In 1987 Honda unveiled the very first CBR600F, a machine that 26 years later is still going strong, although thankfully without the ‘jelly-mould’ fairing…
Standing for City Bike Racing, the CBR was Honda’s 600 contender, delivering class topping performance that eclipsed the competition.
In fact it was more than that, the CBR was a revolutionary bike and one that changed the very face of motorcycling by single-handedly created the supersport category. Yet it did so with more than a hint of practicality.
Right up until the 2003 CBR600RR Honda resisted the urge to make the CBR too track focused.
It was always designed to shrug off a Monday to Friday daily commute then at the weekends dominate on the racetrack. Something it succeeded in doing for over two decades – although most racers removed the obligatory CBR centre stand for track use.
It was this blend of practicality and performance that kept the CBR at the sharp end of the UK’s sales charts throughout its whole life and is a major factor in why it remains such a popular machine.
The CBR600 is the UK’s most owned motorcycle with over 25,000 of them busily going about their daily business with no fuss, no drama and more likely than not no reliability issues.
This fact alone makes it an excellent second hand prospect as somewhere out there is a CBR for sale to match anyone’s price bracket.
In fact so common is the CBR, that very bike is probably currently waiting just a few miles from your doorstep…
2001-2006 CBR600F, £2,200 - £4,300
The 2001 bike was the first CBR to gain PGM-FI fuel injection as well as new twin headlights, which replaced the old single light look, altered fork internals and a revised chassis. This generation of CBR ran alongside the RR until 2006 as the more relaxed version of the brand and came with a centre stand as standard and single pillion/rider seat and pillion grab rail. Despite the introduction of fuel-injection, Honda claimed the same power figures for the 2001-onwards models as the outgoing X/Y version.
2001-2002 CBR600FS, £2,200 - £3,500
Launched alongside the CBR600F in 2001, the F-Sport was Honda dipping a toe in the water to gauge reaction to it radically altering the CBR’s market positioning. Designed to win the World Supersport championship, and therefore make the CBR appear more sporty in rider’s minds, the Sport was identical to the F but came with dual valve springs to allow the engine to rev higher, a split rider/pillion seat, no centre stand, a lightened fly wheel and altered cams. This was the first true race replica CBR and it succeeded in its goal, the Ten Kate CBR won the 2002 WSS Championship with Frenchman Fabien Foret at the controls. Although the Sport had no power gains, it did shed 1kg in weight and 4mm from its wheelbase compared to the standard F.
2003-2006 CBR600RR, £3,000 - £4,500
Honda unleashed the first truly track focused CBR in 2003 – the CBR600RR. With a brand new chassis that was developed using technology gained through the firm’s MotoGP RC211V racer, and even including a radical new Unit-Pro link swingarm, the CBR was no longer a dull commuter. A brand new engine sacrificed bottom end for a wild 13,500rpm redline with a claimed 117bhp that suited the 250GP bike handling down to the ground. In 2005 the RR was upgraded with the addition of radial brakes, inverted forks and some much-needed mid-range. If track success was Honda’s aim then the RR didn’t let them down, it won every WSS title in its four-year lifespan – you can’t say fairer than that!
2007-2012 CBR600RR, £4,000 - £9,000
In response to owner’s comments about the RR’s lacking mid-range, Honda updated the CBR600RR in 2007. Easily identified by the large central air scoop the upgraded RR features not only a whole new engine, but also a revised chassis and the first ABS system on a supersport bike when Honda’s C-ABS arrived as an option in 2009. The new motor is not only smaller and 2.1kg lighter than before, its revised internal components allow it to rev faster and produce that elusive mid-range that was missing before. Honda claimed a 3bhp increase from 7,000 to 10,000rpm as well as at the very top end of the 14,500rpm rev range. The chassis features sharper geometry, a longer swingarm and HESD steering damper.