Honda CB650F & CBR650F test


4 cylinders in line, 649 cm3, 95 hp at 11,000 rpm, 64 Nm at 8,000 rpm, 208 kilos, from € 7,199

Honda’s mid-size roadster passes Euro 4 standards and gets a makeover

There was a time when Honda reigned supreme in the niche of mid-size roadsters: with its 600 Hornet, the world’s leading manufacturer had a remarkably balanced tool, which was later competed with by the Yamaha Fazer while Suzuki tried to deceive with the Bandits, before replicating even later with the GSR.

And then, the laws of evolution went through there. The 600s no longer represented the heart of the market, as mid-size roadsters became less and less “mid”. 750, 800, now 900 (in real life: a 943 cc!).

Honda, him, did not enter in this race to the displacement. In 2014, the Hornet was replaced by the CB650F, which was actually a significantly wiser version and developed 89 horsepower..

In fact, the CB650 is not in the hit parade, while the French market, however, values ​​the mid-capacity roadster. With 1849 sales in 2016, the CB is doing a decent year, but compared to the Yamaha MT-07 and its 4691 units, it’s a bit tight…

For 2017, this machine is getting a makeover and passes Euro 4 standards, this goes hand in hand with some modifications that we will review below. The CB650F doubles up with a faired version, the CBR650F, which stands out only for its different fairing and handlebars. We tested both versions on a dense and sunny day of driving in the Barcelona area (Spain).

Honda CB650F and CBR650F test

What unites them is this engine. Oddly enough, Honda did not have this 649 cc 4-cylinder engine approved for A2 licenses, which now develops 95 horsepower at 11,000 rpm and 64 Nm at 8,000 rpm. Yet she deserved it.


LED lights for everyone! And to identify the new roadster, it’s simple: the CB650F has new side scoops, a horizontal LED garland on the optics, surmounted by two small sidelights. Some say that from the front she looks like a Power Rangers face, but at least that way you recognize her. And then that’s cool, a Power Ranger. It saves the planet.

LED headlight for the Honda CB650F

Still, this gives the machine a look a bit more tilted forward, so incidentally more dynamic.

The 2017 Honda CB650F

For its part, the CBR650F has a slightly more angular fairing (in its red and black livery, it is even a nice nod to the new Fireblade), which, despite everything, does reveal parts of the engine. This one has bronze casings and, by its "spaghetti" exhausts, pays homage to the first 4 cylinders in line of the CB genealogy and in particular the CB400F and therefore to the history of Honda.

The 2017 Honda CBR650F

In the saddle

Even if they are not A2 approved, this pair of machines remains dedicated to a wide range of users and is therefore easy to access. This is the case, with a saddle at 810 mm and a tank, admittedly of 17.3 liters, but rather narrow in its rear part: very democratic, therefore.

Common to both models, the 4-cylinder is no longer A2 approved

The dashboard is fully digital: in the left window, speed and tachometer; on the right, fuel gauge, trips, time and some interesting information such as the average consumption and the amount of gasoline that was consumed (enough to fuel your ecological awareness).

The dashboard is fully digital

The exhaust has been worked on for a somewhat harsher sound. Nevertheless, the note remains very discreet at start-up. Before leaving, we obviously note a driving position a little more tilted to the front on the R, but it is not sporty so far, insofar as after a day on the road and even during low evolutions speed, no wrist pain was felt.

The exhaust is discreet

In the city

At 2,500 rpm in sixth, the 4-cylinder is obviously surprisingly flexible. Narrow, manoeuvrable, the pair of CB650s are perfectly at ease in the city. Good turning radius, smooth feeling from all the controls, progressive brakes, civic sound, we are still trying to find out what we could fault it with. To lack space under the saddle to accommodate a lock worthy of the name? Yes that’s it….

The 4 cylinder is an example of flexibility

On motorways and main roads

In 6th gear, we turn at 5200 rpm at 110 km / h and at 6200 rpm at 130 km / h. We are still far from the red zone, which it borders on (where the law allows it, of course), at over 230 km / h. But we don’t buy a mid-size roadster for that…

If we did not enough motorway during this test, what we can say is that the CB650 fulfills its task, of course, but without being zealous either. The CBR version is doing a bit better, not because of its fairing whose screen does not even protect the shoulders if you are over 1.80m, but because the slightly lower handlebars allow you to bend the spine without looking ridiculous of a runner. During this exercise, stability was not questioned…

The Honda CBR650F on the road

On departmental

With a reworked exhaust for more sound depth, driving pleasure should be at the rendezvous on departmental. Especially since, more than the power up slightly, it is the work on the gear ratios (from the second to the fifth it is shorter than before), which participate in the driving pleasure..

Honda CB650F review

And it works! Because we can imagine that a 600 4-cylinder requires to be whipped to death to give the best of itself, but it begins to wake up around 5000 rpm and then gradually accelerate to 11,500 rpm in a pretty cool roar. Suddenly, on winding side roads as we have had the opportunity to practice, the CB650 behaves like the best of the mid-size roadsters, with an engine that shows a certain length which is very pleasant..

The 650s are a treat on the small roads

This, especially since the chassis provides outright: moreover, it would have deserved better tires than these Dunlop D222. Not that they are really criticized in terms of grip, because over the kilometers, it started to roll really fast and they do not really flinch, however, they do not deliver any information to the handlebars. The CB650 therefore deserve better.

The Honda CB650F accelerating

And this, especially as the frame allows a rhythm of sustained improvisation and without breaking up. Big braking in line or on the angle, nothing really disturbs it and one cannot imagine following the rate which was ours on certain machines cubing approximately 150 cm3 additional.

Which leads us to say that often, "entry-level" motorcycles have to be satisfied with suspensions at a discount: not the CB650 !

The two machines remain extremely close in terms of behavior


The CB650 being more an evolution than a revolution, what changes? The pitchfork, of course! Signed by Showa, it features a double valve device with adjustments at the top of the fork tubes. Throughout this test, we have constantly praised the good performance of the suspensions, a rather rare compliment on "entry-level" motorcycles….

Honda get 41mm Showa SDBV fork


New Nissin calipers have appeared and they act on 320 mm discs. Given the weight and performance of the bike and despite a very high pace all afternoon, nothing to report: power, bite, dosage, everything is perfectly consistent…

CB / CBR receive new Nissin calipers

Comfort and duo

No duet on this test and the saddle, without being particularly soft, did not cause any particular pain. Note that it allows to move back on a significant amplitude, which is always good to take. Individuals with long legs may find that they are still a little folded up, over the long haul..

The saddle is quite comfortable and allows sufficient backing up

The supplement of the CBR does not change much to the case: the protection is quite virtual, while the pressure on the wrists remains limited..

Consumption / autonomy

Despite a fairly high pace and a significant proportion of the journey made in second or third and high in the laps, the average consumption recorded on the on-board computer comes out at 5.9 l / 100. Honda claims 4.76 l / 100 for this model, which seems plausible when walking quietly. The 17.3 l tank thus guarantees almost 300 kilometers of autonomy, which is appreciable. Finally, we note in addition to the fuel gauge, an indicator of the amount of fuel consumed, which helps to know precisely where we are when crossing low density areas in gas stations..


As with the glass half empty (or full), there are two ways of looking at it. Split between the 650 twin-cylinder roadsters (Kawasaki Z650 & Yamaha MT-07), which offer a little more than 70 horsepower for around € 6,000, below the bigger ones (Suzuki GSX-S 750, Kawasaki Z900), which offer from 110 to 127 horses for around 9,000 €, the pair of Honda CB650 could have their ass between two chairs.

This is without considering that beyond the numbers, what makes a motorcycle’s strength is also its balance. And in this area, the CB650 hits hard, has no obvious flaws and shows that the arms race is not always a virtue, thanks in particular to its excellent chassis, safe and playful and to its engine.

Certainly, its ease of handling, typically Honda, its consistency, its great homogeneity and the way in which it delivers its performance make it suitable for transporting novice motorcyclists, which makes one wonder a little why Honda has not. not pushed to have A2 homologation. However, in 2016, Honda only sold less than 10% of its CB650s in A2…. As for the CBR, it does not significantly alter the driving experience, being just as easy to take along. A question of taste, look and affinities, therefore, which should allow it to land around a third of the sales of the total mix.

Strong points

  • Rejuvenated look
  • Ease of handling
  • Smooth motor and stretching correctly in turns
  • Extremely healthy frame
  • Agility, feeling of lightness
  • Good level suspensions for the category
  • Very consistent package
  • Bigger is not always better

Weak points

  • Not approved A2 license
  • Tires correct in grip but without feedback
  • We could live with a gear indicator engaged
  • A little jerk at low speed (less than 4000 rpm) on the go-around
  • Rev counter not super readable…

The technical sheet of the Honda CB650F

The technical sheet of the Honda CBR650F

Test conditions

  • Itinerary: a test day and 180 km with both mainly on winding roads in the Barcelona area (Spain)
  • Motorcycle mileage: 300 km
  • Problem encountered: none, even though one of the Super Assholes put a cameraman in the ditch and it made us laugh ….

Competition: Kawasaki Z650, Suzuki GSX-S 750

Honda CB650F and CBR650F video test

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