The modifications to the engine soften its character, so much so that the accelerator can be wide open already at 4,000 rpm; from 5,000 onwards the four-cylinder is very lively and calms down its action when it reaches 13,500, where the ignition is “cut” by the electronics. It is advisable to change gear much earlier, at 12,000 rpm, as the engine always pushes hard. On the dyno of our magazine the power measured at the wheel is 85.16 HP, 6 less than the CBR600F, the maximum torque is 5.82 kgm, 5.86 for the sportier sister. The maximum speed is 232.9 km/h and the weight is 186 kg empty of fuel. The gearbox, the same as the CBR-F in the internal ratios, has a minimum of jamming when changing gear towards maximum revs, while for the Hornet the final ratios lengthen (one crown tooth less, from 43 to 42) condition allowed by the different power delivery and the lower weight of the bike (for the CBR600F there are 11.4 kg more).
We are dealing with an exhilarating, sporty engine and its behavior combines well with the rest of the chassis. The riding position helps a lot to juggle the curves: large handlebars for total control, footrests that are not too high, super manageability: in short, we are dealing with the classic “bicycle”. This between the curves of a winding mountain route.
On the track, at least the one in Cartagena in Spain where we had our first taste of the bike in 1998, no trim problems were highlighted: only when you brake hard does the fork become too compliant when compressing, breaking down the best set-up. On road bends, the Hornet (or rather its driver) suffers from essential nudity. Air pressure is relevant from 130 km/h and well-trained neck muscles are needed to maintain higher speeds for a long time. Some imprecision of the front end is felt in case of uneven asphalt: the Hornet suffers from oscillations, always easily controllable. Very fast in cornering, with handling from a much lower engine capacity (remember that it derives from a 250), this Honda is balanced thanks also to a weight well distributed between the two axles (officially a distribution of 49.7% in front is declared and 50.3% behind). The most tortuous and labyrinthine roads thus become a real pleasure, thanks also to the grip of the wide Michelin TX tyres.
But the Hornet lends itself well even in non-expert hands, it’s so easy to carry around; indeed, it could constitute an excellent starting point for those who want to get to know sporty driving: a few mistakes can be allowed, easily remedied thanks to the good handling and rapid response of the chassis. Braking, on the other hand, is not very prompt, since to have a satisfactory deceleration you have to press hard on the lever. It is true that the pressure on the front brake is proportional to the stopping distances, but one would expect a better response to the command.
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