This was Honda’s response to the successful Suzuki GS600 Bandit which was selling hand-over-fist in the mid-1990s. Both Honda and Yamaha saw the way the sales were headed and decided to get in on the act with their own stripped-down machines in the new ‘naked 600 class.’ Yamaha came up with the FZS600 Fazer and Honda the CB600F Hornet in 1998.
The Hornet featured a de-tuned motor nicked from a CBR600F they then nabbed the wheels from the FireBlade (including the 16-inch front) and whipped the styling from the Jap market only 250 Hornet, which we think was a damn good idea. Basically, this was a very attractive parts bin special which probably cost them nowt to make. Tests at the time showed that while it was clearly a better bike than the Suzuki Bandit, it was around £1000 more new and also £50 more than the Fazer which just had the edge on the Honda for performance, if not looks.
What the Honda did have was build quality, even if owners were frustrated with tank range (16 litres only two litres less than the original Fazer and six litres down on the 2000-on model Fazer 600) and the daft front tyre sizes. The Hornet’s brakes were also not as impressive as the Fazer’s using CBR600F calipers, while the Fazer 6 had the Blue-Spot calipers from the R1.
Eventually Honda saw some sense and – in late 1999 – fitted a 17-inch front wheel for the CB600F-Y version and also released the CB600F-S which was a half-faired version which was initially priced around £400 more than the naked bike but (let’s face it) it wasn’t as pretty. Hornets even raced in The Hornet Cup but – more importantly – they really became popular with owners, tuners and specials builders alike.
Today the Hornet still may not perform as well as the old Fazer, or have the charm of the original Bandit 600 but it’s stood the test of time maybe better than both (there’s a good owners’ club too) and there are lots of nice condition original machines out there for strong money. So why not have a gander?
Honda Hornet Spec;
|CB600F Hornet, CB600FS (faired)
|£4995 (1998) £4277 (1999 – post parallel import price) £5004 (FS)
|Colour changes. Late 1999 moved to 17-inch front. Brake line/pad changes from 2000.
|Starts at £800 to £4000 for later bikes.