CBF600 Part 3 – Touring

Editor ‘Arris has relinquished the CBF600 for final ‘commuter’ testing in Toronto, but before he goes, here’s an update on the CBF’s touring ability.


Words & Pictures: Rob Harris (unless otherwise specified)


Well, the CBF600 is now officially in the hands of the CMG grand techie, Patrick Shelston, having thankfully survived its tenure with me intact.

Pat will put the bike through its paces as a commuter in Toronto (there’s no traffic in Sackville so I was unable to test this side of the bike) and will update us on that in a month or so before returning the bike to Honda.

I must say it was a sad day when I handed over the keys, as the CBF has proven itself time and again as a very competent all round bike.

If I wanted to get sporty (often) then just wick it up and away I’d go, or if I was in the mood to relax (rare) or go into Tour mode (more often) the bike would purr along all day holding more than enough of my crap in its panniers and top box.



Steve, Larry and Costa were all quite impressed with the little Honda which acted as ‘mule’ during the recent Fal(ish) Tour.

My last ride (and tour) with her was to join the lads for the CMG Fall(ish) Tour that meant a two-day ride to the Catskills via my now well-worn path through Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, followed by a three-day ride through Pennsylvania and up to Toronto.

The CBF can certainly pack on the miles, and a 10-hour day would leave me tired but not overly uncomfortable. The seat is a little on the hard side after that amount of time, but it never breaks you and thanks to a three-position adjustment I managed to put it high enough to stop my knees from being cramped up.

The adjustment process is a bit tricky as the bolts that hold the back of the seat in place weren’t long enough to reach when in the highest position and so I had to get longer ones. I figured I must have done something wrong but I tried just about every permutation and combination I could think of.


The Vario screen comes with a nifty spoiler to help deflect the air flow over the rider. Sadly we couldn’t get a tester in time.
photo: Vario

Being a lanky bastard I did find that the screen was just a tad on the short side. The airflow was nice and linear (no buffeting) but after a few hours at 130 or so I could feel the back of my neck getting sore.

I did do some research on screen options and found a very interesting bolt-on adjustable spoiler option called the Vario Touring Screen from the twistedthrottle.com website.

Alas, since it’s a Canada-only bike (and a new one at that) they didn’t have any in stock and by the time they could get one, I’d already have finished my tour.

Oh well, I guess I could try and keep it down to legal speeds …

Our tester came equipped with all the available touring options, which include heated grips ($259.68), 33-litre panniers ($1,249.98 – includes mounts) and a 35-litre top box ($623.78 – includes carrier, brackets and passenger pad).


Some of the Honda options that came with our tester (L to R): knuckle deflectors, heated grips, centrestand.
photo: Honda

Throw in the centrestand ($239.98), which is very handy for chain lubing, and knuckle deflectors ($99.99 – actually work well at keeping the elements off your digits) and for an additional $2,473.41, you have one sweet touring machine.


The top box (left) wasn’t bad, but the panniers (right) were excellent.
photo: Honda

Of course, you could likely save some dough going aftermarket for some of these things but I’d highly recommend going for the Honda panniers (made by Givi anyway) as they not only have good capacity but they fit INTO the side of the bike and prevent it feeling more like an ocean liner than sport tourer. Even the mounting brackets are discreet and blend well when the bags are off.

The top box, although very useful, was a bit of a fiddly fucker to get closed, mainly thanks to combining the latch with a rotating thingy that would also release the bag, but also because the latch bit would hit against the main body and refuse to close without some jimmying.


Topbox was very handy but a bit fiddly. Pannier mounts wrapped around the rear so well you hardly noticed them.

It would also tempt the user into putting in larger items that perhaps were not best suited for carrying high up and away from the centre of the bike and this resulted in a quite pronounced bar wobble if you took your hands off the bars between 70 and 90 km/h, though even without luggage it could still be felt.

Oh, and before I forget, the heated grips are a life saver when it starts to chill off but they are awfully big. I’d find my fingers actually went numb after a while because of the size, but this is likely just another sad reminder to me that being in your forties is the start of body breakdown and so you may have no problem with getting yer mits around them.

Just don’t take your hands off to get some blood circulating if you’re anywhere between 70 and 90 km/h!

And finally, some fuel economy figures. The average I got was 18.29 km/l, or 5.47 l/100km (that’s 43.4 mp(US)g). The worst was 16.81 km/l that happened stuck on a highway at 130-140 while the best of 20.36 km/l was on mixed roads at a more sedate pace.

So it’s a sad goodbye to the CBF600 for me as I recommission the abused KLR650 back into service for a month or two of riding before the first snows fall. Bugger, is it the Fall Equinox already? Sigh.


  1. Light is right. have a full sized sport tourer but I actually prefer my f4i with sidebags, 600’s do everything and the light nimbleness and high revving motor on demand is the real thill that never gets dull years and miles and more years later. this cbf gets a few nice add ons aswell, should be a great seller if people notice what it can do.

  2. Got one of these bikes myself. Needed to down size bikes again due to our wonderfully STUPID ontario insurance rates. So i traded in my beloved yamaha V-Star 1100 silverado on the new CBF600.

    Could no be happier. Plenty of power, Very comfy, Heated grips are a god send, awesome hard luggage (did not opt for the top case as i never liked em), and over all a fun bike to ride.

    I will miss the grunt of my old modded 1100 but this little 600 is a hoot to ride and costs me less than HALF to insure so its a Keeper.

  3. I didn’t find the heated grips too big, and my hands are a lot smaller than yours. Likely just something you get used to; they’re much like the ones on my Bandit.

    As for the top box, don’t load it with expired uranium fuel pellets or whatever the hell you had in there, and the wobble will go away.

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