In June 2012, I bought a new-to-me Honda 599, roughly one week after finding out they’d been sold in the U.S. for two years. In The Rest of the World, it’s called a Honda Hornet 600. Here, it’s the 599, because, supposedly, somehow the old AMC Hornet has a permanent claim on the name. For behind-the-scenes clarity, Honda designates this model as a CB600F, so let’s just go with that. In Honda-speak, CB usually means standard seating position, which is true of this bike.
The bike was essentially as advertised: the second owner’s cousin had promised he knew how to ride, then promptly augured the bike into the earth, damaging a few things on the left side. Nothing serious. But every used bike needs treatment before it’s “right.”
A short list, for an eight-year-old motorcycle with just 11,376 miles on it:
- oil and filter change (old oil looked a little thin but was totally clean)
- adjust idle speed (was 1,000, should be 1,500, makes a large difference in rideability)
- replace front and rear tires
- replace chain
- replace front and rear brake pads, clean and lubricate caliper slides
- flush brake fluid
- clean and lubricate lever, pedal, and side stand pivots
And after putting the new chain on, I decided I’d rather have new sprockets than keep the old ones for much longer. Another $60 in parts (retail price) and about an hour of labor. Could have saved some time doing it with the rear tire change.
Further examination revealed old damage to the right side of the bike, perhaps from the previous-previous owner. I opted to replace three bolts that suffered the worst damage, along with the brake pedal, which I’d originally thought was just badly adjusted. In addition, the coolant hose sprung a pinhole leak at around 200 degrees, so that was replaced, along with the decorative/protective spring over it.
As long as I was ordering a batch of Honda OEM parts, I also decided to add their “sport screen.” I’d noticed at highway speeds that the wind was doing a good job of pulling my arms out. The small windshield Honda sells did an excellent job of increasing comfort at 70mph, and it doesn’t ruin the looks of the bike.
And then in the process of riding it, I discovered the bike hid a fatal flaw: Every time I rode it, I ended up stinking of exhaust fumes. Low speed, high speed, didn’t matter. I considered various ways to remedy the problem, then decided to sell it instead, after about nine months and 2,000 miles. Funny how one detail like that can scuttle the whole machine. Besides, I needed an incentive to finish my VFR800.