In a hugely popular and contended segment of motorcycles, the A2 and middleweight naked motorcycle field is well-populated and hugely competitive – so for Honda to resurrect an iconic old name in the Hornet, change the motor from a famed inline-4 to a parallel-twin, and price it at a bargain £7,000 is a serious power move by Honda. This Honda CB750 Hornet could be the best in the market today.
First launched in 1998, the Honda Hornet CB600F was a tremendously popular motorcycle in the UK & Europe, and speaking to many ex-owners whilst out and about on this 2023 rendition, it seems one thing connected all of the Hornets over the years – sheer riding enjoyment. It’s good to see Honda inject some of this focus on sheer riding pleasure into its modern line-up.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We had the 2023 Hornet in for 3 weeks, covering all manner of riding – daily commutes to the office, bike meet ride-outs, and even a trip to the beach. After around 800 miles and plenty of positive press, we truly put the Hornet to the test to find out just how good it is.
It’s not without its shortcomings, firm suspension and a twitchy throttle in sports mode being the most notable – but either way, this Hornet may be one of the most impressive motorcycles 2023.
2023 Honda CB750 Hornet Price and Availability
A huge selling point of the Honda CB 750 Hornet is, ironically, the price – for £6,999 you get a top machine at an unbelievable price. Social media adverts from Honda seemed to follow me around for the entirety of this loan, too – with a seriously tempting £89 a month being dangled in my face at every opportunity.
Colour options are a classic Mat Goldfinch Yellow (as ridden) which is sublime and classic Hornet, a Matte Iridium Gray Metallic (which is second best), then a Pearl Glare White with Metallic Red Flame frame & forks option, and finally a Graphite Black with Metallic Red Flame frame & forks option. The pair with two-tone red colours (frame and forks) frustratingly don’t quite match in shade of red… regardless, the build quality is typically Honda, top-notch.
The new Hornet is also the cheapest compared to the premium rivals, where the Yamaha MT-07 (£7,500), Suzuki GSX-8S (£7,999), Kawasaki Z650 (£7,499), and Triumph Trident 660 (£7,695) amongst many others are all a few quid more expensive.
You’ll also find plenty of accessory packs available should you wish to deck the Hornet out with luggage and other extra bits with that ‘extra cash’ in your pocket if chosen over the rivals…
New Parallel-Twin Engine
With a brand-new liquid-cooled parallel twin with a 270-degree crank, the Hornet has a sting in its tail to the tune of a cracking 90.5 bhp at 9500 rpm (the redline), and 75 Nm of torque (55.3 lb-ft) at 7250 rpm. It’s a seriously torquey weapon, with the torque found low in the revs and power running high into each of the 6 gears, plus an assist and slipper clutch to limit a bobbing rear wheel and aids the clutch feel.
The 270-degree crank with uneven firing order produces one of the best riding characteristics of a twin motor I’ve had the privilege of testing, and paired to the 190 kg wet weight and short wheelbase, it produces some seriously addicting riding character when you head away from the motorway miles. It’s sharp, eager to spin up, and puts down a generous helping of power to the rear wheel regardless of the reason you’re riding. It’s a superb advert for 90 bhp being more than enough for the road.
Of the 4 rider modes (Sport, Standard, Rain, plus a custom User mode) you are given a seriously quirky and fun motor to play with, one that feels noticeably lively in Sport, yet still easy-going in Rain. Though it is a throttle-by-wire system, it can be a bit twitchy and over-eager when opening the throttle from closed in Sport, and to an extent in Standard.
The Best of a Parallel-Twin Revolution?
Speaking of, we took the Hornet out to the ABR Festival in Warwickshire, sticking a full roll-top bag with a tent, sleeping bag and a weekend’s worth of clothes onto the tail. The luggage kit would have worked perfectly, but it wasn’t available for us – this was the next best thing, and it did superbly well riding for 3+ hours in the saddle.
We also turned some heads at Two Wheel Tuesday in Old Buckenham (a local favourite), with fellow riders poking about to see what's new.
It’s a great advert for what parallel-twins can do, particularly so in this case where it is replacing the famed inline-4 of the old Hornet. Especially when fully laden for a big tour!
It’s A2 compliant with a restrictor kit fitted, which makes it an interesting prospect for riders looking to work their way up through the ranks on an A2 licence, towards the unrestricted full licence. It’s a great bike to consider to build on your riding skills, purely as the engine and the ride becomes so intuitive so quickly – as if the bike is an extension of you. Big praise for a bike indeed.
Rounding it up, this Hornet came to us with a quickshifter (accessory option) fitted, and it proved extremely useful for honing around my favourite local jaunts. Also noteworthy was the raspy growl that came from the stock exhaust system – a true surprise with the Euro 5 emissions gods keeping a keen ear to the ground for bikes that sound a tad too fun – somehow, this one has seemingly slipped under the radar, and it’s a blast to fire it up each and every time.
Frame, Suspension, Brakes
A fundamental part of the Hornet’s exceptional character is its superb handling ability. Crucially, the brand-new lightweight steel diamond frame that weighs in at 16.6kg gives a perfect balance of agility and stability, though at higher speeds it can feel a tad twitchy. Successive corners are handled superbly well, with your inputs translating on the round like second nature.
Suspension is Showa, non-adjustable up-front with the 41mm SFF-BP USD forks, though at the rear preload can be adjusted by 5 steps with a spanner if you park up – not on the fly. The forks have 130mm travel, with one side housing the big piston pressure separation damper, and the other leg housing the spring mechanism. 150mm travel at the rear with the steel swingarm with pro-link.
Whilst the suspension is absolutely rideable, it can be a tad firm when the road gets a bit rough – though it’s a relatively minor niggle that doesn’t influence the ride excessively.
The brakes and braking power overall is incredible and can stop the bike seriously quickly without the 2-channel ABS intruding too much – which Felix found out for BikeMatters in an unfortunate close-call situation, as an oncoming van overtaking a car came around a long corner in the wrong lane in his direction. Luckily, the brakes came in true, and everything was okay!
Application of the Nissin brakes (dual 296mm front discs with four pistons, rear 240mm disc with single piston) is nice and sharp, with a span adjustable lever to ensure you have the lever in the right place every time. It’s worth remembering that whilst there is options to adjust the power, engine braking, and torque control (for wheelie and slip control), the ABS is not lean-sensitive.
Despite the brake lever being adjustable, the clutch lever isn’t span-adjustable, and some other reviews have noted the clutch feeling quite a stretch away. For us here at BikeMatters it was fine, but we wear size large gloves – small-handed riders may want to check this first.
The Do-It-All Hornet
Having used the Hornet for circa 800 miles in the three-or-so weeks with it, covering all manner of riding (from daily commutes to the office, to cross-country rides to the ABR festival), I can safely say that the Hornet can do-it-all. And do it all gracefully.
The expedition to the ABR festival saw the Hornet don a roll-top bag with bungee cords, and the additional luggage (and weight) caused no concern for the 300-mile round-trip ride. Admittedly the 795mm saddle did get a tad uncomfortable after an hour of riding, as there isn’t much room to move around, the pillion seat is right up against the small of your back. Fine for general riding, and a quick stop was all it took to get back on the road.
A word on the comfort – whilst some reviews online from shorter riders note that tall riders will struggle, I personally found quite the opposite. My 6’3” frame does tend to feel big on many bikes - particularly in the naked category like on the Yamaha MT-07 - but I was happily riding atop this Hornet – no huge complaints at all. The riding position here is set as neutral with a touch of sportiness, you’re leaned ever so slightly forward with pegs that are a touch behind you – giving a streetfighter feel.
One niggle, admittedly barely a concern, is the TFT dash. Though clear to read with built-in auto dimmer, the Honda RoadSync app on my phone simply refused to connect – rendering the promise of message alerts, turn-by-turn directions, and music controls inaccessible. Though an argument is to be had on whether this is a real negative, or not.
Whilst detailed, the TFT does not display ‘range remaining’ - when the fuel light illuminates you’re best off getting straight to the nearest petrol station to fill up the 15.2 litre tank, at full it should be good for 200 miles at least with average riding (around 55 mpg), naturally this depends on how restrained you’re able to keep yourself when twisting the throttle!
Accessories include options for the pannier kit and tank bag (which would have been handy for the ABR trip) plus the quickshifter (£240 as fitted on this loan bike). You can also go for an accessory pack to bundle together a few extras, if you fancy it – including packs for ‘Sport’, ‘Style’, and ‘Tour’.
A type C USB is hidden under the pillion seat with a floating dongle with end cap on – it’s easy to look past this if you don’t realise it’s there.
Style wise, the initial Hornet concepts we saw prior to the launch promised a sharp and aggressive stance, whilst the production model is somewhat CB500F in its final guise. I found the Hornet to grow on me over the 3 weeks, but perhaps the performance had me putting on yellow tinted glasses.
If after a do-it-all workhorse, the Hornet makes a very good case for itself – and at a seriously competitive price.
Honda CB750 Hornet | Pros and Cons
- Engine has loads of character.
- Nimble, excellent handling.
- Cheap, and a Honda!
- Twitchy throttle.
- Firm suspension.
- Couldn’t get the Honda RoadSync app to connect!
Verdict | 2023 Honda CB750 Hornet
As a complete package, the Honda CB750 Hornet is a seriously interesting bike that comes at a very affordable price point. The A2-compliant market has plenty of options, with the Yamaha MT-07 and Suzuki GSX-8S perhaps the closest options in regards to price and offering – and not forgetting the Kawasaki Z650.
What the new Hornet does so well is be true to its ancestry – the original Hornet was an accessible machine that instilled a pure sense of riding joy in its owners, creating a motorcycle name with a true sting in its tail. Though some may be wary of the parallel-twin with 90 bhp, it’s well worth having a look at – and remembering that the Euro 5 gods do make it difficult for new engines to run as inline-4s, as the original was.
Slight niggles with the twitchy throttle, non-adjustable distant clutch, and no range-remaining displayed, do little to dissuade me from saying that Honda have absolutely smashed this resurrection of a legend. It’ll be seriously interesting to see what this motor can do in the Transalp format.
Big thanks to Honda for the chance to sample the new Hornet, check out full stats and spec (and offers) on the Honda UK website.
Finally, if looking for an insurance quote for the Honda CB750 Hornet, you can give Lexham a try direct here.
2023 Honda CB750 Hornet First Impressions Review Video
Specs | 2023 Honda CB750 Hornet
|Engine||755cc, liquid-cooled, OHC, 4-stroke, parallel-twin, 90.5 BHP @ 9500 rpm, 74.4 Nm @ 7000 rpm|
|Fuel tank||15.2 L|
|Brakes||Nissin - Front Twin 296 mm Disc and Rear 240mm disc|
|Seat height||795 mm|
|Suspension||Showa - Front USD 41mm SFF-BP Forks 130 mm travel, Rear mono-shock damper with pro-link swingarm 150 mm travel|