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.