As the machine that was instrumental in developing the 600 cc supersports category, the Honda CBR600RR, from its first iteration back in 1986 as the CBR600F – called the “Hurricane” in the US – did more to develop the middleweight sports class than any other bike. The CBR600RR was also one of the first bikes to bring almost pure racetrack geometry to road riders, and spwaned an entire industry making racing suits for road use.
However, the end of an era has arrived, and Honda has said, according to a Motorcycle News report, that there will not be a CBR600RR supersports bike in its 2017 line-up. With Euro 4 emissions regulations coming into force in January 2017, Honda says that the cost of developing a Euro 4-compliant engine for the CBR600RR would have been prohibitively expensive.
Unlike other manufacturers who fund engine research and development from the source, i.e. at headquarters level, Honda develops engines with each market contributing to the engineering cost. In the case of the CBR600RR, Honda Europe looked at the declining sales of the CBR600RR, and decided not to contribute, while Honda US had no interest in forking out money to develop an engine that would have no relevance in its market.
“It’s not been an easy decision to make for some at Honda, because the CBR600 is a bike that has had a great deal of importance to the company over the years, but the fact is this model isn’t selling in the numbers needed to make it viable for another model to be developed,” a Honda spokesperson said.
“The work needed to get this bike through Euro 4 is expensive and there is a lot of detail work to be done to make the bike legal. In order to keep the character of the CBR600RR intact and keep it legal requires a lot more work than it first appears,” added the unnamed source.
It should be noted that developing a Euro 4 engine for the 600 cc category would cost about as much as a compliant 1,000 cc engine, with not that much difference in horsepower and weight. Add to that the fact that Euro 4-compliance would mean added weight to the bike, which would have to be made up with a weight reduction elsewhere on the CBR600RR. So, its easy to see why Honda is taking the decision to axe the CBR600RR.
For now, it looks like the CBR650F will have to carry Honda’s middleweight sports bike torch, along with the CB500R. While the four- and two-cylinder bikes are capable in their own right, nothing beats the scream of the Honda CBR600RR’s inline-four.