Editor ‘arris gets to know the latest CMG long termer – a Honda CBF600. It’s a long first date but they’ve now moved in together.
2010 has proved to be a rather light year for new motorcycles into Canada. But who can blame the importers? After a disastrous 2009, why take the risk of announcing new models to a market that just isn’t buying anywhere near as much as the year prior.
Well, you could say it also gives an opportunity for a company to grab a bit of market share and get noticed when others have battened down the hatches. This seems to be exactly what Honda are doing with a whole host of new model announcements backed by eager reps to get journalists’ arses on seats.
And that suits us just fine, enabling us to get three long termers this year; the Konker KSM200 as well as the new CBF600 and VFR1200 DCT from Honda. Okay, the VFR is actually a medium termer as we won’t be getting it until August, but we do have plans to put a lot of miles on it in the time we have.
Anyway, enough of a babbling introduction, as with the Konker we’ll be running a series of updates on how the bikes are performing in the On The Side section of CMG, starting now with the CBF600.
We first covered the CBF600 at the Honda Canada launch in Savannah, Georgia in March, when Costa compared it to its bigger brother, the CBF1000. His time was mostly limited to the racetrack, but the 600 proved to be composed and confidence-inspiring, if a little down on power from its sibling.
He also mentioned that Honda Canada were bringing in the CBF600 as the next step/leap for new riders who had bought a CBR125R but were looking for something to move up to next … and hopefully didn’t buy a Ninja 250!
But 125 to 600 does seem like quite a leap and is the CBF user friendly enough to satisfy this claim? Or is it so user friendly that it doesn’t satisfy anybody? We’ll also look at how she tours as Honda was kind enough to provide us with the touring options installed, which includes bags, top box, heated grips and even a centrestand!
Throughout our tenure we’ll be keeping an eye on these questions as well as reporting on how the CBF performs over the long run. After all, there’s nothing quite like living with something to find out if it’s true love or time for arsenic in the porridge.
A LONG FIRST DATE
To me, one of the best tests you can give a bike that spouts any kind of tourability (and I think the CBF does) is how she fares after a 12+ hour stint in the saddle in one bout, with a goodly amount of miles to cover to boot.
In my case this was the day after I picked her up in Montreal. The plan was to ride it back to home base in Sackville, N.B. (via Maine), taking a little time to put the finishing touches to a route I’d found, but with the goal to get home before dark.
Initial thoughts were not stellar as my arse quickly sent emergency broadcasts that the seat may be a psycho-killer and my hands and testicles sent telegrams reporting on some intrusive high frequency buzzing.
But then the rest of my body was transmitting ‘all quiet on the western front’. The adjustable screen (set in its highest of two positions) was keeping the windblast off my upper body and the sensible position of upright with a slight forward lean was keeping peace with the rest of me.
Then the vibes seemed to fade off (okay, I got used to their presence) and the seat didn’t get any harder, helped by the occasional arse breather thanks to the pegs being located directly beneath me allowing me to push off on demand.
Then, just as I motored past a Spyder on Quebec’s Highway 10, the power cut, the exhaust dropped an octave and the Spyder rider zoomed by. A glance at the clocks revealed a fuel gauge below the red and a fumbling of the left hand below the tank revealed a lack of a reserve option.
Fuck, I just ran out of fuel …
Clutch in and straight to the shoulder where the CBF painfully lost momentum until I found myself at the side of the highway, a mere 90 minutes into my 13 hour adventure with no gas. Bugger.
In times like this it’s always worth trying the pointless so I swished the tank around and hit the starter. Success! Just over the hill there was an exit and a lucky guess to turn left revealed a glorious gas station, which I coasted into as the motor gave one last death splutter.
As a result I can confidently say that the CBF600 has a tank capacity of 17.6 litres.
Getting to first base
As the miles got chewed I found myself bonding with the 600. I admit I had had a moment of panic when I first hit the highway out of Montreal thinking that I should have asked Honda for the CBF1000 instead, but then cubes ain’t everything.
There’s something to be said about the losing of a certain finesse as the motor’s capacity grows. It’s a truth I was reminded off when I rode the 650 V-Strom and found it to be a much nicer package than the more brutish 1,000 and I think this might just apply here.
Honda have done a good job of retuning the motor, taking the peakiness out of the CBR600F4i generation lump and adding just enough to the lower end that you don’t have to keep it spinning at all times.
Of course, when the road beckons you want to rev it up to get into that zone, but for a bike to be able to chew up miles and also appeal to newbies, it has to be able to offer a wide range of usable power. Don’t get me wrong, the CBF isn’t going to double up as a stump puller, but it’s very usable on the road.
While we’re on the topic of the motor, the gearbox is just perfect. Click, click, click. You just have to think of changing gear and kazam, it’s done. I’m surprised Honda hasn’t come up with a name for it – TCGCKT (Thought Control Gear Change Kinda Thing).
The only issue I have is that I keep thinking there should be one more gear but the TCGCKT seems to go deaf at that point. Not a big issue, I just need to remember that 600 fours need to be revved!
Invitation to come inside for coffee
Before long I found myself on the Trans Canada highway near Fredericton (a quite pleasant stretch of the TCH BTW) and then pulling into a Tim Hortons just outside Moncton. It was getting dark now but I was surprisingly alert and free of pain.
The CBF600 had passed its first date with flying colours, and I was quite happy that we’d be moving in together for a couple of months. After that I’ll pass her around some of the CMG staff to have a good grope.
Hey, I never said I was in love.