A mix of brawn, good looks and great performance – that’s the Honda CB650F. This four-cylinder bike comes as a breath of fresh air into a world of motorcycles that’s now populated with singles, twins, and triples. Read our detailed Honda CB650F to know more about this motorcycle from the Land of Rising Sun.
In the world of the mid-range naked bike, Honda looks set to steal a march with the four-cylinder Honda CB650F. We haven’t had a good old four cylinder in quite some time, simply because many companies have abandoned them in favour of more robust mid-range power plants.
In the Honda CB650F, though, Honda may have found yet another winner. It seems to have placed the right bike in the right place – in the tiny target space that its competitors no longer see as interesting. Therefore, the Honda CB650F costs less than the Japanese naked four-cylinder 750/800cc bikes, but it’s also less powerful than them. Similarly, it costs more (but is more powerful) than the 650/700cc twin-cylinder bikes from the other Japanese brands. This elementary equation makes the positioning of the CB very clear and neat. To tell you the truth, even Benelli and Yamaha have 600cc four-cylinder bikes in their lineups. But, if the BN600R is almost unknown, the XJ6 is now an old product. The Honda CB650F, however, is fresh, sporty, and features modern styling. So it made every sense to us to take this motorcycle outdoors and do an extensive Honda CB650F to help you know how well does it fair against the competition.
A LOT OF SUBSTANCE
The Honda CB650F is a rediscovery of how simplicity can make riding so comfortable. Once in tune with the engine, this is one of those bikes that makes you want to push it. It’s surprisingly reassuring with its progressive response. It’s fairly agile in direction changes (helped by its high and wide handlebars, at least by Honda’s standards), and very precise going into and out of corners.
The CB cannot be accused of much, other than a bit of vibrations around 5,000rpm – initially felt on the foot pegs, and then on the handlebars. Its four-cylinder engine is smooth, never feeling like a powerplant that makes compromises. The response to the throttle input is immediate, without any jolt or strange spike, even when riding at 1,500 rpm in sixth gear. The acceleration is not as full-bodied as that of its twin-cylinder competition, but it still delivers power up to almost 6,000rpm without any lag in response. Then, at 7,000rpm, starts the beauty of the four-cylinder engine – and then comes the acceleration that only a ‘four’ can provide, while also generating 15bhp more than the 650/700cc two-cylinder bikes.
From a more technical point of view, however, we can blame the Honda CB650F for a little something. When it comes to the front forks, we would want them less devoted towards comfort and more steady in their tendency to dive suddenly. But this can be solved by adopting a fluid, and less edgy style of riding. Once you do that, you can fully enjoy the goodness of this very communicative front end.
The rear monoshock is more effective – partially helped by the engine’s power output, which is not too aggressive at lower rpm’s. It can’t be severely criticized, however, as it avoids any excessive imbalances – both on the brakes and while accelerating out of the corners – with progressive and predictable behavior from the rider. The gearbox, on the other hand, is quite good. In addition to being very precise, it’s also very fluid in between gear changes.
However, the braking system isn’t exceptional. If, in normal conditions, it’s good for its predictability, conversely it’s not so great during more competitive riding – even when one firmly squeezes the brake lever.
All said and done though, the Honda CB650F turns out to be a very good bike. Certainly, its kudos to Honda for creating a bike that meets the requirements of an extremely wide range of riders – from beginners to seasoned veterans. After an exhausting Honda CB650F ABS, we can’t wait for its launch in India – which is expected in the first half of this year...
Honda CB650F features aggressive design cues from tank to tail. In the chassis, a beautiful asymmetrical swing arm, made of aluminum, is in contrast with the simple twin spar frame made of steel. The headlight incorporates lights at the sides, LED type, like the tail light. Tachometer and speedometer in the instrumentation.
On the left, the shock absorber with adjustable spring preload, is connected to the swingarm. Traditional and non-adjustable front forks – we would have liked them to be adjustable. ABS is standard.
Honda CB650F ABS
in line 4-cylinder, 649cc, liquid-cooled, 11.4:1 compression ratio, double overhead camshafts, 16-valves, four 32mm throttle bodies with electronic injection, wet sump lubrication
chain final drive; multidisc in oil bath with mechanical control clutch; 6-speed manual gearbox
Electronic controls manageable by the rider
Frame & steering
twin spar framesteel, 25.5° tilt steering, 101mm trail; 41mm non-adjustable telescopic hydraulic fork; aluminum swing arm and preload adjustable shock absorber
320mm twin front discs, 2-piston calipers; 240mm rear disc, single piston caliper; Two-channel series ABS
front: 120/70-ZR17; rear: 180/55-ZR17
length: 2,110, width: 775, wheelbase: 1,450, seat height: 810, fuel tank: 17.3L with 3.5L (reserve), Weight: 208kgs
86bhp @ 11,000rpm
63Nm @ 8,000 rpm
white/red/blue, black, yellow
COMMENTS OF THE TEST RIDER
The 16-valve Honda is truly commendable for its linear engine response and power delivery. In this regard, it has consistent mid-range torque (accompanied by excellent throttle response from 1,500rpm onwards), allowing the CB650F to deliver good overtaking capability. The CB delivers good fuel consumption too – the four-cylinder Honda’s efficiency is more than expected, as it consumes roughly what a twin-cylinder of the same displacement would consume. Fabrizio Giulini
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