The first generation was produced from 1979 through 1983, and was available in the United States in 1981 and 1982. In 1983 it was replaced by the CB1100F. The second generation was available from 2002 through 2007. It is called the Hornet 900 in Europe and the 919 in North America, while the related CB600F is the Hornet 600 in Europe and the 599 in North America. In 2008 the second generation CB900 was replaced by the CB1000R.
|Engine||Air-cooled 901 cc (55.0 cu in) DOHC straight-four|
|Bore / stroke||64.5 mm × 69.0 mm (2.54 in × 2.72 in)|
|Top speed||190 km/h (120 mph) (1979–1981), 210 km/h (130 mph) (1982) 217 km/h (135 mph)|
|Power||71 kW (95 hp) @ 9000 rpm|
|Torque||7.9 kg·m (77 N·m; 57 lbf·ft)|
|Transmission||5-speed, chain drive|
|Frame type||Steel twin downtube|
|Suspension||Front: Air-assisted telescoping forks, with Honda TRAC anti-dive system after 1982 or 1983
Rear: twin shocks with adjustable compression, damping and rebound
|Brakes||Front: dual disc
Rear: single disc
Dual piston calipers on all after 1983
|Tires||Front: 3.25"x19" (100/90-19)
|Rake, trail||27° 30' 115 mm (4.5 in)|
|Wheelbase||1,515 mm (59.6 in)|
|Dimensions||L: 2,240 mm (88 in)
W: 805 mm (31.7 in)
|Seat height||815 mm (32.1 in)|
|Weight||233 kg (514 lb), 241 kg (531 lb) (after 1982), or 234 kilograms (516 lb) (dry)
|Fuel capacity||20 l (4.4 imp gal; 5.3 US gal)|
Honda introduced the superbike to the world in 1969 with the CB750, and with the success of Honda's other models and mainstream, respectable marketing image, enjoyed dominant market share. But a decade later the single overhead camshaft (SOHC) CB750F2 of 1978 could not compete against double overhead camshaft (DOHC) fours from Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki, and Honda's bikes had fallen behind in performance features and in market share. After this period of devoting R&D resources to the car business, Honda returned its attention to motorcycles with a new DOHC roadster whose development roots lay in Honda's successful endurance racing in Europe, with the RCB-series RS1000, as well as suspension advances learned in motocross racing.
The CB900F's design was aimed at European markets, rather than the usual focus on the United States, and it was not imported into the US until 1981. In Europe, it was known as the Bol D’Or, after the Bol d'Or endurance race. Honda's advertising at the time proclaimed the bike, "A thundering Super Sports bike with devastating performance and an unwavering stamina that will be setting the pace for many years to come."
The CB900F uses a 901 cc (55.0 cu in) four-cylinder DOHC engine, essentially the same as in the Honda CB900C. It shares many components with the Honda CB750 engine, but has a square engine with a bore and stroke of 62 mm (2.4 in). The 901 cc (55.0 cu in) engine is also closely related to the engines used in the short-lived CB1000C and the CB1100F/CB1100R. It was also similar to the exotic inline-6 CBX1000 where a long chain drove the inlet camshaft, and from there a second, shorter chain drove the exhaust camshaft.
The CB900F was a high-performance motorcycle that built on the racing success of the DOHC CB750F. The CB900F produces 95 bhp (71 kW) @ 9000 rpm and uses a five-speed gearbox and chain final drive. Though closely related, the CB900C produced in the same period uses a five-speed gearbox with two-speed differential and shaft final drive. The conventional twin down-tube steel frame is very strong. This, along with improved suspension made the CB900F, "arguably the best Honda had build for the street," perhaps one of the first Hondas capable of challenging European motorcycles not just in engine performance but in roadholding too.
The CB900F has two front disc brakes and one rear disk brake, all fitted with dual-piston calipers after 1983. The air-assisted fork was upgraded with the Honda TRAC (torque reactive anti-dive control) anti-dive system in 1982 or 1983. The bike uses the same bodywork (tank, side covers, tailpiece) as the preceding CB750F Super Sport and there are slight differences between the CB900F bodywork and that used on the CB1100F and CBX.
In most magazine tests, the CB900F normally clocked low to mid 12 seconds in the quarter mile and as low as 11.84 seconds in a Motorcyclist magazine test. Despite being out-displaced, the CB900F competed with other performance bikes of the time such as the Kawasaki Kz1000, Suzuki GS1000, and Yamaha XS1100. The engine was tuned to produce mid range power rather than maximizing peak horsepower at the top engine speed, thus giving good acceleration from 4,000 rpm to the 9,500 rpm redline. At 90 mph (140 km/h) there was some vibration, but the relaxed riding position was comfortable at most speeds, except perhaps near the 130 mph (210 km/h) maximum where the high handlebars led to arm fatigue against wind pressure.
While the CB900F arrived years late to the market against these Japanese competitors, and could only just keep up with their performance, in 1982 competition from the CB900F was a problem for Harley-Davidson. The 25 year old, 500 lb (230 kg) Sportster XLH was losing performance due to a lowered 8:1 compression in order to comply with environmental regulations and use low-octane fuel, resulting in under 14 second quarter mile times at 100 mph (160 km/h), and a 100 mph (160 km/h) top speed. In comparison, the 1982 CB900F did the quarter mile in under 13 seconds at 110 mph (180 km/h) with top speed of 130 mph (210 km/h).
For its time, the CB900F was called, "the ultimate statement of the old air-cooled technology Honda had done so much to create," to be followed by the larger displacement CB1100F of 1983, before moving on to water-cooled inline fours with the CBR1000F of 1987. In anticipation of the 2002 model, one reporter reminisced that the original "was a powerful machine, if a bit heavy. All gas tank and engine, stable on the highway, middle-of-the-road good looks and hound-dog reliable." Rod Ker, however, writes that it had "two bad habits," that "it dropped out of gear, and — sometimes as a direct result — broke con-rods. This was a great pity, because it was a good bike until it broke, blessed with a frame and suspension that showed the Japanese were catching up with the Europeans in chassis technology."
|Also called||Hornet 900, 919|
|Class||Naked or standard|
|Engine||919 cc (56.1 cu in) liquid-cooled straight four|
|Bore / stroke||71.0 mm × 58.0 mm (2.80 in × 2.28 in)|
|Top speed||230.0 km/h (142.9 mph) 228.5 km/h (142.0 mph)|
|Power||71.9 kW (96.4 hp) 75 kW (101 hp) @8550 rpm 77 kW (103 hp), 80 kW (110 hp) @ 9,000 rpm|
|Torque||84.9 N·m (62.6 lbf·ft) 91 N·m (67 lbf·ft) @ 6,500 rpm 88.9 N·m (65.6 lbf·ft) @ 7550 rpm|
|Transmission||Cable-actuated wet clutch, 6 speed, chain final drive|
|Frame type||Steel, square section backbone, engine is stressed member|
|Suspension||Front: telescoping cartridge fork, adjustable after 2004
Rear: swingarm with single Showa shock, adjustable preload
|Brakes||Front: dual disc
Rear: single disc
|Tires||Michelin Hi-Sport Front: 120/70-ZR17
|Rake, trail||25°, 98 mm (3.9 in)|
|Wheelbase||1,460 mm (57 in)|
|Dimensions||L: 2,125 mm (83.7 in)
W: 750 mm (30 in)
|Seat height||795 mm (31.3 in)|
|Weight||206.0 kg (454.2 lb) (dry)
218.0 kg (480.6 lb), 220.0 kg (485.0 lb) (wet)
|Fuel capacity||19 l (4.2 imp gal; 5.0 US gal)|
|Fuel consumption||6.11 L/100 km (46.2 mpg-imp; 38.5 mpg-US)
6.4 L/100 km (44 mpg-imp; 37 mpg-US)
The second generation Honda CB900F is a standard, or naked, motorcycle based on a sport bike engine but with a more upright seating position and revised engine and gearing, providing performance and comfort between a typical sport bike and a cruiser. It was called the Hornet in Europe and the 919 in North America because the trademark for the vehicle name Hornet in North America was held by Chrysler, acquired after buying AMC, maker of the AMC Hornet car.
In some ways the concept dates to a 1994 design study created by American Honda's R&D chief product evaluator Dirk Vandenberg in cooperation with Cycle World magazine, a streetfighter-like one-off custom based on the Honda CBR900RR, with the fairings removed, high, tubular handlebar, and tuning and gearing modified to boost low-end torque. Vandenberg saw a market in the "older sportbike crowd" who are seeking high performance without an awkward riding position or racetrack style bodywork.
It was introduced in 2002 and its last model year was 2007, after which it was replaced by the CB1000R. After compliance with tightening emissions regulations became untenable, it was replaced by the more performance-specialized CB1000R. In 2006, Motorcyclist recommended used 919s as a good buy, saying of the new bike, "at $7999, it wasn't exactly cheap, and saddled with a coat of flat-black paint called Asphalt, it was less than visually electrifying," however, in the used market it became a great value. In the US market, the 919, like the 599, was expensive, because, being intended for the European market, they were made in Italy, and so had to be imported to the US against unfavorable Euro exchange rates.
The Daily Telegraph welcomed the new bike, saying, "the new CB900F Hornet leaves your knees in the breeze and your smile full of bugs as it reintroduces you to a feeling of undemanding, rewarding two-wheeled fun that has been missing from the market for a long time. " Comparing it to the Hornet 600, the bike was reminiscent of the standards of the 1970s, sometimes called universal Japanese motorcycles.
The CB900F is powered by a de-tuned Honda CBR900RR engine, developed by Tadao Baba, one of Honda's Large Project Leaders. The motor is a transversely mounted, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 919 cc (56.1 cu in) in-line four-stroke, four-cylinder DOHC engine that produces around 100 hp (75 kW). The engine has cast camshafts and pistons instead of the more expensive forged versions found on the CBR929 and later. For greater midrange torque, the CB900F's camshaft lift is lower, and compression is slightly lowered. Four 36 mm (1.4 in) fuel-injection throttle bodies take the place of the CBR900RR’s 38 mm (1.5 in) carburetors. Redline is 9500 rpm. The bike has a cable-actuated clutch, a six-speed transmission, and a chain final drive.
A steel, square-tube backbone frame supports the stressed member engine. In front, a cartridge fork (adjustable beginning in 2004) guides the wheel, while a single Showa shock, adjustable only for preload (and rebound damping beginning in 2004) connects with the aluminum swingarm and carries the weight in back. Its brakes are dual-disc in the front and single-disc in the rear.
Instrumentation consists of an analog speedometer and tachometer and basic indicator lamps, incorporated under a tinted window, and a single tripmeter. While it normally was equipped with a centerstand, California models did not have room for one due to additional emissions control equipment.
The rake is 25°, trail is 98 mm (3.9 in), wheelbase is 1,460 mm (57 in), and seat height is 800 mm (31 in). It has a tested dry weight (minus fuel only) of 455 lb (206 kg) and a tested wet weight of 485 lb (220 kg). The chain drive is a 530 chain with stock gearing of 16 tooth front and 43 tooth rear sprockets.
Quarter-mile performance was 11.18 seconds at 120.7 mph (194.2 km/h) tested by Motorcyclist, while Cycle World measured 10.92 seconds at 123 mph (198 km/h). Having the lowest weight in its class and a good power-to-weight ratio, it stands well in comparison to bikes with greater output like the Yamaha FZ1, and the wide, high handlebars ease quick turning and make cornering enjoyable. The suspension of the early versions was criticized, but after the upgrade to an adjustable fork, the complaints died down. Cycle World saw the 919 as a practical solution to the real-world problem of imperfect roads and traffic, rather than a mere compromise between a sportbike and a commuter or touring ride.
- Myers, Chris (1984), Honda, New York City: Arco, pp. 41–42, ISBN 0-668-06173-1
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- Ash, Kevin (29 September 2001), "Japan steals the show On Two Wheels Motorcycle fashionistas were treated to a parade of supermodels in Milan as manufacturers unveiled their latest machines or gave old ones a new twist.", The Daily Telegraph (London (UK)): 12
- Jackson, Keith (19 April 2002), "Get the buzz;", The Sun (London (UK)): 52
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- Motorcyclist, April 1981
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- Freund, Ken (May 2002), "Fraternal twins: The 2002 Honda 919 and CBR954RR.(evaluation)", Rider (magazine) 29 (5): 28
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- Miles, Matthew (April 1994), "Yellow Peril; Project CBR900RR: A cure for the substandard standard", Cycle World: 46–49
- Hoyer, Mark (October 2009), "Forbidden Fun: CBR1000R: The best Honda you can't buy!", Cycle World 48 (10): 30–37
- Matheson, Mick (21 June 2002), "Hornet is bees' knees", Daily Telegraph (Nationwide News Proprietary): 94
- Booth, David (4 January 2002), "Honda leads two-wheeled charge: Spring promises to be an exciting time for motorcyclists as manufacturers roll out the new and improved", National Post (Don Mills, Ontario): DO.8
- Honda CB900F/919 Service Manual. Tokyo Japan: Honda Motor Co. LTD. pp. 1–3.
- Honda CB900F/900 Specifications. Australia: Honda Australia PTY LTD.
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