My name is Rachelle and I have been riding motorbikes for 34 years. When I started riding there weren’t many ladies riding motorbikes or if there was we didn’t know about it because social media wasn’t a thing. I had to play out with the boy’s. Thankfully with the rise of social media lady riders have now shown their faces! Quickly I realised there are more of us than we ever knew. Apparently there are 5 million full motorcycle license holders in the UK of which 525,000 are women, excellent news!
In the Beginning
I started with the good old two strokes: First a Honda Ns125f and then on to the wild RGV 250 SP. Finally I settled down with my old faithful my 2009 Honda CB600F Hornet FA-9 ABS.
Before that however I bought a 1999 Hornet from the Motorcycle Mart in Kidderminster in 2013. This was a carburetor fuelled variant. My husband adopted this one in 2015 when he passed his test. He loved it, lucky boy but my current Hornet is one that I bought in 2015 from Sutton Honda in Bromsgrove is on a different level. I aim to keep it because I believe the traditional 600 class may be dead and buried with the advent of euro5.
The 1999 Hornet, that became the ‘Hubby Mobile’
So What’s it Like Then?
Right on with the good stuff, my bike is a dream to ride but it really gives you good feedback if you ride it like you stole it. People really underestimate these reliable little tools: Often they are seen as a starter or a commuter bike, but it has a lot more to give: The in line four cylinder 16v engine develops a useful 101bhp 16v engine. OK while the motor has lost around 16bhp when compared to the RR, it has the same 47ft.lb of torque and that’s what really matters on the road. Not top end power figures. Let’s face it none of us can out run a speed camera!
This fairly grunty little engine is stuck in a light, chuckable and agile chassis. The whole package weighs in at only 173kg. This makes the lithe little Hornet a bit of a weapon a wolf in sheep’s clothing if you like.
The Honda boasts Ø41mm upside-down forks and high speed stability is flawless. The Hornet thrives on being cranked into a bend. However a slight adjustment on my rear shock was needed, because I was scraping the belly pan on the floor. Opps!
Honda’s Dual breaking ABS system stops you when you need it too but who needs breaks eh?
The bike will, if ridden with restraint, return you around 62mpg from its 19 litre tank. However the fuel injected engine saps the juice if you spend most of your time keeping up with the big boy’s! Hey ho, that’s what makes it fun!
The Hornet’s RR-derived engine is incredibly reliable and has very few faults. I have had the occasional regulator/regulator failure. This is a bit of a Honda blind spot. On the whole though it has never let me down. The only advisory it’s ever had on its MOT history was tyre close to worn. I can live with that!
The Hornet was shaped by Honda’s European design studio in Italy, and built there at the factory in Atessa. I had to Google that!
But this is my Baby!
The seat height is 800mm. Adding to this the seat is quite wide and comfortable. The down side of this is that it restricts a lot of women, who are often vertically challenged from being able to touch the floor easily. Although there are options of lowering the bike and scooping the seat out available if you hunt about.
The digital LCD display is basic but sufficient. Ok it doesn’t have all these fan dangled riding modes like all these modern bike’s, but in my eye’s that means there is less to go wrong.
My little bike lives outside under an Oxford cover and has never failed to start. OK except on one occasion when I took it for its last MOT and it laughed at the MOT tester when he tried to start it up. It needed a new battery as the old one had given up after about 5 years service. With regular servicing and a bit of love, care and attention these little bikes should reward you with many years of fun!
I will leave it there so as not to bore you all, but do not underestimate these little bikes, because they have a sting in the tail!
Words and Pictures: Rachelle Hornby