HONDA CBR 600F
‘RACE ON SUNDAY, COMMUTE ON MONDAY’
Welcome to Bike Feature 8; Honda’s CBR 600F, which covers 1999 and 2000 models. The first CBR6 with real ram-air, this was Honda’s finest incarnation of the beloved CBR yet. The CBR600 as we all know, has been in constant evolution, rather than revolution. This is how Honda works and to be fair to them, the CBR600 does work and works very well.
Race it on Sunday and commute to work on it on Monday. Equally capable of touring as it is banging fairings in a WSS race. A well ridden CBR600 is a difficult bike to lose once in your mirrors.
We divide the feature into 3: CYCLE COMPONENTS, TUNING, LOOKS. If anyone requires more in depth technical knowledge, e-mail us.
Hyperpro damper and fitting kit. Very neat and quickly adjustable.
Well, the CBR600 does quite well in this respect. This particular model CBR was the first time Honda put an aluminium beam frame on the CBR6, and didn’t they do a fair job. Having ridden a CBR600 very quickly indeed around Donington race circuit, we can verify that the CBR has a very good set up as standard and that only the most expensive of kit will really better the OE stuff. However, due to mass production, the standard fare can always be improved upon.
CBR600’s don’t really need a steering damper for 8/10ths riding, as they are very stable. However, you can never have too much of an insurance policy. ALL sports bikes these days will slap you as soon as look at you, so it’s worth investing in one. Even CBR600’s can be wound up to the point of wanting to spit you off. Cheap dampers will adversely affect the handling, so spend the most you can, get an ÖHLINS damper and fitting kit or a HYPERPRO and you’ll not lose any fluidity of the steering. We must say though, that a well suspended CBR600 generally won’t need a damper.
TIP: The Öhlins part number for the steering damper is OHL-SD121, which is 68mm stroke variety. Cost is about £160 and you’ll need fitting kit DK1-HO600-2-0 (from Harris) and costs £105 approx. including VAT. The Hyperpro is slightly cheaper and although no-one’s ever complained about the quality of their dampers, they have done a spirited job of upping the quality of their fittings kits and are now a serious second choice to an Öhlins.
You’ll find an aftermarket rear shock (read race item like an Öhlins) on everyone’s wish list. The CBR600’s rear shock can fade quickly under hard track use, although that is not likely to happen on the road. The standard rear shock is very softly sprung, as Honda would like you to be transported on a ‘cushion of air’ ride quality.
I had a go the back of a CBR600 a year or 2 ago and nearly fell asleep, it was so smooth to the point of being a boring ride! I weigh 11 stone and the CBR didn’t even wince at me getting on the back. However, we all want more and Öhlins has the answer.
ÖHLINS TYPE 46PRCLS (vertical or horizontal reservoir): OHL-HO841 @ £520
When fitting an expensive new rear shock, dial a little more ride height. Between 5 and 10mm extra should do the trick nicely for a CBR600. The Öhlins can go up to 12mm but don’t bother. 1mm extra ride height on the shock will equate to 2mm in the saddle. Therefore if we add 10mm extra height on the shock, our seat will be 20mm taller than before. Upping the ride height is THE thing to do. You’ll hold a tighter line better and she’ll turn a little faster. Don’t be scared to do it and make sure you get someone who knows what they’re doing (suspension specialist).
TIP: The remote reservoir for the compression damping can be fitted to the exhaust bracket so it can be adjusted on the move. Adjust the ride height adjuster BEFORE inserting into the bike. Also if you adjust the compression, rebound or preload, only do it 2 clicks at a time and write it in a book. You wouldn’t be the first person to forget which way they adjusted it.
Extremely soft but not as bad as a Hornet. Not in the R6 level of hardness, they’re closest to a ZX6R for feel and feedback. Saying that, they can be beefed up for very little money and after having them done, you’ll wondered how you ever managed before. Mark Hammond at M H Racing in the UK says that CBR600 forks are very workable and present him no trouble at all (read cheaper labour rate) and therefore typical prices for having a set of forks worked on will cost about £130-150. Add in a set of Öhlins fork springs (10% stiffer than standard), part number OHL-8653-90 at about £70 the pair and for £200 you can have a really sorted front end with loads of feel. Start sticking it up the inside of R6’s everywhere, they’ll hate you for it.
As with all the 600’s now, the CBR’s 43mm items are fully adjustable in all directions and so therefore really need to be set by a suspension expert. Mark @ M H Racing will send you a spec sheet for you personally for about £5 and will adjust the settings on your bike for £10 (obviously a ride in – ride out service), but gives you some idea of cost when you approach a suspension expert. We must recommend that you only adjust front fork settings 2 clicks at a time. We also have to say that getting a suspension specialist (like M H Racing) to wash, clean, reoil and set up the forks is top priority as suspension has come a long way in the last few years.
As stated a little earlier, last September we were riding CBR600’s at Donington and lapping on standardish bikes at about 1 minute 45 seconds, so it just goes to show what confidence a CBR600 can instil in a rider when it’s handling real peachy (and we’d never ridden around Donington before).
TIP: It’s not stupid to say that you don’t know what you’re doing and that you’d rather have an expert do it for you. Forks are too expensive to replace / repair just because you got too heavy with a screwdriver or hammer. You’ll hate yourself forever, remember, it’s only £100ish to get a pro to do it. Just because you mate says he did his is no excuse.
FOOT REST KITS
Footrest kits do aid ground clearance and we found that we were crushing our feet on the CBR6’s around Donington’s curves whilst riding on the CBR’s standard footpegs last year, although we’d doubt you’d really get your CBR over enough on the road for that to happen.
However, Harris will kindly lift you of about £250 for a set of their (admittedly bloody lovely) fully adjustable footrest kits. Of course, every man and his dog are making rearsets now, so you’re spoilt for choice really. Go for a good name. Harris, Fast by Ferrachi or Promach would be our choice to avoid disappointment.
We do recommend NWS in Hertfordshire as well. They do a footrest jacking up kit. This retains the standard footpeg assembly, but with the aid of the new mounting brackets. They move the foot peg assembly around an inch up and an inch further back. The riding position is now much more racy. Very much like being a jockey on a horse we should think. They bolted straight on, took 5 minutes to do the pair (both sides) and look the mutts nuts. They’re very discreet. The best bit is if you should happen to drop the bike. If you break the footpeg (remember they’re standard), it’ll only cost you £45 for a new assembly and not £100 minimum for a Harris peg or whatever. Tops.
TIP: Don’t cover the bolts in Loctite, only use a smidge. Don’t rush the job, it only took us 5 minutes because we know what we’re doing. Give yourself a good 30 minutes, that’s plenty of time.
A 120/70/17 and a 180/50/17 front and rear. My, how 600’s have grown up over the years! That used to be 1000cc sportsbike rubber about 6 years ago.
What can we say, Michelin Pilots, Avon Azaro 2’s and Dunlop’s 207GP RR’s are the best tyres going at the moment. We’d recommend the Dunlops for the CBR600. Superbly grippy, highly stable and light (well they are full of air!), no we mean that they are a light construction tyre and weigh less than the others. This in turn improves the steering response to boot.
We’ve ridden on the Avon Azaro’s and we currently have the Michelin Pilots on our ZX7R, in road compound. There is a race compound, but is primarily for track days only, and has no real advantage on the road. We stand by all the above listed makes, but chose one of the above and you won’t be disappointed. Visit DYNOTECHNIC from the LINKS page and they’ll give you all the low down you’ll ever need ref. tyres.
TIP: Tyres are a highly personal choice, very much because we know that it’s the only thing that keeps us stuck to the tarmac. It’s a confidence thing. We believe that if you find a make of tyre that you like, then stick to it. When you’ve been riding sportsbikes for a while then choosing tyres will come a lot easier. Talk to professional tyre shops for advice.
At last, a proper ram air system
We are human (well most of us anyway) and therefore we need power. In fact, the more power we have the better off we feel. All modern 600’s make at least 100BHP at the back wheel and so does the CBR600F series. There are 2 reasons why CBR600’s have always been so good at Supersport and WSS racing. Firstly, it’s an engine that anyone half decent can tune to about 110BHP, people like Tony Scott who builds top engines can get more, much more and they don’t blow up either. Secondly, although a standard CBR600 makes less power than a ZX6R or a GSXR600, once tuned they are invariably fitter and still retain the standard bikes reknowned flexability. If it was bigger than a 600, we’d have one without batting an eyelid.
The standard bike can feel a little asthmatic due to a flat sport at about 5000rpm. So when tuning your standard CBR, have a good think about what you want to achieve. Obviously you’ll need a K&N air filter plus a dynojet kit for the carbs, but you can either go for an end can or a full system. Depending on who you chose (Micron or Ackrapovic) depends on whether the bike will need rejetting, but we’d always recommend it anyway, just to be sure.
The main differences between the 1998 CBR600 and the 1999 / 2000 CBR’s were shorter stroke, bigger bore (revs out better with faster pickup), a much more compact engine than the previous model (always good for overall weight and handling) and a smaller clutch (ok if it’s beefy enough).
K&N AIR FILTER & DYNOJET KIT
Firstly, you can have one without the other. However, engine tuning is like the eternal triangle: Exhaust, carbs, and air filter. In other words, if you modify one part you (really) need to modify the other to compensate.
DYNOJET kits are very well made and have everything your tuner will need to finish the job off nicely. Part number is DJH1196. These will add around 2bhp, which ok doesn’t sound a lot but every little helps. It will also give an extra couple of lbs./ft more torque as well. You’ll definately notice the improved throttle response.
Most motorbike shops sell these kits, so availability shouldn’t be a problem. List price is £90. The K&N air filter is part number HA-0021 and costs £60.
TIP: Do not attempt to fit these kits yourself. Once you’ve bought the kits, call a tuning company who will dyno your bike and fit these kits for you. You can supply your own kits; you are not under any obligation to buy the carb and air filter kits from them. There is a list of top tuners that we personally recommend at the end of this document. Fitting these kits could invalidate your warranty with the manufacturer. There are 2 tuning shops on our LINKS page.
END CANS AND FULL SYSTEMS
Both work well on the CBR600. As we all know, there are many systems on the market, so you the buyer, can afford to be very choosy. We would be. The standard exhaust system is restricted by noise and emission regulations so an end can or full system is top of the tuning list.
A CBR600 with an end can makes a lovely gruff sound, at the expense of the air box induction growl, but we’d live with that. So who do you chose? Top makers include Micron, Harris, Ackrapovic, Leo Vinci, Scorpion and Quill. We’ve used over the years, Micron, Harris and Quill. It’s all much of a muchness and really depends on what you can get for the money. We wouldn’t spend over £200 for an end can for the CBR. That should buy you any of the above in either carbon or stainless, although you may have to part with a little more for an anodised-titanium version.
Full systems cost more, obviously. Prices will start from £500 for a Micron, through to about £1000 for a top of the range Ackrapovic. BHP will be higher, as the downpipes will be of new design, but we do say and have been for years, that the Japanese are now designing really good downpipes, which are really difficult to beat, hence companies like Ackrapovic have to charge really high prices because they have to spend so much on R&D to beat Honda for just a few more BHP.
Our advice? K&N, Dynojet and a Micron carbon end can.
TIP: End cans are really easy to fit and any half decent ability with a set of spanners will be good enough to swap the standard can for your new racy end can. However, you may come a little unstuck with the full system. If you’re going for a full system, we would seriously recommend fitting a dynojet kit and K&N air filter at the same time, followed with a few dyno runs.
Therefore, you need to get this modification done by a tuner. We recommend TTS and DYNOTECHNIC. Both are highly competent and are very reasonable on their prices. You can even say you got their name from us!
Of course, you could just go out and buy the RS Performance CBR. £10,000 otr
It’s not bland, just not as agressive as a GSXR or R6, but is that bad?
For many, the CBR6 is a bland bike and doesn’t have the aggressive face or body of, say, a Yamaha R6. To a lot of other people however, this doesn’t matter a jot. To be honest, we have to agree that the CBR600 is no better or worse looking than any other 600 sportsbike on the market at the moment. It’s really does just boil down to what colour you want.
The bike featured in the photo above, must surely have the best colour scheme of this particular series bike. Red / White & Blue as another option and quite popular in the UK, whilst the third colour option was a kind of matt black with bronze coloured graphics, which didn’t sell well at all, although we think it was ok. There was also the Yellow and metallic Turquiose, which was rather nice too. Rather have that than the Red/white/blue.
Anyway, if CBR600’s are so boring to look at, why do they outsell all the other 600’s? Because the CBR600 can do anything you want it to do and in the right hands will match any other 600 or 750. CBR600’s simply never cease to amaze, period.
SCREEN & HEADLIGHT COVERS
Yes please. Although this CBR has a curvy headlight, a well made lens cover does fit nicely and therefore, should be on your shopping list if you cover a lot of miles or ride in a pack. If you buy a tinted screen, buy from the same manufacturer to guarantee colour match. M&P in the UK (almost one on every street corner!) are very good and cheap too, typically £50 buys the pair.
Lanky riders like the most of us, can aid aerodynamics and give the bike a bit more ‘oomph’ by fitting a ‘double bubble’ screen. Generally they cost about £40 and the bubble should appear from about half way up the screen, not from the base.
* Headlight covers come in many different colours, but anything bar a CLEAR or AMBER colour is technically ILLEGAL, at least in good old Blighty. It’s not an endorseable offence however, so all Hawaii 5-0 can do is consficate it and issue a £20 fine, but generally you’d have to get really arsey with them for it to go that far. All we can say from personal experience is that we have never had a problem with the Police in this respect.
TIP: Bin the normal velcro you get with them, go to a sewing shop and get 6 inches of black, sticky back velcro, 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 1 inch strips, 3 per headlight. Now you’re headlight covers will stay on at 170mph no problem. Using this technique, our headlight covers have stayed on at 175mph!
HUGGERS, AIR DUCT COVERS AND MUDGUARD
Get a hugger. The CBR600 has a good rear shock as standard. Once that’s got dirt in it, it’ll always have dirt in no matter how hard you clean. Coloured ones like look absolutely cack and you’ll never sell them second-hand. Go for a carbon one or a carbon look a like. Harris Performance do the best value carbon hugger, M&P do a good carbon look a like (very glossy). Carbon is usually £120 max, carbon look a like is about £70-80.
Carbon front mudguards are good value too for this model, as Honda fitted a really large mudguard to this bike, therefore you are definitely going to get value for money and lots of people will notice that you’ve replaced the standard item. Don’t expect a performance gain though! Cost from someone like Harris will be about £140 though.
TIP: Patience is a virtue. Line everything up loosely before bolting down tightly. Test ride and when you come home again, retighten just to make sure. If buying carbon, don’t force it in or pull it about as it will crack. Be very gentle.
The USA get much smarter colours than Europe.
SOLO SEAT COVERS
It was bad news, as we couldn’t find anyone who made solo seat covers for this model. But you can thank 1 lucky reader of ‘SPORTSBIKEWORLD’, who emailed in with the address of a manufacturer who does indeed make solo seats for the CBR600F.
The shop has a website, called WWW.MOTOPRO.COM, so send them an email. They’re based in Holland, but the Dutch like the UK currency as the Gilda is a little weak. Sorry but it is.Bad news.
Don’t forget that you could consider a race seat unit like the ones they use in WSS. Harris again generally do the best and will supply you one in either GRP Fibreglass or Carbon. Personally if we bought a carbon seat unit, we’d leave it unpainted to show off the weave. Part number for this is FSE-HO600-01-W and costs about £130. Very smart. If you’ve got the red / white and blue CBR, why bother getting repainted? Stick some race numbers on it and be done with it.
TIP: If you buy a seat unit complete, be so very careful as 1 mistake will ruin the whole plot and you’ll be £130 worse off. Maybe take it to a body shop and get them to fit as they’ll have all the patience in the world for a very small fee.
Yup, you can get one of these no problems. Harris have got this item all to themselves. Part number EXB-HO600-3.
TIP: If you’re going to get a race shock, hang the remote reservoir off the spare bracket on the other side where the other pillion peg was.
STICKERS & PAINTJOBS
CASTROL! Apart from this, there isn’t too much in the way of ‘Factory’ race sticker kits or paintjobs. We always reckoned that a well done ‘Smokin’ Joe’ paintjob looked the dogs bollox. To be honest, picking the right colour CBR600 is a better option than getting one stickered up or repainting your bike.
Generally speaking, resprayed CBR600’s have been ‘down the road’ and we’d check the history very carefully if we were going to buy second-hand that had a respray. We wouldn’t be too keen on loads of stickers either, however…
TIP: …if the bikes been resprayed, call the paint shop to find out if it was crashed before hand, they’ll know from their records. If buying a second-hand bike with loads of stickers on it, use the girlfriend’s or wife’s hairdryer to warm the sticker up and then carefully peel off. Using this trick will result in a perfect de-stickering session! Clean afterwards with a nice waxy based furniture polish. We’ve seen previously stickered to hell bikes look almost brand new after being de-stickered.
Well that’s your lot, safe riding,