HONDA CB750 HORNET (2023 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Gutsy 91bhp, 755cc parallel twin
  • Generously equipped
  • Superb value for money

At a glance

Power: 91 bhp
Seat height: Medium (31.3 in / 795 mm)
Weight: Medium (419 lbs / 190 kg)

Prices

New £6,999
Used N/A

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Honda’s new CB750 Hornet is the cheapest of its closest middleweight naked rivals. That’s a mouth-watering prospect when you consider it’s powered by a stonking 91bhp parallel twin cylinder engine and has a bountiful array of rider aids and standard equipment.

There are no obvious signs that corners have been cut to get the price so low, but a couple of burning questions remain: is it as fun to ride as Yamaha’s MT-07? Does it handle as well as a Triumph Trident 660 and it is worthy of its name, especially now it has two fewer cylinders than the 1998 original?

Well, its gusty new engine is the star of the show, although the throttle response can be snatchy and being so small and light it’s easy to manage, although the short seat is a squeeze for taller riders.

Watch Neevesy's video review here:

Ride quality and suspension control could be better and it takes time to get used to such quick steering, but its stable and handles neatly in corners. It isn’t perfect, but the Honda Hornet is an honest-to-goodness sports naked that offers big thrills for little money, just like the original.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The new Honda is extremely light, both when you bat it between your legs at a standstill and on the road. Developed by the same group of Honda engineers that put the 2017 Fireblade on a massive diet, they’ve kept the Hornet’s weight down to 190kg fully-fuelled, giving it the best power to weight ratio in class.

It’s small, too and looks almost toy-like by comparison for a 750. It’s slim, has a low 795mm seat, naturally placed bars and feels every inch a friendly, easy to ride Honda. Smaller riders won’t have a problem getting their feet flat on the floor and it’s not too cramped in the peg department. But for the tall the seat doesn’t have enough front to back room, causing your lower back to touch the rear seat pad, hemming you in.

The Hornet’s lightness continues in the way it steers. Not only does it change direction with next to no effort, but the steering is almost too direct until you dial yourself into it. It’s like the forks are so steep the front wheel is underneath you, which it’s not of course, rather the Honda’s keenness to change direction is down to sporty geometry.

Honda Hornet on European mountain pass

Not only is its tubular steel frame 11% lighter than the Honda CB650R’s (and 19% lighter than the smaller CB500F’s), but the wheelbase is also 30mm shorter (1420mm), the rake 0.5% steeper (25˚) and trail 2mm shorter (99mm). A narrow 160-section rear tyre adds agility, too.

At first the steering is so sensitive it’s hard not to thruppenny-bit around roundabouts and slow corners – something compounded by snatchy fuelling from a closed throttle. But as you get used to the Hornet your steering inputs naturally adapt and the more natural it feels.

It reveals itself to be decent handling, but never completely planted or confidence inspiring, although the standard Michelin Road 5 sports touring rubber we’re on (some Hornets will come on Dunlop Roadsport 2s) have plenty of grip. With pegs set back slightly, there’s never an issue with ground clearance.

Honda Hornet front brakes

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Once you’re past the ride-by-wire’s immediacy from a closed throttle, the engine is a peach of thing. Purists will bemoan the Hornet not having a motor like the original’s mid-90s 100bhp CBR600F lump. But if you want an inline four middleweight with a Honda badge, the CB650R is the bike for you.

It's true that parallel twins aren’t often the most exciting engines and can sound a bit droany, but Honda have done their best to inject as much drama as they can, while still getting it signed off by the Euro5-ists.

It barks and booms like a big V-twin, loves to rev and unlike the old Hornet’s four pot, has an even spread of power, which you can dip into any way you want. It’s as happy plodding through town as it is banging against the limiter and reminding you its class-leading 91bhp is actually rather a lot, especially on a bike this light.

Honda Hornet engine

It's grunty, too, so much so that during our mountainous test ride it’ll pull out of just about any corner in third gear, no matter how slow. Add in a dab of clutch and just like an MT-07, you can send the front wheel skywards with the electronics switched off.

A full array of electronics gives the engine even more flexibility. Depending on which riding mode you choose you can set the urgency of the power delivery in three stages and choose the amount of traction, wheelie or engine brake control you want, too (also three-way adjustable). Our test bike is also fitted with the £240 optional up/down quickshifter (three-adjustable for sensitively) and works flawlessly.

Anything but buzzy - Honda CB750 Hornet engine in detail

The Hornet’s is powered by a new ride-by-wire controlled ultra-short-stroke, 8v, parallel twin cylinder. It produces 91bhp@9500rpm, 55lb-ft of torque at 5500rpm and uses a single overhead cam, which Honda says gives several advantages over a twin cam: the cylinder head can be lighter and more compact, there’s space for the valves and intake to be more upright and with fewer parts spinning around creating inertia, the handling is improved, too.

Honda Hornet right side

It also has a 270˚ crank to give it the feel and sound of a V-twin-like feel and there are weights fitted to its two balance shafts to cancel out the vibes - a first for a Honda. Cylinders use the same slippery nickel-silicon carbide coating as the Fireblade’s and snail-shaped ‘Vortex Flow Ducts’ leading into the sides of airbox spin the air entering, boosting both torque and top end power.

A third intake at the bottom of the airbox further boosts top end power and throttle response. A light-levered slip and assist clutch smooths out engine braking during fast down changes (there’s no DCT option) and Honda claims 65mpg and a theoretical full to dry range of 217 miles. It can also be restricted to 47bhp for A2 licence holders.

The same engine will be used in the new XL750 Transalp, but with longer airbox intakes and a bigger rear wheel it’ll feel slightly gruntier and longer-legged.

Honda Hornet on the road left side

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Despite its low price, the Hornet is well built, has lots of thoughtful design touches and being a Honda, the engine should be just about bombproof.

Honda Hornet badge and decal

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
5 out of 5 (5/5)

You could make a case for a whole bunch of affordable middleweight nakeds to rival the Hornet – it’s a packed class, to say the least. The closest in price and spirit are the two machines we’ve already mentioned here, which deliver something a little bit more special.

There’s the £7500, 73bhp Yamaha MT-07, which is way more basic than the Hornet, but weighs just 184kg, is better balanced and a more playful engine. And in the Brit corner there’s the £7695, 80bhp, 189kg Triumph Trident 660 that mixes style, tech and a rasping three-cylinder soundtrack with a more refined ride and solid handling.

There’s also the less powerful £7499, 67bhp Kawasaki Z650, the return of the KTM 790 Duke and of course the new 82bhp parallel twin cylinder Suzuki GSX-8S, but it’s an unknown quantity right now, in terms of price and what it’s like to ride.

Honda CB750 Hornet on the road

It’ll have its work cut out to beat them, but at £6999, the new Honda CB750 Hornet is hard to ignore.

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

In addition to the kind of rider aids that only appeared on a Honda Fireblade five years ago, your £6999 gets you a hatful of goodies. There are three riding modes, (Sport, Standard, Rain), plus an extra User mode that lets you choose between three power maps, three torque control settings (to limit wheel slip and wheelies) and engine braking. You can also disable the torque control. ABS is standard, but not lean sensitive.

Its multi-function 5in TFT has four layouts to choose from and links to your phone to control music, calls and sat nav, by voice control via a Bluetooth headset. You also get a USB charger, LED lights all-round, self-cancelling indicators, Nissin front radial brake calipers, wavy discs and Showa upside forks.

A full range of dedicated Hornet accessories can be bought separately or bundled into three packs. The £410 Style Pack includes frame protectors, tank pad, aluminium handlebar riser clamp, bar end weights and wheel rim tape. The £555 Sports Pack contains an up/down quickshifter, lighter footpegs, rear seat cover and fly screen. And for trips away the £765 Touring Pack comes with a three-litre tank bag and tail pack and hard panniers.

2023 Honda CB750 Hornet dash display

Specs

Engine size 755cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8v, parallel twin
Frame type Tubular steel diamond
Fuel capacity 15.2 litres
Seat height 795mm
Bike weight 190kg
Front suspension Showa 41mm upside down forks, non-adjustable.
Rear suspension Single shock, non-adjustable.
Front brake 2 x 296mm front discs with four-piston radial Nissin calipers. ABS
Rear brake 240mm rear disc with single piston caliper. ABS.
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 160/60 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 65 mpg
Annual road tax £101
Annual service cost -
New price £6,999
Used price -
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 91 bhp
Max torque 55 ft-lb
Top speed 130 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 217 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2023: Honda Hornet released. 91bhp parallel twin cylinder engine in a lightweight chassis with a full array of electronic rider aids.

Other versions

None

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