The Hurricane

Some motorcycles raise the bar.

Others rewrite the rules. In the 1987 sportbike game, Honda's CBR600F, 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.

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.

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issued: Tuesday, April 20, 2021
updated: Tuesday, April 20, 2021

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