Honda CBR600: Your in-depth guide

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The 2021 Honda CBR600RR was launched on 25 September featuring more aerodynamic styling, revised engine internals, traction control and more. Unfortunately, it’s not coming to Europe – with the Japanese manufacturer confirming they have no plans to sell the bike in the market.

Ready to spice up the middleweight sporty segment alongside the Kawasaki ZX-6R and Yamaha R6, the new RR was first revealed earlier in September by Honda Japan, with a brief YouTube video and short statement on their website.

With rumours of its arrival already circulating before its official unveil and early details limited to what we could pick out online, Honda have now released the full spec sheet – promising more power, more revs, less drag and a welcome update in technology. 

Starting up front, the eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed the new face, which shares styling traits with the existing RR (still available in markets like the USA) and the 2020-on CBR1000RR-R Fireblade. Expect the standard new bike to cost 1,606,000 yen, or around £11,468.

Honda claim that it’s the most aerodynamic in class, boasting the lowest drag coefficient. As is the current trend, winglets have also been added to provide additional stability and downforce during acceleration and corner entry.

Providing that acceleration will be a traditional water-cooled 599cc inline-four-cylinder screamer, producing a claimed 119.3bhp – around the same output as when it left the UK in 2017, due to tightening emissions regulations and dwindling sales.

For a little extra pep, the DOHC lump now revs harder, too - making its maximum power at 14,000rpm. This has been achieved by altering the materials used in the camshaft and crankshaft, as well as changing the shape of the intake inlet port and expanding the throttle bore. Intake and exhaust efficiency are also said to be improved by altering the valve timing.

On top of work within the engine, the CBR also now benefits from some fresh electronics, with a TFT dash up front to replace the old part-analogue unit. A clever Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) also sits in the middle of the bike and works with the ride-by-wire throttle to allow for traction control. This is present alongside conventional and cornering ABS, riding modes, wheelie control and engine braking control. Helping further during aggressive braking is a slipper clutch.

The suspension, brakes and chassis all appear to be carried over from the existing machine; with the 41mm manually-adjustable Showa big piston forks now protruding through the yokes a further 15mm for a more naturally sporty stance and 150g shaved off the weight of the rear swingarm.

Finishing the bike is a deep red HRC paint job, complete with strips of black, white and blue. LED lighting is also included, as is the automatic hazard feature when you brake hard.


The Honda CBR600RR is back! YouTube short film shows new model in action

First published on 6 August, 2020 by Dan Sutherland

After disappearing from UK showrooms in 2017, Honda’s CBR600RR could be about to make a shocking return, following a short model reveal trailer uploaded to the firm’s Japanese YouTube channel earlier today (above).

As reported by MCN last month, rumours of a new RR have been swirling for a while, with this new 1:16 film and a brief description on Honda Japan’s website giving us our first real glimpse of the forthcoming machine.

A finished version of the CBR600RR appeared online

Little information is available, however a statement online confirmed the bike will feature a "water-cooled, four-stroke, DOHC, in-line four-cylinder 599cc engine and the latest electronic control technology and aerodynamic technology."

This is then further confirmed by a clip of a new TFT dash within the accompanying YouTube video, which shows optional riding modes controlling; power, traction, wheelie and engine braking - plus a redline figure of 15,000rpm.

This new layout replaces the existing RR’s part-analogue display – with the bike still available for purchase outside of the UK in countries like the USA.

Sticking with the front end, a close-up of the rider’s cockpit within the video suggests the upside down forks will be manually adjustable – unlike the semi-active Öhlins kit found on the latest Fireblade SP. Also lacking from the 'Blade is keyless ignition, with the rider clearly shown turning the bike on using a conventional key. 

Appearing to be ridden hard around Sugo circuit, in Japan, in the presence of masked data engineers in the video, the bike also gets a fresh front fairing – which shares styling traits with the new 'Blade and existing 600RR to meet somewhere in the middle. There also looks to be a small set of wings which look great, but are often unseen on a bike we would expect to produce just shy of 120bhp.

Helping to maximise the efficiency of this output is what appears to be a quickshifter, which is suggested by the fast upshifts overlaid as sound clips in the video.

Away from the new front end, the bike retains its under-seat exhaust, which has been a staple of the CBR600RR since its inception in 2003. Alongside similar exhausts, the wheels, frame and swingarm also appear to be taken from the current model, visible in a number of clips both on track, as well as static imagery.

With the bike currently unavailable in the UK due to emissions regulations and dwindling sales, it is questionable whether we will see the finished product brought to the UK, but it’s great to see manufacturers still investing in the supersport class. As always MCN will endeavour to bring you more information on the bike as it becomes available.


New Honda CBR600RR: Baby Blade rumours swirl as bike could be unveiled in August

First published on 22 July 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

A render of the 2021 Honda CBR600RR

Whispers from Japan suggest that Honda will unveil a final edition version of their CBR600RR supersports bike imminently. 

The CBR600RR has been in constant production since 2003 but with dwindling sales in Europe, and ever tighter emissions regulations, it’s been absent from the UK since 2016, although it’s rumbled on virtually unchanged in other markets ever since.

Now, though, the rumours from Japan suggest Honda will unveil a new model with some nice little touches as one last hurrah for the supersports machine before it is retired forever.  

Chances are the really big stuff like the engine, frame and running gear will remain unchanged – especially if it’s a final one-off. We’re told the exhaust will stay under the seat, as that’s a hallmark of the bike, but there’s mixed messages over the engine. Some sources are telling us it will get a Euro4 update with a revised engine and power around 110bhp, while others tell us nothing will change. It’s hard to say at this point – fingers crossed, but don’t get your hopes up. 

Whatever state the engine is in, all of our sources indicate it will get a big electronics update with kit borrowed from the Fireblade

That means a six-axis IMU bringing with it lean sensitive traction control, cornering ABS, anti-wheelie – you name it. It will also have the usual fancy bits that go along with that including ride-by-wire, power modes plus a quickshifter and autoblipper. 

Also coming from the new ‘Blade is an all new look. A fairing redesign dominated by a large central air-intake plus winglets is on the cards, just like all the latest full power superbikes. The suggestion currently is that Honda will quietly unveil the bike on August 9 at Sugo circuit, the opening round of the All Japan Road Race Championship, with the production machine to follow in Autumn.  

Honda CBR600RR fact file

  • Big changes Given the success of the CBR650R we’d be surprised if Honda updated the CBR600 for Europe but stranger things have happened 
  • Hey good looking With bodywork reportedly borrowed from the Blade, the new CBR600 should cut a nice silouhette 
  • Electronic star The CBR600RR still available overseas is quite a basic machine compared with modern superbikes, so an electronics boost will be welcome 
  • Not cheap If they do make a Euro-friendly final machine, don’t expect much change from £14,000 
  • Racing pedigree Superstock 600 is important in Japanese racing, with Honda winning 13 out of the 17 championships including an 11 year broken run 


Honda CBR600 model history

1987-1990 CBR600F

H/J and updated K/L

The Jellymould is the bike that started it all back in 1987. Nicknamed so because of its all-encompassing curvacious fairing. It looked odd, but nobody complained after they rode it. With more power and less weight than the other 600s available at the time the CBR – which stands for ‘City Bike Racing’ – was the first proper 600 supersport machine. A new class was born...

What MCN said back then:
Chris Dabbs
“After several false starts over the last few years [Honda] have come up with a bike which promises to appeal to a broad cross section of riders.
“An almost perfect combination of power, weight and balance gives the CBR the sort of poise few other bikes have.
“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 worth replacement for the lovely little VF500FII and means the big H can take on the rest of the field as the middleweight class war hots up.” 

1987-1990 CBR600F specs

  • Engine 598cc, inline four, 16v, DOHC
  • Bore x Stroke 63x48mm
  • Power 82bhp@11,000rpm
  • Torque 43ftlb @ 8,500rpm
  • Wheelbase 1410mm
  • Rake 26 degrees
  • Trail 104mm

1991-1994 CBR600F

M/N and updated P/R

By the time its first overhaul came, Honda had established the CBR as a force to be reckoned with. For its first big update the CBR gained 8bhp and 3ftlb of torque thanks to a 2mm larger bore and a shorter stroke while also getting a new, stiffer twin-spar steel frame and new fairings. It all looked good for the CBR but faced heavy competition from Kawasaki’s ZZ-R600 and the Yamaha FZR600.

What MCN said back then:
Chris Dabbs
“Finally Honda’s success in slimming down the motor’s dimensions 20mm all round have made it more rigid and paid handling dividends that are as good as horsepower increases.
“Honda gave themselves a tough act to follow but I think they’ve managed it, the CBR has gone a long way towards getting my vote” 

1991-1994 CBR600F specs

  • Engine 599cc, inline four, 16v, DOHC
  • Bore x stroke 65 x 45.2mm
  • Power 90bhp @ 11,500rpm
  • Torque 46ftlb @ 10,500rpm
  • Weight 185kg
  • Wheelbase 1405mm
  • Rake 25 degrees
  • Trail 94mm

1995-1998 CBR600F

S/T and updated V/W

The battle was on. With Kawasaki’s new and sportier ZX-6R and Yamaha's Thundercat, Honda had to raise the stakes with the CBR again to keep it current. To do this they added bigger carbs and a ram-air system, taking the CBR to 100bhp with further revisions in 1997 taking it to 105bhp. A larger rear wheel also helped bring improved tyre choice. Referred to now as the Steely, due to its steel frame, the Honda never quite lived up to the hype at the time with many preferring the sportier alternatives.

What MCN said back then:
Richard Fincher
“Braking is improved, the fluid handling, which has always made the CBR600 a great road or track machine, is slightly better and the bike’s brilliant all-round usability remains unchanged.
“Honda hasn’t lost sight of what the CBR is about – just look at it as the latest and best version of one of the all-time greats.” 

1995-1998 CBR600F specs

  • Engine 599cc, inline four, 16v, DOHC
  • Bore x stroke 65 x 45.2mm
  • Power 105bhp @ 12,000rpm
  • Torque 49ftlb @ 10,500rpm
  • Weight 186kg
  • Wheelbase 1405mm
  • Rake 25 degrees
  • Trail 94mm

1999-2000 CBR600F

X/Y

The CBR was back in business. It boasted a new aluminium beam frame that helped the CBR shed 18kg over the Steely that came before it, and with it also came a stiffer chassis and fully adjustable fork to improve the handling. With a further 2mm on its bore size taking the CBR to 110bhp and improved four-piston front calipers to help it stop, the CBR had found its sporting edge once again.

What MCN said back then:
Peter Wilson
“The CBR turns an average track rider into a track god by letting you concentrate on your riding and not having to hunt around for the power.
“The new CBR600 is so much better than the bike it replaces that the old machine feels like a buzzy, under-powered and overweight has-been by comparison.
“Not many riders have complained about the older bike vibrating, but if you get off the 1999 model and straight on to the 1998 model, you notice that the old motor feels buzzy. It’s not that the older bike has a problem just that the new bike is so damn smooth.
“Honda has managed to keep the riding position exactly the same. It is very neutral making the Honda perfect for enjoying track madness or long-distance road touring – just as it always has been.” 

1999-2000 CBR600F specs

  • Engine 599cc, inline four, 16v, DOHC
  • Bore x stroke 67 x 42.5mm
  • Power 110bhp @ 12,500rpm
  • Torque 48ftlb @ 10,500rpm
  • Weight 168kg
  • Wheelbase 1395mm
  • Rake 24 degrees
  • Trail 96mm

2001-2006 CBR600F

1/2/3/4/5/6

With fuel injection replacing carbs to meet new emission laws, the CBR was introduced to the 21st century. It also got a new look, with twin headlights introduced giving the bike a sportier aesthetic. And while the engine never got any more power, it didn’t really need it. This version of the CBR was simply brilliant.

Until the introduction of the RR in 2003, Honda also produced a sport version of the F model, which came with a lighter flywheel, dual valve springs and altered cams which made it better for race tuning. It didn’t look too different from the standard model but did come with a dual seat unit.

What MCN said back then:
Jim Yeardly
“We all take things for granted sometimes. But occasionally something unexpected comes along to jolt us out of our complacency and makes us rethink our attitudes.
"I’ve just had one such experience. I’ve rediscovered one of biking’s pleasures, which I’d almost forgotten existed. It’s called the CBR600.
“I realise now why Honda built this bike. At first you feel you’ve been swindled, but get the engine up into the higher reaches of the rev range where it belongs and you start to notice the differences between it [the Sport] and the F version.” 

2001-2006 CBR600F specs

  • Engine 599cc, inline four, 16v, DOHC
  • Bore x stroke 67 x 42.5mm
  • Power 110bhp @ 12,500rpm
  • Torque 48ftlb @ 10,500rpm
  • Weight 168kg
  • Wheelbase 1390mm
  • Rake 24 degrees
  • Trail 96mm

2003-2006 CBR600RR

3/4 & updated 5/6

Things got serious with the RR, losing the CBR’s practical focus to become an all-out track weapon. It was the first truly track focused CBR, and was billed at the time as a mini RCV. It handled well and screamed to a 13,500rpm redline with a punchy 117bhp motor. In 2005, the RR picked up radial brakes, an inverted fork and a little more midrange. It was amazing on track, but not so forgiving on the road.

What MCN said back then:
Keith Farr
“Only the name remains the same. The rest is all-new, utterly gorgeous and transforming the way we think about 600s.
“Where the CBR will give Honda’s rivals an even bigger headache though, is in the way it handles. It just feels so ready from the first time you get on, with a delightful front-rear balance and suspension and tyres that go out of their way to talk to you.” 

2003-2006 CBR600RR specs

  • Engine 599cc, inline four, 16v, DOHC
  • Bore x stroke 67 x 42.5mm
  • Power 117bhp @ 13,500rpm
  • Torque 49ftlb @ 11,000rpm
  • Weight 169kg
  • Wheelbase 1405mm
  • Rake 25 degrees
  • Trail 94mm

2007-2012 CBR600RR

In 2007, Honda addressed the poor midrange on the previous RR and gave the new model a central air-scoop that fed the physically smaller motor and gave it the extra grunt that it needed. The result was that it was far better on the road and still an outstanding track bike. In 2009, the RR was also the first sportsbike to be fitted with ABS.

What MCN said back then:
Adam Child
“Honda know what makes a good road bike, and the sums needed to make the CBR a winner weren’t that difficult to complete. Greater midrange drive will make the CBR a useable road bike for the experienced and less experienced alike.
"Shouting long and loud about its specs and what the bike is capable of will lead to the opening of wallets everywhere. Not only that, but it is a Honda, which stands for quality with safety and style and, of course, it’s been designed and built to be a winner.” 

2007-2012 CBR600RR specs

  • Engine 599cc, inline four, 16v, DOHC
  • Bore x stroke 67 x 42.5mm
  • Power 119bhp @ 13,500rpm
  • Torque 50ftlb @ 11,000rpm
  • Weight 156kg
  • Wheelbase 1375mm
  • Rake 23 degrees
  • Trail 98mm

2011-2014 CBR600F

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the CBR600F was back, and with it came the practicality that the RR models were missing. It used a detuned engine from the RR, housed in an aluminium backbone chassis and made the CBR a more humble do-it-all bike again. It came with C-ABS and an inverted fork and while it never really had enough punch to knock you off your feet, it still made a great commuter bike with a sportier edge, building a bridge between the naked Hornet and the sporty CBR600RR.

What MCN said back then:
Trevor Franklin
“There’s no doubt in MCN’s mind – the new CBR600F is every inch a practical sports bike. For this reason alone, it could make a better bike for an awful lot of riders, especially those who ride outside of their limits but won’t admit or don’t realise until it’s too late. A hundred horsepower in a good package is more than enough to have fun, and the new CBR600F delivers that.” 

2011-2014 CBR600F specs

  • Engine 599cc, inline four, 16v, DOHC
  • Bore x stroke 67 x 42.5mm
  • Power 101bhp @ 12,000rpm
  • Torque 47ftlb @ 10,500rpm
  • Weight 198kg (kerb)
  • Wheelbase 1437mm
  • Rake 25 degrees
  • Trail 99mm

2013-2017 Honda CBR600RR

The final incarnation of the CBR600RR. With sales of 600s all but dead and ever tighter emissions laws from Europe, the CBR600 will finally cease production this year. With minor updates in for 2013 that saw it catching up with the competition, it finally got a Big Piston Fork and some tweaks to the C-ABS system and ECU. Largely though, it remained the same machine, which stands testament to the CBR’s legacy that it could remain a decade in production with no major overhaul.

What MCN said back then:
Tim Thompson
“The British market has taken its aging knees elsewhere; cramped, peaky 600s will for the foreseeable future remain specialist fare. But for those who still consider a compact 600 to be just about the ideal tool for British roads and tracks this, this most efficient and evolved sports bike could, even at £9500, be a new ultimate.” 

2013-2017 Honda CBR600RR specs

  • Engine 599cc, inline four, 16v, DOHC
  • Bore x stroke 67 x 42.5mm
  • Power 119bhp @ 13,500rpm
  • Torque 50ftlb @ 11,000rpm
  • Weight 196kg (kerb)
  • Wheelbase 1373mm
  • Rake 24 degrees
  • Trail 95mm

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