Owned a CBF600s for a year as my first 'big' bike after passing my test. I put nearly 6000 miles on it, riding nearly every day in a mixture of town, countryside and longer distance riding. I have now sold it and therefore feel ready to add my thoughts. I have ridden and owned a large number of other bikes in addition to this one.
Overall, I think the above review and rating is fair, MCN make a number of excellent points, however there are a couple which I shall correct.
Ride and handling isn't bad by any means, but not worthy of four stars. The weight is carried fairly high, and low speed manoeuvrability is average. When cornering, the bike holds it's line reasonably well, but the slightly 'top-heavy' nature makes it feel like a challenge to lean far, and promotes a slightly twitchy feel in particularly tight turns. It occasionally feels a touch unstable. Cross-winds are also a factor, the bike not liking sudden gusts. Motorway and dual carriageway performance isn't bad, although at higher speeds the budget suspension can make the bike seem a bit untidy.
The gearbox is excellent; smooth, controlled and super-slick, each gear punctuated by a beautifully reassuring click that leaves no doubt as to the quality of Honda's gearbox engineering. Most manufacturers would do well to follow Honda's example. Even on an entry-level bike such as this it is outstanding.
Gear ratios on the other hand require a bit of practise, holding in higher revs severely impacted on MPG. Short-shifting, 200+ miles to a tank is doable.
Equipment is good, although the bike could do with a fuel gauge. The digital clock is however, very welcome. The three-position seat is excellent, although does require 10 to 20 minutes of work to adjust. Mirrors are great, highly adjustable, and with a wide field of vision (more than the rider's elbows!) but do suffer terribly from vibration at higher speeds. Centre stand and Honda top box come with very high recommendations. The manual choke however, is a serious downside. it really does need fuel injection.
Quality and reliability is outstanding, the bike 'weathering' winter riding with barely a shrug. Obviously maintenance and cleaning are key, but this bike didn't let me down once in a year. To have a bike start every time is a quality often overlooked by testers, but in the real world it is key. This bike does not disappoint on that score. Honda's reputation for reliability and quality is fair, the paintwork and plastics are light years ahead of the (Japanese) competition. On quality and reliability it has been faultless.
Value is good, especially compared to the competition. They hold value reasonably well, but a word of warning, many dealers overprice them.
The engine is good, if a little characterless. Power delivery is very smooth and perfectly adequate. Low-end grunt is reasonably poor, although the mid-to-top is excellent. For novice riders the power delivery is cosseting and encouraging, without any awkward spikes or troughs to surprise. As with most I4s, the emphasis is on revs, rather than torque and occasionally the torque curve is disappointing. MPG isn't quite the 47 quoted, but it is pretty good.
Overall, it is an excellent bike. It does everything well, if without excitement. Commuting, Sunday blasts, (light) touring and pillion (pillion ability is fantastic) are all taken in its stride. Perhaps most importantly of all, you feel utterly and completely safe on this bike.
MCN is (to a certain extent) right when they say it lacks passion. There is no soul, no character and no life to this bike. It just does what it does extremely competently, with not a hint of complaint or dissolution, cheerfully chugging through the miles. It's even (despite what is said above) reasonably good looking. Certainly in comparison to the competition.
You therefore must decide are efficiency, reliability and competency enough draw you in?