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2010 Honda CBF600SA First Impressions


by Marc Cantin ,

Every major manufacturer is chasing after new riders these years, with successful entry-level bikes, such as Honda’s CBR125R or the Kawasaki 250R Ninja. The natural follow-on to these models, the “second” bike, is equally important for the manufacturer, and Honda has chosen the new-to-Canada CBF600SA as a second bike for new riders, one that could also turn into a more permanent machine over time, if it turns out that the machines fulfills all the rider’s nees.

Simple, with minimal top fairing for rider comfort. But also an easy to ride machine for novides as well as in the city, and a basis for fun on twisty roads as well as easy touring, with a combination of tank, top and side bags.

The CBF600SA is in fact a respectable, well equipped middleweight, one that can also act as an all-purpose ride for a large clientele, with urban ease as well as Cross-Canada touring capability when suitable baggage is added.

The specifications make for a desirable machine: aluminum frame, a fuel injected 600cc engine based on the CBR600RR mill, the new-for-2009 full blown brake-by-wire combined ABS (C-ABS), adjustable saddle height and windshield, adjustable preload for the fork and rear shock, and a light semi fairing to reduce wind and turbulence.

Jumping aboard one of these light and agile 600s is always fun. You can feel how much the engine has been re-tuned to favour low end torque, with a useful peak of 43.5 lb-ft at 8,250 rpm, a solid 2,000 rpm less than on the original RR version of the engine.

Similarly, power has been pulled down to 76.4 hp at 10,500 rpm, again much below RR levels, and clearly more user friendly for everyday use. The key to user-friendliness remains a flat torque curve from about 3500rpm right up to 7000rpm. Add a willingness to rush up to 10,000rpm and max power, and you have a pleasant and relaxing bike to ride, with adequate performance just a twist away.

This 600SA is a comfortable bike for my 110kgs, without being pushed down the inclined seat into the fuel tank as I was aboard the 599. The bar-seat-foot peg triangle placed me into a comfortable standard position, leaned forward just enough to be comfortable in town as well as at 100kph. All the controls are easy to operate, as the bike feels light and agile at a standstill as well as at any speed. I could not detect any feeling of nervousness from an over eagerness to change direction or simply “fall into” a corner.

The extra torque feels just right for relaxed city riding, while the 76 horses will limit acceleration and top speed below what some riders consider a minimum, a small price to pay in my book for the user friendliness of this machine.

I enjoyed the quick ride in 6 degree C weather, with the cold, cold tires sliding at the least provocation. These light and easy to drive bike, with their happy combination of 4-cylinder smoothness and bigger-than-600cc torque, are particularly easy and enjoyable in city riding.

We will ride this bike more extensively in early March, and report in greater detail then.

Until then, stay warm!

Photo Credit : Honda