My Review of the Honda CBR600F3

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  • #6087
    Profile photo of juliet
    juliet
    Registered Member
    Training Wheels
    Points: 20

    I have written several reviews of all the CBR600 models lately …
    I hope you guys enjoy them and find them useful, this is my third one for
    the CBR600F3 of 1995 to 1998 :-)


    This is a review of the 1995 to 1998 CBR600F3. (CBR600FS, FT, FV, FW)

    ^^^
    Those are the early 1995 CBR600F3 model distinguished by the F2 rear light unit and steel grab handle.

    The later 1998 CBR600F3

    ^^^
    A more stylish rear with bigger back light and alloy grab handle.


    The best just got better!!

    ^^^
    Take a good look at those pictures again. Do you see the words Direct Air Induction or as we often called it ram air?? …*this* is what MADE the CBR600F3 for me over the previous incarnations.

    Oh sure, the old CBF600F2 was a brilliant bike and the F3 just builds upon it with a face lift, tweaked suspension, bigger brakes etc. But, the real difference was in the engine response from the DAI system, increased compression, bigger carbs and remapped ignition. This bike was a big and worthwhile improvement. The whole engine response was stronger and more fluid. Much less asthmatic in the mid range.

    Remember I am comparing these bikes to how they were and felt when new and as standard. If things have been changed like exhausts, and rejetting then both the F2 and F3 can be better or worse depending on how well set up they are. It is hard to improve on a standard, original and well set up F3 though without spending serious money. Often all these new pipes do is trash your midrange and make the bike sound noisier and therefore sound faster ..lol.

    Remember serious power hikes or worthwhile ones always cost a lot of money. If you need more power simply buy a bigger bike. But that’s just my opinion. I have never been one for messing with a standard bike. The manufacturers are good and know what they are doing for good all round performance/economy.

    History

    So was launched the CBR600F3 in 1995 as the CBR600FS, chassis wise you got a wider rear wheel for fatter rubber, revised suspension and bigger 296mm discs. Weight was still 185Kg.

    1997 updates included, an improved ram air system, more ignition changes, sleeker rear end with new lights, an alloy grab handle and a white faced tacho.
    I could simply take no more. I went out and traded my F2 in 1998 for a new F3, based on riding the earlier 95 F3. I found the 1997/8 F3 to be even better, noticeably so.

    What is it like to ride??

    I have owned an F3 from new for fourteen years now and it has been a total joy. Plenty powerful enough, a nice growly sound from the ram air intakes, especially so when snapping the throttle open from about 5,000 rpms onwards. The bike pulls from nowhere, it will filter slowly and smoothly through traffic at 1500 to 2000 rpms or amazingly cruise at 120mph on a whiff of gas, although like most bikes high speed cruising is much nicer and less stressful at 90 – 100mph. It always truly amazed me how quickly it would reach 140mph on the clock if I sang it through the gears between 9,000 and 11,000 rpm. The F3 is a fast bike by anyone’s standards and certainly plenty fast enough for the road.

    However, bikes are not all about speed and it’s rare for me, especially these days to ride at silly speeds. For me the bike is more about comfort and acceleration at sane speeds, it’s all about usability.

    Thankfully the F3 has this in bucket loads, whether you are pootling along the country lanes in top gear at just 4,000 rpm, opening the throttle and soon finding yourself back on the pace, pulling away briskly from the lights with just 6,000 rpms and short shifting through the gears leaving the traffic way behind you, putting you safely in front and way ahead. Or, just cruising two up and admiring the view. The bike is comfortable enough for two up touring or taking to the race track at the weekend and having a blast. The F3 was everything the CBR600 was years earlier, only so much more.

    Even now, owning a ballistic 600RR that is light years ahead of the F3 I can still separate them and look at the F3 and say what a great and competent bike it was and is. So much so that I could actually go back to it if I had to. And also the reason I am still keeping mine and restoring her after a spill. She’s just *that* good!

    The engines are really smooth on these bikes and they have a nice spread of power and a good strong power band above 7,000 – 8,000 rpm. It has to be said that singing these bikes through the gears between 8,000 and about 11,000 rpm makes for very rapid and fun progress even today. Also the later F3 1997/1998 is very strong above 6,000 rpm so just changing gears between about 6,000 and 8,000 rpm with a handful of throttle is enough for many mere mortals and will propel you forwards at a not unreasonable rate of knots. Also there is very good, useable and seamless power from about 4,000 rpm on the later F3 which is ideal for traffic and commuting purposes. Remember everything with 600s is comparative. Just because a modern 600RR is much better doesn’t make the older models bad. No, it’s simply that the later bikes are better, just that.

    If I am going to be critical the engine response on the later F3 97/98 models is quite noticeably better than the earlier F3 95/96 models. The changes to the ram air system and the remapped ignition really made a difference and the bike simply feels much better and pulls harder everywhere, even right from tickover. The handling feels taut and tight in the twisties and the bike itself is very comfortable for long or short journeys. The mirrors are excellent if time is taken to adjust them right. Gear selection was always a bit clunky especially going into first but that was just a Honda thing and more of an annoyance than anything to worry about.


    Performance and Specifications

    Once again as I wrote about the old F1/ F2, an F3 will feel dated by modern sport bike standards. It won’t feel anywhere near as dated as the F1 though because the F2/F3 were quite a leap forward over that bike.

    Compared to a modern 600 RR the F3 will feel heavier, slower and less flickable. That does not mean it is heavy, slow and not flickable. It’s all relative. One thing the F3 does have is comfort. A 150mph plus top end and 0-60 time in about 3.2 secs is fine for most.

    Specifications:

    Engine: liquid cooled, carb fed,16V DOHC, inline four, 599cc

    Claimed Power: 105 PS @ 12,000rpm

    Claimed Torque: 66Nm @ 10,500rpm

    Frame: steel beam

    Front suspension: 41mm catridge type fork with stepless adjustable preload and rebound damping.

    Rear Suspension: Pro link with 7 step preload and stepless rebound and compression adjustable damper with gas charged remote reservoir.

    Dry weight: 186Kg

    Seat height 810mm

    Fuel capacity 17 litres

    Tyres
    Front – 120/60 X 17
    Rear – 160/60 X 17

    Performance

    0-60mph 3.2 secs
    0-100mph 7.1secs
    Top Speed 156mph
    Fuel consumption 45mpg

    ^^^
    Some close ups of the F3. As usual being a Honda the bike was very well appointed and nicely finished.
    It had thick paint and a nice set of clocks that gave the bike a luxurious feel. I love the white tacho!

    ^^^
    These were the three available UK colours for the 1998 year model.

    That Direct Air Induction System.

    ^^^

    This is what really made the bike (especially FV& FW 97/98 models) so much more responsive over the older F2 model. When I went from my F2 to the F3 it felt like I had gone to a 750 by comparison, such was the stronger power right throughout the rev range.

    The diagrams above show the routing of the air to the carburettors, one system was for under speeds of about 12mph and the other for speeds above that. This ensured the engine was never lacking what it needed. The main air intake was under the headlight with the two smaller pipes poking through either side of it.

    I can explain this system and how it works in intricate detail if anybody is really *that* interested, yes I was such a CBR geek in my day ..lol.

    More useful though, is I can take pictures of my own pipe routing for the system for those that have taken it apart and can’t for the life of them put it back right. The ram air being connected together in the correct way is crucial to this bike’s strong performance.

    Problems:

    As I said in my F1/F2 reviews all models of the CBR600 have been pretty much bomb proof but like anything there were a few ****les here and there but nothing too drastic.
    The engine/gearbox is strong, the CBR engine if looked after is capable of well over 100,000 miles.

    Indeed many despatch riders in London clocked up much more than this with some CBR600s showing 150,000 miles plus, and still going strong. Regular oil/filter changes are your friend. That, and not continually thrashing the bike to within an inch of it’s life ..lol

    On F3s some people have cam chain woes I think around the 30-40K mark or less if unlucky. Also the voltage regulator can go but other than this the electrics are mostly reliable.
    All I can say it’s an easy fix and there will be plenty of help around the forums if you need advice on changing a tensioner.

    In 25,000 miles on my first F2 and 15,000 miles on my second F2 and 10,000 miles on my current F3 I never had any engine or electrical problems at all and I used to ride very briskly when in my younger days. Again, I never skimped on oil changes or redlined though. I am always a couple of thousand rpms shy of redlines.

    Best Buys
    As I said the 1997/98 CBR F3s got a better engine response through a better ram air system and remapped ignition over the earlier 95/96 F3 models. The difference was quite tangible. Well, it was to me but I can be a real fussy knickers.

    But seriously, they were simply better and if you are looking for an F3 I would definitely be buying the 97/98 model over the 95/96 one.
    That said if you already have a decent 95/96 F3, don’t bother, save up your pennies for an RR ..lol

    Conclusion.

    In my opinion the CBR600F3 is still a great bike today. And, quite simply, it is the best of the steel framed CBRs. It was simply brilliant in 1995 at it’s launch and even today all these years later, if you can find a good one (especially 97/98 models) that has been well serviced and looked after, it is still a great bike to ride and have fun on. Whilst it is certainly no 600RR, and lacks that bike’s aggressive looks and potent performance, it is still a very pleasant machine to ride that is well rounded with an ample turn of speed if pushed. The engine spins up quickly, the induction noise is very pleasant and satisfying and the top end is plenty for anyone with a workable IQ.
    A well looked after CBR600F3 for the right price could be just the ticket to get into some fun fast biking cheaply without being saddled with finance in these somewhat hard times.

    Review written by
    Juliet Jameson.

    Data and performance figures taken from my original Honda brochures.
    Pictures scanned from my own original CBR600F3 brochures :-)

    (This review can and will be added to with more facts and information)

    Coming soon … super reviews of, F4, F4i and 600RR

    Be patient though, these reviews take me simply an age to write and edit and get looking right ..lol

    #7722
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    shoichirohonda
    Registered Member
    RideCBR Regular
    Points: 3,894

    Good to hear about the Honda series, nice review.

    #28606
    Profile photo of bomber315
    bomber315
    Registered Member
    Training Wheels
    Points: 115

    hello juliet, i have read that you can explain how the intake works on this bike in great detail. i am building a custom project with this engine and really really need some help with airbox modification. if you could please help me that would be great. whadda ya say? thanks!!

    #28637
    Profile photo of juliet
    juliet
    Registered Member
    Training Wheels
    Points: 20

    Hey Tyler,

    Yes, certainly … I’ll write something up in the next day or two … it looks like you only have half the F3 airbox on that project. I will say this, if you mess around and alter the airbox and jets on the F3 in just about any way you make it run worse not better. Honda got the carburetion and the airflow absolutley spot on with the F3 and many folk who have tried to tune it with bigger jets and messing with the dual stage ram air almost always make it worse. My advice would be to keep it exactly as it came off the bike … I will write an explanation and include pics of my own F3’s plumbing system.

    Jules

    #28792
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    juliet
    Registered Member
    Training Wheels
    Points: 20

    @bomber315 said:
    hello juliet, i have read that you can explain how the intake works on this bike in great detail. i am building a custom project with this engine and really really need some help with airbox modification. if you could please help me that would be great. whadda ya say? thanks!!

    Alright, @bomber315 I’ve thrown something together about the DAI system here…

    http://ridecbr.com/topic/direct-air-induction-the-f3s-ram-air-system-explained/

    As I said in the review it all needs to be present and correctly functioning to get the benefits, which are very good!!! You should have enough information and pictures from my write up to collect all the parts you need to restore the DAI system … maybe find stuff on ebay. There’s a lot of old F3s in breakers at the moment … I would fit it all as it was on the bike and even mount the fairing air ducts at the front of your project. Basically just recreate the whole system from the bike onto your project.

    Jules

    #55892
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    no1spank
    Registered Member
    Training Wheels
    Points: 115

    All my bikes get hammered to the redline if I decide to go quick regardless of what they are, even my 1977 CB400 gets it and still runs sweet.

    However I’ve wrecked the odd Yamaha and Suzuki and now I can’t afford to run new bikes Honda is the only choice. (Apart from ZX10 race bike)

    I use an F2 as my 2nd track bike, it’s too slow to need a fairing on any British tracks so I run without to help the acceleration and handling.

    My F3 seems as powerful as my early R6 but lacks top end due to weight and not such good aerodynamics. Handling is terrible on both bikes in comparison with the front always trying to wash out, I’ve got a few more tires to try and will keep experimenting with suspension set ups, this is the hardest sports bike I’ve ever tried to get handling nicely. Even my early FZR600 which had terrible stock suspension was easier to get sorted.

    I wouldn’t recommend a steel frame CBR600 for fast riders that have no idea about setups. Everyone I’ve spoken too that is racing them at race meetings I have been too is experiencing the same issues. Don’t get me wrong I can beat people on R1’s etc, but as an ex racer it’s hardly an achievement especially as CB500 racers can beat me. Never happened on any of the other bikes I took on track including my Kawasaki Versys.

    I’ll give them a couple more track days and a couple of thousand road miles with different tires etc, including slicks I’ve acquired for next track day. If they don’t shape up I’ll switch to F4’s or 600RR’s.

    #65064
    Profile photo of saturnv
    saturnv
    Registered Member
    RideCBR Guru
    Points: 20,465

    Hi Juliet, I’m a new member and a rookie biker so please make allowances for my ignorance lol. Great review of the CBR600 F3 IMHO – going to look at one today which is 1997 with 12,000 miles on the clock from new allegedly…
    2 questions for you: is your quoted figure of 45mpg for US or UK gallons? I’ve seen figure quoted of 40mpg in the UK – obviously I realise it depends largely on riding style and other factors as with all vehicle mpg figures.

    Next question: what is a Sports Can (I realise it’s a different silencer) and how do they affect performance; I thought it was designed to increase high end revs (by reducing back-pressure) at the expense of low end torque and ‘grunt’? Personally I’d rather have everything standard on any vehicle (cars as well as bikes) and I am opposed to modifications generally.

    Thanks

    Tim :)

    P.S. my current bike is a Yamaha Diversion XJ600S so the CBR will be a giant leap for me but hopefully a good choice…

    #65141
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    jules
    Registered Member
    RideCBR Guru
    Points: 28,558

    Hey @saturnv :)

    The quoted MPG figure was from a magazine and we all know how they ride … on my own F3 I get about 53-56 mpg consistently when out and about in North Wales, and on gentle commuting often get closer to 60mpg. These figures are based on imperial gallons, but the bike is not heavy on petrol unless mercilessly thrashed but then that applies to everything. I find my later 600RR to be just as economical too, despite much extra power, so riding style really counts a lot :-)

    As for sports cans I don’t like messing either, as nearly all of them despite sounding louder and giving an illusion of more power, when dynoed often the shocking truth is revealed … careful matching with jets and rolling roads is the way to go or just buy standard.

    I know these exhausts rot, especially the headers but you can replace them with stainless headers and they must have those little interconnection pipes between the headers as OEM if you wish to maintain the F3’s strong performance all through the rev range.

    Jules

    When the power of love overcomes the love of power, then the world will know peace...

    #65158
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    saturnv
    Registered Member
    RideCBR Guru
    Points: 20,465

    Thanks Jules that’s a great help with my decision :)

    Going back for a test ride today – the bike looked superb when I went to look on Saturday but unfortunately I arrived too late to go for a jaunt.

    Have done an HPI check and the mileage appears genuine though – amazingly low for one this old – and they have all the past MOTs apparently…

    Will keep you posted!

    Cheers,

    Tim

    #65273
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    jules
    Registered Member
    RideCBR Guru
    Points: 28,558

    It sounds like you should snap it up with those low miles :-)

    Look after it and it will last you forever, literally…

    Good luck and yes, let us know :-)

    Jules

    When the power of love overcomes the love of power, then the world will know peace...

    #65364
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    saturnv
    Registered Member
    RideCBR Guru
    Points: 20,465

    Thanks Jules :-D
    Yes I am collecting the bike on Tuesday, can’t wait!!!
    Went for a test ride last weekend and it was lovely to ride – nice to have a machine with good brakes too, compared to my Yamaha Diversion but will take me a while to get used to the lower handlebars as I’m used to a more upright riding position…

    cheers
    Tim

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