1987 Honda CBR600F: What we said then

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With Honda killing off the long running and legendary CBR600RR at the end of this year, we had a search through the archives to find what we thought of the first Honda CBR600F, way back in February 1987.

Below are the thoughts of then MCN road tester Chris Dabbs.

Honda have finally cracked it with the CBR600. After several false starts over the last few years they’ve come up with a bike which promises to appeal to a bros cross section of riders.

The figures tell part of the story; a mean top speed of 137mph and a 12.01 second standing quarter are mighty impressive. But they can’t convey the feel of the bike.

Whether you’re getting under the paintwork with 11,300rpm on the tacho in top, or dawdling down the high street the CBR600 feels right. An almost perfect combination of power, weight and balance gives the CBR the sort of poise few other bikes have.


Heading down your fave stretch of road there CBR tempts you to wind the throttle open with a tantalising resonance from the exhaust at 6000rpm; a prelude to the fun ahead. Click down a couple of cogs on a Honda first, a sweet, precise gear change, and the bio leaps forward as the tacho swings into the meat of the power band at 10,000rpm.

Corners get to be fun on the CBR; it goes round them so well. The stylish three-spoke 17-inch wheels represent current fashion at the GPs and are supposed to offer the optimum steering response.

The CBR’s steering is perfectly neutral at any speed. Use a bit of effort at the bars and it’ll roll into a corner to precisely the degree you want. Closing the throttle mid-bend doesn’t send it diving for either kerb, and you can haul on the brakes at the apex without the bike sitting up violently. Honda’s design aim to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible has obviously paid off.

All in all it looks like Honda are back on the right tracks again with the CBR600. I could only find detail criticisms like the slightly long reach to the clutch lever and an annoying blurring of the otherwise excellent mirrors at 80mph.

The engine is powerful and smooth and the bike comfortable whatever your height. The brakes work brilliantly and I didn’t miss the suspension’s lack of fine tuning. The CBR600 is a worthy replacement for the lovely VF500FII and means the big H can take on the rest of the field as the middleweight class war hots up.


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