Saying that reactions to the 2023 Honda CB750 Hornet have been mixed would be an optimistic statement. While some enthusiasts have voiced excitement over the Hornet nameplate returning to Big Red’s range, the new naked bike’s departure from previous model conventions has disappointed many. The CB750’s new design also informs that chilly reception.

Prior to the Hornet’s October 4, 2022, debut, Honda paraded edgy concept drawings before the public. Many critics drew parallels between the original designs and KTM’s 890 Duke line, but the finished product took a much more conservative route. To integrate classic Hornet design elements while further modernizing the model, prolific digital designer Kar Lee overhauled the underwhelming aesthetics.


Lee first addresses traditional Hornet design elements that hit Honda’s cutting room floor such as the round headlight, high-mounted exhaust, and inline-four engine. To strengthen its tie to past models, the digital creator adopts the CB650R’s neo-retro LED headlamp and tucks the end can under the Hornet’s tail unit. He can’t quite squeeze an inline-four's pixel load into the CB750’s tubular steel frame, but an inline-triple splits the difference between the current parallel twin and the four-bangers of yore.

The high-mounted exhaust not only abides by historic Hornet design language but also puts Lee’s single-sided swingarm on full display. He doesn’t utilize the one-sided unit in every render, but it does add a premium touch to the budget model. Lee's new exhaust may cover up the subframe, but he takes those obstructive efforts further by adding side plates to the steel frame.

If the lighting, engine, and chassis upgrades aren’t enough, the designer even transplants throwback Hornet graphics and co-opts contemporary touches like red wheel tape. However, Lee refrains from altering the 2023 CB750’s bodywork. Yet, the digital renders look worlds apart from the production model.

Of course, Lee doesn’t have to abide by emissions or safety standards when he riffs on existing designs. His work does make us wish Honda was more willing to take risks with the 2023 Hornet design.

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