600cc Extinction?

Tom Roderick
by Tom Roderick
600cc extinction

If things in the UK weren’t bad enough, MCN is reporting 2016 to be the last year Honda will import the CBR600RR to Britain, as well the European mainland. “There’s still no official word from Honda about the future of the CBR600RR but MCN’s Japanese sources have confirmed there’s not going to be a European replacement for the ultra-focussed CBR600RR, while the existing model could continue to be sold in markets unaffected by Euro4 legislation.”

Although Euro4 emissions standards don’t apply to our stateside models, could this forebode a future devoid of 600cc supersports? Current sales of mid-displacement supersports in the US pale to their high-water mark prior to the great financial meltdown. OEMs have also been busy building lower-performance, less-expensive mid-displacement models that are more streetable, and less track focused such as Honda’s CBR650F and CBR500R, Kawasaki’s Ninja 650, etc. If you haven’t noticed, there’s also been a shift away from fully-faired supersports to naked hooligans that span the displacement and price spectrum from Yamaha’s FZ-07 to KTM’s 390 Duke and 1290 Super Duke R.

The last time Honda updated the CBR600RR was in 2013 ( Track Impression, Street Impression). And MO hasn’t conducted an official 600cc supersport shootout since 2011 ( Street, Track). More recently, our middleweight shootouts have focused on non-traditional engine displacements such as Triumph’s Daytona 675, Ducati’s 899 Panigale, MV Agusta’s F3 800, and Suzuki’s very traditional, lone ranger GSX-R750. You’ll note in the full MCN report mention of the Triumph’s 675 increasing to 765cc in the near future to make it a better road bike.

With Great Britain leaving the EU it’ll be interesting to see if Euro emissions standards still apply to bikes imported there, but with OEM’s increasingly building models for world markets it may not matter much. Sales figures and profits do the talking, and if the money and math don’t support the continued investment from OEMs to produce 600cc supersports we could see the retirement of the class. A future without the class is somewhat of a bummer, but not the end of the world. A product of racing, there was a time when 600cc supersports didn’t exist. As an industry, we’ll simply adapt by riding and racing other models until history repeats, at which time we’ll all be riding electric motorcycles.

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2 of 16 comments
  • Spiff Spiff on Jul 02, 2016

    I say screw it, as technology moves on things get better and better. I think it is time for a new class. 400 super sport. I figure the bench mark can be 400 for I4s and let someone with an engineering degree figure out the thumper, twin and triple equation. Let's be honest. Most of us can't maximize the potential of a Honda F3 race bike. If manufacturers want us to play and do track days (and evolving into race days) they need to give the weekend warrior a tool they can enjoy. 600s are probably putting in faster lap times than a liter bike from a decade ago.

    I know I'm not fast, I'm good with it. Now if you give me something I am comfortable riding hard it is fun. That is the point. Fun. I don't need 100 plus hp to have fun on the track.

    We have all heard it before, "it is fun to ride a slow bike fast."

    Track guys will want it for, well for the track, and youngsters will want it for the street. That equals sales.

  • Alclab Alclab on Jul 08, 2016

    This topic really picked up on Motorcycle sites all over the world. And I believe that's in part due to the the love that a lot of us (perhaps most of us) have for the class.
    So many riders that enjoy sport riding or are fans of road racing grew and hone their skills on these bikes to be able to pass on to "the next step", which usually meant 1000cc Superbikes.

    I get that sales have really come down, and the 2008 recession, but maybe a lot has to do with a new market and that's okay. Maybe we'll see a new class of displacement for racing, or maybe these intermediate classes will vanish as we know them. But it seems to me that manufacturers are very much responsible for this lack of sales, if like Honda, you're basically selling the same bike for more than a decade. People who walk into a dealer might just decide to go for that hot new bike that all the magazines are raving about.

    Also since they were a "learning step" for 1000cc Superbikes, with today's electronic rider aids, a new buyer might opt to buy a literbike, and ride it in rain mode or whatever and rationalize not having to sell them in the future.

    Lastly I'm sure the negative image of sportbikes to the general public (associated with squidding and doing stunts in the freeway) has had some impact on people looking into getting a new Supersport.