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"

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.

Insurance, running costs & value 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

27 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.

Review your HONDA CB600F HORNET (1998-2006)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.2 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 4.3 out of 5
Equipment 3.0 out of 5
5 out of 5

23 February 2017 by Dimitar

best first big bike Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
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Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
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Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5

10 December 2016 by Vallone75

Fun, fact, easy, reliable. Nothing better for busy town riding and fun on open roads. Smallish tank (100 mile range) but worth the compromise as it still looks good after almost 15 years. Typical Honda reliability. If I could justify the cost I would... Read more get a new exhaust as I think it deserves to sounds a little loader then the standard pipe.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
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Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
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Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
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Equipment
3 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Awesome bike. Fast and easy to maintain.

24 November 2016 by Danny Draper

I picked up one of these as a non runner from eBay earlier in the year and wanted to bring it back to it's former glory as a project. Blog is here: http://hornetproject.blogspot.com. Now the bike is running so well and it's an absolute joy to ride.... Read more Only thing I would say it can feel a bit vibey in the pegs and bars which limits my confidence to push it to higher revs, however it's so simple to maintain and I love that with this bike I'll never have to visit a mechanic ever again. Another issue is the tank size, whilst it says 17 litres I would say only 13 or 14 of it as actually useable as a lot of fuel is wasted on the right side due to the design of the tank. I find I hit reserve after around 100 miles and then when I fill up, I put in about 10 litres until it's full. It's also a wise idea to keep the exhaust side of the engine clean and ACF50'd up when riding in the wet / winter as corrosion can get pretty bad and when you ever come to remove the oil cooler or exhaust studs you want a chance of getting those things off.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
Front brake is awesome, rear could be better.
Engine
5 out of 5
Easy to maintain, and swap out (if need be) all engine parts are easily sourceable on eBay. Recommend upgrading the CCT to a manual version and then manually tweaking it on each service.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
Careful riding gets around 48-50 mpg, and riding it hard I find I get around low 40's. Main maintenance costs are Sparks / Oil Filter / Oil / Air Filter / Brake Pads / Tyres, but on eBay most parts are available for a good price.
Equipment
3 out of 5
Very basic equipment, depending on what you do I'd fit a USB charging socket - great for charging your phone if you want to use it as a Sat Nav. Upgrade the rear shock too - I was fortunately to have an Ohlins on mine and the comfort is amazing.
Buying experience

I bought mine privately on eBay for £500. It was advertised as a non runner and engine had a horrible knocking noise due to spun bearing. Wasn't looked after, so I took it in as a project (http://hornetproject.blogspot.co.uk)

4 out of 5

Excellent Golf for starters!

31 May 2016 by Oncle Stefan

Coming from a Kawa ZZR600 as first big bike...: Pro: easy, very easy handling, it's a lightweight machine & reminds me the handling of my Cagiva Planet 125. Excellent to learn, and lot's of power to go on from there. Good wind protection. Cons: a... Read more bit dull, allthough I haven't been to the top-end of the engine yet. Use it only for work commute in heavy traffic, it's Golf-like there. Sitting position is also cramped, knees a bit too bent, seat too low (despite me being European average at 1m76). And finally fuel consumption that is around 6l/100km which is high for quiet pottering.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
The front gets a bit soft above 25°C, but for me that hasn't caused any problem. It's hot to sit on in summer as well, when stopped the cooling fan blows the heat up your legs. Simple rear suspension has a some difficulty with rough roads & you block the rear very easily when braking. Otherwise confident-inspiring machine, at least with MPR4 on it. For the beginner I am it is an excellent machine, this is the best selling point of the Hornet to me.
Engine
3 out of 5
OK, I'm a bit harsh mostly for personal reasons. Nothing wrong... nothing especially nice either. Compared to the great character & sound of the ZZR it's dull. Extremely Golf-like as said before.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
The bike had 8.000km on the clock (~5.000 miles), had been driven by a lady for 1 1/2 year then left sitting in damp condition for ~10 years after slider I think. Big problem to get the engine going again, and some issues with fuel hose folding shut. But that's because of its particular history, otherwise clearly Honda quality.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
On the pro side it was an absolute bargain (less than 1 000 quid). I do my maintenance myself so cannot comment on servicing costs. Fuel consumption is a little high but there are a lot of bikes that drink more, and it'll take a lot of miles to eat up the bargain price.
Equipment
2 out of 5
Fuel-gauge & centre stand not even as option is rather bad for me. Bungy hooks seem flimsy too.
Buying experience

Bought privately from second owner. He started trying to sort out the fuel tank & carbs (corrosion) and didn't succeed. Cost me blood, sweat & teers (and the money for second hand carbs) to get it going, almost gave up at one point. Seems hard to believe now, it's just a little more reluctant to start; other than that it runs fine.

4 out of 5

02 July 2015 by Stuart McCullagh

Budget buy 600 Read more

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

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
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Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
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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.

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

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
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Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
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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...

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

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
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Engine
4 out of 5
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Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
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Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
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Equipment
3 out of 5
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Read all 27 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1998
Year discontinued 2006
Original price £5,199
Used price £1,300 to £2,400
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 12 of 17
Annual road tax £62
Annual service cost £100
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
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