2023 Honda CB 750 Hornet – Review.

Hornet – These peaceful creatures shouldn’t be messed with.

Words: Séan Hendley, Kyle Lawrenson, Shado Alston

Pics: Kyle Lawrenson, BEAM Productions

5 facts about hornets you should really take note of:

  1. A little-known fact about Hornets is they are actually not as aggressive as one might think – Bollocks! Hang on the gas and dump the clutch and it stands on its back wheel, keep the gas full open and fan the clutch into 2nd and the front wheel pops up again.
  2. They are quite shy – Bwahahahaha, not the Honda CB 750 Hornet, it gets right in your face, particularly in a turn
  3. Hornets attack the unsuspecting human – TRUE! Ride this bike in screensaver mode at your peril.
  4. The underlying factor which makes Hornets so dangerous is their sting – especially if you are on a lesser bike.
  5. Hornets are a delicacy in Japan – and in the rest of the world.

Doing a little bit of research on Hornets for this article we came across these facts on www.jcehrlich.com regarding Mother Nature’s Hornets and then really understood why Honda named this model the Hornet.

“The CB750 HORNET development team considered it important to balance factors passed on to successive models: the impressive presence; nimble and powerful riding performance; manoeuvrability for casual riding; and satisfying features. The team aimed to develop a profound model that is not only easy to handle and fun to actively ride on for a novice, but also enjoyable due to its high performance. Therefore, the new model will satisfy beginner riders as well as veterans” 

From Honda’s media launch PowerPoint presentation.

We couldn’t agree more.

A track day, a breakfast run and some urban cruising told us everything that we need to know about the new Honda Hornet 

To the uninitiated and power hungry sport bike enthusiast a ‘little’ OHC Unicam, parallel twin, 8 valve, 755cc power plant producing 90Hp and 75 Nm of torque at its 270-degree crank might seem to be of little consequence in the grand scheme of things… and to be fair, we were kinda of the same school of thought. Make no mistake, we love little bikes… (Geez, when did 755cc’s become considered little?), and always look forward to riding them, but were not expecting it to be much different to any other mid-range road bike we have ridden of late. They’re all surprisingly good and fun to ride yet with little to differentiate them.

BUT! And that is a very BIG BUT… this one has some serious personality. That parallel mill absolutely loves to rev and the 11 to 1 compression ratio coupled to the electronic fuel injection really delivers the goods through the 6-speed slipper clutch assisted gearbox when you throttle up.

The chunky 41mm inverted Showa suspension up front has 130mm’s of travel and the monoshock connected to the Honda’s famous Pro-Link swingarm out back gives a very decent 150mm’s worth of travel, and that’s all bolted to the steel diamond frame that delivers and exceptionally beautifully handling platform. 

The whole is kept in check by a 2 channel ABS connected to a pair of 296mm rotors and 4 pot Nissin callipers bolted to the 120/70-17 front wheel and a single 240mm, single pot calliper on the 160/60-17 rear wheel which are shod in Michelins Road 5 tyres. Add in a 25-degree rake and 99mm’s of trail and a total wheelbase of 1,420mm’s and this whole lot makes for a sublimely good handling package. 

For this class of bike in this price range it is also very well specced as far as the electronics go. It has 4 rider modes – rain, standard, sport and user with user the only customisable mode and the others offering different levels of traction, power and engine braking.

We think we somehow managed to switch the ABS off completely in user mode but for the life of us can’t tell you how or what we did… but we got some pretty wicked pics when it was off and had some properly silly fun. The screen display and information is also easily changed by very easy switchgear on the left handlebar cluster.

The CB750 Hornet is quite diminutive in stature with an overall length of 2,090mm, a 780mm width and an overall height at the top of its mirrors of 1,085mm and a seat height of a mere 795mm. Most of our lot being on the larger size of “South African” and tipping the scales at 100 kg’s plus did look at the tiny little machine quite sceptically to begin with and then it became a fight to keep them off the darn thing and schlepp into the office to write this feature. 

All in all, we are really impressed with the Honda CB750 Hornet . Their nearest competitor in this market will offer a quick shifter as standard at a similar price, with the Hornet that is a cost option. We would have liked to see a ‘Range to empty’ option on the dash display as well as some form of bash plate to protect that predominant inverted pyramid protruding out the bottom of the sump and just asking to be catastrophically against a kerb stone or some bit of solid detritus on our horribly maintained SA roads. 

There is a bash plate option for the Transalp where the Hornet shares a chassis, motor, electronics, exhaust, lights…. Basically, everything except the wheels suspension and body panels, so we assume the Transalps bash plate should just bolt directly on. An aftermarket bikini screen would be a nice consideration and make this bike an absolute beaut to hit the highway to your favourite mountain passes over a weekend. 

Other than that, the 2023 Honda CB750 Hornet is practically faultless in our eyes and this is what our lot had to say about it:

Séan is 2-metres tall, 115 kg and loves to race everything on wheels. He loves mountain passes and positive 150kph as a cruising speed, but hates being cramped on a bike or fighting a bike into submission or clinging on for dear life. His other pet hate, more accurately – his nemesis – is traffic and idiot drivers. This is what he had to say about the Hornet:

F&£K Yeah!!!!! What a bike!! 

I am seriously hoping Honda Wing SA permanently forgets that we have this bike. Yes, I know I like a lot of bikes and would love to keep them all, but this is only one of a handful of bikes that has me considering criminal methods to keep it in my garage. This bike just has me wanting to ride it all the time and sommer for no reason or purpose other than just to ride it. 

Every time I get a new bike to ride, especially one of this bikes size , I hang my head in despair as I mentally run through the challenges of wrapping my long, sloppy slab of sexiness on to or into it and seeing the Hornet for the first time was no different. A couple of industry mates were also a little dumbfounded walking me back to the parking lot after a visit and seeing what I was riding – Boet, that must be K@K uncomfortable, how do you fit on it? – were the snarkiest comments for the most part. 

The rest were along the lines of – Geez, that is gorgeous… and sounds so sexy, is that its standard bike? Unbelievable! And… NO WAYS! You actually fit and look quite comfortable on it! And that I do. Honda must be the King of ergonomics. Normally I would have to ride with my toes on the foot pegs to slot my thighs into the tank mouldings, but even with the 795mm seat height I can ride flat footed on the pegs with the greatest ease and comfort. At first the handlebars felt a bit narrow and somewhat too far rolled back but somehow, they just work, from tilting into a corner at speed to skipping through the tightest gaps in traffic, I started really appreciating the bars in relation to the bike. 

My favourite part of the ergo’s is the bump stop on the seat. Sliding my arse all the way back against it, spanking the gas on hard and fanning the clutch between gears had the front wheel lifting between each change – something I am normally too terrified to do for fear of falling on my pip. Run too hot into a corner and brake too late… no worries, just tilt in and trust the bike to make you look good. It is sooooo smooth and stable cranked over that I just want to go tear up ET on it, I have dreams of hanging along the pass between Roossenekal and Lydenburg, turning right toward Lydenburg and the beginning of Long Tom Pass or even trying to sneak off to Cape Town to go ride BainsKloof Pass or Clarens Drive, maybe a bit of Chapmans Peak or even go over the mountain from Franschhoek to Hermanus.

This is a very cheeky scoot. When I first swung a leg over it at RSR a few months ago I was like a naughty kid as were the rest of the bike media on that day. Hardened adventure bike enthusiasts saw the light and were immediately converted to the joys of tarmac fun on this little bike. RSR is a very technical track which I have only ever ridden anti-clockwise, on that particular day it was still in the clockwise orientation and thus a completely new track to me and even though I was a new and unfamiliar bike it only took me a few tyre warm up laps to get overly well acquainted with the Hornet and work out that it loved being revved hard and chucked around – it is just so light and well balanced at 190kg that it responds to rider input and changes direction very willingly and quite quickly. 

More experienced and professional riders might want to make a few adjustments to the suspension set up, but for Joe Average like me, this is an exceptionally fun track bike which is that unintimidating that it will just increase your skill level in quantum leaps each time you ride a track. And, if like me, you are old and lazy and prefer not to muscle big powerful bikes in and out of corners but still want to have a lot of fun on the track then you would be hard pressed to find a better weapon than this iteration of the Hornet.

Shado is one of our more technical riders and a track instructor who loves spending many an hour sliding over a bike and cranking it as hard as possible into the corners. Barely knee high to a grasshopper and tipping the scales a very girlish 60ish kg’s, he can really squeeze the most potential out of a bike – he is also an avid fan of 4 bagger screamers with little regard for parallel twins, we gave it to him for a weekend and sent him on a breakfast run and to the track. We have never really seen his teeth before, but by the time he got back on Monday morning he was grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

I’M A CONVERT!!!!! Just WOW! OH… and sorry about the footpegs, this bike was just too much fun around the track. The previous four cylinder Hornet was amazing and I was worried that the new Parallel twin would not deliver. But I was wrong. My Mrs spent long hours on the back of the bike and came away smiling. I even managed to convince her to jump on the back for a few laps around RSR. Initially she was quite frightened but then encouraged me to push harder and faster and tip deeper into the corners as she felt my confidence in the Hornet growing with every corner. Our combined weight is somewhere around 120kg’s and we are both on the shorter side of medium height and the CB 750 was completely stabler under braking and dipping into the corners with a rising amount of power cranking out the other side so much so that I had to concentrate to keep the front wheel down. The power out of this little twin is amazing and it loves to rev… HARD! And develops its power in a very linear and smooth fashion, very predictable. It really is a superb machine, predictable, powerful, confidence inspiring and really very comfortable for the two of us on a breakfast run, longer distances might be a bit challenging without an aftermarket windshield…. But, at the end of the day, I love this bike.

Shado stuck Trixi on the back around the track....,
.... and she loved every minute

Kyle is our resident hooligan around 180 cm tall and weighing in somewhere between 95 and 100 kg’s, he has a natural feel for what a bike is doing under him, especially when only making use of either the rear or front wheel on most occasions, he begrudgingly had to give the Hornet its well deserved dues:

I really enjoyed every second on this bike, Honda really has built something quite special. I love the colour schemes available on this bike, especially this candy red and the very subtle pearlescent white, combined with the modern and sharp styling it really makes it a gorgeous package, a real head turner. Young, modern and just very cool. The Hornet has a very natural seating position, whether you are riding hard around the track, stunt riding or just cruising around town or dodging traffic, you can do it all without feeling weird and uncomfortable. You’re not slouched over the fuel tank or up on a perch like a parakeet. The seating position inspires a lot of confidence in the rider with natural and instinctive ergonomics. I spent a lot of time commuting and stunting on it and not once did I have an “OH F..k” moment, for cocking about this bike is balanced, light , nimble and a huge amount of fun with the perfect balance of power and personality. This is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Like most of the modern Honda’s and in general most electronic packages these days, you do need to spend a bit of time familiarising yourself with the various functions and their activation/deactivation. Riders modes are very simple, however working out how to switch the traction control off completely does require a bit of RTFM’ing. The suspension feels ever so slightly soft, more to my liking, however the Hornet is absolutely planted in the corners and under hard braking…. It is shod with some decent rubber as standard in the Michelin Road 5’s. First and second gears seem to feel quite short and get you off the line and away from traffic quickly, from third onwards the gears feel like they get a little bit longer and even though she had great low down torque, she does love to scream and put her power down hard in the top of the rev range. I had a bit of an issue with the ABS, don’t know what happened but I used it to my advantage to get her up on her front wheel with a couple of rolling endo’s. All in all it is a great little package with a lot of personality, work and back Monday to Friday, track on Saturday and breakfast run on Sunday. Yes, I have waxed on about it for a bit, but it is not all perfect, I found the gearbox a bit chunky, definitely missing that quickshifter. Then, that hugely exposed pyramid sump had me worried a lot, I would definitely recommend some sort of skid plate. I am also quite worried about the subframe being welded to the chassis, one small fall over on the exhaust or a flipped wheelie would be disastrous. With bolts on subframes you can unbolt the damaged part and replace it, with the welded subframe you would need to replace the entire chassis. Small concerns in an otherwise excellent little machine – go ride one for yourself”

Final summary

This iteration of the Honda CB 750 Hornet might just be a game changer and will definitely have you looking at a parallel twin in a different light, especially with its very reasonable price tag.

CB750 Hornet R179 999.00


Cooling                                               Liquid
Number of cylinders                         2, 4 valves per cylinder, 270 degree crank
Capacity                                             755 cm³
Power                                                  90 HP (67.5 kW)
Torque                                                 75 Nm
Gearbox                                              6-speed with assisted slipper clutch

Fuel Tank capacity                             15.2 liters
Top Speed                                           205 km/h (Official – claimed, we got 219kmh)
Avg Fuel Consumption                      23km/L – 4.35L/100km

Length                                                          2090 mm
Width                                                  780 mm
Height                                                1085 mm
Wheelbase                                        1420 mm
Ground Clearance                            140 mm
Seat Height                                       795 mm
Kerb Weight                                      190 kg

Front Brake                                       Dual Disc 296 mm, 4-piston
Rear Brake                                        Disc 240 mm
Front Tyre                                         120/70-17 Michelin Road 5
Rear Tire                                           160/60-17 Michelin Road 5
ABS                                                    Dual channel
Traction Control                               Switchable in user mode, preset per rider mode


Front Suspension:                           Showa 41mm SFF-BP USD fork
Rear Suspension:                            Monoshock, Pro-Link


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Bumblebee checking out the Hornet

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