So what’s the difference between an F4i and a 600RR? They’re both staples of Honda’s supersport marque in the 600cc class. So which one is right for you? That's for you to decide. Let’s talk about some of the differences between these machines…
Some of my own thoughts, neither are a great starter machine, but the F4i instills more confidence in the rider. F4i retails less, should have lower private party pricing, and is a generally more versatile machine; can also be used as a touring machine. I wouldn’t tour on a 600RR, but the 600RR is slightly more edged for the track. Rider fatigue sets in faster riding the 600RR than the F4i (but you might be different). F4i is more relaxed, 600RR more aggressive. The F4i look is a little more dated than the 600RR, but the handling is shaper on the 600RR. Better brakes on the 600RR.
Okay, enough of my opinion. Please draw your own conclusions of course. Do more research. Any corrections, please add them. Information is still coming out with the 2007 model, so please post up anything that’s changed, or anything I forgot. I don’t plan on riding a 2007 (although I’d love to), unless I buy one.
** Note: In no way will I be held liable for any errors, omissions, factory changes, or other data points that may be different, including my opinions. There are of course small differences like rake and trail that I didn’t include. I don’t think a lot of riders make their decisions on those data points, but whatever. There may be market differences (e.g. California-emissions machines), that may have some specification differences. The purpose of this post is to highlight the differences between the two 600cc-sized Honda sportbikes for the USDM.
• Introduced in the US market in 2001, and was an update to the carbureted F4 machine, part of the 600F legacy. The first F machine was the Hurricane and has been radically updated since (F1 Hurricane, F2, F3, and F4/i).
• The F4i has a comparably more relaxed feel. The clip-ons sit above the clamp for a more upright riding position, akin to a sport-touring machine. Same as the F4 machine. The rear sets are adjustable but not as aggressively mounted as the 600RRs.
• The 2001 debuted with a 371 lbs. dry weight, one of the lightest machines Honda has made. Colors offerings, 2001 – white/red, silver/black, red/black; 2002 – yellow/black, silver/red, red/black; 2003 – silver/red, silver/black.
• The first generation (2001 through 2003) F4i was a split seat. The pillion seat was a separate seat than the rider’s seat. This was different than the F4 machine that came to pass. The second iteration (2004 through 2006) featured the return of the “banana seat”, the pillion and rider seat are the same assembly. Colors changed too, 2004 – black/red, black/yellow; 2005 – maroon/grey, silver/grey; 2006 – blue/black, yellow/grey).
• The 2001 through 2003 machines are very much the same. There was some changes made to brakes and ECU, but they’re relatively minor. Most of the changes were the different colors available; this is similar to the 2004 through 2006 machines, where similarities are plentiful and the only real differences are choices in tank/fairing colors.
• Seat height for the 2001 through 2003 machine is 31.7 inches (may also find 31.9” measurements). Chain (525 size), bore x stroke (67mm x 42.5 mm), and displacement (599cc) have not changed.
• There are some minor changes in the brake systems, but in large part, the debut bike featured front brakes sized with 296mm disks coupled with four piston calipers. Rear brake was a single 220mm disk on the 2001 model year. Brakes are pretty decent, but performance is slightly less than the 600RR.
• The F4i is fitted with 120/70 front and 180/55 rear tires.
• Peak ponies for the 2001 machine are found at 12,500 RPMs, boasting around 94 HP, and torque crests at 47.9 ft-lbs. at 10,500 RPMs. There was some rumor that the 2003 had the most power, but this could not be confirmed. The 2004/06 iterations probably have similar power and torque figures.
• The driven sprocket changed in 2006, dropping a tooth from 46 (2001 through 2005) to 45 teeth. Drive sprockets had 16 notches.
• Top speed of the 2001 machine is around 155 MPH (actual, not indicated).
• Exhaust is a conventional, right-hand mounted pipe and muffler, opposes chain-side of swingarm. Ground clearance is slightly less than the 600RR, but for street use, probably not an issue.
• Has slightly more storage under seat than its 600RR ilk. Can easily fit an aftermarket fuel management system, alarm system, etc.
• Mirrors are acceptable, but don’t inspire any confidence. In my opinion, they offer a slightly better view of that tailgating SUV than its 600RR brethren.
• The front fairing offers more wind and precipitation protection than the 600RR. Because you’re sitting “in” on the F4i, you have a marginally better defense against bugs, wind and rain.
• Power delivery is pretty smooth and very predictable; the machine redlines a tad over 14,000 RPMs. Slight power drop after idle, perhaps around 4K RPMs.
• Quarter mile trap speeds (~120-130 mph) and times (low 11s) are similar to the “superior” 600RR.
• Same instrumentation cluster through the entire generation. No digital fuel gauge; however, there is a reserve indicator with bars. 4.8 gallon capacity tanks with 0.9 gallon integrated reserve (no manual petcock switching required).
• Introduced in the US market in 2003, and took the reign as the premier supersport in the Honda model lineup. This machine was fuel-injected like its F4i sibling, but architecturally modeled on the RC211V MotoGP race machine.
• This machine has relatively more aggressive ergonomics than the F4i; the clip-ons are below the yoke. The rides almost on top of the tank. Rear sets are also adjustable to the users preference, but are located in a higher, race-oriented position.
• The 2003 and 2004 model years are strikingly similar, with very few changes; dry weight was 370 lbs. The color choices were the only changes made to USDM bikes (2003 – red/black, black, and yellow; 2004 – red/black, black/silver, and blue).
• Some revitalization was made to the 2005 bike, which carried over to the 2006 model. These changes included small changes to the engine, exhaust, fairings, forks and swingarm; shedding 9 lbs (down to 361 lbs. dry weight). Color choices were different (black, black/grey tribal, silver, silver/black, and red/black; 2006 – orange/black tribal, black, silver, and red/black).
• The 2007 was a complete redesign; an incredible 20 lbs. were eliminated, and dry weight was dropped to 341 lbs, although Honda claims 345 lbs. Changes included almost everything; new engine, new frame, new rear brake system, new wheels, new fairings, new cooling system (w/ new radiator) and an updated version of the Honda Electronic Steering Damper (HESD) system. The front forks and rear suspension system carried over from the 2006 machine. Front brakes are of the same specification, but may be different part numbers. The wheelbase was shortened. Current colors are white/silver, blue/silver, red/black and black.
• Through 2003 to the current model, the chain (525 size), bore x stroke (67mm x 42.5 mm), seat height (32.3 in), dual headlamp configuration, and displacement (also 599cc) have not changed.
• Both generations have superior braking systems (than the F4i), and boast similar specs.
• The 600RR also features the 120/70, and 180/55 tire sizes, front and rear, respectively.
• Power peaks on the 2003/2006 iteration at 13,500 RPMs (100 HP). Twisting force hits its crescendo around 11,400 RPMs (41.6 ft-lbs.) No idea what the 2007 machine carries, but it’s probably marginal at best.
• 600RRs are factory geared with 16-tooth front sprockets and 43-tooth driven sprockets.
• Top speed is around 160 MPH (again, actual, not what the speedometer says, which will be higher due to factory programmed error).
• Exhaust system is center-up design, exhaust gases exit near the brake lamp under pillion seat. This helps give the machine more turning clearance.
• Has very little storage. You can store your registration papers, and that’s it.
• The mirrors on the 600RR are subjectively worse than the F4i. Although I haven’t reviewed the 2007 600RR, I’m sure they also give you an excellent view of your elbows.
• Although aftermarket screens are a popular mod, the factory windshields offer little element protection. You’re sitting “on” the machine.
• Very touchy throttle, and not as confidence inspiring as the F4i. The 2003/2006 machine redlines around 15,000 RPMs.
• Quarter mile trap speeds (~120-130 mph) and times (low 11s) are similar to the F4i; I’m sure the 2007 speeds and times are similar.
• Same instrumentation cluster from 2003 to 2006, 2007 has new gauges. Has a digital fuel gauge (not sure on 2007 model). Same fuel capacity and setup as F4i, also with automatic reserve.
• “Honda 600RR”. Wikipedia.org. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_CBR600RR
• “Honda CBR600F4i”. Wikipedia.org. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_CBR600F4i
• “2003 Honda CBR600RR Timeline”. Sportrider.com. http://www.sportrider.com/bikes/2003...600rr_timeline
• Neeves, Michael. “CBR v CBR: When the F is Better than the RR”. Motorcycle News. December 10, 2003.
• Personal knowledge.