HONDA CB650R (2019 - on) Review
- Naked version of the racier CBR650R
- Smooth, flexible and reliable engine updated for Euro5
- Direct rival to Triumph Trident 660 and Yamaha MT-07
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£160|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
Meet the 2019 Honda CB650R. There was nothing that wrong with the outgoing Honda CB650F it replaced, but with less than inspired styling, it failed to stand out in a packed middleweight class.
Effectively a naked version of its racier, fully faired CBR650R sister the CB650R’s ‘Neo Café’ design touches give it an edgier look. It also has more power, less weight and racy touches like upside down forks and radial brakes. 92bhp isn’t to be sniffed at and it’s all there if you’re willing to rev it, but for normal riding its four-pot engine is smooth, friendly and flexible.
It doesn’t have the grunt or playfulness of the cheaper, class-leading Yamaha MT-07, but it has a more grown-up feel, handles sweetly, is comfortable, engaging, dependable and safe, thanks to standard-issue ABS and torque control. Its LCD dash is tricky to read in sunlight, but that’s the only real blot on its copybook. In fact, given this bike's affordable price, generous spec and easy performance it’s perfect for new riders and the experienced on a budget. It also finds its way into our Best First Big Bikes feature, too.
2021 Honda CB650R updated for Euro5
First published on 26 March, 2021 by Jon Urry
From 2021, the CB650R has been updated to meet Euro5 and also gets Showa Big Piston Forks to improve the handling.
In isolation, it's a cool-looking modern retro bike that has a decent level of spec and a tempting price tag, especially when broken down to monthly amounts on a PCP plan. However when you put it up against cheaper rivals such as the Yamaha MT-07 and now especially the Triumph Trident 660 it does falter.
The inline four feels a bit lacklustre, the handling is secure but not as sporty as the Triumph’s and the dash remains a let-down, which starts to make you question its higher price tag of £7299.
The CB is still a great-looking and sweet-handling naked with an engaging inline four motor if you prefer this configuration over a twin or triple, however it is a bit of a struggle to recommend it when the Trident offers a fair chunk more performance, handling and spirit for your money.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
Its CB650F predecessor handled well enough, but the CB650R gets upside-down forks to replace the old conventional units. They retain the same level of easy plushness and while not adjustable, they’re set perfectly for sporty road riding.
The rear shock has 10 preload steps but there’s little need to deviate from the factory settings, even for quick road riding and chunky ABS-assisted four-piston radial Nissin calipers replace the F’s twin-piston set-up, giving the R a racier look and reassuring stopping power.
Even weighing in 6kg less than the F, it isn’t the most agile naked in the world for changing direction at speed or in traffic, but it rolls into bends with little effort, is sure-footed, stable and has a pleasing solidity to it. The riding position is spacious, comfortable and the Honda is physically bigger than an MT-07, so better suited to larger riders.
How does the Honda CB650R compare to the CBR650R? MCN finds out:
How does the 2021 Honda CB650R handle?
First published on 26 March, 2021 by Jon Urry
The 2021 CB is a sweet-handling machine that rolls into bends with little encouragement and lots of fun. Although the forks have been upgraded to Showa’s Separate Function Big Piston (SFF-BP) units, the difference in feel is fairly minimal on the road and the shock has actually lost 3 steps of preload adjustment, which again isn’t a big deal.
As a fun road bike the CB hits the mark and delivers lots of confidence through an assured feel and plush ride quality. If you want a naked bike that will boost your cornering confidence levels, the CB will certainly achieve this goal.
The seat, however, is a little firm and the bars not as high as on some rivals, meaning it is a touch uncomfortable after a while in the saddle. The brakes, despite being radial, are noticeably lacking in initial bite as well as feel and could certainly do with a set of higher friction pads to inject a bit more stopping power.
EngineNext up: Reliability
Honda have given the 649cc inline four a bit of extra poke, but you’d struggle to notice its two extra horses – up to 92bhp. It lacks the instant grunt that makes the more playful, class-leading 74bhp parallel-twin Yamaha MT-07 such a riot.
Instead, the inline four’s power is smooth, linear and still has a decent amount midrange for normal riding, but it demands to be revved for best results where it sounds great on the 'pipe'. Powering from a closed throttle it is a little abrupt, but once on the gas it’s very controlled.
Engine performance might be similar to before, but the CB650R’s reworked assist/slipper clutch has a beautifully light action, as does the revised gearbox, which changes ratio with the faintest of touches – even better if you go for Honda’s accessory quickshifter.
We averaged 49mpg when we took the CB650R around our MCN250 test route in May 2019, which gives a theoretical 166 miles from its 15.4 litre tank. During the same test a Yamaha MT-07 returned a more frugal 58.2mpg and a 179-mile range, despite having a smaller 14-litre tank.
2021 Honda CB650R engine explored
First published on 26 March, 2021 by Jon Urry
For 2021 Honda have made the CB650R Euro5-complaint through altered cam lobes, a crank pulsar, a new ECU, revised intake timing and a new exhaust system. Peak power remains the same at 92bhp however peak torque has been reduced very slightly to 46.5ftlb from 47.2ftlb and there is no change to the rpm that either figure is delivered at.
The beautifully light assist/slipper clutch’s action and slick gearbox are unaltered (a quickshifter is an accessory) and there is no discernible change in how the inline four delivers its power.
Still smooth and with a decent midrange, the issue the CB now encounters is that the Triumph Trident’s triple is more engaging and gustier in its low and mid-rev range, making the CB feel a bit lacklustre. There is still a very pleasing top-end rush if you rev it but it does feel a bit breathless when it comes to roll-on overtakes compared to the Yamaha MT-07 and Trident and you need to work its gearbox harder as a result.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Our Honda CB650R owners' reviews are glowing, apart from the CB’s less than clear dash and some corrosion on exhaust and frame.
Built in Thailand, the finish is clean, uncluttered and looks like it should stand the test of time, making it an attractive second-hand buy. The engine is tried and tested from the uber-reliable CB650F, so won’t cause any long-term problems.
Watch a video review of the rival Kawasaki Z650 below:
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
The middleweight class is fiercely competitive and in 2021 it has become even harder fought with the arrival of the Triumph Trident 660. Honda have tried to keep the CB’s costs down by building it in Thailand and not Japan but at £7299 it is still a pricey option and compared to the £7195 Trident, which is new for 2021, or the also updated (slightly) £6899 Yamaha MT-07 it seems expensive.
Kawasaki’s Z650 is £6849 (and has a TFT smartphone-connected dash) and the Suzuki GSX-S750 is £7999 (there are lots of discounts as it isn’t popular). With its inline four engine and neo retro styling the CB is in a bit of a class of one, however this doesn’t really justify its higher RRP.
That said, there are great deals to be had on second hand examples and for what is basically a simple 650cc four-cylinder naked, it isn’t going to cost the earth to run.
Watch MCN's video review of the rival Triumph Trident 660 below:
2020 Honda CB650R vs 2020 Yamaha MT-07 on the MCN250
The popularity of ‘first big bike’ middleweight roadster twins such as Yamaha’s class-leading MT-07 has inspired a flood of imitators. Rivals like Kawasaki’s Z650 and Suzuki’s SV650 deliver decent performance and handling that’s a step up to bigger machines for well under seven grand. But Honda does things differently.
With its A2-friendly CB500 twin brood on one side and full-on roadster fours such as the CB1000R and retro CB1100 on the other, ‘Big H’ plugs the middle ground with a newly-updated CB650R – a ‘proper’ four-cylinder bike that’s been significantly updated for 2019. But does it deliver like the MT-07? And what, if any, more does its extra two cylinders bring?
The MCN verdict: I’ve always had a soft spot for the slick, smooth, good-looking CB650 being the sole affordable middleweight four-cylinder roadster in a sea of twins. And the new R, with more power and class and less weight is the best yet – even if I’m not entirely sold on its ‘Neo Café’ looks and annoying dash.
But the lithe and irresistible MT, with better suspension from last year, wins here. Uniquely easy for novices yet also entertaining for experienced types, its intuitive dynamism is addictive and if the spec and finish is a little basic that’s quickly forgiven by its bargain price. Besides, if you want to pay for a little more, there’s always the XSR, Tracer, GT and new XTribute, and even Ténéré versions as well...
As well as upside down forks, radial calipers, adjustable torque control and lots of natty detail touches you get a multi-function LCD dash (which is actually too dim and to see properly in daylight), full LEDs, an underslung exhaust and indicators that flash when the ABS is activated. Honda also offers a full range of accessories, including heated grips, luggage and crash protection.
Honda CB650R equipment updated for 2021
First published on 26 March, 2021 by Jon Urry
The CB650R comes with inverted Showa forks (non-adjustable) which for 2021 are now Separate Function Big Piston (SFF-BP) in their design, radial brakes with ABS, traction control (Honda’s Selectable Torque Control) and an updated for 2021 LCD dash.
Overall the CB has a feeling of quality with LED lights and a good level of finish but the new LCD remains disappointing. Based on the Honda CB1000R it uses a larger font size and LED angle when compared to the old dash (which was even worse) but is still a bit cluttered and remains tricky to read in daylight while the fuel gauge is still horribly small.
Brake hard and the CB’s brake light and indicators will automatically flash as a warning thanks to Honda’s emergency brake warning system, which is standard fitment, and it now comes with a USB socket under the seat. The CB can be customised through an extensive list of Honda accessories that includes heated grips, luggage and crash protection.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 16v, inline four|
|Frame type||Steel diamond|
|Fuel capacity||15.4 litres|
|Front suspension||41mm, Showa forks non-adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Single rear shock, 10-stage adjustable preload|
|Front brake||2 x 310mm discs with four-piston radial calipers. ABS|
|Rear brake||240mm single disc with single-piston caliper.|
|Front tyre size||120/70 x 17|
|Rear tyre size||180/55 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||47 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||£160|
|Used price||£5,800 - £6,800|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||92 bhp|
|Max torque||46.5 ft-lb|
|Top speed||135 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||166 miles|
Model history & versions
- 2019: Honda re-invent the naked CB650F as the CB650R.
- 2021: The CB650R is made Euro5-compliant, the forks updated, dash altered and a USB socket added.
Watch MCN's Honda CB650F first ride video below:
2019: The Honda CBR650R is effectively the same bike but with a full fairing and sportier bars. It has received the same updates for 2021.
Owners' reviews for the HONDA CB650R (2019 - on)
6 owners have reviewed their HONDA CB650R (2019 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£160|
Version: Neo Sport Cafe
Great styling and Honda attention to detail. Just enough power to be fun and the chassis is good. Finish and attention to detail belies price. Needs revving and some won’t like slight buzz at high revs but it’s a tuneful motor with a decent exhaust note. Seat design could be better- Two piece not very well padded perch and the USB is under the riders seat and that needs unbolting to get at the socket. Overall so far very happy with it and love the looks. Yes I’d recommend it.
At it’s best in city situations but also a great A road out of town bike. As usual with unfaired sport bike, Motorway riding could get tiring. It’s fine for a couple of hours. Haven’t had a pillion to comment.
I’ve had several “ Torquey” triples. Wanted something different for a change. The motor spins up fast and it’s got enough bottom end to make you smile but not scary and as a restricted 47 A2 would be a great learner bike. Bit of buzzing at higher revs but I’ve had more buzzy 1000cc Fours.
It’s new so no corrosion. Finish is Honda so good at any price point.
Guessing at annual service - Haven’t got to it yet.
Best feature is the howling motor. It’s great to see a mid capacity ( Not 900cc) Inline 4 still on sale. Slipper clutch and gearbox are slick. Gold finishes on engine and wheels a nice touch. Brakes are not brilliant but they do the job. Standard simple traction control catch net, No riding modes and a real KEY! It’s a turnkey motorcycle 👍 All LED’s are smart. Small amount of storage under seat and lashing points for rollbag straps on pillion footrests etc. Honda Flyscreen is neat and smart. Tailback not available for months—Not good. Big ugly top box rack would ( in my opinion) spoil this motorcycle.
Buying experience: Bought at list price - new from a large franchised dealer who gave me a very generous P Ex allowance.
Annual servicing cost: £120
Good bike with frills. It looks very good and was getting complements as soon as it left the dealers. I got rid of the long number plate and indicator holder that sticks out from the back of the bike and replaced it for a small tail tidy and a wee bit smaller number plate. In my mind improved the look no end - not an expensive mod either.
You need to get off and stretch after a couple of hours. Why is the seat so hard? And no good for sliding back to change position on long stints. Brakes all good.
Bullet proof. You need to give it a real hand full to get the full rush. You can also dawdle if you really want. Pretty flexible really.
Overall very good strong reliable bike. Finish is very good although discolouration in the exhaust pipe is a wee bit annoying. Radiator needs an additional guard to protect against stone damage when using the back roads.
If buying new book your first service (600 mile) when you do the deal. In my experience these guys are busy. A year on and still think it’s worth it. It’s been used at weekends through out the year and was great for playing during the restrictions.
Basic and that’s a quality in itself.
Buying experience: I did a lot of internet prep work and plumped for this as a weekend plaything. Something that can be ridden and parked up through the week.Bought new from a dealer during Covid and found a smooth experience and felt like I walked away with a deal. Although the price was the price I’d have to pay anywhere. They were busy and were shifting bikes at a hell of a rate.
Seat height correct for me, plenty of grunt for me. Miles per gallon at 70 mph 50mpg. Changed the seats for comfort seat. Used it for touring France. Engine sounds busy at speed. Original exhaust is right tone for me, don’t like noises exhaust may get on my nerves on a long journey. Would recommend to a friend.
In France I like to do 130 miles and have a break, still showing 3bars I fuel up. Backside doesn’t feel to bed and that’s before I fitted comfort seats. Don’t carry pillions, I’m 70 years old prefer to ride solo.
Engine sounds busy, but power delivery is good, I think it’s pure as described in the booklet. Even though I love my 650r my favourite is my 2018 cbr 500r which is a great handling twin.
4000 miles, I clean it regular. Good build quality.
I go to mileskingsport, they’re not cheap but I have reassurance. Have been to other garages with my other bikes and they have comeback with scratches or overtightened side panels. So I’m prepared to pay more for better service.
Good riding position on the 2020 model. L e d speedo is a bit disappointing tries to be a t f t speedo but I can see enough what I want to see. Tried anti glare sticker but it dulled the display I didn’t like it.. I like the look of the bike. Original tyres ok leaning on a sweeping bend on those tar crack repairs rear broke free even with traction on.
Buying experience: I bought from mileskingsport, I’ve always had a good experience from them. Friendly and advise you on your choice. I’ve had a few bikes from them. Generally know what your getting from a dealer.
Annual servicing cost: £180
An amazing bike overall, however the throttle is on or off nothing else. The clutch is silky smooth making changes barely noticeable
Brakes are very good, the rear can be a little soft at times and the front can be snatchy. Haven't taken a pillion on just yet however, the pillion seat is very comfortable
Instant throttle with plenty to give. Having the A2 compliant version the throttle and torque pulls all the way into the low 90s and levels out mid 90s
Can be a difficult bike to insure as it is a high powered middle size
Tyres have a decent amount of grip. I'd definitely recommend a screen does help with the higher speeds of the motorway, puig do several very high quality ones. The headlight is all led making visibility at night absolutely insane.
Buying experience: Bought the bike from a Honda dealership, original pricing of just under £7400 including the price of the Datatool Trakking device (£99 instilation and just under £11 a month but would definitely recommend for peace of mind) I ended up paying £6000 otr as part exchanged my 125, as well as a voucher for £500 for learning to ride with a Honda accredited school.
Annual servicing cost: £160
Totally unique today, a 4 pot amongst a sea of twins. Huge fun to ride and top class build.
Great, apart from the seat! Ouch!
Zooooooom! That's all you need to know!
Perfect so far one year in.
Get the quick shifter I find the standard tyres to be excellent
Buying experience: Dealer. Paid £8800 but had loads of extras including quick shifter, Akropovic exhaust, tail tidy, tinted screen, crash bungs and Honda tank and tail bags.
Annual servicing cost: £180
After riding many bikes over my 16 year career I wanted a bike that does most things well. This bike is a great option for that. From commuting to weekend blasts this bike can and will do it, touring can be done but you'll want to look at aftermarket options for the seat as comfort is an issue on long journeys. Overall this is a lovely looking bike, with a smooth engine and enough power to get you in and out of trouble. Decent brakes and suspension for most road riding styles also make this a highlight in the middleweight sector where most other bikes are let down by lackluster offerings.
Brakes are great, a good progressive feel through the lever but you sometimes do have to feed a fair amount of pressure. Suspension is quite hard for some roads but get this thing out onto smooth tarmac and it's a joy to ride. Seat is horrid for anything over around an hour, my pillion said her seat was unbearable after 40mins. I went touring on my bike and I really struggled with the main seat. Aftermarket options are a must (Bagster, SW motech traveller etc).
I love this engine. It reminds me of 1990's sportsbikes! It has a good amount of torque low down and is much more useable than you would imagine. However, get the engine singing and that's where fun happens. Just keep an eye on that speedo!
I had some corrision on a couple of hosepipe clamps when the bike was brand new, not what you want to see but these are just steel clamps so I guess it's not the end of the world. The rest of the bike has faired pretty well considering I've ridden it over 1 UK winter so far. Reliability is also what you would expect from Honda. I've left it 3 weeks before starting before and it had no issues turning over straight away. There's a couple of oddities with the HSTC system. Sometimes it's way too aggressive and other times I've managed to spin the rear up. However these are aids and shouldn't be relied upon.
I've just had my 8,000 mile service (although I've only done just over 6k miles, it's been a year so). It cost me just under £180 from a Honda dealer. Running costs for this bike seem pretty reasonable.
Traction control system is a bit hit and miss, sometimes it engages when it's dry and other times it hasn't engaged in the wet and the back wheel has spun up. Dash is terrible, needs to be at least 3 times brighter on sunny days. Standard Metzeler Roadtec tyres are good all round but lack feedback that you get from something like Michellin PR5's. Still, not bad for OEM tyre.
Buying experience: Bought from Farnham Honda, got a bit of discount making this bike cheaper than a new MT07. It is of course, a much better all round bike.