The Honda CB650F has been a decent performer, but it was a little ‘ordinary’ in terms of styling and delivery. But Honda claim that’s all changed with this completely restyled and revamped version – the CB650R.
Drawing on the same family lines as 2018’s Honda CB125R, Honda CB300R and Honda CB1000R family, the 650 has lost weight, gained power, and ditched the Plain Jane styling in favour of the Neo Sports Café look that brings classic design cues together with modern styling and tech.
The new frame, fuel tank and other cycle part changes mean that the CB has ditched a useful 6kg of mass, while a 1000rpm increase at the redline and some fuelling and mechanical tweaks have given in a 5% power boost at peak. Honda also say the torque curve is smoother and stronger throughout the range.
The 1.9kg lighter frame gets a stiffer headstock and more flexible side spars, while adding control up front is a new 41mm Showa SFF fork that’s adjustable for preload and rebound damping, from which also hangs new braking hardware in the form of Nissin four-pot radial calipers acting on 310mm discs. The wheels are also new (still cast ally).
A more aggressive riding position
The riding position gets a little more aggressive, with the bars moving forward and down (13mm and 8mm), and the footpegs going back and up (3mm and 6mm) – while the seat height remains a manageable-for-most 810mm. Facing the rider is an attractive and well laid-out all-new LCD dash that’s shared with the CB500 family. While it’s nice, it’s a shame the 650 doesn’t simply steal the CB1000R’s even more sophisticated looking unit.
With the old 5500rpm torque hole apparently smoothed over, more gas flow from the bigger bore exhaust, more power, more torque, much-improved styling and an injection of aggression – the middleweight CB looks to have recaptured the naughty fun of the original high-piped Honda CB600 Hornet.
The CB650R's downpipes pretty hard to ignore aren’t they? If anything looks slightly out of place on the stylish new middleweight it’s those sweeping shiny header pipes snaking down to the stubby end can. But there’s method to the oddness – they’re a long-standing homage to the 1974 CB400F, the middleweight marvel of its day.
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