Legendary Japanese motorcycle manufacturer has just launched the much awaited Honda CBR 650F in India at the recently concluded RevFest. When the pricing of the new sport-tourer was announced a lot of people were not too happy with the price of the bike, which is Rs 7.3 lakh ex-showroom Delhi. If Honda claims to be making the bike in India, most people don't seem to think that the price tag can be justified. Well, I don't think that is an unreasonable price for the CBR 650F, and to explain why, lets take a look at the current crop of mid-engined sports-tourers we currently have in India.
First of all, lets get one thing straight. The CBR650F isn't made in India, it is simply assembled here with about 14 percent localisation. Secondly, when compared to the current mid-range models currently available in India, the CBR650F is the most recently refreshed model and comes with the latest technology. Finally, and it might just be my personal opinion, but a Honda badge means that the bike is built by the best motorcycle engineers on the planet, and with zero defect.
Now lets look at the current competition and other mid-range motorcycles, which includes the Kawasaki Ninja 650R, TNT 650GT, Triumph Street Triple and the Ducati Monster.
While the CBR 650F gets a brand new 649cc liquid-cooled, four-cylinder engine, that can pump out 87bhp, the Kawasaki Ninja 650R gets a much older 649cc liquid-cooled, parallel twin engine that generates around 72bhp. The Ninja 650R is also locally assembled at Bajaj's Chakan Plant, and it carries a much lower price tag of Rs 5.2 lakh-ex-showroom Delhi. The Kawasaki Ninja 650R is a much older model, but it is also a phenomenal sports-tourer. In terms of technology and performance however, the Honda CBR650F is far superior.
The next direct competitor to the CBR 650F is the Italian made DSK Benelli TNT 600GT. The GT obviously stands for grand tourer, which is why this model is a direct competitor instead of the TNT 600i, which is more or less, exactly the same bike. The TNT 600GT is perhaps the oldest model in India, in terms of technology. The bike does come with a smaller capacity 600cc engine, but it does get an in-line four-cylinder engine, and with just a slightly lower output of 83bhp. The TNT 600GT is brought in as a CBU and it costs Rs 5.6 ex-showroom Delhi. But again, the Benelli is nowhere close to being as well refined as the Honda.
The next competitor isn't much of a sports-tourer, but it's perhaps one of the best mid-ranged naked bikes available in India. The Triumph Street Triple gets a larger 675cc engine but it's a 3-cylinder unit - as the name implies - and it generates only 79bhp. The Street Triple is also a much older model compared to the CBR 650F and its next generation launch is just around the corner. The current model is assembled in India, but with almost zero localisation, which means it carries a high price tag of Rs 7.5 lakhs ex-showroom Delhi. The CBR 650F is priced lower but is also more powerful and has bigger dimensions.
The other mid-sized competitors to the CBR 650F are the Monster 796, Monster 795 and the Scrambler Ducati, although none of these bikes are sport-tourers. They fit into a niche segment of their own, with the Monsters as street-fighters and the Scrambler as an-all purpose machine. However, the Monster 795, 796 and Scrambler are priced almost exactly the same as the CBR 650F, but the Ducati brand is still struggling to gain recognition in India, while Honda remains to be one of the most trusted brands, and the fastest growing two-wheel manufacturer in India.
The CBR 650F promises to be a fantastic machine that is fun and practical. It has got a beautifully engineered engine and the latest technology and safety features, plus Honda has one of the best after-sales services for their superbike customers. Its price of Rs 7.3 lakhs is rightly justified and well worth your money, especially now that litre class race bikes now carry obscene price tags.
We just can't wait to get our hands on this machine and see what it really rides like - on track and while touring. Stay tuned as we bring you more information about the CBR 650F.