2015 Honda CBR650F Test Ride Review
2015 Honda CBR650F – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Honda CBR650F Review

Bike Tested: 2015 Honda CBR650F; Road Test No. 614

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 8,35,070/-

The Honda CBR650F offers terrific straight-line performance and munches miles without effort

A middle-weight segment is a class of motorcycles that pack practicality of the lower segment while providing the sporty feel of bigger bikes. There are a lot many bikes which fit this segment while a very few are available in India. This year, Honda introduced the CBR650F in the Indian market, filling the gap between the quarter-litre and the litre-class from its stable. While here in India, the CBR650F fills the gap between the CBR250R and CBR1000RR (Fireblade), worldwide this motorcycle actually makes its place between the entry-level sports bike, the CBR500R and the race focused CBR600RR.

Motor Quest: Introduced at the 2013 EICMA Motor Show, the Honda CBR650F made quite a lot of noise at its unveil. Launched in the year 2014 globally and showcased in India at last year’s Auto Expo, the CBR650F was launched in our country in 2015, becoming Honda’s first premium sports tourer in the middle-weight category.

Perfect design and style elements make the Honda CBR650F to shine

Styling – A quick glimpse and the Honda CBR650F doesn’t look any different. The single headlamp and the red and white colour combination makes it look like the CBR250R for a layman, but a second glimpse and as the bike passes by, the big fairing gives a noticeable difference. While we look from the rear, the game is totally different. One would mistake it by considering it the Fireblade, the CBR1000RR. If anyone is just a fan of the middle-weight superbike segment, then he would notice that the Honda CBR650F has some design clues identical to the Yamaha FZ6R which is not available in India yet but is one important sports tourer in the same segment.

Beefy rear makes the Honda CBR650F look like its elder sibling, the CBR1000RR

A double headlight would have made this CBR look much more purposeful from the front-end

Let’s get into the details, the front holds a single piece diamond shaped headlamp while the LED DRLs are on the the edges. Just above the headlamp lies a floating visor and the mirrors which match the design. Then comes the huge fairing which is stuck to the metal fuel tank. The single seat setup is pretty decent and gets a step-up design for the pillion. There’s very less body work as we come to the rear but the rear gets all matte finish, ending to the pointy mudguard, the rear also holds 9 point LED tail-lamps. The indicators are normal with clear yet smoked visors. The bike is available in India with a single colour scheme called pearl metalloid white which looks similar to the HRC colour scheme by Honda. The styling just doesn’t end here, the rims are 12-spoke alloys with a swirl design and in jet black colour. Complementing the rims are the petal disc brakes which are shiny and very attractive. The underbelly exhaust has a beautiful cover which matches with the aluminium swing-arm and just below the rider’s seat and between the chassis frame, there’s this all black monoshock holding the swing arm which is clearly visible, nice!

The totally new digital instrument cluster provides a lot of information

Instrument Cluster and Switchgear – Well the styling got completed yet this department was left back. If you had read our last review of a Honda motorcycle, the Honda Livo, it had a new design of the instrument cluster. Well, the instrument cluster on the CBR650F is identical, the only difference is that the Livo is all analog while the CBR650F has an all digital cluster with a hell lot of data in it. The left part of the console holds the speedometer and the tachometer, while the right side display holds the odometer, fuel gauge, current mileage, average mileage, consumed fuel in litres and two trip meters. Another thing is when the fuel goes into reserve, the light starts blinking while it shows fuel consumed from 0.0 litres as default. The switchgear gets shiny piano finish, the only thing one would have to get used to is the left hand switchgear. The horn and indicator switches are swapped while the pass light is integrated within the upper-dipper switch.

Neither committed nor upright, the CBR650F has low yet comfortable seating

Ergonomics – The Honda CBR650F is a sports tourer and has an inline-four engine at its heart. Well the sports tourer is a good part as it contributes to the comfortable seating while the second portion which says inline-four makes the engine to be very wide. But once you sit on the bike, you notice that the tank has perfect scooped design to fit your knee in while the seat is thinner near the tank and then widens as we go back. This makes the seating perfect and comfortable. The only issue one might face would be the hot clutch cover that would touch the right inner knee once you put your foot down. The bike gets clip-on handlebars which are very much upright, providing maximum comfort with decent sporty riding. The clutch of the bike feels a bit heavy (there is no slipper clutch) while the brake lever is a 6-step adjustable lever (no adjustment for the clutch though).

The 650cc inline-four mill of Honda is extremely smooth and a very silent engine

Performance – The inline-four 648.7cc powerplant is a heck of a killer, pushing out 85 BHP at 11,000 RPM with 63 Nm of torque at an early 8000 RPM. The motor redlines at 11,000 RPM yet it is eager to pull ahead without any fuss. This engine is Honda’s brand new motor with the company’s PGM-FI technique making it a performer in the mid-range. By this sentence, it doesn’t mean it’s bad, the rest of the acceleration is good enough but the mid-range is so strong that it shoots like a bullet and redlines so quick that 11,000 RPM is achieved within a small whack of the throttle. 0-100 km/hr comes up in under 4 seconds and 200 km/hr is achieved with little effort.

In a straight line, the Honda CBR650F covers up pace in no time

The Honda CBR650F is a very clam motorcycle, yet it is just a throttle away from going wild and ballistic

If you’ve read or seen any pamphlets of the Honda CBR650F, it has a tag that the ‘The Wild Doesn’t Always Scream’. This statement is totally justified with the super smooth yet super crazy engine. The last middle-weight inline-four I had tested was the Benelli TNT 600i which played a lullaby for everyone around. Well this Honda is so calm and silent that it would pass by and you would just miss the bike. Just like the older Unicorn, this CBR650F could break the record of being the most silent middle-weight bike. This part of being calm only stays till the torque hits in and that is at 7000 RPM after which the super silent engine goes loud and makes its presence felt with the inline-four lullaby. The rider would find the throttle response crisp as it can be in this range.

Proper weight distribution and the Honda CBR650F still lifts a wheel with ease

Well that’s a lot of talking for speed and this is a sports tourer. Here, riding slowly is also another play game for the engine. In top gear at about 4000 RPM, the CBR650F glides at 60-65 km/hr. The bike is capable of hitting a ton in the first gear itself while it’s also capable of doing 45 km/hr in top gear without knocking or stressing. This shows that there’s very less harshness and noise is also very well contained. But does the engine feed any vibrations? Yes, it does. The vibrations are felt at few specific places like the handlebar ends that too at a minute extent while there’s no clinging or vibration noise from the bike whatsoever.

Acceleration numbers are quite eye-opening, this motorcycle is fast

The Honda CBR650F is capable of comfortably maintaining a 100 km/hr touring speed just before 5000 RPM while it’s also capable of providing about 22 km/l of fuel economy at this cruising speed. There’s a sorcery that the inline-four engine plays and it’s that once we start hitting the redline, the mileage figure drops down to a single numerical digit that’s 8-9 km/l, the inline-four engine does drink like a thirsty beast once unleashed. This engine is so good that Honda could use this to be a platform for further development in the category as it has worked out with the 300cc and 500cc from decades.

Combination of comfort with sport, the Honda CBR650F rides very well

Riding Dynamics – Owning an inline-four is almost every biker’s dream, while riding one before owning just makes it an early bird gift! The Honda CBR650F rides like a gem. The sports tourer ergos and the sweet engine below are a recipe for long comfortable rides. The riding position is neither upright nor too committed, instead it’s between both and hence small rides or weekend getaways will be always fun. The CBR650F gets a floating visor but the visor is low and as the seating position isn’t too committed, the windblast is felt much post 150 km/hr. The Honda CBR650F gets the widest tyres, 120/70/17 at the front while 180/55/17 at the rear! And these are Dunlop Sportsmax tyres. Cornering on this bike is fun and easy only once the tyres are hot and ready. If the tyres are cold and you whack the throttle, the rear tyre wheel-spins like mad. The riding posture is low but not committed and hence pinning it through sharp turns is easy and comfortable.

The Honda CBR650F gets clip-on handlebars making the sports tourer more sporty

The Honda CBR650F is quite stable at speed with tyres offering good grip but only after warming up

Going straight flat out is even better but mind that the front gets telescopic suspension and not inverted forks. Once at higher speeds, surprise bumps or immediate flicking makes the bike a bit unstable, but this is where the rear aluminium-cast swing-arm with the monoshock suspension step in and make the motorcycle stable. The suspension setup is on the stiffer side and hence bad roads aren’t much game. Due to a newer design of the engine and its structure with the chassis, the weight is shared exactly 50-50 on both the tyres and the centre of gravity of the bike is closer to its footpegs, making is surefooted at the baddest of turns. The exhaust is an under-belly unit, there might be a concern that speed-breakers might just hit the exhaust but no, the ground clearance is just fine and we didn’t scrape its underbelly on speed-breakers. The brakes are from NISSIN and both front and rear are petal discs with ABS as standard. Honda again rolls the dice and wins in providing optimum braking performance, much suited with the bike.

Available in a single colour scheme, the Honda CBR650F is a total eye candy

Verdict – Well everything about the Honda CBR650F is written above for what I’ve experienced but still the bike is brilliant. The build quality is clearly visible from the first glance and the smoothness of the 650cc engine is stupendous. Honda never loses out on safety and provides really good brakes while the ride quality is absorbent too. The only thing that matters is the price tag which I didn’t mention in the whole review just to not make me unhappy. For Rs. 8.35 lakhs (on-road, Mumbai), the CBR650F does fit in between the CBR250R and Fireblade but it still feels costly, more so considering it’s locally assembled. Available in only a single colour option for now with ABS as standard, the Honda CBR650R isn’t worth every buck you pay for it, but it would justify with its practicality and the fact that it is Honda’s first middle-weight sports tourer for India.

The Honda CBR650F is a mini maniac version of its elder brother, the Honda CBR1000RR. It’s nimble, more practical, easier to ride and quick enough to blow our mind with that inline-four music being played in the background. The Honda CBR650F is a sweet middle-weight bike available at a premium.

The Honda CB650F gets adjustable brake levers with top notch quality

What’s Cool

* Build quality with top notch fit and finish
* The smooth inline-4 engine goes on and on like a lullaby
* Stupendous disc brakes provide good stopping power and ABS is standard
* Comfortable and practical seating/riding position

What’s Not So Cool

* The weight of the bike is a bit heavy
* Misses out on front USD forks, gets telescopic suspension instead
* Windblast post 150 km/hr increases exponentially

Alternatives: Kawasaki Ninja 650, Kawasaki Z800, Benelli TNT 600i, Triumph Street Triple

How much you try to blend in, the Honda CBR650F will still grab attention

Honda CBR650F Specifications

* Engine: 648.72cc, liquid-cooled, 16-valve, inline-four, DOHC
* Power: 86.47 PS @ 11,000 RPM
* Torque: 62.9 Nm @ 8000 RPM
* Transmission: 6-Speed
* 0-100 km/hr: 3.96 seconds
* 0-200 km/hr: 14.56 seconds
* Top Speed: 222 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 15-20 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Frame: Steel Diamond Frame
* Suspension: Telescopic Forks (Front), 7-step adjustable preload mono suspension (Rear)
* Tyres: 120/80/17 (Front), 180/55/17 (Rear)
* Brakes: 320 mm Twin Petal Disc (Front), 240 mm Single Petal Disc (Rear), ABS

Honda CBR650F Dimensions

* Length x Width x Height: 2107 mm x 753 mm x 1149 mm
* Wheelbase: 1449 mm
* Ground Clearance: 163 mm
* Seat Height: 810 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 17.3-litres (2.1-liters reserve)
* Kerb weight: 215 kgs

Throttle control and you can power wheelie on this Honda all the way

Testers’ Note:

“Never expected the Honda CBR650F to be so much fun but it did turn-out to be a racket with its quick acceleration and engaging acoustics. It’s not very nimble but neither is it difficult to ride. I don’t like the console, it’s a bit gimmicky, give me an analogue tachometer any day. The price is also on the heavier side, bringing the Kawasaki Z800 into contention, for power lovers, the green machine offers more bang for the buck.” – Faisal Khan, Editor, MotorBeam.
“When I first sat on the CBR650F, it felt a bit lower than other bikes in the segment. Within the first 30 seconds, I was doing good speeds on the bike. It is really easy to ride this sports tourer due to its seating position. However the quality of certain components and the pricing wouldn’t let me plonk my money on this sweet machine. I would rather go for alternatives from rival brands which better Honda in certain aspects.” – Aman Sancheti, Road Tester, MotorBeam.
“Those 85 horses are so mad that once unleashed, makes the Honda CBR650F so brutal and quick that you may ride in first gear lifting the front wheel all the way. The brakes are so good that there’s confidence to reach to the limit and still know the bike would stop. The inline-four motor is so sweet at the top-end that it power wheelies even with the heavy weight of the bike.” – Dhanil Vira, Road Tester, MotorBeam.

Picture Editing – Sri Manikanta Achanta


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