Staff bikes: CBR600F - Carb cleaning brings it back to life
After buying my 1998 Honda CBR600F in the middle of the grim winter weather actually getting around to riding it had to wait for a while.
When I did get to ride it, it was clear the carburettor would need some serious cleaning as the throttle response was jerky and stuttering. A can of Wynn’s carb cleaner was sadly not up to the job so I called in at my favourite local bike workshop Queensberry Road Garage in Kettering (01536-513351) where they took on the job of getting the CBR back to health as it was beyond my the fettling time I had available at lunch.
Years of low annual mileage (for the past six years it had been doing around 200 miles at most every year between MOTs) meant the carbs and jets were gummed up with sticky fuel residue and nothing short of an ultrasonic cleaning bath was going to get the job done.
QRG owner Nige Palmer is a classic bike racer who races an old Ducati 350 and Yamaha TZ250s and his mechanic Ade Peters works for Isle of Man TT racer James McBride. Tackling my old CBR600F wasn’t going to be an issue for them.
Ade stripped and cleaned the carbs, cleaned the blocked pilot air screws and changed the spark plugs which cost a reasonable £75 all-in and transformed the bike into the smooth running Honda it should be. I think the pilot air screws are going to need to be replaced as there is still some lag in the revs dropping back to idle despite a closed throttle but there is no massive rush as it’s perfectly rideable as it is.
Riding the CBR has been a reminder of how much fun older 600s can be. That and the fact they are built for human beings to ride rather than some tiny short-legged freak that the latest 600s are only comfortable for. With less than 95bhp to play with the CBR is a nice friendly bike and the upgrade of the tyres to the latest Michelin Pilot Pure tyres has been a revelation. The Michelins are the lightest road tyre in that class and along with heating up really quickly they are great in the wet too.
The suspension still feels fresh enough to smother even the worst of the current scabby roads, the brakes are progressive and yet it can still get a crack on down a twisty road when I want to.
I have been on a bit of shopping spree for some bits for the bike too. First on the list was an alarm and immobiliser as deemed essential for the insurance. Acumen (www.acumen-electronics.co.uk) has just brought out the new Tempest alarm which at £325 includes fitting. It has an advanced ‘superheterodyne’ receiver apparently. I have no idea what this means but it’s less prone to interference.
It’s also Thatcham category one rating and has a clever power-saving mode which as the CBR isn’t in daily use is perfect. It also has three deafening sirens and a clever little beeper that lets you know you have been indicating for a while which gradually gets louder.
Next up was an Accumate Optimate 4 battery charger and maintainer. The Optimate won an MCN Product of the Year award in 2008 and keeps the battery of the CBR600F in top condition and costs a reasonable £50.
Also to go is a Scottoiler eSystem (www.scottoiler.co.uk) which will give the CBR even more all-year-round riding ability but I need to give the current chain and sprockets a good clean-up first and I haven’t found the time to get quite that filthy yet. Once the chain and sprockets are nice and shiny I will be fitting the Scottoiler.