Honda debuts new in-line twin with the 2023 CB750 Hornet
Ten years after the mid-sized naked sportbike CB600F Hornet went out of production, Honda is plotting its return with claims of a class-leading power-to-weight ratio from its brand new 755-cc inline twin. The motor will also power the upcoming revival of the Transalp.
Honda hit the jackpot in 1997 when it detuned a CBR600 supersport four-cylinder engine, and built around it a naked sporty roadster with quality parts and more than 90 hp at the crank. The CB600F Hornet became an overnight success in Europe, remaining in production through a series of updates and facelifts until 2013. At that point, Honda substituted it with the tamer CB650F which over time evolved to the CB650R.
In order to power the 2023 CB750 Hornet, Honda couldn’t rely on its existing NC750 motor as it lacks the necessary punch and sporty disposition. Evolved from half a Honda Jazz (aka Honda Fit) car engine, the NC750 is an undersquare, low-revving twin designed for relaxed commuting and astounding fuel savings.
The new engine is an inline twin with Unicam cylinder heads which use a single camshaft to control four valves – a setup of CRF450R and Africa Twin fame. Measuring 755 cc in capacity, it produces 90.5 hp at 9,500 rpm and 7.7 kgm at 7,250 rpm at the 270-degree crankshaft, via a six-speed gearbox and a slipper clutch.
Honda suggests that at 2.81 kg/kW, the 2023 CB750 Hornet tops its class, also thanks to its relatively low weight. With the 15.2-l (4-gal) fuel tank full, the bike tips the scales at just 190 kg (419 lb).
It is equipped with a series of adjustable electronic support systems that include traction control, wheelie control, engine braking and engine power modes. The rider can harness the Hornet’s power via four selectable riding modes, consisting of three presets – sport, standard, and rain – and a user-programmable mode, as each dials in different values for the aforementioned systems.
This engine sits in a new steel diamond-type frame that weighs 16.6 kg (36.6 lb) – two less than that of the outgoing CB650R – suspended on a Showa kit that features 41-mm SFF-BPTM inverted forks and a Pro-Link monoshock, offering only spring preload at the rear in terms of adjustability.
Braking is handled by Nissin, with two 296-mm (11.6-in) disks and four-piston radially mounted calipers at the front, as well as a rear single 240-mm (9.5-in) disc with a single-piston unit. The whole system is supported by a traditional two-channel ABS system, without cornering abilities that would require a more elaborate and costly inertial engine control unit.
The 2023 CB750 Hornet uses a 5-inch color TFT display, equipped as standard with Honda’s innovative Smartphone Voice Control that’s compatible with both iOS and Android devices. The standard kit also includes self-canceling indicators and an emergency stop system that flashes the hazard lights when it detects hard braking at speeds over 56 km/h (34.8 mph).
Honda will offer the new Hornet in four colors, supported with a long list of accessories and upgrades that are grouped in three packs: Sport, Style and Touring. These include some stylish bits, as well as several parts to enhance the bike’s talents towards specific roles, ranging from aerodynamic add-ons and luggage to an adjustable quick shifter.
The new Hornet had been teased with a concept sketch during last year's EICMA show in Milan, and was unveiled at the 2022 Intermot in Cologne, Germany, with a rather more conservative silhouette. It comes at a time when Honda seemed to have withdrawn from the race for power in most market segments, as for several years the Japanese giant had turned its focus to more practical and economical model series, like the CB500 and NC750. Even the Africa Twin displayed Honda’s disregard for impressive figures, with the adventure bike persisting around 100 hp in a class that has moved above the 140-hp mark.
With the 2023 CB750 Hornet, Honda seems to realign its strategy, by designing a naked sportbike that will not be shy of any competitor in its capacity class; and we already know that this is just the first step. The next one will probably be revealed at the EICMA show in Milan in early November, where Honda is expected to launch the return of the Transalp with the same new engine, possibly at a slightly lower state of tune.