25 Years ago Honda released its middleweight streetfighter – the CB600 Hornet. Its simplistic nature made it a sales success, not only in SA, but also around the World. But now we’re well into 2023 and it was time for change, right? Even though the name is the same it’s a completely new motorbike from the edge of the front tyre to the rear number plate, but does it live up to the previous generation's legacy?
Oh, most certainly yes! It’s fast, nimble, fun and well made (being a Honda), and without doubt a worthy successor to the iconic Hornet label. Easy to ride on a daily basis, entertaining and exciting if you need it to be. More importantly Honda has injected a much bigger sting into its tail for 2023.This ‘sting’ being Honda’s all-new 755cc, parallel twin, replacing the old in-line, four-cylinder engines found in the previous Hornet range. It’s certainly an interesting power unit using CRF derived technology. It has Uni-Cam, OHC, four-valve expertise used extensively in the off-road bikes. The short stroke (87mm x 63.5mm) twin, with its 270-degree crankshaft layout (from MotoGP), produces a very healthy 90hp@9,500rpm and 75Nm@7,250rpm. Combine this with a class-leading 190kg (wet) and the CB750 Hornet will easily pass the 210km/h mark. If you desire a spot of madness and wheelie fun, the new Hornet will also happily provide, once you turn off the wealth of new electronic gadgetry that is! Yes, the new Hornet has definitely moved into the ‘modern age’. The large 46mm throttle bodies are now Throttle By Wire (TBW), opening the door for four rider modes (sport, rain, standard and user), where you can program your own settings and maybe turn everything off for the aforementioned wheelie trait. There are also three levels of Torque Control (HSTC), or traction control for short, which has integrated wheelie control, as well as three levels of Engine Braking too. The new and precise 5-inch TFT screen can also adapt to Honda’s Smart Phone Voice Control (HSVC), but I’m not sure if this is available in SA yet. All of this is activated by a much more effective selection method operated by the new left hand side switchgear.So, we now have more electronic intervention than anyone could ask for on a middleweight naked bike, but what about the chassis you say? Again it’s all-new and the frame weighs in at a remarkable 16kg with Showa (of course) suspension taking care of road holding. The 41mm SFF-BPTMTM forks, which is a tongue twister for sure, basically means they have Big Piston Showa technology, with the spring in one fork leg and damping components inside the other, not sure which side though as they’re sealed and not adjustable. This setup has been used in Honda’s competition bikes for many years.At the rear there’s the usual Pro-Link single shock with pre-load adjustment only. Both ends work extremely well so the lack of adjustment never concerned me, either on the racetrack, or on the road, because Honda seems to have made a good choice regarding the springy parts.The brakes to stop the new Hornet are four-piston Nissin callipers chewing onto 296mm discs, mounted in a radial fashion, and more than ample to bring the bike to a brisk halt, so no need to carry on about those I think.
Now, let’s move on to the design and shape of the new CB750 Hornet. On the frame it says ‘Made in Japan’, which is very good news, but where do you think it was designed? No, not Japan, but Rome. Oh yes, because lots of previous Hornets were sold in Europe why not use Honda’s R&D team based in Rome to carve out the new Hornet, make sense? These Italians say the flares around the 15.2-litre tank resemble a hornet’s wing (if you look hard enough I presume as personally I have tried and am unable to see it!).
To ride the new Hornet is effortless to say the least. I even managed a bit of track action and, again, came away with a broad smile. It turns with very little effort and even shakes its head a bit when unleashing the full 90hp. The new engine does pull strongly all the way through the rev range but, once above 7,000rpm, on it’s way to well over 10,000rpm, it really clears its' throat, or flaps its transparent Hornet’s wings harder, if you prefer the terminology. The best point though is it sounds superb, partly due to the new Vortex Flow intakes. What a noise from a standard bike, truly addictive on the road when finding its ‘sweet spot’!Obviously, it is extremely light footed, not only around the track, but also on the road. Whether going to the shops, or your local pub for a quick one, it’s always a pleasure to be out and about buzzing around on the new Hornet. It’s also very good regarding fuel consumption as I often saw well below 5 liters per 100km, not too bad at all when you have 90hp at your disposal.I did like the sparkly white paint, always one of Honda’s best attributes in terms of paint standards, or you could choose a yellow or black one if you don’t like the magenta frame colour. If you desire to make your new Hornet more distinctive, or add user friendly accessories, then Honda have the answer. Go to their site and you’ll see various packages on offer, like screens, panniers, quick shifter, if you fancy one of those, and more, all genuine Honda parts that confirms build quality components on all counts. And finally, the price, R179,999, great value I believe and it won’t sting your wallet too much either.
Images: Sudoku/Beam Productions
Go to www.honda.co.za for more technical information and to book a test ride at your local Honda dealer.