For many reasons, the original 1998 CB600F Hornet became a popular European bike. Its compact, naked form was great around town, and it had the engine power and handling ability to carve a section of corners with joyous enthusiasm.
Different iterations of the Hornet took it in the direction of sports touring and – in the hands of Hornet Cup racers –an outright race bike, while a 2007 upgrade added extra RR-derived top-end power and much more aggressive style.
Every individual owner had a reason why their Hornet was so good, but two things remained constant throughout its life and development:
It was great fun to ride. And the fun came with an affordable price tag.
Twenty-five years is a long time, and motorcycling has seen significant shifts since the first Hornet arrived. The naked bike segment grows in size and complexity, with many niches, and rider expectations have never been higher.
A perfect time for a new Hornet to land – a bike for now and a new generation of riders. It has big tyre tracks to fill and serious competitors to contend with. None of which was lost on Honda’s development engineers.
This background has driven the creation of something unique – a brand-new middleweight, the CB750 Hornet, which takes inspiration and direction from its ancestor but brings the famous Hornet brand up to date. And packs it with direct injection of excitement and pure-thrill adrenaline.
With styling led by the latest generation of creative minds in Honda’s Rome R&D facility, it’s been developed to attract younger riders looking for a serious move. A new twin-cylinder engine hits hard with power and torque and features a comprehensive electronics package.
High-quality Showa suspension works through a new, lightweight steel frame with high-spec running gear that allows the rider to exploit all the potential. And minimalist look with uncompromising angles defines a sharp, modern streetfighter style.
Honda has armed the CB750 Hornet with a class-leading power-to-weight ratio. And to keep things simple, I can use three words to sum it up:
Fast, agile, fun.
Mr, Fuyuki Hosokawa, Test Project Leader, Honda R&D, Japan:
“The Hornet has always been an exceptional motorcycle for Honda. Exciting, engaging performance has always been matched to lithe, agile handling.
Before starting this project, we thought long and hard about what kind of performance we wanted to give the rider. We knew that it was essential to keep the classic Hornet top-end power ‘hit’, and at the same time, as a new generation Hornet for modern times, we wanted the engine to have a solid torquey feel and ‘throbbing’ sensation at low to mid rpm.
Our aim has always been to match these to the lightest, most agile handling possible, to make every ride – even in town – as engaging and fulfilling as possible.
To get the kind of performance and lightweight handling we wanted, we knew we had to develop an all-new short-stroke twin-cylinder engine with a 270° crankshaft. This would deliver that top-end rush and the sporty low-down torque, ideal for riding in urban environments and powering out of corners on the open road.
The Hornet has always been the ultimate representation of the streetfighter concept, and this new Hornet proudly carries on this tradition.”
Mr Giovanni Dovis, Lead Styling Designer, Honda R&D Rome:
“Honda’s design philosophy is to create something pure and functional in an uncomplicated way – beautifully simple and emotionally appealing models. Our strap line to guide the form of the new Hornet was ‘Sensual Dynamism.’
It had to be a straightforward streetfighter design – just like the original – but we wanted much more aggressive angles and proportions. The silhouette and sinuous muscularity of a cheetah at full speed inspired us with its potency, driven by the apparent power of the new engine.
The look of the Hornet promises agility, dynamism and lightweight thanks to its slim proportions, pointy tail section and super-sharp lines. It creates a new compactly proportioned look and has hallmarks of tension and aggression from front to back, outlining the Hornet’s true sporting purpose.
And we wanted this bike to stand out in another way: the metallic red frame and matching anodised forks are a vibrant counterpoint to the coolness of the White or Black paint options. And, of course, we had to pay homage to its heritage with the unique Mat Goldfinch Yellow.”
The Hornet’s brand-new engine packs a great deal of Honda’s engineering prowess into a small space. Headline numbers: 755cc parallel twin-cylinder, 67.5kW peak power and 75Nm torque. With a wet weight of 190kg, it has a class-leading power-to-weight ratio of 0.36kW per kg / 2.81kg per kW.
Compact, competition CRF-derived Unicam eight-valve cylinder heads employ downdraft air intakes and a Vortex Flow Duct to ensure optimal combustion.
A 270° crank delivers feel and character; the primary drive doubles as a balance shaft while an assist/slipper clutch manages a six-speed gearbox.
Electronic rider aids, thanks to Throttle By Wire (TBW), include three:
- Riding modes (plus USER mode)
- 3-level Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC)
- Wheelie Control with 3-level Engine Power and Engine Braking adjustment
To maximise the new engine’s potential, it’s housed in a new steel diamond frame, which is extremely lightweight thanks to the optimisation of wall/pipe thickness and stiffness.
The suspension is top-quality for optimal agility and rider feedback: Showa 41mm SFF-BPTM USD forks and rear shock operating through Pro-Link. Dual four-piston, radial-mount callipers stop hard while the tyres sized to provide perfect levels of grip and agility – a 120-section front matched to 160 rear.
5 inch TFT
The rich specification list is headlined by a 5-inch TFT colour display which supplies vivid information delivery and management of all systems, as well as the connectivity of the Honda Smartphone Voice Control system for Android and IOS devices. All lighting is LED; the indicators auto-cancel and include Emergency Stop System (ESS).
A range of accessories, including a quickshifter, soft luggage, engine protectors and cosmetic enhancements, are ready to go (see complete list below: Accessories).
The 23YM CB750 Hornet will be available in the following colour options:
- Pearl Glare White with Metallic Red Flame frame and anodised Red forks
- Graphite Black with Metallic Red Flame frame and anodised Red forks
- Matte Iridium Gray Metallic
- Mat Goldfinch Yellow
- All new 755cc parallel twin eight-valve unicam engine
- Max power – 67.5kW @ 9,500rpm
- Max torque – 75Nm at 7,250rpm
- 270° crankshaft and uneven firing order for maximum engine character
- Patented Vortex Air Flow ducts for optimum airflow
- Assist /slipper clutch offers light lever feel and manages rear wheel hop on downshifts
- 23km/l fuel economy with a potential 340km tank range.
The unveiling of a brand-new Honda engine is always a special moment. Presenting it as part of a brand new Hornet demonstrates the significance of the return of the iconic model name.
Honda’s engineers have built a brand-new, parallel twin-cylinder powerplant packing a hugely enjoyable punch to give the Hornet its performance edge.
It’s designed for every rider to exploit to the maximum, with exhilarating peak power output. It also delivers accessible low to mid-range usability – perfect for the less experienced and a significant boost to the enjoyment of everyday town riding.
755cc, with an 8-valve Unicam cylinder head it pumps out 67.5kW @ 9,500rpm with 75Nm torque @ 7,250rpm. Bore and stroke are set at 87 x 63.5mm with a compression ratio of 11.0:1.
Compact and lightweight (and a configuration used by the MX competition-ready CRF450R), the Unicam head operates the 35.5mm inlet valves via cam, and the 29mm exhaust by rocker’s arms. The Inlet lift is 9.3mm, and the exhaust is 8.2mm.
For razor-sharp pick-up and throttle response, patented Vortex Flow Ducts create a more uniform distribution from the side scoops into the airbox, which feeds downdraft intakes 46mm diameter throttle bodies.
The 270° crank and uneven firing order create a characterful, twin-cylinder pulse feeling. To make the engine as tightly wrapped as possible, there’s no balancer drive gear; the primary drive gear doubles up duties and spins the balance shaft.
The water pump is tucked away inside the lefthand engine cover, and there’s no need for a water-cooled oil-cooler. The cylinders also use a Ni-SiC (Nickel-Silicon Carbide) coating used in the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade and CRF450R.
An assist/slipper clutch – with oblique layout disc segments – offers a light lever feel, eases upshifts and manages rear-wheel hop under hard braking and rapid down changes.
Fuel consumption of 23km/l (WMTC mode) offers a potential range of over 340km from the 15.2L fuel tank. A 35kW, A2 licence option will also be available.
3.2 Engine Electronics
- Three default rider modes; RAIN, STANDARD and SPORT
- Three levels of Engine Power, Engine Brake and HSTC with integrated Wheelie Control
- USER customisation option between the three levels
Throttle By Wire engine control offers three default riding modes, adjusting the engine’s delivery and feel to suit conditions and the rider’s intent; they’re easily switched and managed between the left handlebar mode switch and TFT screen.
There are three levels of Engine Power (EP), Engine Brake (EB) and Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) with integrated Wheelie Control available; HSTC can also be switched off. The riding modes offer different combinations of each parameter.
- SPORT uses level 3 EP, level 1 EB, and HSTC to deliver maximum performance with minimum intervention.
- STANDARD mode is a mid-way setting that uses a level 2 setting for EP, EB and HSTC.
- RAIN mode employs the lowest EP setting, level 1, for the least aggressive power delivery with level 2 EB and 3 HSTC.
The USER mode allows the rider to choose the three settings for each parameter and save the setting for future use.
3.3 Styling & Equipment
- The new style defines razor-sharp minimalism.
- The upright riding position for natural control
- Customisable, 5-inch TFT display with a shift-up indicator
- Honda Smartphone Voice Control system offers Android and IOS smartphone connectivity
- The rear indicators feature Emergency Stop Signal and auto cancel technology
Honda’s R&D designers in Rome looked, with respect, to Hornets of the past and went to work on a new, contemporary expression of technical beauty with the silhouette, lines and shapes in compact, elegant proportion.
The primary signature of the Hornet is the fuel tank, which takes inspiration from the shape of a hornet’s wing. Everywhere you look, from the aggressively angled nose-fairing to the razor-sharp, minimal tail, there are hallmarks of tension and aggression, outlining true sporting intent.
Usability, for all riders, is also inherent to the design. The seat height is 795mm, and the riding position is upright, with slightly rear-set footpegs for natural control and wide handlebars for leverage.
The instruments comprise a 5-inch, full-colour high-visibility TFT screen, which offers four types of speed/rpm display – analogue or bar, according to rider preference – as well as fuel gauge/consumption, riding mode selection/engine parameters, gear selected and customisable shift-up point on the rev-counter. Management is via the screen and switchgear on the left handlebar.
Honda Smartphone Voice Control
Also incorporated into the interface is the Honda Smartphone Voice Control system, which links the rider to their Android while on the move and allows voice management of phone calls, messages, music and navigation.
Several HSVCs will be accessible on IOS smartphones for the first time. A helmet-mounted headset is needed, and the smartphone connects to the dash via Bluetooth; management of Honda Smartphone Voice control is also possible using buttons on the left switchgear.
To simplify and miniaturise the entire electrical system, the Hornet uses a Controller Area Network (CAN) alongside a Body Control Unit (BCU). The BCU is situated under the main seat and collectively processes control signals – from the ABS modulator, TFT screen and switch gear – that are not controlled by the ECU in the CAN system.
The rear indicators have an Emergency Stop Signal (ESS) function. With either brake working at a minimum speed of 56km/h, if negative acceleration of a minimum of 6.0m/s2 is detected, the hazard lights flash to warn other road users that a hard stop is in process. At the same speed, the threshold is reduced if ABS is activated to a negative acceleration of a minimum of 2.5m/s2.
They also auto-cancel; rather than using a simple timer, the system compares front and rear wheel speed differences and calculates when to cancel the indication relative to the situation.
The Hornet’s steel diamond frame is lightweight, at just 16.6kg (for comparison, the CB650R’s is 18.5kg). A significant technological process of stiffener, central/down tube thinning, and pivot shape optimisation has produced a hugely robust platform, with rigidity balance to deliver feel and geometry for agility – just what the engine needs.
Rake and trail are set at 25° and 99mm, with a wheelbase of 1,420mm and a kerb weight of 190kg.
To heighten sports handling performance (especially braking from higher speeds), Showa 41mm Separate Function Fork Big Piston (SFF-BPTM) USD forks are clamped by Hornet-specific top and bottom yokes.
With 130mm travel and dividing the functions – Big Piston pressure separation damper in one leg, spring mechanism in the other – maximising both reaction over changes in the road surface and the overall ride quality.
The rear shock absorber operates through the steel swingarm via Pro-Link and offers 150mm travel. Its design ensures excellent response and temperature management; it features a 5-stage preload adjustment with spring rate and damping settings optimised to match the forks.
Dual front 296mm discs and Nissin radial-mount, four-piston callipers deliver impressive fingertip stopping power, with excellent progressive feel through the lever. To further elevate handling and ride quality lightweight wheels use Y-shaped spokes. The front wheel width is 3.5inch wearing a 120/70-ZR17 tyre, and the rear is 4.5inch with a 160/60-ZR17 tyre.
A full range of accessories is available for the Hornet, ready for personalisation to an owner’s preference and use.
A quickshifter offers instant, full throttle upshifts and clutchless downshifts with auto blip function for aggressive sports riding or more relaxed touring. You can adjust the lever load sensitivity in 3 stages to suit preference.
The rear seat cowl adds single-seat sports appeal, while a stitched rider’s seat – a brand-new design finished in grey/black – exudes premium charm and elevates comfort. Also new are the aluminium bar-end weights, handlebar upper clamp holder, fly screen, wheel stripes, rider footpegs and protective skid bungs.
Practicality has not been forgotten. A tank bag and seat bag provide soft-luggage convenience, while a new rear pannier design offers hard-luggage security. For rider comfort, heated grips are also available.
To make it easy for an owner, there are three packs that group the accessories neatly together:
- SPORT PACK
Quickshifter, fly screen, rear seat cowl and rider footpegs
- STYLE PACK
Bar end weights, handlebar upper clamp holder, tank pad, wheel stripes and skid bungs.
- TOURING PACK
Rear panniers, tank bag and seat bag.