The CB500-series bikes are well accepted everywhere as they make as great beginner’s model for those upgrading from 250cc and lower capacity machines – known as the A2 license holder in Europe and categorised as B1 in Malaysia. But the CB650F and CBR650F are both something else altogether.
For starter, an A2/B1 license holder is unable to ride the bike on public roads legally as the higher engine capacity requires the rider to possess an A1 or Full B type. While the CB500-series models are parallel-twin engines, the CB650-series features an inline four- cylinder configuration.
Added to that is the use of dual disc brakes for the front instead of the single type employed in the CB500-series. The similarities of both CB500- and CB650-series are the utilization of conventional telescopic forks, single rear absorber unit and a super smooth powerband that ensures efficient fuel consumption despite the engine configuration and horsepower employed.
However, where fuel efficiency is concerned, the CBR650F couldn’t get any near to the mileage clocked by the CBR500R – we managed 357km on the former vs. 459km on the latter at constant cruising speeds of between 130 and 145kph. The CBR650F has a larger tank at 17.3L as compared to the CBR500R at 15.7L.
It has to be noted that the CBR500R’s actual engine capacity is only 471cc, some 29cc short of its official designation while the CBR650F’s is closer to the capacity at 649cc. And its parallel twin configuration ensures less fuel is needed for the same distance and cruising speed over the CBR650F. Honda claims an average of 4.524-litre per 100km of fuel consumption for both the CB650F and CBR650F.
Both the CBR500R and CB500X were rated very highly by our reviewer so the question to be answered is the CBR650F performs better than its younger siblings?
Like the CBR500R, the CBR650F does not feature a gear indicator in its LCD speedometer, which is the only aspect missing from the menu. What it has in return is the hazard light feature, something which is not available in Honda’s supersport-oriented CBR600RR and CBR1000RR bikes.
In terms of an all-out performance, there’s no way the CBR650F could come close to the CBR600RR despite having an extra 50cc in its engine as the former only has 85hp compared to the latter’s higher 130hp! But thanks to its engine tuning which favours strong midrange and torque, the CBR650F is an easy bike to ride and navigate the twisty old roads without having to be aggressive on the throttle control and power delivery unlike on the CBR600RR.
Like all of Honda’s CB/CBR-series of motorcycles, the CBR650F does not come with any electronics rider’s aids except for ABS, which is an option. Our review unit is the basic version, with no ABS. In other words, there’s no Ride-By-Wire, no Traction Control and no riding modes (Race, Sport and Rain) to choose from. The CBR650F allows the rider to ride it the way it should be, as Honda would want to it to be ridden; via the ol’ RHTC style – Right Hand Throttle Control.
With no electronic aids, the rider is left to his own talent to extract the maximum potential out of the CBR650F. At first, it might feel as though the bike is a softie, thanks to its lower-than-expected exhaust note – which is quite low that you are going to surprise other bikers and vehicles out front when the CBR650F comes along especially during mild traffic congestion.
At the traffic lights, we could hear the engine and exhaust notes from other bikes and cars much more clearer than the CBR650F we were with. This should give you an idea of how smooth the bike’s engine is.
In the hands of a skilled rider, the CBR650F could keep up with any sport-oriented bike at old roads with plenty of S-curves, and it need not be ride very aggressively to do that, making the ride much smoother and near zero hair-raising experience to boot.
The absence of a gear indicator may interfere with the riding style when the rider decides to go a bit more aggressive on the old twisty roads as there would be occasion where the wrong gear may be selected when attacking the sharper corners as you may have lost track of which gear you were on prior to navigate the next S-curve.
But with practise and regular riding, you will be able to know which gear you are in just by listening to the engine’s noise level and exhaust note, after which tackling the S-curves aggressively won’t be an issue anymore.
The front Showa telescopic forks, while conventional instead of inverted as available in the CBR600RR; handles those S-curves very well and soaks up the bumps and uneven road surface well. The default Dunlop D222 Sportmax tyres may not be the most sought after type preferred by most riders but they handle the corners very well and are really excellent when it comes to wet weather riding!
Top speed is depending on the rider’s overall weight and height. Someone the size of Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa would be able to reach 250kph on the CBR650F but if you are at least 5 feet 10 inches or beyond, anywhere close to 230 or 245kph is the maximum possible. Still, to be able to go beyond 200kph is considered excellent for a bike that is aimed for a weekend leisure riding via the old twisty, and the CBR650F gives you that.
Honda CBR650F specifications:
Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-cylinder, Inline 2-cylinder
Compression Ratio: 11:4
Bore & Stroke: 67 x 46.0mm
Fuel System: Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI)
Maximum Horsepower: 85hp @11,000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 63 Nm @ 8,000 rpm
Fuel Capacity: 17.3-Litre
Seat Height: 810mm
Suspensions: Front – 41mm telescopic forks; Rear – shock absorber with spring preload adjustment
Brakes: Dual 320mm discs (front); Single 240mm disc (rear)
Dry Weight: 209 kg
Sales Price: RM42,999 w/ST, non-OTR, without ABS
Text and Images: Philip Chong