HONDA CB600F HORNET (1998-2006) Review

Published: 23 November 2006

"A versatile motorcycle that's fun and practical"

Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Riding

"A versatile motorcycle that's fun and practical"

  • At a glance
  • 599cc  -  97 bhp
  • 41 mpg  -  150 miles range
  • Low seat height (790mm)

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

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.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

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.

Engine 4 out of 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.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

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 & Running Costs 3 out of 5

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 group: 12 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 2 out of 5

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.

Owners' Reviews

22 owners have reviewed their HONDA CB600F HORNET (1998-2006) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.1 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.1 out of 5
Engine 4.5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.3 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.2 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
5 out of 5

98 Hornet

31 December 2012 by LGP1

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... Read more 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!

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

My first big bike

11 December 2012 by Virtuallism

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... Read more 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.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
4 out of 5

best bang for bucks

16 November 2012 by oscarman

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... Read more 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.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

excellent first big bike!

02 November 2011 by gothamKnight90

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... Read more 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...

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
4 out of 5

Does what it says on the tin

06 May 2011 by TatteredMorph

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,... Read more 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.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Decent all-rounder, but a CBR600F is better

25 January 2011 by charlesq_70

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... Read more 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.

Overall Rating 3 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5
Equipment 2 out of 5
3 out of 5

Decent all-rounder, but a CBR600F is better

25 January 2011 by charlesq_70

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... Read more 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.

Overall Rating 3 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5
Equipment 2 out of 5
4 out of 5

98 Hornet 600

14 May 2010 by Anonymous

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... Read more 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.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
4 out of 5

Hornet6 - Hard to Fault

20 July 2009 by jarobinson25

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.... Read more 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.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 2 out of 5
4 out of 5

2006 honda hornet, with extras

12 May 2009 by cushmanbulldog

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... Read more 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.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
Read all 22 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1998
Year discontinued 2006
Original price £5,199
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 12 of 17
Annual road tax £58
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 97 bhp
Max torque 47 ft-lb
Top speed 140 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 11.7 secs
Average fuel consumption 41 mpg
Tank range 150 miles
Specification
Engine size 599cc
Engine type 16v in-line four, 6 gears
Frame type Steel spine
Fuel capacity 17 litres
Seat height 790mm
Bike weight 179kg
Front suspension Preload
Rear suspension Preload
Front brake Twin 296mm discs
Rear brake 220mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

History & Versions

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.

Photo Gallery

  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Engine
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Top view
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Top view
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Engine
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Top view
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Rear view
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Top view
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Honda CB600F Hornet motorcycle review - Side view