Breaking Bad – Honda CBR600FR PC25 Steelie
Some of the best buys that I find are those that I don’t actively look for. This L reg Honda CBR600FR passed through the local bike trade before ending up in my life. The initial dealer that took it in with a job lot of other bikes kept the good stuff and touted the rest about. A guy that I know was offered it but wasn’t too hot to trot, so he sent me a few images of the bashed up CBR and an asking price of £350. I replied without bothering to ask any probing questions, and simply said “Yeah, I’ll have it”.
I’ve no idea what happened to the fairing lowers and seat panels, but to be honest I’m not overly bothered. Many of these lower and seat cowl panels are plentiful on the NOS market and don’t command overly expensive price tags. The one piece that I am keen to check out is the tiny fuse box cover which is located within the righthand side upper fairing. The reason that I’m zooming in on this plastic panel is because they are easily worth £50. Bingo! It’s present and intact. Every bike comes with its own story and where possible I do my best to find out the nitty gritty on any bike I come by. The downside of fishing within the trade often means my thirst for info is left wanting.
The Honda CBR600 Steelie is one of those bikes that’s still very much in demand, not by hoarding collectors but by motorcyclists that prefer to ride them rather than hide them. That means that good used parts are always in demand. At £350, I could’ve flipped it on easy enough for a modest profit, but in return for some effort on my part, this 17,000 mile old Honda is worth more in parts.
Attached to the V5 logbook was a HPI report. This confirmed that CBR had been involved in an accident back in 2015 that resulted in L137 FTA being added to the insurance hit list. I’m pretty confident that was the last time that this bike moved under its own steam. I could run an MOT or road tax check but that would get in the way of vaporising this CBR600 into bits.
The bodywork comes off first, well what’s left of it anyway. One upper cowl, fuel tank and that treasured fusebox is all that’s salvageable. The CDI wasn’t born with this bike. It’s been purchased from a breaker in the past as the hand written sticker upon it gives the game away. It’s marked up CBR600FM, though the 91 FM model through to this 94 FR model were pretty much the same bike under those yearly paint changes. The regulator looks fresher than the rest of the bike, no surprises there! Taking it off also allows me to see that the wiring loom connectors are in very good condition, maybe there’s been a charging issue in the past? A cooked reg can easily take a loom with it. Thankfully, there’s no alarm fitted. This means the loom will appeal to a CBR 6 owner that wants to rid their ride of a 20 plus year old alarm system.
Good news is often followed up with sourness. What looked like a reasonably clean frame is actually just another gift to the God of scrap metal. Taking the rear mudguard off reveals one very heavily rusted frame section. It feels like it’s lost its strength, adding to the fact that this bike carries a Cat C insurance marker that would, by default, damage any resale value of a bike built around this bone. It might appeal to a track day goer or CBR600 Steelie racer, so I won’t weigh it in just yet!
The CBR600 Steelie is still very active on the track. It’s got its own class with certain clubs and makes for a reliable track day bike too. The fact that it’s so robust means an engine isn’t worth a great deal. Optimists ask £200 for a good motor, meanwhile realists would happily take a ton! I’ll let you work out which one I am. The retro looking Micron oval can looks proper 90s. It baffles me why people fit those stumpy looking cans to 90s sports bikes? Even though there are a few dints and scratches, it still looks ok and should fetch £50.
The exhaust headers look sad and so does the radiator. The cores are all well furred up which is why it’s important to get your fairing lowers off now and then give the hidden components a tub up.
Silly things please me, one of which is the fact that both switch gears haven’t faded. It’s pretty common for these to end up faded over time. The fuel tank is all good, except for a few light scratches, but my betting is that they’ve happened in storage. Something else that happened in storage was the keys were misplaced. To gain access inside the tank cap, I had to dig out some crude tools. My efforts were rewarded with a super clean inside. This adds value to any old tank.
The fuel is well and truly past its best which will mean the carbs will need a strip and clean. The FR model did have a few upgrades over the FM and FN models that preceded it. The rear shock gained a remote reservoir and the forks got some adjusters added. The forks always made a few quid more than the non adjustable items from the earlier bikes and hopefully that’s still the case.
The way that everything is knitted together on a CBR600 highlights what a great design this motorcycle was. The way that the wiring loom connectors neatly line up in the fairing cradle pleases me more than it should. One of the bits that confirms the attention to detail is the rear hugger. Instead of adding cost by making a trick swinging arm, Honda simply cast up a steel arm and then fitted a fancy silver hugger to create that illusion of ‘trick-ness’. The funny thing is, years back you couldn’t give these plastic huggers away. Not now though, they now trade at around £50 for a good one with its decals attached.
Making my job easier is the centre stand as I’m not a fan of paddock stands. A few hours later and I’ve taken off all the parts that I want. The rusty frame, swinging arm, worthless engine, downpipes and rad are all left in one hit. It will be punted on in one piece and chances are a thrifty track day addict will give it a home.
- Good exhaust downpipes are always in demand. There are plenty of pattern options on the market but they come with varying tales of quality. Stick to brands you’ve heard of from sellers you trust.
- Bodywork is plentiful. Finding the correct colour panel to match your scheme can take time. Tanks are the hardest part of the puzzle to track down.
- Forks are in short supply. Crashed bikes often take another set off the market. Pitting can kill off a decent set of stanchions if you don’t keep them clean. New stanchions are available.
- Fairing cradles are big and fragile. If you use one that’s even slightly out of shape, you’ll struggle to get the fairing to fit properly.
- Engines are cheap, often cheaper than buying a gasket set and repairing a poorly one.
- Frames are strong but can rot usually around the headstock area. Rust never sleeps so always check behind the bodywork.
Original shocks last better than you’d expect. It’s also one area that’s worth spending a few quid on and buying a decent aftermarket option.