What we said then
“Whether you’re looking for a dedicated track tool or a sporty all rounder, maybe it’s time to look anew at the CBR600. I for one am glad I’ve made its acquaintance again.”
MCN launch report, November 1, 2000
But what is it like now?
In 2001 I was lucky enough to have a CBR600F (the Sport model, but they are essentially the same) as a long-term test bike with MCN. Being young and enthusiastic I rode more than 20,000 miles in less than eight months, including a few trackdays, and aside from a cam chain tensioner swap it never missed a beat. And shamefully I have to confess the majority of that mileage was done without getting it serviced at Honda’s stated intervals.
But that’s the great thing about the CBR, you can throw all kinds of abuse at one and it will shrug it off. They are metronomically reliable. If you want proof, just look at the owners’ reviews – 86 reports and all rate the Honda highly.
In a modern context, and with a few years under both our belts, the CBR600F still impresses. The riding position is sporty but far from uncomfortable thanks to clip-ons that are set quite high and a nice narrow tank. You can ride a CBR for miles on end in total comfort, something I happily remember doing so much back in 2001, and pillions are well catered for with a decent seat and grabrail. And the engine remains a real joy.
I’d forgotten just how smooth the CBR’s inline four is. The exhaust note is whisper-quiet (I remedied this with a race pipe) and the power is concentrated in the mid-range, making it nice and relaxed when you aren’t thrashing it. Go searching out some zing and it is certainly there at the top end, but there is no need to continually hunt the red line if you don’t want to.
Should you fancy a bit of a thrill, the CBR has some serious track pedigree (it won the 2002 World Supersport championship) and the chassis is more than capable of swift road riding and even trackdays. The brakes may not be radial in their design, but they have enough bite, especially with some high friction pads fitted, and the adjustable suspension can be easily stiffened up for a bit more attitude.
After being reacquainted with the CBR I’m left wondering if there is anything this fantastic bike can’t do. In 20,000 miles I certainly never discovered the answer.
Any obvious faults?
Anytime a bike has aftermarket electrics fitted it is a good idea to check how competently they have been connected and routed and, sure enough, this 2001 CBR doesn’t go onto full right lock as something is obstructing it. There are also a few electrical lines leading to the 12v socket not neatly tucked away.
Everything mechanically works as it should, but the bike has a few light scrapes, hinting at a very low speed tumble. The suspension linkages are a bit rusty, but don’t appear seized.
Or handy extras?
Despite its low mileage, this CBR was almost certainly used as a commuter as it has heated grips and 12v sockets fitted. The carbon hugger is a nice addition and steel braided lines and a battery charger input socket show the previous owner had a degree of mechanical sympathy.
This bike does it all – commuting, trackdays, weekend blasts and even touring. As a first large capacity machine it has more than enough performance while also retaining a very friendly and reassuring attitude. Plus Honda’s solid build quality means you know 100% that it will burst into life first prod of the starter every time.
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