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CBR remains the 600cc benchmark

2011-05-27 11:40


NO COMPROMISE: Arguably the ‘bee’s knees’ in 600 cc sport bikes right now — the new Honda CBR600F for 2011.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Honda
Model CBR600F
Engine DOHC, 4-inline, liquid-cooled
Power 75kW @ 12 000rpm
Torque 65Nm @ 10 500rpm
Zero To Hundred 4.5 sec
Top Speed 220km/h
Weight 204kg
Price R84 999
A number of years ago I undertook the longest trip I’d ever undertaken on two wheels since arriving from Blighty: Pietermaritzburg to Tzaneen and back over a long weekend — that with copious amounts of luggage, oh yes, I was also two up!

The missus never complained once that weekend, well not about the bike anyway. Today, I suppose you would hardly consider travelling 2200km or so in three days on anything less than a litre machine — a touring one at that — but that’s the rub with the CBR600 range, they are so damned versatile…

When something is so perfect, as the latest CBR600 appears to be, one starts to nitpick just a little: OK, so I’m getting older and I suppose my eyesight isn’t what it used to be, but that trapezoidally-shaped digital speedo/rev counter/time clock, et al annoyed me immensely because I struggled to read it.

On the CBF600S, for instance, they are superb, almost classical in style — two large, easy to read conventional dials. Even the fuel gauge is car-like …

I can’t ever remember it happening before at any other motorcycle reveal but the Honda media guy, John Mitchell, actually suggested he was happy to ride pillion on this bike just to prove just how versatile it is (surely he has to be a sandwich short of a picnic to go for a ride on the back of a journalist(!).


Honda didn’t mention it but I’m sure this particular model has to be the most successful bike in the brand’s line-up.  In KZN a third of the usual reprobates at a Sunday morning breakfast run would be CBR-mounted. They really are very easy to ride and, at ±200kg, extremely manageable, one- or two-up.

The tried-'n-tested, liquid-cooled, DOHC inline-4 offers 75kW at 12 000rpm — the motor is redlined at 13 500, so no worries there, then! What happens at 10 500rpm onwards is most rewarding, it’s as if a supercharger has suddenly kicked in. A maximum torque figure of 64nNm at 10 500rpm provides all the mid-range power which still pleasantly surprises the rider.

The fuel flow is by electronic fuel-injection; factor in an 18.4-litre fuel tank and it’s hardly surprising the rider can expect well over 300km to a tankful of standard 95 RON if travelling at the current speed limits.

Because the engine and chassis are so compact, the CBR600F can combine the long swingarm required for sure-footed handling with one of the shortest wheelbase figures in its class, at 1 435mm. Supersports-derived chassis geometry backs up the bike’s credentials as a genuine contender on even the most demanding roads.

DIGITAL DOES IT: although I’d personally prefer a set of separate clocks, they just seem that little bit classier.

Naturally there’s a six-speed gearbox featuring well-chosen ratios, superbly suited for our South African roads — especially the extreme gradients (read mountain passes) we are forced to live with here in the Western Cape!

The rear suspension system consists of a tapered dual box-section aluminium swingarm controlled by a Monoshock damper. Tension and spring preload adjusters on the Monoshock let the rider alter its precise characteristics to suit their weight and tastes, while a dual rate spring optimises touring comfort.

The seat height is fixed at 800mm and shouldn’t trouble the fairer sex — indeed, Honda claims that nearly 20% of owners are females; while the husband goes for the macho Fireblade or VFR1200, I’ll wager he takes the 600 for a spin whenever he gets the opportunity!

Interestingly, Honda’s technical gurus were asked at question time if ABS was proving to be a consideration by anxious owners, apparently not. They believe their brakes are well up to the job with a pair of 300mm discs up front (floating-type), and a 240mm disc setup behind.

Priced at R84 999, there’s an unconditional two-year warranty, while servicing is only required at 12 000km intervals.

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