The guys at MCN claim that Honda will end production of the CBR600RR at the end of this year as the current bike does not meet the Euro4 noise and emissions standards which will come into effect on January 1, 2017. After that date, a limited number of bikes can be sold in the UK and Europe under the ‘derogation’ rules for up to two years. The existing model will mostly be continued to be sold in markets unaffected by Euro4 norms.
There has been a massive drop in sales in the super-sport category. The super-sport 600 class is further hampered by the high development costs of new bikes. A new bike for the 600cc class costs as much to develop as a 1000cc bike. The challenges of engineering are the same but consumer demands for the latest electronics and components at competitive prices mean that the profit margins for manufacturers are slim.
The way in which Honda finances new bike development may have played a part in the demise of the CBR600RR as well. While most companies operate a global bike development policy, Honda asks each region to pay a share of each bike to be engineered and built. In this way Honda Europe and other regions that need Euro4 compliant bikes may have looked at the numbers being sold and refused to invest as they saw the investment as a no-returns prospect. Similarly, the potentially large market in the USA has no reason to pay for the development of a Euro4 compliant CBR600RR.
Honda however is not giving up on sports bikes. There is a brand new CBR1000RR Fireblade coming in 2017 but the 600cc category has suffered a massive drop in sales since the zenith of the class in the late 1990s early 2000s. The currently well-selling CBR650F will continue to offer a mid-capacity choice for those wanting a fun, sporty road bike – much like the original CBR600F was when it was first launched in 1987 and before it became the track weapon aimed at racing success in 2003. Racing demanded the road bike to be more track focussed, but few riders wanted a bike that was very track focused. Thus, the low sales resulted in manufacturers being reluctant to develop new bikes.
For instance last year, only 150 CBR600RRs were brought into the UK. Many of those went straight to the Honda Ron Haslam Race School rather than into dealerships to be sold to the public.