Chris Saldusky's '98 CBR-F3...
Chris Saldusky's '98 CBR-F3 has a plethora of mods: Erion Racing cams and exhaust, Pro-Tek rearsets, BMC air filter, Factory Pro Tuning Components jet kit, stator cover, and timing advance stator, etc. "As far as the bike, I am 100 percent happy with it after all the mods done," said Saldusky.
Honda was beginning to feel threatened by the competition, so they again went back to the design well in '97 for another round of tricks. More power, better suspension as well as a new muffler and ignition mapping too. New forks and a new shock plus a resized 525 chain helped as well; retail was now $7799. While the Suzuki may have been a better track bike, its engine was peaky and it was not as good an all-around bike as the Honda. The Suzuki was lighter, but the better overall powerband of the Honda allowed it to run a slightly quicker quarter-mile, although the Kawasaki bested them both at the strip. All the 600s were now into the sub 11-second ET range and carried in excess of 150mph top speeds. The F3 remained unchanged for '98 until the all-new F4 was released in '99.
The F2 and F3 bikes were very sturdy bikes with only a few issues known to plague them. First was the hydraulic cam chain tensioner. Many owners reported failures and the easiest fix was to simply replace the oil-pressurized tensioner with a billet manual unit from APE (www.aperaceparts.com). The stocker was noisy and prone to failure while the manual unit is less expensive, easy to install and adjust.
Another Euro Honda rider,...
Another Euro Honda rider, Sonnich Johannesen of Copenhagen, Denmark, rides his '91 F2 regularly, and his 26,500 miles have uncovered the usual CBR weaknesses: cam chain tensioner, regulator/rectifier, and fuel petcock all required replacement.
The next biggest issue on the bike was the voltage regulator/rectifier. Many owners we spoke to reported having failures until they upgraded the unit completely instead of replacing it with another stock part. The stocker is known to overheat and die in as little as a few days and the result was a dead battery. If you are looking at a used F2 or F3, it can easily be checked with a voltmeter by simply testing the battery voltage at idle and again at 5000 rpm in neutral. If the voltage is not at or near 14.5V at 5000 rpm, the regulator is likely dead. Industrious owners however discovered that they could fit a GSXR1000 or a Yamaha R1 rectifier in its place. See www.cbrforum.com for more details. These can be scored off EBay and save you a lot of cash too.
F2 owners also reported issues with the vacuum-operated petcock that would stick on occasion. A quick fix is to fit a F3 or F4 petcock. Mechanically the bikes are bulletproof and despite widespread use in Europe by messengers and couriers, they have held up very well.
Norway's Jim Kjerpeseth owns...
Norway's Jim Kjerpeseth owns this tastefully done '96 F3 with over 38,500 miles on the clock. The still-original fairing shows the difference in graphic treatments between the European and U.S. models. "Great bike, and it's my first," said Kjerpeseth.
Since the bike was so popular, the aftermarket had plenty of goodies available. As usual, the most common mod was replacement of the exhaust system along with a jet kit. High flow air filters were also common for those so inclined. Re-gearing was another common way to boost low end acceleration provided you were willing to sacrifice some top speed. The most aggressive gearing that is still streetable is a one-tooth smaller front sprocket with a two-tooth larger on the rear. This results in impressive drive off the corners but of course raises rpm significantly on the highway, which can be annoying.
The bike handled well without a steering damper and we found only a few owners opting to install them. Unless track days were on their schedule it wasn't a requirement. A few enthusiasts upgraded the forks with new internals or in the case of the '91-'93 F2 they upgraded the old damping rod fork to a newer cartridge fork from the '94 F2 or later model F3. Upgraded rear shocks were offered by several manufacturers and were another way to decrease lap times and improve handling. Though the brakes were fairly low tech in their day, they did work well and most riders simply changed pads and/or lines as needed and didn't spend crazy money on rotors or calipers.