Earlier this year, Kawasaki updated the Ninja ZX-6R, and while we weren’t sure about its place in the industry today, we lauded Kawasaki for helping keep the Inline-Four supersport class alive. It’s only fair then that we do the same for Honda, after it announced the return of the CBR600RR to Europe.
It’s happened. When I got into this business 30-some years ago, those who came before me were going on about Norton Commandos and BSA Gold Stars. I tried to fake it, but could form no mental picture of what they were even referring to? Are you sure you don’t have an earlybird special to get to or a nap to take? This year, the Honda CBR600 is 35 years old, and here am I to tell you all about probably the greatest motorcycle ever made. Strap in.
After teasing us earlier this month, Honda officially introduced its updated 2021 CBR600RR for the Japanese market. That’s right, the updated CBR600RR has only been confirmed for Japan, with just 1,000 units being produced, while Honda’s U.S. and European arms say there are no plans to introduce it in their respective markets.
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.”
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.
Do you get the feeling that the financial crisis and its aftermath signaled nap time for the supersport division of Honda’s CBR engineering department? Since the last two major revamps – 2008 for the 1000RR, and 2009 for the 600RR – things have been pretty quiet other than mild massaging to the existing CBR supersport models (there was the SP model, but…). On the other hand, maybe it was the redirection of Honda brass to broaden the CBR spectrum by introducing the less performance but more affordable CBR300R, CBR500R and CBR650F.