The new CBR’s chassis is equally impressive. Where the outgoing CBR600F had multi-adjustable inverted 41mm forks the newbie has RWU, non-adjustable versions, presumably to save money. Even so, and with spring and damping rates wound up a little stiffer than on the CB, they worked just fine, complimenting the beautifully precise steering.The new CBR is a doddle to ride normally: light, stable and easy. And yet, when you wind up the wick, is both rewarding, engaging and never particularly gets out of shape.
Identical to that of the earlier CB650F in being an all-new 649cc four focussed on improved torque and cleaned-up looks, with external plumbing replaced by internal water channels. Header pipe design inspired by classic ‘70s CB400/4.
Though no grunt meister (however ‘meatier’ it may be than old the new CBR is still, ultimately, a middleweight four characterised by a free-revving, uber-smoth delivery) it pulls away easily from minimal revs. You need to rev it and slip the clutch a bit, of course, that’s the nature of this type of beast – but nothing extreme or difficult. 3K or so does the job and from there-on up the new CBR builds utterly predictably. If you want to potter and travel, 3-6K is ample; a bit bolder and brisker will have you opening its lungs more crisply to eight. And if you want to thrash back and forth between country corners, nine to 10 thou delivers enough hooning, howling fun to satisfy most.
CBRs have always had more class than most middleweight all-rounders and though no VFR this latest version has enough to please. fit and finish, though built in Thailand, as good on this evidence as any of Honda’s Japanese-made wares. Jury’s still out on reliability – it’s too early to say.
Whichever way you look at it it’s a decent amountof bike for the money with a fair sprinkling of Honda quality on top. Not quite as classy as the original, but the world’s moved on. Should hold its value better than most, too.
The twin LCD displays, though hardly cutting edge, are an improvement on the last version’s single LCD sweep and with clock, fuel gauge, odos, tacho, speedo and more, they lack only a gear indicator while the faux carbon inner fairing panels look good. Riding light and taillight both LEDs while accessories include: carbon look hugger, seat cowl and front mudguard, 35l top box, seat bag, rear carrier, heated grips and alarm. Yes, the CBR is built to a budget, but you have to look hard to see any giveaways.