problems that go along with them. But looks like Yamaha is bringing the Tenere so thats where my hard earned $ will go, just waiting for another couple weeks to see what else is coming, then it will be over to Yamaha to leave a deposit, sorry Honda I was hoping to see something out of you besides cruisers and crotch rockets.. guess the wait is over..

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  5. JD says:

    May be Honda got sick of doing the the R@D for the other brands. Like when the RC30 came out followed by the Yam OW01 and Kawi ZXR. So now they have brought out stuff such as V-Tec, Honda Matic and other tricky gizmo rubbish which the other brands won’t bother to copy and the consumer does’t want either. I think they do some of their R@d now on the consumer as well, which doesn’t work either.

    Report this comment

  6. ziggy says:

    MD is holding this out as some sort of tantalizing morsel? This is s girl’s bike!

    Report this comment

  7. MarkF says:

    U want this kinda bike? Get a Kawi ZZR600. Previous generation Supersport 600 technology, all the bugs worked out, comfy position and a great price. Honda really has lost the way from the late 90′s when they were a riders bike.

    Report this comment

    • marxmyth says:

      I’d love a ZZR600 if it were a little newer. It’s really starting to look its age and while that may not totally deter me, having carbs isn’t something I’m really interested in anymore. But I do appreciate all the mid-level, rideable bikes that the big four have been coming up with. Maybe I’m just sick of hearing about how much lighter and track-ready every new bike is. For those of us who don’t want a hyper-sport, cruiser or something for off-roading, the pickings were getting a little slim. Here’s to more “normal” choices.

      Report this comment

    • Gil says:

      In 2007 I published a comment on a Kawi fan website about the ZZR636, you know, a hypothetical sports tourer bike with a 636 engine tuned for reasonable performance and an acceptably progressive power delivery, of course, with fuel injection and a couple other amenities. People replied with comments like “that would not be enough engine for me” and “well, if it had heated grips… maybe”. Now, after 3 years I see a bike with such a philosophy… from Honda. And it won’t be sold in America. I truly do not know what to say about the motorcycle industry… :)

      Report this comment

  8. Mark says:

    I have owned 10 Honda’s over the last 35 years and loved them all, even a gremlin laden Pacific Coast grr . My only gap was my crazy youth where I owned a Ninja. I am in the market to purchase again, sold my Shadow at the end of the summer. Honda continues to roll out mass market uninspiring rides. This bike I would buy. I can tell you based on what I have seen over the last several years that my money next year is going to Kawasaki. Wake up Honda !!!!!! Don’t make me do it !!!

    Report this comment

  9. Kit Halsted says:

    A 600 north of 450 pounds, with crap brakes to boot? Do we need this in the US? Does it do anything the new Kawasaki Ninja 1000 doesn’t do better? And what’s up with the weight of Honda bikes in general? They’re gaining weight faster than the average American.

    Report this comment

  10. Brian says:

    I did a little looking… If a ZX-6R or R6 have a MSRP of $10,700, would this bike really stand a chance of selling at $10,000? I loved my F2 when I had it, and this would be a good modern version of it, but that is asking a high end price for a mid-line bike.

    Report this comment

  11. PN says:

    Hey, so what if it costs 10 grand. I’ll buy one tomorrow. It’s Italian. It’s beautiful but I don’t need that travel trunk. The rest of the bike is perfect. Hondas are usually too staid for my test (I like Kawis and Moto Guzzi and MV Augusta Brutales) but I’d get that one.

    Report this comment

  12. jimbo says:

    Another reason to curse Honda USA!

    Another reason to move out of the USA!

    What the freak is up with this people!

    What can possibly be wrong with this bike to curse its presence here?

    The thing is one of the nicest looking bikes I’ve seen.

    Am I blocking, again?

    Report this comment

  13. Carl says:

    Since Honda has seemed to say to us loyal former Honda owners “You’re on your own”, and “We do not feel the need to be at rallies, shows and events”, I have said goodbye to Honda after years of riding great products. Other manufacturers have continued to improve and innovate in this tough market and stay engaged with their customer base (BMW, Ducati, Guzzi, Triumph, etc) I sold my 2009 ST1300, after my Goldwing, and several other earlier rides. My next ride will be some form of Ducati. Honda will have to really work to gain my business back . This article speaks to my disappointment!
    Thanks for the vent.

    Report this comment

  14. T. Rollie says:

    If I were Honda, and I’m not, I’d focus on what the Honda brand means in America. Honda’s soul is “you meet the nicest people on a Honda.” And reliability and carefree and comfort.. That’s the Goldwing. That’s the user-friendly sport-bikes. That’s the VFR and the nice cruisers. That’s some wonderful entry-levela and kids’ dirt-bikes. Does this new Italian-Euro bike have that soul? Maybe, but it’s too expensive so forget it. “The nicest people” want an inexpensive ride, or a really nice luxury bike.

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  15. ben says:

    I like this bike.

    I used to be into hard core sportbikes in a big way but various motocross injuries have made it impossible to ride todays (horribly undersized, cramped, 2/3 scale) serious sportbikes without great discomfort.

    I started to notice a while back that the manufacturers were in a war to produce the lightest sportbikes possible…light bikes are great but not when the lighten them by simply downsizing the entire bike to a miserable, child sized POS

    to summarize: comfortable sportbikes good. cramped 2/3 scale sportbikes bad

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  16. Norm G. says:

    sadly, the F is for “eF” the all-too-finicky american motorcycle consumer…

    Report this comment

  17. MikeD says:

    Honda, Suzuki called, they want their 2K11 GSX-R600/750 1/3 FRONT Section back to them or else.

    I guess the opposite could be said too, ahh ? lol.

    Report this comment

  18. ohio says:

    This looks fantastic. A real competitor for the FZ6 and a great versatile all-rounder. I assume this is the same platform as the upcoming 599 replacement… that has me very excited.

    Report this comment

  19. Dave says:

    This whole article is giving me deja-vu. It’s because the slick new 1000cc naked/standard Honda is releasing in the US this year was an Italian Honda product in the EU only last year. The review I read about it outlined the same finiacial problems with bringing it to the US too. I’m not sure what they did (Japanese production or subsidize the Italian make) but here it comes. If our market continues to recover (and gas continues to climb) then I’d bet this will follow.

    Report this comment

  20. Tommy See says:

    I love all the comments. I want the TDM 900 in the Super Tenere dress code.
    Suzuki drop the V-Strom 1,000 and 650 and build an 8-900 twin.

    Report this comment

    • MikeD says:

      OR… keep polishing the current power plants and replace the front and rear pogo sticks with something “more decent”(beefier and fully adjustable)…more along the lines of the Super Tenere equipment.
      OH!…a FRESH LOOK wouldn’t hurt it either!

      I think they have a Raw Diamond just needing to be cut, cleaned up and polished so it will truly become a Gem.

      Report this comment

  21. Troy says:

    I’ve owned 3 Honda’s… all V4 sportbikes back in the 80′s. Then they got fat, and added Vtec, and liked brakes… Until they make another V4 sportbike (NOT the VFRecliner)… I’m not buying another.

    Report this comment

  22. duckboy says:

    reminds me of the old f2 in terms of ergonomics and overall well-roundedness. too bad the US won’t get this bike even though we’re supposed to be one if not the largest market for them. oh well.

    Report this comment

  23. Kawatwo says:

    I’m not sure why they would not bring this over this year. I ain’t getting any younger:) Still looking like a Ninja 1000 for me. Those bars actually don’t look as high as they should be for this type of bike either, but please Big 4, more bikes like this.

    Report this comment

  24. Vrooom says:

    I really like the bike, but it’s not a $10K bike for sure. I can buy a V-Strom 1000 for $2K less than that, or a FZ1 for the same price. $7K seems about right. Admittedly those aren’t direct competitors, but they are very comfortable multiple use bikes.

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  25. Tom Barber says:

    This is a good-looking bike. I like the idea of the backbone frame with in-line fours. You can easily get the identical properties of a wrap-around, twin spar sportbike frame, with the penalty of a small increase in weight, but the advantage of it being more narrow.

    I appreciate Gabe taking the trouble to explain the financial reasons why there would be difficulty bringing this particular bike to the USA. But it raises the question of why the same bike could be built in a USA factory. The answer that occurs to me is that labor rates in the USA are higher than elsewhere.

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  26. steveinsandiego says:

    even though the 600F’s are not as droopy, my body cannot handle clip-ons, my daughter’s ninja 250 excepted. i wouldn’t mind a v-twin (throw in some hydraulic valves, the weight be danged)and little or no cladding for easier maintenance, and i could be happy with it. as to displacement, well, my 09 ninja 650r is plenty fast for me, jus’ sayin’ :)

    Report this comment

    • MikeD says:

      Im down with “Hydraulic Tacos”…lol.

      Report this comment

      • steveinsandiego says:

        i should have included the adjective “self-adjusting”. i mean, i’m no mechanic; i don’t pay a lot of attention to all the specs, but i’m willing to suffer the disadvantages of hydraulic valves in favor of their no-maintenance advantage; and i am never averse to shaft drive. AND, a v- or parallel twin has always provided plenty of git-up-’n-go.

        btjm – LOL.

        Report this comment

  27. nick says:

    First of honda does not read this, if they did they would not be comming out with the products they are, because they have no idea what people want anymore. They will not bring this into the states but they will briing in the dn01 for 16000 dollars. I love how the honda reps give rebates and force 3 year old vtx1800s and yellow goldwings to dealers, but no rebates on the dn01 or 3 year old watercraft, why, because their warehouse is out and they make interest on the dealers flooring them. Honda really must be trying to fail, it is really a joke, from carbs and drum brakes on their quads, to no power steering on the big red or flagship rincon that is unchanged for the last 6 years, to the honda reps telling dealers that there will not be a new goldwing or trx450r quad till they sell all the 08 and 09s and the 09 are carbed and steel frame with no rebates. right… people will be all over that. I love how I don’t even have to make fun of honda no more, they do a good enough job themselves.

    Report this comment

  28. Nor says:

    Ernest’s comment “1. The motorcycling press only seems to like specialty bikes, and would treat this one with the same ho-hum attitude it does the others” is right on. Until ridding for fun is glorified in the press ( as opposed to speed) then the average rider is going to ride a cruiser or not ride at all.

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  29. Ernest says:

    Yamaha’s FZ6R is in its 3rd of production here in the states, and Kawasaki’s Ninja 650 has been here for at least twice that long, or thereabouts. I believe there could be a market for this Honda, with two possible hindrances: 1. The motorcycling press only seems to like specialty bikes, and would treat this one with the same ho-hum attitude it does the others. 2. Honda’s inclination to price bikes well out of their range might keep it from appealing to the consumer. Both Kawi and Yamaha seem to sell in spite of their lack of press, probably due to their competitive pricing and utility. If Honda can’t pick up on that, maybe they shouldn’t bother.

    Report this comment

    • marxmyth says:

      When I first read about this bike I was stoked because I’m in the market for my second bike and I am leaning toward the F4I. I was hoping this bike would make it stateside but I can’t imagine paying $10k for it. The FZ6R and Ninja 650 were on the short list but needed a few more HP to make it worth buying for the long term. Maybe this will be the return of the streetable sport bikes (i.e. ZZR600, YZF600R, and Honda F-Series). Then again, maybe it’s just one more bike that we’ll never have in the US that sells like hotcakes around the world.

      Report this comment

  30. Steve P says:

    I think a slightly larger version, say a CBR 750F weighing under 500 pounds set up like the new Ninja 1000 with heated grips, taller handlebars and hard luggage option, ABS, and top line components would be on open niche that would have lots of buyers.

    Report this comment

  31. civicblade says:

    That is really a 2 piston per floating caliper brake setup. The exact front brake caliper that is used on my year2000 ST1100 Pan European. That front brake caliper was used on the first release of ST1100 in 1993.

    Honda do know about re-using old design parts for their new bikes. I have nothing against the 2pot floating caliper brake system. It works really well bringing the heavy ST1100 (450lb) to a standstill, more than enough bit to lock up the front.

    Report this comment

    • riley says:

      450 lbs? I think that’s the ST11′s weight at the factory before they install the motor.

      Report this comment

    • Foster says:

      Wrong on two counts actually. The ST1100 weighs the better part of 700 pounds wet and it first appeared in 1990. THE best sport touring bike ever to come out of Honda Germany R&D, even better than the USA R&D effort on the ST1300.

      Sport touring enthusiasts, those that like the ergos of an ST1100 at least, have been abandoned by Honda.

      Report this comment

  32. Justin says:

    At the risk of offending one TB, tuned for [a broad, smooth] torque [curve] is more important than having more than 100 [peak] hp.

    If you want to ride two-up or deal with commuter traffic, your bike’s gotta have some guts. There must be some compromise in engine design, and if it’s a 600 that can pull two people, 100hp at the peak is pretty [darn] good.

    Anyhow, those of us who want and use peak horsepower regularly already have plenty of bikes to choose from.

    My only complaint would be the wee little brakes, but I’m sure they do the job. Otherwise, it’s a great bike and the roads should be covered with them like they used to with the GOOF2. At $10k a pop, though, that’s not happening.

    Anyhow, as I’m accustomed to big-bore sportbikes and like my passengers with a little meat on their bones, I’m going to have to go with the Ninja 1000 and try to resist the urge to say “It’s a Ninja, yo!” every time I see the bike.

    Report this comment

  33. Yamasarus says:

    Another 600cc sportbike is the next to last thing the US market needs(another cruiser being the last thing). The adult, experienced rider would go larger displacement looking for torque. I agree with Batman. Let’s see a W800 or a standard with good ergonomics, lots of torque and performance. Oh, and leave the V-twin on cruisers.

    Report this comment

  34. John McDowell says:

    Oh, just nit-picking here. The 2001 CBRF4i was the beginning of the series. I had a Red/White/ with Black anodized frame from the Japanese Factory. Then I modified it with the Red Undertail Fender and chain guard. WHAT A GREAT RIDE. The split seat was a situation that was always a debate. I hope this one succeeds, at a better price point though.

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  35. Tim says:

    I’ve always wanted a late model ZZR600 Kawasaki which has many of the same appealing virtues that this Honda seems to have. The smooth undertail and hugger on the CBR-F is a really nice touch.

    Report this comment

  36. MGNorge says:

    Until we here in the US see the true value in owning a motorcycle for more practical reasons this and others will be a hard sell. I’d bet it would be very entertaining and easy to live with.

    Report this comment

  37. jerrylee says:

    bargin basement sportbikes don’t seem to do well in the US. Honda does their marketing research very well and if there were buyers to warrant the import they would.

    Report this comment

  38. Hank says:

    Stick a V-Twin in it, instead of “just another 600″ Bring back a modern Super Hawk,something for adults.

    Report this comment

  39. Doug says:

    Bikes like this won’t make it in America until motorcycles are considered as a viable means of transportation and not just toys.

    Report this comment

  40. ofredo says:

    Honda,

    Build it in Japan, Make it inexpensive, Call it the CBR600F5 and Remind people how much they loved the Hurricane(F1), F2, F3, F4 and F4i. If you build it they will buy.

    Report this comment

  41. Dave Kent says:

    I’m only speaking for me, but Honda has been disappointing me for years. It started with the hype surrounding the Super Hawk in the ’90′s. As an avid owner of four NT650 Hawks, I couldn’t wait for the release of the bigger one. So Honda goes completely away from the mold and drops a Ducati wannabe on us. Then a few years later, they bring out the XR650R big single desert racer. I just “knew” it would be followed shortly by a dual sport or motard model to replace my aged XR650l. I’m still waiting. And when they finally do put out a motard, it’s a 230cc air cooled kitten that’s better suited for an MSF class. Then, they stopped making the best standard on the planet, the 750 Nighthawk. Then, they dropped the Sabre in favor of that abomination of a homogenized chopper thing (Fury) and its spawn of vanilla cruisers. I’ve come to expect nothing from Honda. I only read their press nowadays to see how much worse it can get.

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  42. BATMAN says:

    Nice bike. Maybe they should copy Yamaha and have a pre-order system the first year, see if it would sell. I REALLY wish Kawasaki would do that on their W800.

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  43. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    Are they really 2-piston front brake calipers, or is that a typo?

    Report this comment

    • Tom Barber says:

      Why do you think that is a typo?

      The advantage of multiple pistons comes down to little more than a slight reduction in the size of the rotor. It has next to nothing to do with stopping ability, because stopping ability is determined by traction and by how much the weight transfers to the front under deceleration. It probably has next to no effect on feedback or sensation of braking. If comes down to the fundamental fact that the amount of force leverage is dependent on the ratio of the areas of the master cylinder cross-section and the slave cylinder cross-section. The force applied (and felt) at the brake lever is small in relation to the force between the pad and the rotor, but the trade-off is that the master cylinder piston (and thus the lever) must move a greater distance than the pad. The slave cylinder piston area can be increased by way of increasing the number of cylinders, but the same can be done by way of a single larger cylinder, but then you would need a larger rotor. A larger rotor will add some weight to the wheel, so there are functional disadvantages, but they are very minor, such that the more compelling reason that manufacturers prefer a smaller rotor is probably for aesthetic reasons. Ergo, the primary advantage of greater quantity of cylinders in the brake is improved aesthetics.

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      • Ruefus says:

        That’s why WSBK-spec brakes run four pistons and 330mm rotors…..’cause they look better than two-pistons. Yeah…..that’s it. The larger rotors is for the bling factor on the grid. Yeah…..that’s it.

        Extra pistons don’t help with feel? So, with just two BIG fingers you won’t have a different feel than the four you’ve got? Right?

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  44. harry says:

    Another sportbike.

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  45. Jmedina says:

    I’d take a Kawi ZZR600 over this if it made it to the states… For about 4k less out the door…

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  46. Brian says:

    I like the concept… But if Honda brought that to the US at $10k, the Ninja 1000 would kill it on the sales floor as would several other bikes out there…

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  47. Bruce says:

    I loved the Hornet, but I am done asking for the newer version to make it over here. I just can’t imagine Honda making the same sales mistake a third time, since americans don’t buy bikes for good reasons. But we are getting the bigger brother, so that’ll do nicely if you’re looking for a good do-it-all sporty bike. Would this faired Hornet do the trick? Probably not at that price. Maybe Honda should bring the revised CBF1000 over here? But that’s probably not sporty enough, so that might not work either…

    Now who do we have to bribe/threaten/**** to get the Crossrunner over here? It’ll certainly depend on the sales success of the Yamaha S.Tenere and the Triumph Tiger 800′s. Come on Honda, bring back that sweet RC46 engine! I’ll even stop complaining about Vtec, Ok? :)

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  48. wfowade says:

    Why not top shelf components and most of the horsepower? IMO, 600 cc in the US would limit the bike to younger riders-not the demographic this bike would appeal to most in the US. Just keep the weight down and go ahead and make it 1000 cc. Oh wait, Kawasaki already has that one covered. A 1000 cc version from Honda with this level of design detail would likely get more buyers interest (and contracts) than the ubertech VFR 1200.

    Report this comment

    • Ruefus says:

      For one, top-shelf components equal top-shelf pricing. Second, it’s not a no-compromises sportbike.

      As for 600cc’s only being for the young…that’s silly and a perfect illustration as to why Honda won’t bring it to the States. People just don’t get it.

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  49. Hank says:

    I do not see a big loss for the US market. Now, if it were a 750 !!!??!! Then, Yes! I want one.

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    • Nate says:

      Considering the 1000cc BMW produces more horsepower than the ZX14 and the Busa… you may reconsider your belief that a bigger number = more HP. That’s a very outdated cruiser-boy truism that isn’t true at all.

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  50. Gil says:

    I believe this kind of bike would sell ok in most parts of America (the continent). I wonder how smooth the engine is considering the first bike to feature such powerplant was an RR, but the bike looks pretty high quality and comfortable overall. I would definitely consider buying such motorcycle if it was available here.

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