All Comparisons – CB650F, Bandit 650 or XJ6: in line, the small 4-cylinders! – At the controls of the CB650F, Bandit 650 and XJ6

CB650F, Bandit 650 or XJ6: in line, the small 4-cylinders !

All Comparisons - CB650F, Bandit 650 or XJ6: in line, the small 4-cylinders! - At the controls of the CB650F, Bandit 650 and XJ6

The arrival of the Honda CB650F reminds us that ten years ago, the 600 cc inline 4-cylinder was the benchmark architecture among mid-displacement roadsters. For the occasion, Site released the Suzuki Bandit 650 and Yamaha XJ6. Comparo !

At the controls of the CB650F, Bandit 650 and XJ6

Without starting the engines and even before getting on the motorcycles, a first essential observation for these entry-level is established: the Suzuki is the heaviest. Just lift them off their side stands and turn them around to detect the Bandit 650’s overweight..

The site therefore advises against this model for the smallest builders, for whom pushing back the 240 kg on a false flat or perching them on the central stand (original!) Could prove to be tiring, stressful or embracing. Or all three at the same time! In comparison, the 210 kg of the XJ6 are easier to grasp, and the 208 kg of the CB650F even more….

The handlebars of the Yamaha, much lower and curved than that of the Honda, make the maneuvers more physical. In the end, we would swear that the weight of the Yamaha is more important than that written on the technical sheet … We would place it right between the Suzuki and the Honda.

Lighter, the CB650F has the highest saddle (810 mm) but the smoothness of its front part allows the vast majority of bikers to put both heels on the ground. Well designed, its saddle widens appropriately in its rear part. But it is singularly lacking and in all points of thickness, especially compared to that of the Suz ‘ !

The Honda rider’s knees are a little wider apart and the legs more bent than on other motorcycles. In the long run, this arrangement will hamper riders with large poles. The latter will greatly prefer the Yamaha, which bends the legs less thanks to its footrests placed lower.

We note that two handlebar positions are available on the XJ6 and the Bandit. The driving positions are generally quite close on the Suzuki and the Yamaha: the handlebars of the Suz ‘also naturally press the elbows against the ribs..

The Suz ‘is the only one to offer two saddle heights: 790 mm (5 mm more than the Yam’) or 770 mm for the little ones – who, let us remember, had better be strong! However the Bandit 650 does not stop there: it also allows its pilot to adjust the spacing of its two levers.

For the anecdote, the editorial staff of the Journal moto du Net noted that it preferred the following settings: brake lever on 1 (maximum) and clutch lever on 4 (minimum!), In order to make them fall to left and right at the same phalanges … Curious, no ?

Honda would do well to draw inspiration from Suzuki on this point, because the clutch control of its CB (not adjustable, as on the XJ) may be a little far away for small jigs … that the CB650F came precisely to bait with its lower weight. Pity !

On the Yamaha, there is hardly anything but this handlebar with a slightly too "cafe racer" spirit which reduces on-board comfort: the Honda handlebars are more reminiscent of a "trail" – all things considered – and thus gives more freedom of movement in the arms, which quickly builds confidence.

As on the Bandit, the pilot appreciates the softness of the XJ6 saddle and the slight settling of the suspensions when he lands on it. The CB650F seems more frozen on its bearings: the cursor of the compromise between comfort and sport is shifted to the right on the Honda.

By waking up the 4-cylinder, however, the XJ6 immediately takes on the sportswear suit. The purring of the Yamaha airbox, interrupted by a few sharp revs – and in volume! – literally leave Honda and Suzuki speechless !

CB650F: a real ball of nerve

On the CB650F, you can hear at idle like a nasty sizzle coming from under the tank. This disappears as soon as the digital tachometer displays – approximately, it is not very precise – 2500 rpm. At low speed in town, therefore, the phenomenon of resonance keeps coming and going. Annoying, and unfortunately "impossible to solve in the current state of affairs", according to Honda France staff.

Another surprise that we did not expect from the Honda engine: its lack of progressiveness on the very first degrees of throttle opening. Curiously, the PGM-FI injection seems less well configured than on other Honda.

At start-up this results in a CB650F which takes more turns than the Bandit 650 and the XJ6 and requires a little more work on the clutch lever. On a trickle of gas then, the Honda can be irregular.

More progressive and smooth on take-off, the Suzuki’s injection also lacks restraint, but only when the throttle is cut off. Often criticized for its brutal throttle management, Yamaha finally delivers the most transparent motorcycle to us. !

Question gearbox this time, it is the Bandit who takes down the jackpot. A little harsher in terms of selection, we note however that "our" CB650F had less than 60 (sixty) kilometers in the legs at the start of this comparison. The XJ6, which shared this character trait, covered 2300 km. No excuse therefore !

Suzuki may emphasize in its argument the fact that the clutch control of its little Bandit is hydraulic, it is not softer than the other two "by cable". Similarly, it is impossible to separate the three engines in terms of flexibility: all resume from idle in 6th, an exercise that the twin cylinders of equivalent displacement are incapable of..

In addition to its high, flat and straight handlebars, the CB650F benefits from a front axle modeled on that of the CB500F: perfectly neutral, it is handled with the tips of the gloves. We do not feel more inertia on the part of the rear axle, at the end of which is however mounted a tire 180 mm wide (160 on the little sister and on the cousins ​​Bandit 650 and XJ6).

The "good old" Suzuki is set back from the point of view of agility: its geometry (26 ° hunting angle and 108 mm hunting), its more arched handlebars, its slightly drooping steering and especially its weight make it less obvious to carry in town.

Compared to the very young Honda, even the Yamaha has heavy steering. And if the XJ6 can turn around in a circle less than 5 m in diameter (40 cm better than its two rivals according to MNC measurements), we feel more comfortable at the controls of the Honda to face the circulation.

By the way, if when arriving at the first crossroads or roundabout, your – future? – "CB" suddenly starts honking, no worries: your thumb has just activated the horn by placing itself directly and unconsciously at the usual height of the indicators. On Honda’s, the two controls are reversed: who said the Tokyo Reds weren’t funny ?! Fortunately, we get used to it quickly.

The relatively firm suspension tuning of the Honda is more difficult to incorporate. MNC did not like driving the Honda over cobbled areas and alleys, or on small roads in poor condition. But the French bikers, who have praised for years during the dry Kawasaki roadsters, should adapt perfectly to it. !

As comfortable as the suspension of an ER-6n (last generation, phew!), The fork and the shock absorber of the CB650F are located a notch below those of the XJ6 in terms of absorption of big shocks, and two notches under those of the Bandit 650. The "Cebe" shakes too much and bounces the buttocks against its too hard saddle. The rider is better received on the Yamaha, while he is pampered by the Suzuki.

This observation can be duplicated with regard to the possible passenger who will find the Honda less welcoming, in particular because of the passenger handles, subtly integrated into the rear shell but which can hardly be grasped with both hands and which cannot be controlled. full turn.

In addition, over the long haul – we will come back to this in the third volume of this full review – the CB650F distils too much vibration via the saddle and the footrests. Ironically, the Honda footpegs are the only ones without gum, while those of the Bandit and XJ6 could have almost done without. !

Go on a trip for two ?

The preference of the "co-pilot" for the Yamaha or the Suzuki is then a matter of taste. The XJ6 offers two large grab handles and fairly low footrests. The Suzuki bends the legs more, but its lower saddle allows it to be more fully integrated with the rider.

On the Suzuki, the single handle placed at the top of the rear part naturally encourages the passenger to put his other hand on the tank. He thus finds himself perfectly stalled, ready to counter the tilts of a well-driven GSF … Because it is high time to put gas, no ?!

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