Church of MO: 1996 Honda CBR600F3, Still No. 1

John Burns
by John Burns
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church of mo 1996 honda cbr600f3 still no 1

Twenty-five years and two days ago, we had this to say about Honda’s numba-One selling motorcycle in the USA – Honda CBR600F3. Did it say something wrong, or did our taste just change? Show me something more masochistic and expensive, please…

1996 Honda CBR600F3, Still No. 1

Honda’s king of the middle-weights, the CBR600F3, returns for 1996 with nothing more than new clothes and a new price tag. In recognition of the teams that brought the bike national racing success last year, Honda dressed the new model in the team colors of Smokin’ Joe’s Commonwealth Racing and Erion Racing, shown here. Compared to the dramatic fluctuations in the value of the Dollar when compared to the Yen, a modest $400 price adjustment shifts the cost to $7,699.The 1995 model was such an improvement over the previous version, the F2, that Honda felt comfortable resting on their laurels for a year. As well they could, for the CBR600F3 is the best handling, lightest, and quickest 600 we’ve tested.
church of mo 1996 honda cbr600f3 still no 1

“With this much performance on tap, you’d be forgiven in expecting a seating position akin to a medieval torture table.”

We had the opportunity to ride Honda’s number one seller, and their number one bike off the 1996 model production line. The fun only lasted a couple days before we had to return the bike, but it long was enough to rekindle the love affair with the amazing middle weight. All aspects of the bike — handling, brakes, suspension, fit and finish — are top of the line. But just reading from a list of parts doesn’t begin to convey the tactile experience of actually riding one of these bikes.

Steering is light and precise, and the suspension and tires work together at keeping the bike planted in the corners. Hauling the bike down from over 150 mph is no sweat with brakes strong enough to float the rear end at every stop. With this much performance on tap, you’d be forgiven in expecting a seating position akin to a medieval torture table.

The happy truth is that the F3 comes with one of the most comfortable peg/seat/bar relationships in the class. With all that going for it, it’s no wonder Honda chose not to mess with their best-selling bike in America.


Manufacturer: Honda Model: 1996 CBR600F3 Price: 99 Engine: dohc, 16-valve, inline-Four Bore x stroke: 65.0 x 45.2mm Displacement: 599cc Carburetion: (4) 36 mm Keihin Transmission: 6-speed Wheelbase: 55.3 in. Seat height: 31.9 in. Fuel capacity: 4.5 gal. Claimed dry weight: 405.6 lbs. Time to distance: (not corrected for weather, rider talent, or anything.) 60ft 1.735 seconds 1/4 mile 11.317 @ 119 mph
John Burns
John Burns

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2 of 17 comments
  • MikeSt MikeSt on Jul 28, 2021

    I had two. I thought they were rather "sterile" feeling to ride, just not a lot of emotional connection. One I bought in 96, the other in 04. Then I traded it in on a new 2004 GSXR600 and was absolutely blown away. The greatest difference in motorcycles had to be going from carbs to fuel injection and USD front forks. I still remember shaking my head in amazement for the first couple of miles.

  • Larry W Larry W on Aug 06, 2021

    The 750 Interceptor is still the best Honda ever made in my book. If you're into full boat touring, it would be the current Goldwing.