Honda has launched the CBR650F in India today and we do a quick specification comparison of the same with its two arch rivals from other brands.
The middle-weight superbike segment in India is continuously evolving considering the fact that these bikes are not very slow compared to their elder cousins and are much more practical for our road and traffic conditions. Add the fact that they are priced way lower than the litre class bikes and these machines sound perfect for those performance bikers on a budget. While Kawasaki has been in the 650cc segment since a long time now, Benelli too entered it earlier this year. Now, it is Honda which has decided to enter the segment with the CBR650F which it launched today in India. Will it be able to beat the other bikes on the block? We do a quick comparison to find out.
Design – The Honda CBR650F looks really nice from all the angles and gets design inspiration from its elder siblings in the CBR range. It looks like a proper superbike yet is comfortable enough for long rides. The Kawasaki Ninja 650 on the other hand looks more like a tourer and different people will have different opinions about the design. The Benelli TNT 600 GT has gigantic road presence thanks to its considerate dimensions and the fact that it gets proper tourer styling.
Dimensions – The Benelli completely dwarfs the other bikes here when it comes to dimensions. It is the longest, widest and tallest bike giving it a lot of road presence. It also gets the highest ground clearance making it more India-friendly. The Kawasaki and the Honda are almost the same in terms of dimensions with the former standing taller. Ground clearance for both the 650cc machines stand at 130 mm which isn’t too low.
Comfort – This is a department where the Honda and Kawasaki would be a close match considering there somewhat softer suspension setup whereas the Benelli will be the most comfortable because of its suspension setup and the extremely plush seats which provide good comfort to the rider and pillion. Seats of the Ninja 650 are comfortable while the CBR’s seat offers decent support levels too.
Powertrain – Although these bikes belong to the same category in terms of engine size, they have radically different engines. While the Kwacker gets a parallel twin-cylinder engine, the Benelli and Honda get in-line four-cylinder motors which are more sweet sounding. Since Benelli is 50cc down on displacement as compared to the other two, it loses in terms of power to the Honda but has more power than the Kawasaki motor. The Honda CBR650F is the most powerful bike in the trio making 87 PS of power and that coupled with the lowest weight is a recipe for fun.
Price – It is here that the game changes completely. The Kawasaki Ninja 650 is the most affordable bike here undercutting the Honda CBR650F by more than Rs. 2 lakhs! The Benelli TNT 600 GT costs about half a lakh more than the Kawasaki and offers many things above the Japanese superbike. It is the Honda CBR650F which is the most expensive machine here costing almost as much as the Kawasaki Z800 which gets a bigger engine and much more power and comes in via the CBU route, thereby attracting more duties. It is difficult to justify the CBR650F’s high pricing considering it’s a CKD import and is assembled here.
Verdict – If you are on a budget, the Kawasaki Ninja 650 makes the most sense. It’s got most of the power one would ever need and has the widest service network for now in India. The Benelli makes a lot of sense if long distance touring is your thing and it also comes with a humongous 27-litre fuel tank giving it a really long range. The CBR650F makes sense only if you are sold on the Honda badge but we reserve out judgement till we ride it. Still it is hard to pay the price for the CBR650F when the Kawasaki Z800 costs almost the same and is a much better bike in almost every sense.