Naked middleweight gets the sporty touch: Honda CB650R reviewed

Honda’S CB650F has proved to be a popular and versatile naked middleweight since it received some important tweakage in 2017.

However, it was only a matter of time before the bike was given a Neo Sports Cafe makeover by the Japanese firm, so that this new CB650R now slots happily into last year’s CB125R, CB300R and CB1000R family.

Changes to the frame, wheels and tank mean the clever folk at Honda’s design HQ have managed to shave 6kg of the weight.

And fuelling and mechanical tweaks, plus a 1,000rpm redline increase by the technical team have resulted in a 5% boost to power.

Minimalist: Pared-down and with a retro feel
Minimalist: Pared-down and with a retro feel

The NSC design cues give the bike a pared-down minimalist look, which shows off as much of the machinery as possible, while retaining some retro hints.

Blacked-out motor parts contrasted with burnished bronze cam and engine covers, and minimal use of plastic raise the style stakes.

The 650R appears short, stocky, muscular and compact, although, in reality the wheelbase is actually slightly longer than the 650F.

This is achieved by the stubby tail as well as by housing the ignition in the top end of the tank, allowing the round LED headlight to be tucked in close to the rider.

Detail: Plenty of metal on show
Detail: Plenty of metal on show

That stubby end-can adds to the look, while the four downpipes are reminiscent of the iconic 1970s CB400F – the much-loved “400 Four”.

All the lighting is LED and a neat all-new LCD instrument panel includes shift-up and gear indicator.

Cockpit with LED instrument panel
Cockpit with LED instrument panel

On board, the riding position is a bit more aggressive, with the tapered bars moved slightly forward and down, and the footpegs back and up.

It still feels on the comfortable side of sporty though and immediately natural.

The bike is more rigid and lighter up front due to new Showa separate function forks – there’s a spring in one leg and a damping rod in the other – which are adjustable for preload and rebound damping.

The rear has the standard mono-shock set-up.

Stylish: Honda's CB650R
Stylish: Honda’s CB650R

Fire it up and the inline-four motor sounds as sweet as you’d expect.

The assist/slipper makes shifting effortless and the engine performs faultlessly as you move up through the gears, although I would have liked an adjustable gear lever.

Honda claims there is a “smoother, stronger torque delivery through the midrange” and I can only agree.

Through the bends, the 650R is equally seamless – smooth and confidence inspiring.

Seamless: Fraser rides the CB650R
Seamless: Fraser rides the CB650R

Braking has been given a big boost in the form of Nissan four-pot radial calipers and twin 310mm discs.

They perform excellently – and the brake lever is adjustable.

I loved the 650R. It’s light, compact and powerful, it looks stylish and high-class, and everything about it just urges you to ride.

*A conversion is available for A2 licence holders.

Classy: Fraser admires the CB650R
Classy: Fraser admires the CB650R

The Facts

Engine: 649cc inline-four

Power: 94bhp @ 12,000rpm

Torque: 47ft lb @ 8,500rpm

Colours: Black; red; silver; blue

Price: £6,999

GoCompare Motorbike Insurance


Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.