Honda 599 Hornet Update

Not coming to a dealer near you-yet

The Honda 599 has just had a major update, by far the biggest in the bike's near decade of existence. The new model makes 5 more horsepower and weighs 10 pounds less. The question as to whether it's coming to the USA remains unanswered. In Europe, sales of the Hornet (as it's known) have been consistently strong due to the bike's cult-like following for customizers and new riders alike, and it's actually built in Honda's factory in Atessa, Italy. But the 599/Hornet has never really flown stateside, apparently deemed too small and too expensive by the buying public.

That may be about to change, as the new 599's 16-valve engine is closely based on that of the latest CBR600RR but features a revised cylinder head with narrower intake ports to improve midrange at the expense of top end. Softer cams, reshaped pistons and a reprogrammed fuel-injection system give a peak output of 100 bhp at 12,000 rpm-18 bhp down on the RR's figure-while peak torque is a claimed 46.9 lb.-ft. at 10,500 rpm.

Honda has also made a big effort to centralize mass, notably by abandoning the previous 599's high-level muffler in favor of a shorter item and an exhaust that is mostly located beneath the engine. The new-generation liquid-cooled engine is considerably more compact than its predecessor, notably in the distance from crankshaft to countershaft, which is reduced by 61.5mm. It's also considerably lighter, while further weight reduction comes from new wheels, seat and footpegs, plus the headlight and LED taillight.

The frame follows the traditional 599 "mono-backbone" design of a large, square-section main tube that uses the engine as a stressed member. But for this model the original steel component has been replaced by a gravity die-cast aluminum structure that gives considerably improved rigidity as well as a small weight loss. The new aluminum swingarm provides more than 50 percent extra rigidity both laterally and torsionally.

Should the 599 make it over the pond? Let us-and American Honda-know.

Got a hankering for a Hornet? Too bad-it's only available overseas.
Swiss cheese? The Duss is two wheels, an engine and not a whole lot more.
Sharp styling and ease of riding were key goals. ABS/CBS linked brakes are an option.