It would be an understatement to say that opinions on the 2023 Honda CB750 Hornet have two types of fans. While some enthusiasts have expressed enthusiasm over the Hornet brand returning to Big Red’s lineup, many have been let down by the new naked bike’s departure from earlier model norms. That cool reaction is also a result of the CB750’s re-design by Kar Lee.
Honda unveiled the Hornet’s edgy concept art in front of the public before its official launch on October 4, 2022. Many detractors compared the initial concepts to KTM’s 890 Duke series, but the final product followed a far more conventional path. Prolific digital designer Kar Lee redesigned the unimpressive looks to incorporate vintage Hornet design cues while further upgrading the device.
Kar Lee’s design of the Honda hornet
Lee begins by addressing classic Honda hornet design cues that Honda eliminated, such as the round headlamp, high-mounted exhaust, and an inline-four engine. The digital creator borrows the CB650R’s neo-retro LED headlight and tucks the end can behind the Hornet’s tail unit to further enhance its connection to earlier versions. An inline triple divides the distance between the modern parallel twin and the four-bangers of old, but he can’t quite fit an inline-full four’s load into the tubular steel frame of the CB750.
The single-sided swingarm of Lee’s Hornet prominently displays the high-mounted exhaust, which also adheres to classic Hornet design principles. Although he doesn’t use the one-sided unit in every render, it does give the inexpensive product a more expensive feel. Although Lee’s new exhaust may conceal the subframe, he goes above and above by adding side plates to the steel frame.
If the changes to the lights, motor, and chassis weren’t enough, the designer also added retro Hornet artwork and borrowed modern details like red wheel tape. Lee does not, however, make any bodywork changes to the 2023 CB750. Yet the production model seems nothing like the computer renderings.
Of course, Lee may riff on current designs without having to adhere to emissions or safety regulations. We do wish Honda would have been more adventurous with the design of the 2023 Honda hornet after seeing his effort.