Japanese bikes don't come much more Italian than the revamped Honda Hornet 600. Despite the name on its tank, the 2008 Honda Hornet 600 or Honda CBF600 was shaped by Honda's European design studio in Italy, and built at the factory in Atessa. Given the enormous sales were largely responsible for the original Honda Hornet 600 topping worldwide sales charts a few years back, there's no doubt plenty the latest 2008 Hornet version will be sold too.
Today, at the start of the 29th Bangkok Motorshow lots of Thai riders, will be looking for the first bigger bike to ride in Thai Kingdom.
Honda Hornets since the original was launched nine years ago. This latest 2008 update is the most comprehensive yet, combining reworking 16-valve engine from the latest Honda CBR600RR with an aluminum frame instead of the old steel one. The result is a bike that produces a claimed 100 horsepower and weights 173 kilo, giving the rider 5 horsepower more compared to its predecessor with 5 kilo less to push.
Those Italian-stylists did a good job, retaining the Honda Hornet 600 identity while adding an edge with features including the piggy-back headlight, reworked tank and seat, and a new four-into-one exhaust whose diagonal downpipes bring to mind Honda's legendary CB400F four from the mid-70s.
Honda has tried hard to make the Honda Hornet 600 feel special, with features including the sharply shaped instrument panel, which incorporates a digital speedo and analogue tacho.
The reduced weight of the 2008 Honda Hornet helped make the bike feel pleasantly manageable, as did the generous steering lock that allowed effortless slow-speed maneuvering as we left the Honda parking. High-speed stability was flawless and back on twistier roads I was impressed by the Honda Hornet's handling. The bike's light wieght and fairly sporty geometry meant it could be cranked into a bend with minimal effort. Suspension worked well given the units, relative simplicity, which gives scope only for pre-load adjustment of the rear shock, with no adjustment of the 41mm upside-down forks.