The old CB600F Hornet was showing its age, primarily due to an engine that can be traced back the mid-’90s.
Which is why for 2007 Honda has given us an entirely new bike.
They say it had three goals: It had to look cool, be easy to ride and have class-leading performance. They’ve almost scored a hat-trick.
It can’t all be new?
Yes it is. Nothing remains of the old bike. At its heart is the latest CBR600RR motor, but detuned to make it more user-friendly.
The cylinder head has been reworked, there are different pistons and camshafts and the fuelling map is different, too.
Even so, the new engine is still 5bhp up over the old lump and considerably lighter.
The chassis is now aluminium not steel, and the suspension front and rear is all-new, though there is still only preload adjustment on the back.
Interestingly, regarding brakes, there are two options available, with a combined linked system with ABS available for extra cost.
If you choose the ABS option you’ll run three-piston calipers up front.
Style was a high priority, hence the dramatic lines. Personally, I love the exhaust, which is reminiscent of the old 400-4 from the mid-’70s – and also reduces weight.
The new duel bulb headlight replaces the dated single headlight from the old bike.
The clocks are stolen from Honda’s FireBlade, although the instrument panel arrangement is very similar to Kawasaki’s ER-6.
How does it ride?
Although the majority of our test in Portugal was spent riding in the wet or mountain fog and mist, from the first twist of the throttle it becomes immediately apparent the Hornet is very user-friendly and it still feels like a Hornet.
It’s light, all the weight is low down and it takes no time to get used to.
Helping this is the fact that the fuelling is faultless, which is just what you need in tricky conditions, plus the fact that there’s a decent amount of mid-range grunt.
OK, it’s still a four-cylinder 600, so if you want to raise a smile you need to rev it.
But if you want to relax there’s enough mid-range to let you be lazy with the gearbox.
The standard brakes are more than strong enough with plenty of feel in the tricky conditions. And the non-adjustable forks work well, too, although they are slightly on the soft side if pushing really hard.
In all honesty, however, in the tricky conditions it was difficult to push the Hornet to its handling limits.
That said it was clear the new Hornet it going to be a favourite amongst inexperienced riders due to its ease of use, but this doesn’t make the Hornet boring.
Far from it.
I’m really struggling to find a fault with the new Hornet, although the conditions didn’t allow me to push it to its handling limits.
At just over £5000 it’s a lot of bike for the money which can live in almost any situation. It will be interesting if it can match the sporty new Fazer, plus Kawasaki’s new Z750…