Honda 599 Hornet

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 But for this model the original steel component has been replaced by a gravity die-cast aluminum structure that gives considerably improved rigidity as well as a small weight loss.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.

It's a Duss, Dummy
How to really stand out in a crowdThis is the Duss V2. Pretty trick, huh?Originally a concept in 2004, it's now entering production with first deliveries expected this summer.

The Euro 3-compliant 993cc V-twin develops a claimed 120 horsepower at 9500 rpm, with 76 lb.-ft. of torque and a dry weight of just 319 pounds. The wet-sump motor features toothed belt drive to its DOHC and also acts as a fully-stressed chassis component.

A one-piece 3.2-gallon fuel tank and airbox are incorporated into the dual seat, with the exhaust system's dual mufflers mounted under the seat pan to create a very narrow motorcycle hardly wider than its rear tire.

Chassis hardware is equally minimalist with a fully-adjustable 43mm hlins inverted fork and a Wilbers cantilever rear shock. Wheels are forged Marchesinis, with that single 320mm Brembo front disc bitten by a radial four-piston, four-pad caliper.

"I've been working on this bike since 1996," says Roland Duss, originally a furniture machinery engineer. "I designed it in the first place just for myself, to take my girlfriend on Swiss roads, where there are lots of turns and you need a motor with muscle to climb mountains. Originally I thought to use an Aprilia or Ducati engine, but they're both too wide for this kind of bike, so I decided to make my own. The big difference is the crankshaft runs backwards, just as it does on Valentino Rossi's MotoGP Yamaha, and for the same reason: more agile handling and, especially, to improve turn-in speed."

With a price tag of approximately $32,000, the Duss is not remotely cheap, but it's certainly different. Interested? Log on to www.dussmoto.ch for more details.

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