HONDA CB650R (2019 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Neo Café styled version of the racier CBR650R
  • Smooth, flexible and reliable engine
  • Very popular with owners

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Annual servicing cost: £170
Power: 92 bhp
Seat height: Medium (31.9 in / 810 mm)
Weight: Medium (445 lbs / 202 kg)

Prices

New £6,999
Used £5,400 - £6,500

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.

From 2021, the CB650R will be updated to meet Euro5 and also get Showa Big Piston Forks to improve the handling.

Honda CB650R badge

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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:

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.

Honda CB650R engine

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.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Owners’ reviews are glowing, apart from the CB’s less than clear dash. They’re happy with the way it’s built, rides and say it’s fun, dependable and rewarding.

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.

Alongside the Yamaha, the Honda CB650R is also a rival to the Kawasaki Z650, Suzuki SV650 and - arguably - Honda's own CBR650R.

Watch a video review of the rival Kawasaki Z650 below:

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

It’s at the more expensive end of the middleweight naked class in the showroom, especially compared to the class-leading and more frugal (but not as well equipped) Yamaha MT-07 but 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. 

Honda CB650R static

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

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 dash is tough to see in daylight

Specs

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

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 47 mpg
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost £170
New price £6,999
Used price £5,400 - £6,500
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 92 bhp
Max torque 49.1 ft-lb
Top speed 135 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 166 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

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

Other versions

2019: The Honda CBR650R is effectively the same bike but with a full fairing and sportier bars.

Owners' reviews for the HONDA CB650R (2019 - on)

3 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.

Review your HONDA CB650R (2019 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Equipment: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Annual servicing cost: £170
4 out of 5
07 August 2020 by Lewis

Year: 2020

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

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

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

Engine 5 out of 5

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

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Can be a difficult bike to insure as it is a high powered middle size

Equipment 5 out of 5

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.

5 out of 5 Spirit of the Hornet lives on!
31 July 2020 by Kevin Buckland

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £160

Totally unique today, a 4 pot amongst a sea of twins. Huge fun to ride and top class build.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Great, apart from the seat! Ouch!

Engine 5 out of 5

Zooooooom! That's all you need to know!

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Perfect so far one year in.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5

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.

4 out of 5 Great all rounder with unique engine for class. Overlooked bike.
08 May 2020 by EnglishBikerDan

Year: 2019

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.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

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).

Engine 5 out of 5

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!

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

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.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

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.

Equipment 4 out of 5

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.

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