It occurred to me today that with all the bike reviews I’ve written (something I really like doing because it inherently means riding different motorbikes) I’ve never taken the time to review the one I know best –– my own.
However, maximum horsepower is achieved at 10,500 rpm, which means you will almost certainly never actually experience all 76 of the Honda’s horses. Things get way too vibey and wheezy before that. Maximum torque is reportedly found at 8,000 rpm, which is right about where things get ridiculous. You’ll find life easier when pushing the engine less.
|Maintenance is relatively easy.|
So, the story of the CBF600SA is of a machine that is lacking in character but that will take you wherever you want to go, as far as you want to go, whenever you want to go, and never let you down.
|Loaded with gear in Scotland.|
Meanwhile, although it handles like a dream when compared to something like a Victory Jackpot, the Honda is not as flickable as many other bikes I’ve ridden and strikes me as unnecessarily top heavy. It is not awful, but simply not as good as it could probably be.
|It’s not sexy, but it helps me feel free.|
On the go, moving through the bike’s six gears is simple enough. First is a little short for my liking and pushing it too hard can result in second being hard to find. This is really only an issue, though, when you have gotten into a pissing match with a guy in a Ford KA and are launching from a stop light to prove to him how much more manly you are. Yes, you’ll beat him across the intersection but thereafter watch him wheeze past as you are forced to bring the revs down to wiggle out of neutral.
“Decent” is a word that could be used over and over when describing the CBF600SA. “Well-mannered” is another superlative that comes to mind. Especially when talking about the bike’s sound. Push the engine way, way too hard and you can get it to sound a bit like a tortured robotic cat, but during normal operating conditions the exhaust note is far more like a low-powered vacuum cleaner being used in an adjacent room. At motorway speeds I cannot hear it at all.
The immature side of me laments this, but I have to admit there are some solid benefits. Firstly, I don’t need my own engine noise to remind me that I’m moving. And with the CBF600SA running so quietly I can hear instead the engines and sometimes even tires of other road users, giving me a greater sense of awareness. Loud pipes do not save lives; knowing what the hell is going on around you does. Secondly, the Honda’s quiet engine means I have never had a single complaint from the senior citizen couple whose bedroom window is right next to the shed where I park my bike.
|My first bike and me|
I find it slightly difficult to understand why anyone ever bought a new one, but when purchased second-hand these machines are incredibly good value for money. Service intervals are every 4,000 miles and much of the work can be done yourself with a little bit of patience and a Haynes manual –– even if you are something of a mechanical moron like me.
In the end, the Honda CBF600SA is a pretty good motorcycle. It’s a dependable all-rounder that may start to bore you after a year or so, but will simultaneously raise your standards as you look for your next machine. Good for commuting, well suited to new or returning riders, and passable as a light-duty practical tourer. It’s pretty good. And depending on your experience/demands/finances, it might be good enough for you. Just don’t expect it to necessarily set your heart on fire.
Though, having now written this review I feel inclined to take it out for a ride.
(a) So they say. I can’t verify that personally, as I don’t have the cajones to go that fast.