Wednesday 9 December 2015

Honda CBSix50 Concept

Ostensibly, this is a post about a Honda Europe concept bike, but first some background. Sideburn is a high-quality print mag, with a blog originally set up after the first issue was published to promote the magazine. This is not the way most indie mags do it. They build up a following online then go into print. Makes sense.

The blog quickly developed a life of its own, and at times has dabbled with delivering news, but we're not set up for that. We don't sell ads on the blog, so it's self-financed, meaning we can't have someone sat waiting to regurgitate press releases from events (like most motorcycle sites do). I used to do morning-after reports on the GNC, but then came along and I didn't want to spoil anyone's fun who didn't watch it live.

But we still schedule at least one post every day, sharing our interests, rides, road trips, races, friends' exploits and new products.

So, that whole preamble was to explain why I'm two weeks late sharing this concept that was shown at EICMA.

Named the Honda CBSix50, it's based on the somewhat tepid, but capable CB650F and it's making the whole 'scrambler' trend into a bona fide craze, but it's a far more unlikely twist than Ducati's retro-inspired bestsellers.

Stock CB650F frame (with modified seat subframe), swingarm, engine, downpipes are all retained. USD forks are from the Honda parts bin. Wheels and discs are new (and not from any Honda I recognise), but the bodywork is the most obvious difference, with a new design that could hint at the next direction for Honda's nakeds (if in a slightly watered-down style).
Japanese nakeds have become more and more radical over recent years, ploughing a different furrow to the fashionable retro remakes that have been attracting a great deal of interest. Most of this Honda concept isn't so far from what could seem feasible, especially considering Yamaha already makes the wild looking MT-09 Street Rally and MT-10. I love inline triples and fours, and big nakeds (I used to edit Streetfighters magazine in the 1990s and haven't shaken the attraction to the best of that genre), so these bikes are flicking my switches.

The whole thing looks a bit low to be anything other than Scrambler-style, so it should have it's own tag, like Urban Fighter or City Cross or some such marketing buzzword. 'Yeah, we're moving into the burgeoning middleweight City Cross segment with this bike.' Remember where you heard it first.
I'd have one. I like the digital camo as well, but I think I'm a little bit old to carry it off (which is where the Ducati-style retro hits the mark. Young riders like it and older riders don't look stupid or as if they're trying too hard if they ride one). Those big block Continental TKC80-style tyres don't mix with 100-plus horsepower, strong brakes and wet tarmac, though. I know from bitter experience.

While I'm hinting at grabbing too much front brake and sliding off on an oily roundabout entrance, the red crash bars look like they might save the radiator, but would pivot the bike over enough to mangle the tank.

The flatscreen LCD dash, that appears to be removable, is a nice touch and I'd love to hear the designer's spiel on what it could possibly do (but couldn't find that info anywhere. Point it out to me if you can find it). The alloy Rizoma-style brake reservoir is nasty, though.
While trying to find some decent photos of the concept I found this brilliant video. No one (except perhaps Robbie Maddison) does better videos than Honda. G


Harley said...

Now that, to me, is a really well thought out styling exercise. I can't see any indicators but hopefully they could be integrated without spoiling the lines too much.
I really like the small touches such as having two spokes anodised to help you find the valve cap, and the brackets to pull all the handlebar cables together.
I know urban roads aren't always great but semi knobblies are never going to improve things on tarmac.
Now just build the thing Honda.

Sideburn Magazine said...

Rear indicators are off the top of the low licence plate holder, front indicators (trafficators, blinkers for American readers) or in the MotoGP style lever protectors, I think.

Harley said...

I think you may be right Mr I.

Loop said...

Pretty sure the front indicators are sticking out of the sides of the radiator covers.

Speaking of Streetfighters; Do you know of any good online resource for finding 'classic' streetfighters? Like '90's UK bikes. I only ever seem to find new school American bikes or the wild German style bikes.

I'm guessing there might not actually be a lot out there as we're talking pre-mainstream internet, pre-cameraphone etc. but I'd thought I'd ask in case there were any good blogs/forums I'd missed.


Sideburn Magazine said...

You're correct, making this bike even more production ready. I'm hoping to have some more feedback on this bike very soon.

For streetfighters, you could look at

or which seems to be the online continuation of Streetfighters (and while I'm a fan of some of the bikes, the magazine stagnated in the 20 years after I left it (and it was hardly award-winning when I was there), but perhaps that's what the readers demanded).