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Expert Review

Honda CB750 Hornet (2023 - ) review

Packed with technology, competitively priced and packing a charismatic new twin-cylinder engine Honda has reinvented the Hornet with real style

Phil West

Words by: Phil West

Published on 28 February 2023 | 0 min read

The Auto Trader expert verdict:

4.6

Honda’s famous Hornet roadster is back! This time as an all-new, twin-cylinder rival to Yamaha’s best-selling, fun-packed yet affordable MT-07 – and it’s been more than worth the wait. The Hornet was built to beat the Yamaha MT-07, the bargain but brilliant roadster twin that’s been a Europe-wide best seller since 2014 – and Honda’s achieved exactly that: it’s better performing, better equipped, better looking and cheaper, too – it’s a brilliant bike.

Reasons to buy:

  • tickMT-07 beating performance
  • tickVersatile and refined all-round ability
  • tickGreat value

At a glance:

Design

The all-new Hornet may share the same basic layout as the Yamaha in being a budget-orientated, parallel-twin roadster, but it aces the MT-07 in every area

The Hornet has been designed as a direct rival to Yamaha’s hugely successful MT-07 689cc twin-cylinder roadster, first launched in 2014. That long period is a testament to the brilliance of the affordable, punchy Yamaha but also intimates how hard Honda has worked to succeed. And succeed it has. The all-new Hornet may share the same basic layout as the Yamaha in being a budget-orientated, parallel twin roadster, but it aces the MT-07 in every area. It’s better looking and proportioned, better performing, better equipped and more refined. The cherry on top, though, is that the new Honda is all of those things and yet, as launched, cheaper than the Yamaha, too. It’s not perfect, but it’s so close to it we can’t complain.

Expert rating: 5/5

Riding position

Being a naked roadster means, ultimately, you’re exposed to the wind and weather, but we can’t criticise it for that

Honda historically is arguably the master of getting motorcycle riding positions ‘right’, and the new Hornet is the latest example. Although a straightforward, middleweight, upright roadster twin, its riding position manages to be slightly roomier than the Yamaha MT-07, with a larger and more comfortable seat, yet is actually easier to climb on board and feels just as slim and nimble. There’s also more legroom and space for a pillion. Being a naked roadster means, ultimately, you’re exposed to the wind and weather, but we can’t criticise it for that. As comfortable, natural, middleweight roadsters go, it’s right up there with the very best.

Expert rating: 5/5

Practicality

Long-distance touring or much by way of passenger carrying was never part of its remit

As a ‘naked’, unprotected middleweight, the Hornet was never conceived to be the most versatile of bikes. Long-distance touring or much by way of passenger carrying was never part of its remit. But, that said, there’s a lot going for it as a do-it-all first big bike. Being upright, accessible and light makes it a great, easy, affordable move into mainstream motorcycling. It’s also more than sporty enough as a fun, B-road bike and is also great around town. Being a roadster means it’s not as practical as some but, if Honda follows the MT-07 template, it’s more than likely that other variants, including a more versatile sports-tourer like Yamaha’s Tracer 7, and will follow. An adventure variant, the Transalp 750, is already on the way and likely to be brilliant, too…

Expert rating: 4/5

Performance & braking

The Hornet also feels smoother and more refined yet still has a fruity bark from it exhaust

The Hornet uses an all-new, 755cc parallel twin, which is similar to the 689cc twin used by Yamaha’s MT-07 but is better in almost every way. And the Yamaha’s acclaimed CP2 motor was already one of the best around! The improvement isn’t simply down to Honda’s extra 66ccs. With 91bhp compared to the Yamaha’s 72, it’s significantly faster at the top end yet gives nothing away in meaty midrange. The Honda also has useful modes (Sport, Standard and Rain) where the Yamaha has none and it has a smoother, slicker gearchange, too, thanks to its quickshifter. But, perhaps most impressively of all, the Hornet also feels smoother and more refined yet still has a fruity bark from it exhaust. Braking-wise there’s less in it. The MT-07 has always been praised for its powerful twin disc brakes but the Hornet’s are just as effective and are also of the more modern, radial kind.

Expert rating: 5/5

Ride & handling

The Hornet is also pleasingly nimble and intuitive, slim and light to throw around yet is also noticeably less twitchy than the Yamaha

The Hornet features 41mm inverted Showa front telescopic forks with a monoshock rear. Both are a little on the basic side as you’d expect from a budget machine, but they’re higher spec than those on the comparable Yamaha MT-07 (which were initially criticised then improved in 2017) and give a smooth but sufficiently taut sporting ride. Although slightly longer than the MT-07, and with less sharp steering geometry, the Hornet is also pleasingly nimble and intuitive, slim and light to throw around yet is also noticeably less twitchy than the Yamaha. No-one will have any complaints, other than the standard OE tyres which are a little on the budget side.

Expert rating: 5/5

Running costs

There are very affordable manufacturer finance plans on offer and its sporty engine is impressively economical

The Hornet was conceived at the outset as an affordably priced, light, middle capacity machine so was never going to be expensive to run. The initial price is class-leadingly low; there are very affordable manufacturer finance plans on offer and its sporty engine is impressively economical while returning slightly better mpg figures than its Yamaha rival. On top of that it should be reasonable to insure and its hunger for consumable items such as tyres, chain, brake pads and suchlike should be better than most, certainly so than larger bikes.

Expert rating: 5/5

Reliability

The Hornet is an all-new machine with no established track record of reliability

We have to hold back one mark here, simply on the basis that the Hornet is an all-new machine with no established track record of reliability. That said, it’s a Honda with a better reputation for such things than most; is impressively specced and well-built for such a budget-orientated machine and many of its components and cycle parts – Nissin brakes, Showa suspension and suchlike – are proven. As such we have no major concerns.

Expert rating: 3/5

Warranty & servicing

The new Hornet comes with the usual manufacturer-back, two-year, unlimited mileage warranty which covers all parts and labour

As with (nearly) all Hondas, the new Hornet comes with the usual manufacturer-back, two-year, unlimited mileage warranty which covers all parts and labour. As we write, its service intervals or schedule have not been released although again, being a Honda, and being a bike (a twin cylinder naked) that should be easy to work on, we don’t expect servicing costs to be excessive.

Expert rating: 4/5

Equipment

The Hornet, despite being one of the cheapest machines in the class, has an impressive and welcome degree of kit

Another welcome surprise. Bikes in this budget, middleweight category are often built down to a price and a little basic, but the Hornet, despite being one of the cheapest machines in the class, has an impressive and welcome degree of kit. There’s a slick, five-inch, colour, comprehensive TFT dash, decent quality cycle parts such as radial calipers, slick, well-finished bodywork, three riding modes, ABS and more. Granted, it’s hardly luxurious, but for this level and price point of machine it has far more than most.

Expert rating: 5/5

Why buy?

The Hornet is a brilliant, fun, affordable all-rounder that beats the MT-07 in virtually every respect

Affordable, fun bikes in this class have become something of a no-brainer, providing fun, affordable transport for both those moving up to their first big bike or more experienced types trading down or adding an additional fun toy. This is why the Yamaha MT-07 has proven such a big seller, and why Honda wanted a slice of that particular pie. Honda has achieved all that and more. The Hornet is a brilliant, fun, affordable all-rounder that beats the MT-07 in virtually every respect. If this is the sort of bike you want, you won’t be disappointed.

Expert rating: 5/5

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