I recently purchased a 98 CBR F3 after owning several cruisers. Having never owned a sport bike I had to see what the fuss was about among the younger generation.
It may not be a R1 or Gixxer but this bike is a nice package for an intermediate or even experienced rider. The power is great and if you know how to ride all the fun, to me anyway, it's after 10,000 rpm's. How the other 600's compared that year I don't know, but dive into a corner and this bike is unbelievably stable. It instils a lot of confidence and is very forgiving in all it does.
I only have 3,800 miles on it, but the reliability has been great so far. I don't expect anything less though from a Honda. I just jetted it; added a K&N filter and put on flush mount signals.
Only negative is if I try to run anything lower than 110 octane it doesn't respond as quick. I might as well put water in the tank thanks to the first owner breaking it in on VP.
Keep your front in the air and happy riding.