According to Wikipedia, a streetfighter or super naked motorcycle is one with “high displacement and horsepower” and “typically a super bike with the fairings and windscreen removed”. One origin story of the streetfighter is that it was born as a result of young riders in the 1970s and 80s, having damaged fairings while pulling stunts on the road, deciding to do away with the fairings and customising their Japanese-built motorbikes, with, among other elements, higher handlebars for better control to ameliorate further damage due to limited budget.
In time, manufacturers started designing and producing these motorcycles for the streets as stripped down, aggressive — in style and stance — motorcycles. Honda has a history with streetfighters dating back to the 1990s with the 1998 CB600F Hornet and the 1999 X-11 or CB1100SF.
Over the years, the Hornet has undergone various updates and makeovers, culminating in the Honda CB750 Hornet, teased at EICMA 2021 and launched at INTERMOT, the International Motorcycle and Scooter Show in Cologne in 2022.
The CB750 was dropped off in my driveway at the perfect time, at the start of a week of in-person meetings around the city and decent enough Joburg weather.
In a Honda video, Hornet designer Giovanni Dovis says, “Elements of the design were inspired by the shape of the angriest insect, the hornet. The Hornet concept emphasises fuel-tank shape and surface, creating a new, compact proportion. Sporty character expressed by tension. Aggressiveness and a pointed tail to visualise dynamism.”
It is a beautiful-looking motorcycle. I probably spent at least 15 minutes simply gazing at it before hitting the road. From the headlights and streamlined tank to the upward facing exhaust and the narrow tail, it all works aesthetically. Weighing 190kg, the CB750 is light and easy to handle, so much so that I actually enjoyed riding in and between traffic as I went about my day.
It has a five-inch, full-colour TFT screen with the basics, including speedometer, clock and gear selection indicator, and four riding modes: Standard, Sport, Rain and User, which control the Power, Engine Braking and Torque. These are shown as P, EB and T icons on the screen. Toggling between the settings while on the move is easy with the simple pressing of the Mode button, accessible with the thumb on the left handlebar. The User mode lets you set the three settings to your preference.
I haven’t reached that level yet, so I just tried the Standard mode before settling on Sport mode for the week. I am not sure if it was wishful hearing, but the exhaust seemed to dial up its growl a bit more in Sport mode.
It has a 755cc liquid-cooled four-stroke eight-valve parallel twin engine with a six-speed manual transmission gearbox and a tank that is listed as having a 15.2l capacity. Power is listed at 67.5kW/9,500rpm with torque of 75Nm at 7,250rpm.
The lights are all LED, including tail and indicators (which are also self-cancelling). It did take me a minute to get used to the way the headlights light up the road in the dark. It’s hard to explain, but it felt like three horizontal layers of light. I wasn’t sure whether my eyes were deceiving me, but I could clearly see the road ahead.
While the Hornet is at home in the urban jungle, I did take it out for a short ride, putting in about 100km on a Sunday afternoon. Comfortable up to about 120km/130km an hour, the wind does get a bit much anywhere above that. Tested that for research purposes and comfortably settled on the speed limit and enjoyed the ride.
I probably wouldn’t take it for anything longer, but it is the perfect city motorcycle from both a design perspective and a handling and power perspective. It had me finding random reasons to pop out of the house for a quick spin.