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Vintage Honda

1987 - Hurricane
Some motorcycles raise the bar. Others rewrite the rules. In the 1987 sportbike game, Honda's CBR®600F, better known as the 600 Hurricane,® was clearly one of the latter.

Introduced along with its big brother the CBR1000F, Honda's 600 Hurricane was a revolution. The reason was clearly visible in the Hurricane's aerodynamic, full-coverage bodywork. Less visible was the technological paradigm shift that blew away every other middleweight sportbike on earth and forever changed the way sportbikes were designed and built.

Honda engineers wrapped the Hurricane's engine and chassis in full-coverage, interlocking bodywork for more than aerodynamic reasons. Beneath the Hurricane's slick plastic skin, engine and chassis surfaces appeared unfinished, almost industrial. Development dollars saved on hardware beautification were spent instead on components that would redefine sportbike performance.

While the Hurricane's double-downtube, box-section steel-tube frame may have looked plain, the balance of agility and stability provided by its 54.6-inch wheelbase and racy 26.0-degree rake was beautiful. The Hurricane's trio of disc brakes were the best in the business, and at about 450.0 pounds wet, the bike was 20.0 pounds lighter than its nearest rival.

Power came from a dramatically oversquare, liquid-cooled, twin-cam in-line four-cylinder engine. With half the cylinder and head castings of the 500 Interceptor's® V-4 engine, the in-line CBR mill was less expensive to produce. The Hurricane engine redlined at 12,000 rpm and cranked out 85 horsepower at eleven grand—enough power to make the Hurricane the first 600cc sportbike to cover a quarter-mile in under 11 seconds.

As the magazines of the day discovered, no other sportbike could match the Hurricane's marvelously balanced, accessible mix of horsepower and handling at any price, let alone the Hurricane's affordable sticker. The esteemed Cycle magazine dubbed the Hurricane "The best Japanese motorcycle we have ever tested" in its May, 1987 issue.

The Hurricane's humane ergonomics and compliant ride proved that track-sharp handling didn't have to hurt anybody but the competition. Backed by Honda's investment in one of the richest contingency programs in history, Hurricanes filled club-racing grids all over America, launching 600 SuperSport racing into the limelight as one of the most popular and hotly contested road-racing series in the world.

Perhaps more powerful is the enduring and endearing nature of Honda's original CBR concept: the same basic concept found in the current CBR600F4. Other ideas have come and gone, but CBR600s have been the best-selling sportbike in America since the original Hurricane. From rookie sport riders to 2000 Daytona 600 SuperSport winner Kurtis Roberts, no sportbike has ever provided such exceptional versatility as Honda's revolutionary CBR600.