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San Francisco, CA
United States

Motorid.in was created to share my continuing adventure and love addiction to all things involving motorcycles. 

Ridin Posts

CBR F4i Long Term Review

Bryan Burnett

 

To better understand the F4i you have to go back through the CBR's predecessors

The start of the long lineage of the 600cc CBR's goes back to 1987 when the CBR600F "Hurricane" rolled onto the stage, it was Honda's first inline four-cylinder fully faired motorcycle. Making 85 HP and weighing 439 lbs wet, the 600F was able to do low 11 quarter mile and 0 - 60 just about 3 seconds. Honda sold over 50,000 600cc bikes between the years of 87 to 93.

In 1991 the CBR F2 built on the foundation as a sportbike with Miguel Duhamel won 7 out of 9 races dominating the 600cc AMA championship. Although unlike many narrow focused sports bikes of today the F2 was so well balanced it felt equally at home on the street or on the race track. 

When 1995 came around the F3 was facing stiffer competition from bikes like the Kawi ZZ-R600 and Yamaha FZR600, although Honda continued its control over the 600cc class in sales and in race wins. 

The final carburated CBR the F4 featured an aluminum frame and with help from Honda Erion Racing Nickey Hayden who went on to win 5 races on his way to the class title.

Which leads us to the CBR F4i, the "i" standing for Fuel-injection added more horsepower, digital speedometer, stiffer frame, and more modern design featuring a dual headlight setup.

The F4i marks the end of the era of comfortable sports bikes that have a sport touring bias, in 2003 the 600RR model was released addressing an ever more focused racetrack edge coming from bikes like the R6, ZX-6R, and GSXR. 

Design

The CBR F4i strikes a balance between sports riding, comfort, and practicality. Back in the days before the 600cc class evolved into a knife edge, bred to set the fastest lap around a track, a time existed when street comfort took a front seat to all-out sports riding.

Did Honda unwittingly build the best 600cc motorcycle ever? Let's take a closer look...

Up front, the Duel headlights do a decent job of lighting the road, but with the high beam having its own housing leaving the lighting lopsided, I've more than once have been approached about having a headlight out. The front suspension is handled by traditional front forks with compression and dampening adjustment. Which are more than adequate for spirited street riding, with only spring feeling soft on hard braking. My main recommendation is to change the fork oil if it hasn't been in awhile, to bring the front end back up to snuff. The rear suspension is also adjustable and provides a stiff enough spring for plenty of feedback while riding aggressively but soft enough to not have your teeth knocked out on bumpy roads. 

Braking is handled by 296mm rotors four-piston Nissin calipers and is linked by steel braided brake lines which replaced the old rubber hoses. By far the number #1 replacement for this and many older motorcycles, giving better feel and power to the brakes, which by modern standards feel the most outdated on this bike, but are still adequate.

The 2001 to 2003 F4i have a split seat instead of a banana seat of the later models. The split is widely regarded as looking more sporty, but a the cost of some comfort. The profile of the F4i still looks aggressive when standing alone, and only really shows its more rounded styling age when sitting next to a newer sportbike. 

The tail section on this F4i has been cleaned up with a fender eliminator and LED Tail light replacing the old incandescent bulbs. By it is my fault for the lack of space by installing a more slender under-tail kit cause now there's  about enough room for a small toolkit, water bottle, and wallet. 

The dash features a digital speedometer matched with an analog tachometer, and while riding looking glancing down to see your speed or rpm's is easy. You've also got a handy digital clock which stays on even if the key is off, and fuel reserve indicator comes on once activated as you reach the bottom of your 4.8 gas tank and anxiety sets in. My experience is once the bars come on you have 30 - 40 miles to reach a gas station. Typically I see around 42 mpg while riding both city and the twisties. If you're purely riding highway I've gotten as high 220 miles on a single tank, but in most situations, you'll be looking to fill up after 120 to 150 miles. The colorful blinker, high beam and neutral lights all sit at the top of the dash making it easier to pick up out of your peripheral vision. My only real gripe is that the clutch cable is threaded over the tripometer making it impossible to see without bending the cable back. The mirrors work as well as can be expected for their size, and you might have to dip and elbow to see directly behind you, but overall they're fine.

The handlebars are placed above the triple tree clamp making the riding position more upright than most street bikes. The f4i was designed without a steering dampener in mind, so a beefed up headstock and other parts of the frame combine together to help the 435 wet weight CBR change direction quickly without sacrificing too much stability. With a seat height of 31.7 inches, the rider triangle from bars to seat to pegs make for a very natural seating position that provides long ride comfort with the advantage of leaning over the tank for a more sporty tucked position. 

The heart and soul of the F4i is the motor, a 599cc inline four-cylinder fuel injected motor makes around 96 hp with 47 ft/lbs of torque. With a redline that is just over 14 thousand rpm, the meat of the power begins to pick up at the 6000 rpm mark. Rolling all the way through the rev range feels linear and smooth. Jumping on a more modern sportbike won't feel too much different power wise. The bike is perfectly comfortable to putt around town at 5k and below, but once you get to the boil, around 8000 rpm the bike comes alive howling till you feel the power roll off around 13000 rpm. Full throttle in first is enough to send the front wheel off the ground, while quickly blipping into second gear will keep the front light and skipping over the pavement as power is put down. With a top speed of 155mph, 0 to 60 in 2.9 seconds and a quarter mile time of 10.6, the F4i is more than potent enough to stay matched with most any bike while canyon carving. Matched to my rev happy motor is a Yoshimura TRS Tri-Oval slip-on exhaust with the silencer left inside. The silencer keeps the bike closer to stock sound levels while eliminating around 10 pounds of weight. Also, carbon fiber just looks cool. 

Issues

As any bike with at this age, there are a few components to address. The Cam Chain Tensioner is notorious on these bike for making a "buzzing" beehive sounds at certain rpm's, this can be fixed by replacing the CCT with a manual version but is not the easiest repair to do considering most of the components is obscured by the frame. Next, the rubber brake hoses should be switched out with braided steel lines. 

Overall, F4i's with proper care are generally bulletproof with people seeing well over 100,000 miles without issue. 

So who is this bike for? People who want to put down a lot of miles, but also want an ergonomic sporty package. The F4i is capable of being your everyday commute bike as well as being a canyon carver on the weekends. If you start talking track days the bike is still plenty capable, but you'll probably start dragging foot pegs and exhaust as you reach higher speeds. 

The final question that I know someone is going to ask, is this a good beginners bike? In a sense, it's a great beginners bike, good ergos, linear power, reliable, but I would not recommend it as someones first motorcycle. This bike is more forgiving then some of it's racier counterparts, but in the hands of someone without experience, the F4i can get you into a lot of trouble very quickly.  

At the end of the day, the F4i might fly under the radar of sportbikes worthy of the masses attention, but to a keen eye and honed skills, this is a motorcycle is a weapon, a tool, a commuter, and a way of getting you out exploring the world around you. Ride safe. 


 

Why you should ride a Dirtbike and a Streetbike

Bryan Burnett

As I had a lot of riding footage laying around, I wanted to do a side by side comparison of the differences and similarities of "Dirtbike Riding and Street Riding". I have strong feelings that if you really want to become a better rider in general you should try and do both. Not everyone is as fortunate to have access to both, but if you do, here's why I think you should do it!

Dirt Riding

Teaches you the basics of riding in a "typically" less dangerous environment. No cars is a main highlight. You can focus on what it's like to lose traction, with the front, rear, or both tires at speeds that are less likely to break your neck. Feeling the rear slide out as you power on the throttle with a dirt bike is amazing. Dirtbikes are lighter then any street motorcycle and generally will make horsepower between 5hp all the way up to 50hp. Anywhere in the middle of that power range is plenty to have fun. 

Street Riding

The main highlight is getting to see new places! It allows you to travel around, check out new spots on the map. There's a lot more traction and you go a lot faster. You'll learn how to work with the bike by leaning off in the corners. More weight does come with the benefit of more power and more stability. 

Combined

Riding on the dirt will help develop the sometimes un-natural instincts need to stay calm in a situation on the street where you lose traction. Street riding will help you with bending the bike under you and being smooth on the throttle. Mostly they're just fun and here's the video to prove it. 

First Ride of Spring 2015

Bryan Burnett

It's officially spring here in California, and per usual it is gorgeous. Pretty much a perfect day to enjoy some riding with a friend. Flowers are blooming, grass is green and the air is filled with two stroke smoke! Here's a video I put together of the day. The music is from Balmorhea, which i enjoy for their instrumental tastes that in my opinion goes well with the Marin County landscape. Enjoy!

Rain, rain, is here to stay!

Bryan Burnett

Last weekend I finally had the opportunity to take full advantage of the muddy situation at the "Private Testing Grounds" a.k.a. the ranch. A couple of buddies made it out for the ride as well and judging by the grins, fun was had all around. Here's a compilation of footage from the weekend. I used my DSLR in conjunction with a Hero 3 Black Edition GoPro mounted on my helmet and a few shots dangling from a Quadcopter. I was pretty happy with the footage I picked up, even though I almost lost the copter on the maiden flight.

Protip for flying, don't fly so far away that you can't see the quadcopter. 

Dunlop MX 32: Initial Impressions

Bryan Burnett

  So begins "that time of year", droplets falling from the skies, green shoots poking betwixt the earth and grey sky, bringing that sweet sliding magic that makes the 5 year old kid inside me giggle madly out loud. MUD! With the arrival of water this season, it was time for me to toss out the old rubber, and bring my rims up to 2014 technology. The Dunlop MX32. What's the first visual impression? Good looking rubber, the pattern and depth of the knobs hint at of the amount of grip these tires can dish out. Much to my pleasure the knobs have knobs inside them.

I've only been able to do 2 quick trail rides, equating to about 4 hours of ride time thus far. The terrain varied from super slick deep creek mud, too slightly harder jeep trails, with a lot of grassy fields in between. My immediate impression riding on these tires was a very descriptive, and well thought out "DAAAYYYYYmmmm!".  When tipping the bike over into a turn, the front felt so planted I could pivot over a dime. In comparison the rear felt really good, but where it shined was under acceleration. Hard or soft on the throttle,  slide to wrist response was telepathic, goose it a little out of a muddy turn and I was immediately rewarded with a smooth predictable slide making me feel like a hero. Hill climbing out of a really muddy creek was tackled with authority, not only was I sliding sideways at the time, the rear found enough traction to allow my 125 two stroke to wheelie out and over like a scalded hamster. 


Having ridden the same trails hundreds of times, I've come to expect a certain amount of sliding for a given amount of speed into a turn. Which at this point I call Dunlop out for unfair business practices, the amount of magic dust they sprinkled on these tires is appalling. After every successive turn, I felt more and more confident, to the point where I needed to take a break. I was darting in and out of corners with speed I didn't know I possessed, every slide felt predictable like a metronome, and I had to remind myself to take it down a notch, or suffer a spill into a creek where no one would find me. 


Towards the end of the second day, the MX 32's helped me reach that "zone" moment that comes with ultimate focus. I wasn't worried about what my tires might do, I KNEW what they would do, I had total control, the moment may have only lasted 2, 5, 10 minutes tops, but it was amazing. It's the sort of thing you don't realize until you come to the end of your run, the fatigue in your arms suddenly appears, the sound of the motor reverberates underneath, and the smell of two stroke smoke in the air brings you back to reality. Again I become aware of the world, not just the trail, the bike, and the next turn. When you think back on the moment, it's just a smooth stream of corners, instead of a jumble of actions.


So for the very fact that I had the confidence to throw the bike around with the authority I wanted is a testament to these tires. The key factors I'll be looking closely at from this point forward is, how well will these tires hold up over time, and how they'll do through the dry hard dirt season. These are classified as soft to intermediate tires, so only time will tell. 


The only con that came to mind would be cost, these tires aren't terribly expensive in comparison to competitors, but when you factor in new tubes, and having someone put the tires on, I was looking at around a $300 cost. I'm trying to support my local Motorsport shop, even if it hurts 10-15% more on my wallet.


I look forward to getting muddy and doing my very best testing out these tires. Stay happy, stay muddy.