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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. Paul says:

    Looks like a nice well thought out every day bike. It’s a 600 for God’s sake! If you want performance then buy something with some cubic capacity and power and torque will come with it!

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  2. Not Enough Motor... says:

    The motor is the big let down with this bike. Other manufactures have offered more torque and HP from their 600cc engines in non-sportbike trim since years ago! Come on Honda, give us a REAL motor!

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  3. Tom says:

    Snivelers about 2 piston brakes can critique all they want. I’d love to have a bike like this.

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  4. Joey Wilson says:

    You also can’t have the VTR250, the CB400 SuperFour, or the fabulous CB1100. They can have the DN-01 back. You can’t have the W800, or the ER4N or Ninja 400. And on and on and on . . . .

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    • He says:

      Completely agree with Mr. Wilson. The CB1100 NEEDS to be made available in the U.S., along with Kawa’s W800. The motorcycle market has shifted yet it’ll be years before Honda or the others bring us “the good stuff”. Instead, they continue to believe they’re ahead of the curve in bringing us horrible cruisers, or worse, anything with automatic gearing. The 2000-2001 W650 was a poor seller back then, but look at those bikes now. They are in demand. And the CB1100 is beautiful.

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  5. mama says:

    Just saw the weight forecast. Over 450 wet? So it’s going to be as heavy as the RC51 with a neutered 600cc motor?

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  6. mama says:

    Nobody really knows what Honda’s thinking here.

    Kinda old looking styling. Not too attractive, but it looks heavy.

    Crap brakes. Crap forks. Probably less powerful than 2001 F4i and I’ll bet a dollar it’s over 400 dry. Oh well, at least it will be expensive.

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  7. Jack Meoph says:

    Todd is an angry person. Fear lead to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to riding a 20 year old motorcycle. Honduh, the Hardley of the sportbike world, living on an image with no real innovation to speak of.

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    • todd says:

      no anger here. I just happened to realize I had a long way to go to outperform my old bikes to think that I could ever get any more performance out of a new one. I have 9 bikes at the moment and they all perform about the same with me on them. I’ve ridden many “better” motorcycles and they were still no faster than any of my bikes – with me on them. I set out and decided to improve my skills and not “upgrade” until I could overwhelm the abilities of what I was on. Now, when I ride with others I am often finding that they’re in my way even though they have USD forks, carbon fiber fenders, 190 series tires, and 100+ HP (sorry if any of them read this…). Sometimes the conversation at the cafe turns to how they want to buy this bike or that as if their 636 or CBR (oops) was the reason we had to wait for them at junctions.

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      • Justin says:

        ’20 year-old Yamaha’ could be an FZR1000. a dude doesn’t have to be a squid to get passed up the inside by one of those.

        so, I get where todd is coming from.

        but it’s undeniable that these tech improvements offer performance advantages at the limit, just look at a racebike.

        realistically, then, you have to ask yourself when you actually reach your bikes performance limits on public roads.

        during cornering? unless you are a highly-trained roadracing champion AND a complete nut, you just aren’t. if you’re just a nut you’re more likely to exceed the limit than reach it, thus again making the exact measure of your bike’s performance limit irrelevant.

        top speed? well, some do. and if you do, please do it on the freeway at night. but most motorcyclists don’t care if their bike tops out at 140 or 180.

        acceleration? do you have a wheelie bar on your bike? OK, then…

        braking? yes. yes, yes, YES! you never forget the times you were spared a face full of minivan because you were on a sportbike. but I’ve probably forgotten a dozen incidents that likely would have been an emergency stop on anything else. Marginal improvements in torsional rigidity in your braking system give you marginally greater braking power and control, but that margin could be the difference between riding home and needing a helicopter ride.

        so, I’m gonna continue to ride a bike with the best brakes that i can afford. I’m certainly not going to F around with any more F’in floating twin-piston calipers, and now that radial-mount brakes are commonplace I’m not going to F around with any more F’in perpendicular mounting bolts.

        to paraphrase an old adage: if you’ve got a hundred-dollar head, ride a bike with a hundred-dollar braking system

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  8. fred says:

    my 2007 zzr600 has 60k on it.there will be no 2011 zzr600.so yes i would consider the cbr600f.

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  9. Brian says:

    I think this looks great.
    I have the 2006 F4i and it was a great first motorcycle to learn on and look good with. Of course I’m a bit older than most first time riders, but I really like the cushy seat and relaxed position. I can ride it for hours without my knees and wrists taking a beating.
    I think this would have a great market, even if over 10k. I mean, the 600s now are in the mid to high 11′s to start and the 1000′s into the >14k range now? I just saw the sticker on the new ZX10r at the IMS this weekend in San Mateo.
    10k for a good looking 600 is a great deal!

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  10. todd says:

    If we’re so waxy about the F4i you can pick up a nice one for $3-4,000 – certainly much easier to do than get one of these out of Honda EU’s hands. I doubt that the F is three times better than the F4i. Or if you need new for some reason you can help move some FZ6′s off Yamaha’s hands for them. They’d welcome the help.

    Let’s be honest: Most people buy on image alone. Never mind the fact that less than 1% of riders can get any better performance out of a RR than a F. Who here can tell the difference between radial calipers and traditional ones? USD vs conventional forks? Carbs vs FI? 10mm engine repositioning? No, the allure for these kinds of bikes is that they might some-how make you a better rider. If you can’t do that for yourself then, at least, buy something that makes everyone think you’re a pro.

    Me? I’ll continue to whoop everyone’s arses on my 20 year old Yamaha until it blows then I’ll buy another.

    Go ahead, pretend away.

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    • MikeD says:

      I’ll admit it. I has to go thru my eyes before it goes thru the old wallet. Shallow ? Probably…lol.

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    • Donnie says:

      Alright Todd, I’ve got to admit, you’re making a strong point.

      HOWEVER.

      While suspension is still something of a mystery to me, I can tell you that the 2008 Versys suffers less nose dive in braking than the 2000 ZRX I ride now, which likely has something to do with the USD setup on the Versys vs. the conventional layout of the ZRX. While there are a myriad of variables involves in fork performance I can definitely say that USD *appears* to offer better stability during braking than conventional.

      As for FI vs. carbs, I can most certainly tell you that there is a difference! I’ve managed to get an EFI bike to start and run in 32* weather whereas the carb’d V4, single, v-twin, and inline-4 motors absolutely hate starting in cold weather and seem to take longer to warm up.

      I can also say that EFI, while not bulletproof, is definitely a little friendlier when it comes to maintenance than EFI. Having torn apart carbs on a VF750 Magna, a DR350S, a VS800 Intruder, and my ZRX carbs (I had to do the ZRX rack 3 times. 3 times! Finally took care of the gunk in the fuel tank and haven’t dealt with it since.), I can tell you that I have definitely wished for EFI when I was elbow-deep in my motorcycles.

      In all honesty, you’re probably an ex-racer or very skilled on a motorcycle. You have a valid point. However, making huge, blanket statements like yours really shows you to be an arrogant rider that would be better classified as a RUB than a motorcyclist.

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