The 599 defines what a versatile, fun street bike should be,
with distinctive, aggressive good looks, lightweight chassis and
exhilarating performance. It all adds up to total riding pleasure in a
If there’s one idea every red-blooded American understands,
it’s hot-rodding. Like both jazz and rock and roll, it started here first,
and on a singularly simple premise-the most bang for the buck. And if that
meant shoe- horning a fire-breathing engine into granny’s sedan, so be it;
just stand back and let the fun begin.
That same train of thought lay behind the creation of
Honda’s original middleweight Hornet, released in 1998 in Europe. Namely,
stuff a 100-horsepower inline-four engine into the chassis of one of Honda’s
most-popular domestic models in the 250 ranks. The result? The best
power-to-weight ratio in the class, plus handling so responsive it seemed
In concept and execution, Honda’s middleweight 599 proved
itself so profoundly and magnificently correct that it received only a few
substantive change in five years of production.
Engineers made subtle styling changes to double duty.
Elsewhere, Honda concentrated on detail changes; small touches that make the
difference between a magnificent motorcycle, and one that’s merely great.
What hasn’t changed, though, is the 599’s original mission
profile: to be a thoroughgoing hot-rod with a potent engine in a chassis
that offers the sort of razor-sharp handling previously exclusive to
supersport motorcycles-and with a versatility that supersports could never
match. All the changes made to this latest middleweight 599 enhance the
bike’s fundamental virtues, while still providing that most enduring of
American maxims: providing maximum bang for the buck.
New for 2006
New 41mm inverted HMAS fork with a new triple clamp and steering stem for
superior handling and stability.
Fully integrated lightweight instrumentation includes asymmetrical
analog-style tachometer, LCD speedometer, six-segment fuel gauge, a/b
tripmeters with countdown function and clock. A separate LCD built into the
tachometer displays engine coolant temperature.
New two-piece mini cowl surrounds instrumentation and features a tinted
flyscreen for an aggressive look.
Newly designed front fender improves styling.
Dual texture seat has low-slip material and adds to rider and passenger
Gold finish on the front and rear brake calipers plus gold anodized front
disc carrier add distinctive look.
New silver colored wheels.
New Metallic Black color.
Powerful, aggressively tuned 599cc inline four-cylinder engine features
dual ignition maps for smooth, strong performance.
A feathery, 404-pound dry weight makes the 599 the lightest bike in its
The comfortable, upright seating position is ideal for commuting, sport
riding and long trips.
Flat-slide CV carburetors for precise engine performance and superb throttle
response at all engine speeds.
Stylish four-into-two-into-one exhaust system tucks in tightly and exits
high on the right side.
Lightweight mono-backbone steel frame provides excellent rigidity while
drawing attention to the impressive exterior design of the engine.
41mm inverted front fork, single-shock rear suspension and lightweight cast
aluminum three-spoke wheels contribute to exceptional handling.
Brilliant dual-bulb headlight offers superior illumination and longer life.
Compact 599cc DOHC liquid-cooled inline four-cylinder engine is derived
from the championship-winning CBR®600F3 powerplant.
Intake ports tuned for smooth and responsive power characteristics.
Sixteen-valve cylinder head with a 12.0:1 compression ratio promotes
efficient combustion and high horsepower production.
Direct shim-under-bucket valve actuation system is compact, ensures high-rpm
durability and allows 16,000-mile valve maintenance intervals.
34mm flat-slide CV carburetors add extra punch at low- to mid-range rpm for
superb real-world street use.
Liquid-cooled oil cooler and a lightweight aluminum radiator keep engine
temperatures in check for consistent performance and long engine life.
Spring-loaded scissors-type primary gear and a rubber-mounted, floating
clutch-cover help reduce noise.
Weight-saving features include a compact, lightweight one-piece alternator.
Unique stainless steel four-into-two-into-one exhaust system features an
aggressively angled design for enhanced engine sound and overall
High-capacity, 340-watt AC generator.
Maintenance-free automatic cam-chain tensioner.
Smooth-shifting six-speed transmission with gear ratios carefully matched to
the engine’s powerband.
Durable #525 O-ring-sealed drive chain.
Massive square-tube mono-backbone steel frame utilizes the engine as a
stressed frame member, providing an optimal balance of rigidity and tuned
flex for superb handling.
A single box-section downtube connects to a unique front engine-mount that
incorporates a cross-member to link the frame to the engine’s solid front
Lightweight aluminum swingarm features a large one-piece extruded pivot
block and extruded triple-box-section spars.
41mm inverted front fork with 4.7 inches of travel offers unparalleled
rigidity for precise action and excellent handling on a variety of road
Lightweight aluminum upper triple-clamp adds rigidity for superb steering
Single-shock rear suspension features a high-quality damper with
seven-position-adjustable spring preload and 5.0 inches of plush wheel
travel for excellent suspension control in all riding conditions.
Braking system features two huge, 296mm floating front discs with
twin-piston calipers and sintered metal pads, along with a 220mm rear disc
with a single-piston caliper and sintered metal pads for exceptional
Aluminum-alloy super-light, hollow three-spoke wheels with 3.5 x 17-inch
front and 5.5 x 17-inch rear dimensions.
Wide, durable dual texture vinyl-covered seat with thick foam padding
provides plush comfort for commuting and two-up day trips.
A stylish hugger-type rear fender closely follows the curve of the rear
Instrumentation includes white-face analog speedometer; tachometer and
coolant water temperature; digital odometer/tripmeter; indicator lights for
neutral, oil pressure, low fuel, high beam; and digital clock.
4.5-gallon fuel tank is hinged for servicing ease.
Aviation-style fuel cap.
Handlebar-mounted manual choke provides smooth idling speed for cold engine
Brilliant dual-bulb headlight features a polycarbonate lens in front of a
die-cast aluminum reflector body. Two single-filament 55w H11 bulbs provide
60 percent better illumination, as well as much longer average life than
Maintenance-free battery is lightweight with sufficient starting capacity
for all riding seasons.
Rugged plastic chip guards on top of the fork sliders protect the front
suspension from flying debris.
Aluminum passenger grabrail.
Convenient ignition switch/fork lock for added security.
Handlebar switches and controls use internationally approved ISO graphic
The Hornet has been around for a few years
now, the inaugural model featuring a 16-inch front wheel and using the previous-gen
CBR600F motor. For 2007, Honda has launched a brand new CB600F Hornet with the
latest CBR600RR engine. Never mind the engine, though; it’s the chassis and
handling that really impress.
Swinging my leg over the Hornet, I immediately settle into a comfortable
position, with the 800mm (31.5 inch) seat height and relaxed ergonomics inviting
me to go for a ride. The seat is comfortable and I have enough room for my legs
despite this being a small motorcycle. The widened fuel tank now takes 19 liters
of fuel, and I get a good grip with my knees on the edges. The fuel tank is the
most obvious reminder this is the Hornet model. It stays true to the original
shape, but with two extra liters
of fuel capacity added. Despite the extra fuel,
the CB600F feels quite light when you pick it up off the side stand or move it
side-to-side while stopped.
The most obvious change from previous models is the striking new exhaust layout
– the 4-into- exhaust system terminating in a fashionably stubby,
MotoGP-inspired, under-peg muffler. Not exactly ground-breaking anymore, but we
still think it looks good, and it’s certainly more functional than the
previously fashionable under-seat mufflers. We are still a bit surprised Honda
did not use this mass-centralized solution on the top dog RR as well.
Riders planning to use their Hornet for touring duties will appreciate the new
exhaust layout for more than just fashion – the loss of the high-mount silencer
that was found on the ‘06 model opens up far greater versatility as far as
mounting aftermarket luggage. The old silencer prevented the use of decent
saddlebags and the new stubby exhaust now allows for all sorts of luggage
solutions. Hidden to the left of the stubby exhaust underneath the engine is a
huge catalytic converter that makes sure the new Hornet breezes through Euro 3
emissions standards and whatever comes next from Brussels. Whether you like the
new stubby exhaust trend or not, it makes the Hornet stand out from the naked
600 crowd, and that’s not always the case with new Hondas.
The small 599cc in-line four engine wakes to life in an unintimidating manner.
We shall not forget that it comes directly from the new 2007 CBR600RR
supersports, but with different cams and intake valves for a broader range of
power. The new engine is a full 5 kilos (11 lbs.) lighter than the one it
replaces. The nature of these engines can not be changed easily to suit a naked
all-round sportsbike such as the Hornet, but Honda has done their best and the
engine is useful enough in the lower rpm range.
There’s very little happening when accelerating with full throttle in sixth gear
from low rpm. However, what could I expect? It’s a small engine with four tiny
cylinders in a row and not a big twin. So revs are still needed, but perhaps
less so than on the ‘06 model. The fuel injection is a gem and only once when
transitioning off-on throttle around 3000rpm did I notice a very small hiccup.
It was so small that I shouldn’t really have even mentioned it. For comparison,
the fueling is a mile better than Suzuki’s otherwise brilliant GSR600.
The 07 Hornet features class leading horsepower too, beating both the GSR, and
the Yamaha FZ6. Indeed, it is and only four horsepower short of the new Kawasaki
Z750 (106ps) with the claimed 102 horsepower engine. But all that power is found
in 10K+ territory, which has a lot to do with the sporty character of the new
Hornet. The six-speed gearbox is as smooth as could be expected and the ratios
suit both sports riding and short shifting.
Through the twisties, the new CB600F Hornet is a dream to ride. The wide
handlebars make turn-in effortless, and the Hornet seems as eager as any sport
bike to carve on the edges of its Bridgestone BT-012 tires. I can almost
describe the handling as creamy smooth, but sharp at the same time – if that
makes any sense! The Hornet always steers where I want it to go, and the line
can be changed mid-corner without a hassle.
As far as chassis construction, the new aluminum mono-backbone frame and
aluminum swingarm keep everything in place on a hot lap, and also contributes to
keeping the weight down. Even the five-spoke aluminum wheels are new and
designed to further reduce weight. At 173kg dry (380 lbs.) the new Hornet is the
lightest in its class. Mass centralization was a design goal, and along with the
stubby exhaust, the new slim seat and tail unit is said to contribute to mass
The inverted 41mm fork from Showa gives plenty of feedback from the front
despite its lack of adjustable damping. The setup is neither too soft nor too
hard, and suited to both slow uneven roads and high-speed freeway riding equally
well. The rear shock is also from Showa and features a 7-step adjustable preload
collar. The brakes chosen for the new Hornet are very conventional looking in
today’s world of radial-mounted race-spec items, but the 2-piston front calipers
provide more than enough power and feel for the job at hand. I particularly
liked the way they felt during slow stop-and-go scenarios, such as around-town
riding. The Hornet is also available in an ABS version that adds linked 3-piston
calipers (and 4kg of weight).
We did have rain for about half the day on the launch in Portugal. From previous
experience I expected excellent wet grip from the Bridgestone BT-012s, and the
Hornet was no exception. I know how to use the brakes in the wet too, but in
panicky situations, let’s say if an angry dog runs into your path, the ABS
brakes definitely make sense. Honda is aiming the new Hornet at people looking
for their first motorcycle, and with that in mind the ABS option might be a good
investment. However, as an experienced rider I would personally not have gone
for ABS on the Hornet, as I feel I might lose the excellent feedback offered by
the standard items.
On the motorway the wind blast soon gets noticeable. The small front cowling
gives scant protection. The seating position is very upright, and to crouch
forward for any length of time does not feel natural for either the riding or my
back. But the new Hornet has got some serious top end speed for a 600 naked, and
it was fun to use some of that ability. I wouldn’t be happy touring at high
speed all day long though! The new instrument panel features a large analogue
rev counter with a big digital display showing speed, clock, coolant temperature
and fuel consumption. To the far left is the trip counter.
Honda has modeled the design of the front cowling and headlight on a medieval
knight’s helmet. I personally see similarities with the old Cagiva V-Raptor too.
It was never dark enough to properly test the new headlight, but the new convex,
dual-bulb design features low beam positioned above high beam.
Once again Honda has got it right straight away – new engine, new aluminum
frame, new lightweight wheels and contemporary styling. The 07 Honda CB600F
Hornet has got all that you need to tackle urban areas with ease and enough top
end power to do track days and motorways. The midrange is stronger than before,
as well, and might just beat most of the competition on the street. Of course,
the high-revving, inline-four can’t beat a twin for midrange punch, but Honda
has done everything in their power to make the midrange as punchy as possible,
and for a small in-line four the result is good. The ‘07 Honda Hornet is not
only a safe bet, it might just be this year’s big winner.
Weight reduction and mass centralized handling
Brakes provide good feel
New lightweight and powerful engine
New 19 litre fuel tank (up by 2 liters