2016 Honda CBR600RR

Editor Score: 77.0%
Engine 15.0/20
Suspension/Handling 12.0/15
Transmission/Clutch 8.0/10
Brakes 7.5/10
Instruments/Controls3.5/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 8.5/10
Appearance/Quality 8.0/10
Desirability 7.5/10
Value 7.0/10
Overall Score77/100

At the pace the 1000cc literbike field is advancing, it’s easy to overlook the middleweight 600cc sportbike class. For instance, few might have even noticed it’s been three years since Honda gave its CBR600RR a slight refresh. Tom Roderick rode the bike both on the street and the track, where he came back impressed but not overly enthusiastic about Honda’s middleweight supersport. With the march of time giving way to technologies like traction control, cornering ABS, inertial measurement units and apps that can adjust the bike’s attitude at the push of a button, we thought it was time to revisit the CBR600RR to see if time has given us a new appreciation for the simpler things in life.

It would seem like hopping on the Honda after flogging two of the best superbikes $17K can buy in the 2016 Aprilia RSV4 RR and 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10R would be a bit of a letdown. With 170-plus horsepower on tap, they make the CBR600 and its 99 rear-wheel horsepower seem pathetic by comparison. Well, there’s no getting around it, 99 horses is pretty tame even for the middleweight class. Making matters worse for the CBR, Evans Brasfield’s stock 2003 Yamaha R6 made 102 hp only minutes after we took the Honda off the dyno.

As far as sportbikes go, the CBR600RR is one of the more comfortable ones out there. Bars aren’t too low, seat’s got decent padding, and 5-foot, 11-inch photo model Tom Roderick had no complaints about peg placement. Kudos to Honda, too, for sticking with the undertail exhaust even though the rest of the class ditched it. Sure it places unnecessary weight at the furthest point from the bike’s center, but at least it looks good!

As far as sportbikes go, the CBR600RR is one of the more comfortable ones out there. Bars aren’t too low, seat’s got decent padding, and 5-foot, 11-inch photo model Tom Roderick had no complaints about peg placement. Kudos to Honda, too, for sticking with the undertail exhaust even though the rest of the class ditched it. Sure it places unnecessary weight at the furthest point from the bike’s center, but at least it looks good!

But judging the Honda strictly by the numbers would be a mistake. Hop on the CBR and its 32.3-inch seat height feels much more agreeable than the 33-inchers of the Aprilia and Kawasaki. Sure, 0.7-inch doesn’t sound like a big difference, but the Honda doesn’t perch the rider forward anywhere near as much as the Ape, and its cushy seat will almost make you think you’re riding a Gold Wing. Almost. At 418 lbs fully fueled, that’s roughly 50 lbs less weight than the literbikes above, making the Honda seemingly toy-like between the rider’s legs.

On the road the ride is plush while remaining compliant, thanks to Showa’s 41mm Big Piston Fork, a highlight of the upgrade package Honda gave the bike in its 2013 revamp. Bumps and other road imperfections don’t seem to bother the suspenders much, and there’s hardly any vibration or buzz transmitted through the bars or the pegs.

There’s no way around it, Honda, not being able to crank out 100 horses out of this engine is pretty lame. Even Evans’ 13 year-old R6 entered triple digits.

There’s no way around it, Honda, not being able to crank out 100 horses out of this engine is pretty lame. Even Evans’ 13 year-old R6 entered triple digits.

This makes it a nice freeway mount, too, as a rider can pound out the miles in relative comfort. For my 5-foot, 8-inch frame, the windscreen does a nice job of routing airflow over my helmet with minimal buffeting. It was a little surprising, however, to look down and notice the engine was spinning to the tune of 7000 rpm in sixth gear at 80 mph. But at least I didn’t need to downshift to pass slower cars in front of me. All-in-all, as far as sportbikes go, it’s a comfortable mount for street riding.

Get up in the hills and the CBR reminds us why it’s a lovable little sportbike. Its 99 horses and 44 lb-ft of torque aren’t a lot, but it’s more than enough to have a good time. The power is accessible relatively early, which is ideal for a street machine. Its chassis is one we’ve always been fond of, and after some time away it reminded me once again why we like it so much. The bike is simply easy to maneuver and fun to toss around. The BPF fork gives nice feedback to the rider, and the shock does an equally nice job of keeping the rear end under control. Spring preload, rebound and compression damping adjustments are available at both ends to fine tune the ride for rider weight or conditions.

With a nimble chassis and usable power, the CBR’s modest power belies what fun it can be on twisty roads.

With a nimble chassis and usable power, the CBR’s modest power belies what fun it can be on twisty roads.

Quickshifters have become a tech we don’t like to live without on nearly any bike, and though the analog RR doesn’t have one, it shifts clean and crisp anyway the old-fashioned way. And besides, the aftermarket is littered with options to add a quickshifter. Our particular test bike was the non-ABS model, which goes for $11,490, the same exact pricing the bike had in 2013. For an extra $1000, and 22 extra pounds, there’s also an option for those wanting ABS. Braking is provided by dual radial-mounted four piston calipers biting on 310mm discs, and though power and feel are good for the class, neither are particularly extraordinary.

Overall, our time aboard the CBR was an enjoyable one and a nice reminder of how fun the middleweight class really is. With user-friendly power, an athletic chassis and ergos that are both comfortable for street riding while still being aggressive enough for the twisties or the racetrack, the Honda CBR600RR is a perfectly lovable motorcycle for someone who’d rather command a machine between their legs rather than a computer with wheels.

There’s no doubt the CBR600RR is an entertaining steed on curvy roads, but some might consider its price tag a bit too steep.

There’s no doubt the CBR600RR is an entertaining steed on curvy roads, but some might consider its price tag a bit too steep.

Honda CBR600RR Competitors
Yamaha YZF-R6 $10,990 – $11,490
Suzuki GSX-R600 $11,199
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R $11,699 – $12,999
Triumph Daytona 675 $12,000
MV Agusta F3 675 $14,298

The major catch, though, is one could spend as much as $12.5K on one if ABS is required by its owner. At that point is it worth it? Looking at the chart to the right we see that, without ABS, the CBR is either more expensive than or equal to the Yamaha R6 and Suzuki GSX-R600. The Kawasaki, Triumph and MV Agusta all require more coin, but it could be argued that you’re getting more for your dollar.

The final decision, of course, is up to you. However, know that going down Honda road is a perfectly fine choice. Horsepower isn’t everything. It’s about putting a smile on your face. In that regard, the Honda CBR600RR is plenty capable of doing just that.

2016 Honda CBR600RR
+ Highs

  • Comfortable (sportbike) ergos
  • Great handling
  • Still attractive after all these years
– Sighs

  • Not even 100 horses?!
  • Price is kinda steep
  • No tech (or is that a high?)
2016 Honda CBR600RR Specifications
MSRP $11,490
Engine Type 599cc liquid-cooled inline-Four cylinder, DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Bore and Stroke 67mm x 42.5mm
Compression Ratio 12.2:1
Rear Wheel Horsepower 99.7 hp @ 12,900 rpm
Torque 44.1 lb-ft @ 10,900 rpm
lb/hp 4.2
lb/torque 9.5
Transmission Close ratio 6-speed
Final Drive Chain
Front Suspension 41mm inverted Big Piston Fork with spring preload, rebound and compression damping adjustability
Rear Suspension Unit Pro-Link HMAS single shock with spring preload, rebound and compression damping adjustability
Front Brake Dual radial-mounted four-piston calipers with full-floating 310mm discs
Rear Brake Single-caliper 220mm disc
Front Tire 120/70-17
Rear Tire 180/55-17
Rake/Trail 23.5 deg/3.9 in
Wheelbase 53.9 in.
Seat Height 32.3 in.
Curb Weight (Claimed) 418 lbs.
Fuel Capacity 4.8 gal.
Colors Black/white
Warranty 12 months, transferable, unlimited-mileage limited warranty; extended coverage available with a Honda Protection Plan.
  • john phyyt

    100 hp motorcycles are now seen as a bit limp. !
    Don’t believe what the bad man says children. It is plenty..
    Mad power corrupts. …. Just look at his eyes.

    • TroySiahaan

      It’s limp for the class. Especially when a stock R6 from 13 years ago makes more power. That said, the CBR is still a fun motorcycle to ride, with more than enough power to get you in trouble. :)

      • Lastpilot

        Motorcycle classes change, human limits do not.

        There is a responsibility that you have to acknowledge with articles about supersports because there are so many young future riders looking up to these bikes. 100hp bikes are still race bikes with headlights. The constant bashing leading up to the “not even 100 horses?!” sweeping conclusion is part of the reason we have newbies trying to start off on supersports and getting hurt. We can always elaborate on the context of power figures.

        True – for a moto-journalist testing the newest bikes it may be limp. For the rest of us, its a machine faster than most Ferrari’s and a lot less forgiving.

  • Born to Ride

    I feel sad for the 600 class. I remember someone telling me a long time ago that the 600 class was tapped out in 2009 when the R6 and CBR put down 105+ hp because of the coming euro 3 emissions regulations. I of course at the time called shenanigans on this claim. Up till that point, 600s got a full redesign every 3 years. Yet here we are in 2016, cbr600 is still using the same chassis and engine from 2009, and the R6 is the same friggin bike! The only thing that has changed is the ever increasing MSRPs from inflation. Ducati has abandoned the middleweight market all together and every OEM has poured their engineering dollars into 200hp superbikes that nobody will ever have the skill to ride even near the edge of their performance envelop. Looks like if you want a middle weight sport bike, the oddball 675 triples and 636 are the only bikes that have any excitement left. RIP 600cc class, you will be missed.

    • Andre Capitao Melo

      the 675 is part of the 600 class still

      • Born to Ride

        Acknowledged that by saying that they were the only exciting bikes left in the middleweight class.

    • Prakasit

      Sad days indeed for the 600cc sport bike. I guess the sales number doesn’t justify coming up with model upgrades. When 2017 rolls around, it would be a decade that R6 and CBR600RR has been around with essentially the same bikes.

      • Shijit

        well to be honest, i have this niggling feeling that NOW is the time when the R6 is gonna get a revamp !!!
        Yamaha just put out the little R3, and stamped its authority on the Liter class, with the ALL NEW R1.
        Then the MT models, and the FJR1300’s too.
        now as that’s been taken care of, i feel that something big is gonna happen.
        according to the rumours( and that old niggling feel i mentioned), i think the R6 is gonna kill it !
        i think its gonna be a inline-4 doing around 120hp to the crank, full of tech upgrades, and a crazy design. !!!

        kudos to my imagination, but IT JUST MIGHT BE TRUE !
        2017. make it your year Yamaha. !

        • Prakasit

          I hope it’s true. A little brother to the new R1 with all the electronics. Bring it Yamaha! … well may be minus the space alien looking design.

          • Shijit

            especially those Sloth-like eyes. the lined LED’s above it are supercool. come on yamaha, make it happen.*fingers crossed*

    • CB

      People mourned the loss of the 750 class as well. Time moves on…

      • spiff

        What about creating a 400 class? Bikes like the FZR400. Not beginner bikes. Beginner sport/race bikes. I think of they were priced at the $8k and less they would sell. Lower insurance and still a focused sportbike. Kids could have a real track tool that wasn’t stupid powerful.

        • Born to Ride

          I honestly think this would be ideal, the problem with 600s is that the insurance cost is obscene, they are incredibly expensive relative to their sedate street iterations, and they are realistically too powerful and hard edged for beginners to learn on. A class of 400-450cc triples or 4 cylinder race replicas that were in the 8-9 grand range would be cheaper to buy and insure, making them still accessible for young adults and a riot on the race track.

          • Ser Samsquamsh

            The other problem being that there are tons of used ones with the exact same specs for a fraction of the cost.

        • Mahatma

          I had the honda cb-1 (400).They say it has more forgiving powerband than the track focused fzr 400,but I found that the only time it was fun was screaming between 10-12000 rpm.

          • spiff

            I always thought the CB1 was cool.

          • Mahatma

            It is cool,but it may not live up to the hype.Not for people over 140lbs!

        • Shijit

          well, they can look no farther than the KTM RC390. it doesn’t get more focused than that, though it does have its downfalls. yes, the other marques should concentrate on a 400 class too, as the 300’s have been taken care of.

    • Eric Ellis

      I dunno, my 2013 ZX-6R is an absolutely fantastic supersport machine and shows what the class could be again if the other manufacturers would focus on it (there should be a new R6 soon though). The real culprit in the decline of the 600 class in America (remember this class used to be the absolute lifeblood of sportbike sales just 8-9 years ago) was the economic collapse of 2008. People just stopped having expendable cash to buy supersports and manufacturers decided to put all of their eggs in the liter bike basket.

      • Shijit

        exactly. n not only in America, almost everywhere in the world people used to start off in lower sized bikes, steadily upgrading to the higher classes as their skills improved. but because of the collapse, the supersport category was skipped, as people knew they could live with a liter bike in due course of time, as they have to upgrade sooner or later.
        but that doesnt mean the manufacturers too should skip that class altogether . !!!
        them modifying the 600cc segment is proportional to the sale of the 600, compared to the 1000’s… whereas they complain that the growth has been stagnant in the 600cc’s. idiotic !

  • halfkidding

    Honda’s catalog is full of bikes that seemingly don’t sell. I never see them on the road anyway. Who buys a VFR 1200 (I’ve dabbled with the idea of buying one used because they represent a pretty incredible deal, but that damn tiny gas tank………..),an ST 1300 or its cousin the CTX 1300? Does anyone actually buy a Fury and who has even heard of an NM4?

    • Born to Ride

      I chalk this up to Hondas lasting forever and changing hands a lot. ST1300s are so common on the freeways of LA and I know a guy that has one with 160,000 miles on his and counting. I would have bought a VFR 1200 if I could have found a better deal on one. Range is not very good for a tourer though.

  • JMDonald

    I had a CB600 back in the day. My VFR seemed to hit more of the sweet spot for me. I still miss that old 600. It was a great bike for the time. I wouldn’t mind having another more modern one. Low tech has an appeal.

  • spiff

    Another thought is bring back the F3. Serious sport, all day comfort. That is what the Superduke/tuono and company are doing. Naked or not, doesn’t matter. The 600 class was on fire until they started focusing on track weapons.

  • priap1sm

    Sounds a lot like my old Daytona 600. It had slightly worse “numbers” than the competition, but its relatively comfy ergos meant I could spend all day on Saturday in the canyons and still want more on Sunday. I did a bunch of road trips and a bunch of track days on it both. I loved that thing. This might be the bike people don’t realize they want.

    But yeah, 99hp is hella weaksauce. C’mon Honda, you can do better.

  • Ducati Kid

    Gentleman,

    Thinking about this quandary – a 500cc TURBO Twin!

    Did a HONDA CB350F ‘Bagger’ (concept) recently ….

    • Colonel Matumbo

      look ma ! Duck Puppy got his Crayons out.
      Duck Puppy is the best “Drawer” in the land
      Keep the Laughs coming bub & Your a hoot mate.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Sport bikes are on life support in America, as we are a Harley nation. To use a cosmic analogy, the sport bike class is like a star that went supernova and then collapsed in on itself. The elite and very cool liter class weapons are the performance dense black hole worthy material that remains for the few discerning types who want and can afford them. The utter collapse of the market leaves no room for new middleweight sport bikes.

    Simple, high performing but in scale bikes have a lot of charm and 600s make great track day toys for riders with a more mortal skillsets too. I would not hesitate to have a good time during a track day on this Honda and would probably take an unplanned dump in my leathers if astride a Ducati Panigale, for example. I am an experienced and competent rider, but the latest liter bikes are simply more than I can handle.

    In the end, it just sucks that an $8,000 motorcycle costs 12 grand. That is the real problem. I bet they fire sale these things from time to time though. Patience is a virtue – no way one has to pay MSRP on a 600…

  • Johnny Blue

    Everybody is speaking about the top power number like it’s something available right from the start. Look at the dyno chart ppl. It’s 99HP at around 13000rpm. Unless you buy it for track days you’re not using it in that rev range. At street rpms it is limp, lame, gutless etc. Around 3800rpm it is marginally better than a DRZ 400S while having a lot more weight…

    • JoMeyer

      Agreed. Had the opportunity to test ride a 2015 model not long ago as I was curious how it would feel and ride. I did not enjoy my time on her. Had to wring it’s neck the whole time just to get anywhere and I felt rushed and working hard the whole time. No doubt on a track this might be good fun, but Under 8000 rpm it really felt weak. Rode a 2013 R1 shortly thereafter. Of course it makes much more power, but more importantly much more power low down. And despite all that additional power I felt much more in control and confident. Is that good advise for a new rider? Hell, I don’t know. Just my personal observation.

      • Johnny Blue

        Even the ‘almighty’ BMW S1000RR is decent and very ridable and friendly if the revs are kept down. I owned one for about one year until it got stolen. Now I ride an older bike, a 2003 CBR 954RR. I really enjoy the big engine displacement for street riding. Power when you need it and rider friendly otherwise. My only regret is that I’ve listened to ‘the voice of reason’ for far too long and started riding liter bikes later than I should have.
        Am I able to ride at the full potential of the bike? Absolutely not. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t ride such a bike if I do it responsibly. Many people drive cars more powerful than they can handle yet manage to do it safely, because they don’t tap into all that potential.
        And a bigger engine is more relaxed and lasts longer.

        • Paul Lucas

          The 954 is a great bike, my first streetbike was a 929. Still riding it too 11 years later. Sorry about your S1KRR that sucks!

          • Johnny Blue

            Thank you Paul! The 954 is indeed a great bike. I’m riding it almost every day of the week, rain, or shine. It’s my commuter bike. A bit too thirsty, but anything else is great.

      • Mark Zingano III

        “Had to wring it’s neck”

        its*

        You mad, bro?

  • Y.A.

    I’m still hoping for the return of the RVFs

  • David Ogden

    Love my 08. I think it would do better than the 2013 on the dyno. They got a little slower after 2008, EPA and all. Bike is so much fun. I have mixed feelings about the newer heavier technical bikes coming out.

  • irishranger

    I had the 2013 Repsol CBR600RR, which was a lovely bike but under powered even for a 600, and massively overpriced. here in N.Ireland it costs £9,899 yet my latest bike, a GSX-R750 in MotoGp livery and with full Yoshimura kit (including M4 end can) cost almost £1,000 less at £8,934, plus it’s got an extra 50% power and weighs 18 pounds less, Honda have to massively reduce the price or else totally revamp it to the same level as the best bikes in the 600 to 675 class.

  • Jordan Marcelo

    I absolutely love mine. It’s hard to pin down exactly what makes it so much fun to ride. It’s so light and flickable. So responsive. Smooth and refined. Comfortable (for a sportbike). Looks really good too. And people complaining about the power…..seriously, this bike is plenty fast. It also has a nice midrange punch. No need to downshift to pass on the highway. But if you rev it passed 8k RPM it will catapult you to triple digit speeds in a hurry. More than enough to land you in jail! Prior to this bike I had a Hayabusa, and a ZX12. No I don’t miss the power because I hardly got to use it and when I did I almost lost my license! The 600 is a perfect sportbike for me.

  • Danny

    It is down on power compared to its class, but that isn’t the only indicator. Another publication did a street and track comparison of the entire ‘middleweight’ class, and the CBR600RR was the fastest in the 1/4 mile, and the highest out-of-corner acceleration G’s. It lacked in top speed on the track by a few handful of mph, but was still on the podium for lap times around the two test tracks.