I never guessed I'd be holding onto this bike for more than 1-2 years compared to the last bike I owned (a Suzuki Burgman 400.) During those two years, I learned a bit more about the bike and other tidbits than I should have.
(Full Disclosure: Honda of America wanted me to ride their 919 Hornet so badly they required a $5,000 deposit. Strange how they haven't asked for it back 2 years later.)
Okay, so I learned the bike was made to be "simple." How simple, you ask?
- You don't get a fuel gauge (just an idiot light)
- You don't get a button to flash highbeams (gotta rely on the switch)
- California models don't get a center stand to make room for emission control units (I have none of these, weirdly)
- The ability to install spools would be nice
- The engine is a detuned 919cc powerplant from the (you guessed it) CBR900 relying on cast iron internals for mid-range torque, making 100 HP / 64 lb.ft at the crank. God only knows how much it makes at the wheel.
- You don't get a nice fairing (of course! On a streetfighter, no less!)
- It's a parts-bin bike. Most of these parts came from other bikes.
But looking on its bright points, it's actually simple to fix as well as being one of the few bikes I've enjoyed. And because it's simple, it's simply beautiful to look at.
And because of its manageable mid-range torque, it's actually easy and forgiving to ride. It's not a bike that will get you in trouble nor will it not bore you a few weeks later. Heck, the clutch is actually a bit easy to use.
Now, I should probably say this was made presumably before or after Honda went with the Mass Centralization you see in bikes made after 2007-08 or so, starting with its successor, the CB1000R; the idea being that most of the weight is kept low and centered on the machine as possible for handling stability. (I've ridden a CB1000R before and thought it was nice.)
Imagine my amusement when the 919 still felt nice to corner compared to the 1000R.
In the end, it's a simple, no-nonsense, down to earth bike you could probably have. It might invoke a different skill or two, but you actually learn to live with the simplicity at the same time as it gives you an interesting riding experience that's not too uncomfortable (unless you hate planning the occasional fuel stop.)