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HONDA CB650R (2019-on) Review

Published: 23 January 2019

Honda’s neo sports café range extends to include a middleweight inline four

Honda CB650R

Honda’s neo sports café range extends to include a middleweight inline four

  • At a glance
  • 649cc  -  92 bhp
  • 47 mpg  -  195 miles range
  • Medium seat height (810mm)
  • New: £6,999

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

There was nothing that wrong with the outgoing Honda CB650F, however in a packed middleweight class it failed to stand out from the crowd due to its bland copycat styling.

In giving the CB650R the CB-family look, Honda have handed this underrated bike a unique selling point that may catch riders’ eyes and tempt them into taking it out for a test ride.

If they do they will discover a surprisingly sweet handling naked with an engaging inline four motor and bags of easy-going charm. The dash is terrible, but that’s the only real blot on its copybook.

Honda CB650R badge

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

The outgoing CB’s conventional Showa Dual Bending Valve forks were excellent, but fashion dictates that inverted are the must-have item and the new CB gains Showa Separate Function front forks.

They retain all the plushness that was so impressive on the previous units and while not adjustable, are set perfectly for sporty road riding. Combined with the surprisingly agile chassis, the CB is a very sweet handling machine that rolls into bends with little effort and lots of fun.

The shock has 10-stage preload adjustment, but like the forks there is little need to deviate from its factory settings for quick road riding.

Engine 4 out of 5

Honda claim to have given the 649cc inline four a bit of extra poke, but you would struggle to notice its 5% increase in peak power.

What is far more apparent is the beautifully light reworked assist/slipper clutch’s action and the revised gearbox, which changes ratio with the faintest of touches (a super-slick quickshifter is a £295 accessory).

Honda CB650R engine

While lacking the instant torque of the parallel twins that dominate the middleweight class, the inline four’s linear power is smooth with a decent midrange and it is a refreshing change to have a motor that likes to be revved.

When applying the power again from a closed throttle it is a little abrupt to respond, but once on the gas it’s very controlled.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

The inline four motor is tried and tested and there are no CB650F-related horror stories so all should be well. Build quality appears fairly high so you can expect it to run and run.

Insurance, running costs & value 3 out of 5

The middleweight class is fiercely competitive and despite being built in Thailand and not Japan, the CB is at the top end of the spectrum with its £6999 price tag.

The best-selling Yamaha MT-07 is cheaper at £6349, however that said its retro cousin, the Yamaha XSR700, is pricier at £7099.

Kawasaki’s Z650 is £6349 and the Suzuki GSX-S750 £7699, but they aren’t retro styled. With its inline four engine and neo retro styling, the CB is in a bit of a class on of one.

Honda CB650R static

Equipment 4 out of 5

The CB650R comes with inverted forks (non-adjustable), radial brakes with ABS, traction control (Honda’s Selectable Torque Control) and an LCD dash.

Overall the CB has a feeling of quality with LED lights and a good level of finish, but the LCD dash is disappointingly dim and tricky to see in daylight.

Honda CB650R dash is tough to see in daylight

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.

The CB comes with an extensive list of Honda accessories that includes heated grips, luggage and crash protection.

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2019
Year discontinued -
New price £6,999
Used price -
Warranty term Two years
Running costs
Insurance group -
Annual road tax £88
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 92 bhp
Max torque 47.2 ft-lb
Top speed 135 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 47 mpg
Tank range 195 miles
Specification
Engine size 649cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 16v, inline four
Frame type Steel diamond
Fuel capacity 15.4 litres
Seat height 810mm
Bike weight 202kg
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

History & Versions

Model history

 2019: Honda re-invent the CB650F as the CB650R.

Other versions

The Honda CBR650R is effectively the same bike but with a full fairing and sportier bars.

Owners' Reviews

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Photo Gallery

  • Honda CB650R
  • Honda CB650R on the road
  • Honda CB650R corner
  • Honda CB650R left side
  • Honda CB650R front
  • Honda CB650R front quarter
  • Honda CB650R in town
  • Honda CB650R urban setting
  • Honda CB650R static
  • Honda CB650R right side
  • Honda CB650R engine
  • Honda CB650R badge
  • Honda CB650R dash is tough to see in daylight
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