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Honda CB600F HORNET Naked Motorbike Review

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Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Riding
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MCN overall verdict rating is 4

The Honda CB600F Hornet uses simple ingredients, thoughtfully combined to create a motorcycle far better than you’d guess. Old Honda CBR600F engine plus a basic frame, cost conscious suspension and upright bars make a versatile motorcycle that’s fun and practical. High level exhaust, USD forks and wide rear tyre add a dash of pzazz. The CB600F Hornet suits shorter bikers well.

- Check out hondahornet.co.uk for a forum chock-full of info, knowledge and advice on all things Hornet.

Engine

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

Plenty of power and excellent reliability from the Honda CB600Fs inline four. It’s the same as used in mid-90s CBR600F with carbs not fuel injection. The Honda CB600F Hornet does need revving hard if you want to use all the power but it’s gentle in town with a light clutch. Camchain tensioner failure is the motorcycle's only weakness.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

Mad thrash or gentle cruise – the CB600F Hornet copes with both without breaking a sweat. Handling is sweet although pre-2000 motorcycles had a 16 inch front wheel which feels odd. Ultimately the suspension is budget, even the USD forks are more fashion than function but it’ll take a fast track day for most bikers to fault it. After market brake pads increase bite.

Equipment

MCN rating rating is 2
Owners' rating rating is 3

The Honda CB600F Hornet's comfort is OK for an unfaired motorcycle. The Honda CB600F's seat is not the comfiest ever but it is acceptable. Pillion accommodation is mediocre. Budget motorcycle means budget equipment levels. The CB600F Hornet comes with few bells and whistles but it doesn’t really need them. The high level exhaust gets in the way if you want to use soft panniers which can be a pain.

Click here for the 10 best parts for the Honda Hornet 600, as recommended by real owners at hondahornet.co.uk.

Honda CB600F Hornet (1998-2006)

Detail Value
New price £5,199
Dealer used prices
£1,940 (2001) - £3,530 (2006)
Private used prices
£1,750 (2001) - £3,180 (2006)
  View full used price info
Engine size 599 cc
Power 97 bhp
Top speed 140 mph
Insurance group 12 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 4
Engine rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Ride & Handling rating is 4 rating is 4
Equipment rating is 2 rating is 3
Quality & Reliability rating is 4 rating is 4
Value rating is 3 rating is 4

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

The Honda CB600F Hornet shrugs off miles (including winter ones) better than most Japanese bikes. The bottom yoke will corrode plus the stainless steel down pipes discolour but otherwise the finish is quite tough. Road salt and infrequent washing will still cause heavy corrosion though. Reliability is superb. Honda’s regular problems (regulator/rectifier plus cam chain tensioners) are the only gripes.

Value

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 4

Excellent VFM but the CB600F is in an ultra competitive class, and the Hornet is looking old. Yamaha’s FZ6 is better equipped and is available with a fairing while Kawasaki’s Z750 has more poke. Honda’s own CBF600 has more equipment including ABS for the same price – but the CB600F Hornet’s faster and more sporty. The CB600F Hornet’s still a wise buy – used values are solid and parts and extras are plentiful. Find a Honda Hornet for sale.

Insurance

Insurance group: 12 of 17

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Model History

1998: Original Honda CB600F Hornet launched.
2000: 17” front wheel, colour coded grab rail, red inserts on heel plates.
2003: Minor update – engine and frame tweaks, large under seat storage, twin reflector headlight.
2005: Updated CB600F Hornet: lots of changes including USD forks, small cowling round headlight.
2006: Model deleted. Replaced by all-new Hornet 600 in 2007 (see seperate review).

Other Versions

Pre 2000 motorcycles had a 16 inch front wheel which feels odd and restricts tyre choice.
‘S’ version had a useful half fairing and clocks from the Honda VTR1000 Firestorm.

Specifications

Top speed 140 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 11.7 secs
Max power 97 bhp
Max torque 47 ft-lb
Weight 179 kg
Seat height 790 mm
Fuel capacity 17 litres
Average fuel consumption 41 mpg
Tank range 150 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 12 of 17
Engine size 599 cc
Engine specification 16v in-line four, 6 gears
Frame Steel spine
Front suspension adjustment Preload
Rear suspension adjustment Preload
Front brakes Twin 296mm discs
Rear brake 220mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

See all Honda CB600F HORNET motorcycles for sale

Honda
CB600F HORNET

15285 miles

£2,999

Honda
CB600F HORNET

7016 miles

£3,695

Honda
CB600F HORNET

12600 miles

£3,494

Honda
CB600F HORNET

16440 miles

£4,500

Honda
CB600F HORNET

6133 miles

£3,295

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 4(22 reviews)

  • 98 Hornet

    LGP1

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Great bike, have had mine a year and done around 5k on it. Its comfortable, easy to ride round town and if you want to it will keep up with the best of them even on a track day! A very capable all rounder. Only downsides, lack of fuel gauge, not a problem once your used to it, 100 miles then fill and never have a problem. Also the 16 inch front wheel, makes new choice of new rubber limited, Ive fitted Conti sport attacks to mine which seem to be doing a good job!! Very pleased with mine and will be keeping it a good while yet!

    31 December 2012

  • My first big bike

    Virtuallism

    Average rating rating is 4

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    Brilliant bike, just amazing. My 1999 CB600F is my first big bike since I passed my license about 6 weeks ago and I literally cannot fault it. The handling is superb, even if the front wheel is 16" rather than 17", it stills leans and turns smoothly and naturally (though I cannot compare this to riding a similiar bike with a 17" front wheel, due to not having ridden one). As for equipment it comes very bare: Speedo, revs, total miles, trip miles, neutral light, indicators, engine light (though it is just a generic one and doesn't tell you any causes) and a side-stand switch incase you go into gear with it down. Yet it doesn't need lots of gizmo's, and it's 13 years old now so it's wrong to expect more, although compared to modern bikes it's lacking so only 3 stars sadly. The reliability is superb, I have had no problems with it. The engine is bulletproof and just keeps on chugging through any weather or conditions and the brakes allow you to stop on a £2 coin if there is a need. Mine cost £1250 and it's worth every penny, so five stars for value. As my engine is restricted to 33bhp, I can't comment on the true effectiveness of the engine either, yet even now it is responsive and smooth and allows me to accelerate quickly out of all manners of hazards, and the 45mpg I'm averaging is nice too.

    11 December 2012

  • best bang for bucks

    Oscar Donovan

    Average rating rating is 4

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    Engine

    I've had myne for about a year now and still love it. It's as good as the more expensive fz6 or gsr 600, looks cool, is cheap to run and totaly reliable. the forks are a bit squidgy but cheap to upgread whit progressive springs and oil, this mod will transform the bike... Also 600 inline four needs a litle winding up to achieve warp speed but all in all the best bang for bucks with no reel dowsides on the secondhand market. s vertion is generaly less saught after so cheaper and has usually belonged to more serious owners as opposed to boyracer n vertion.

    16 November 2012

  • excellent first big bike!

    gothamKnight90

    Average rating rating is 4

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    i have had my hornet for a couple of months now... the good things are that its got a very low seat height therefore making it excellent for novices... its really easy to handle in the city traffic and great fun on twisty roads... the only big problem with the bike is the horrible fuel economy... i get 35 MPG in the city and around 43 mpg on motorways... even after keeping the rpm under 4000! tank range is about 80 miles...

    02 November 2011

  • Does what it says on the tin

    TatteredMorph

    Average rating rating is 4

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    Ride and Handling
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    Engine

    I've had my Hornet for going on 4 years now and still think that it's a great all-rounder. She handles well in pretty much any weather, although I have had her get a bit twitchy in really severe rain. That said, she's always been very forgiving, even on those rare 'torrential rain' occasions and I've never felt out of my depth on her. That reasonably forgiving nature not withstanding, when she's asked to, she goes like a greased gazelle up a drain pipe and simply exudes grin factor! Taking her out on a Sunday morning in the sunshine or just heading to work or town on her is a pleasure and she's comfortable over longer distances too. The only tricky aspect of taking her over any distance, especially if I'm going to be staying a few days, is load carrying. I don't do those sorts of journeys often enough to warrant hard luggage, and managing to get her loaded up safely can be a bit of an onerous task. That said, once it's all done, she's still fairly comfortable, even if I'm taking a pillion as well. In short, I think the CB600 Hornet is a pretty great machine that's reliable and fun. I'd also recommend it as a first bike due to her reasonable comfort and fairly forgiving handling should one make a minor faux pas.

    06 May 2011

  • Decent all-rounder, but a CBR600F is better

    charlesq_70

    Average rating rating is 3

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    Engine

    There are two ways to ride a Hornet: either short-shifting and cruising on the decent low-down torque, or thrashing hell out of it and countersteering like a speedway rider (well almost) on the wide bars. There's basically nothing in between; in the middle rev ranges it makes a loud buzzing noise (hence the name?) but doesn't do much else. It might be a 'naked CBR600F' but anyone who's ridden the faired bike will know how much better it is. The Hornet rides well but the suspension and brakes are soft, the bike feels much cheaper all round, and the biggest surprise is that it's not even as comfy as a CBR. On the plus side those bars and the riding position make handling at very slow speeds a doddle, and the clutch and gearbox are lighter than the CBR's, so arguably it's a better town bike. The Hornet is a decent secondhand buy (I reckon they were overpriced new) but unless the sportbike riding position is a total turn-off for you a CBR of a similar vintage is a far better option -- better cycle parts, better finish, and a totally linear power delivery that means it's actually easier to ride than its naked cousin.

    25 January 2011

  • Decent all-rounder, but a CBR600F is better

    charlesq_70

    Average rating rating is 3

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    There are two ways to ride a Hornet: either short-shifting and cruising on the decent low-down torque, or thrashing hell out of it and countersteering like a speedway rider (well almost) on the wide bars. There's basically nothing in between; in the middle rev ranges it makes a loud buzzing noise (hence the name?) but doesn't do much else. It might be a 'naked CBR600F' but anyone who's ridden the faired bike will know how much better it is. The Hornet rides well but the suspension and brakes are soft, the bike feels much cheaper all round, and the biggest surprise is that it's not even as comfy as a CBR. On the plus side those bars and the riding position make handling at very slow speeds a doddle, and the clutch and gearbox are lighter than the CBR's, so arguably it's a better town bike. The Hornet is a decent secondhand buy (I reckon they were overpriced new) but unless the sportbike riding position is a total turn-off for you a CBR of a similar vintage is a far better option -- better cycle parts, better finish, and a totally linear power delivery that means it's actually easier to ride than its naked cousin.

    25 January 2011

  • 98 Hornet 600

    Anonymous

    Average rating rating is 4

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    I had an 98 Hornet 600 which was a real nice bike. It performed unbelievably well but had so much grip and the ability to corner so well it was more suited to the track than the road to get the best out of the handling of this machine. On the road it was so simple to ride fast/slow long or short distance/in or out of traffic the only problem with distance was the fuel stops, 90 miles to a tank when you were enjoying yourself. I would assume the half faired version with a bigger fuel tank if Honda had ever made it would nearly be the perfect bike for alround riding. My brother had a grey import 250 which was unreal. It looked pretty much identical to a 600 with only 1 brake disc on the front wheel. This bike sounded even better than the 600 because it had gear driven cams and it made a beautiful whining sound and it would rev to 16000rpm. Obviously it was not as fast as the 600 but it still had the Fireblade size tyres and being so light you carry alot of speed through corners making it seem alot quicker than a 250 should be. I would definatly have another Hornet 600 were it not for the tank range, I loved it. I still see my old Hornet sometimes ride through our town, it still looks as good today as it did all those years ago. On a different note, if you have ever thought of going to France by bike either with friends or on your own but are a bit intimidated about going for the first time have a look at www.longwayroundbrittany.co.uk ,it is an excellent way of getting a feal for riding in France which is the best place to ride so close to home.

    14 May 2010

  • Hornet6 - Hard to Fault

    jarobinson25

    Average rating rating is 3.5

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    Bought a W-reg 2000 Hornet for a week-long trip to the NW200 after 10 years away from biking. 3500 miles & 4 months later (including 1300 miles in 8 days around Northern Ireland) and I'm well pleased with my Hornet, it can do almost everything well. Its comfy for full days in the saddle, quick & fun for the twisties, & economical giving 40-60 mpg. Even the dreaded poor range can be minimised by filling the tank to the brim whilst rocking the bike (getting 120-150 miles before reserve). The main downside I reckon is the wind protection on the motorway for those mad dashes for the ferry (even with a fly screen) but then again who wants to bike on a motorway.

    20 July 2009

  • 2006 honda hornet, with extras

    cushmanbulldog

    Average rating rating is 3.5

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    I have a 2006 honda hornet. With a few extras like a fmf powercore exhaust, Dynojet kit, k&n airfilter and sticky pilot power 2ct tires. It makes for added kick. The dyno jet kit is cheap, only 100 dollars here in the states and makes a substantial difference in power, a smoothes out your midline power. Added with a good exhaust it turns it into a screamer. Had mine out not too long ago, Hit 150 m.p.h and still had 6th left. But the exchange rate killed sales here, it still is a great bike for ones on a learning curve toward bigger and better.

    12 May 2009

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ruxxy

User's Badge

ruxxysays

pannier solutions

In every review from the bike press I have read, the problem of using luggage with the Hornet's high level can is raised. A simple and cheap solution to this "problem" (I still don't think the heat shields on the Hornet become hot enough to cause scorching...) is to buy an inexpensive ironing board cover, the sort with the silver foil top, and cut the relevant shapes needed for the soft panniers. I then used Evo Stik glue to fix them in place. A return trip to Cornwall and back with my wife pillion, some 680 miles, was road test enough to convince me.

12 January 2010 14:37

rossboy

User's Badge

rossboysays

Modded Hornet

I've been doing a fair amount of 'fiddling' with my Hornet over the last couple of months. I've added carbon side panels, carbon hugger, belly pan, and a fantastic undertray/rear light unit. All of which were purchased from JestersTrickBits, below. Can't recommend him enough! Prompt service and reasonable prices, as well as being more than happy to advise if you're not sure. Check his site out @ www.jesterstrickbits.co.uk

21 June 2007 13:26

iainmilne

User's Badge

iainmilnesays

modded hornet

cool, inspires me to do something with my 'vanilla' hornet

07 March 2007 10:02

JestersTrickBits

Expert

JestersTrickBitssays

Hornet

Not all Hornets are that simple, I bought mine 2 years ago and got though i would change the boring parts of the bike. After 2 years of hard work i am finally getting the Hornet of my dreams. Fun to ride, easy to work on, very easy to modify, fast enough for most people and cheap to run.

05 March 2007 19:01

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