The way the CB turns and stops is both more than adequate (accomplishment itself considering the price) and thoroughly engaging and fun, too. Through the sinuous, endless hairpins of the velvety CV-70 up and over the high sierras, the new Honda was a blast: braking had far more finess and power than its humble two-pot calipers would suggest; the ride was firm, taut and reassuring, not quite delivering the refinement of more expensive systems and very occasionally a tiny bit choppy, but, on the whole, excellent.
All-new. Honda’s first Thai-built multi (following the CB500 twin range launched last year) has plenty of sports influences (RR bore, compact shaft arrangement and stacked gearbox) but is also tuned to be flexible and user-friendly and styled (with minimal hosing) to look good, too. It spins up effortlessly and feels happy to rev, belying Honda’s claims for decent, meaty midrange. No, there’s no great gobfuls of torque. This is still a middlewight four, a turbine-smoth rev-monster. Yet to its credit, it IS also one that makes decent progress
Although there’s nothing flash or fancy about the CB, its designers have clearly paid a great deal of attention to the important details and given it more than a few quality touches where it counts. Those snazzy wheels and header pipes, for instance; a full five colour choices, the textured seat finish and carbon effect infill panels around the tank, all of which help lift this new Honda above the ordinary and mundane into something that is truly special.
The CB650F falls almost exactly midway between the price of Yamaha’s impressive new twin, the MT-07 and Triumph’s class-leading three-cylinder the Street Triple both excellent bikes in their own right – but we reckon the Honda’s better AND better value.
Although the suspension is fairly budgety (no inverted forks nor front adjustment and no linkage for the single shock rear), because it’s been designed from the outset as such and with the CB’s looks deemed equally important, those suspension components don’t LOOK budgety. The forks have natty black lowers, the shock’s hidden away with your eye instead drawn to the stylish cast alloy swingarm and clean undertray.