Honda CBR 650F India Test Ride Review

Honda CBR650F is finally here to take on the established rivals with all-round character

There are many kinds of motorcycle enthusiasts in the market today. There was a time when a bike and a tank of fuel were more than enough as all bikes served the same purpose, few dared to take it out of city limits and comeback by conquering odds and tell their stories. Those stories went viral and today to suit the modern demands, manufacturers heard them and made bikes for all types and sizes of riders.

Today, we will be talking about touring enthusiasts. A breed who just wants to pack their DSLRs, needs a big fuel tank to head out of town or city and even state and come back three days later to their offices on time without being tired. They need a comfortable, fast and safe motorcycle to do everything they wish for.

Honda CBR 650F India Review (2)

Touring motorcycle, all-rounder motorcycles or whatever you want to call them as are finally here. Honda, as a manufacturer, has been providing everything demanded by motorcyclists worldwide. Its ultimate tourer was called Gold Wing released last November in India.

Today, the rise of demands for higher capacity motorcycle are bigger and that’s why Honda launched the CBR650F in the market after lots of anticipation. We spend some time with it and clock 300 kms odd to tell you what it feels like on narrow roads, highways and twists and other aspects that matter.

2015 Honda CBR650F Price:
Rs. 7,60,000/-
Ex-Showroom (New Delhi)

Honda CBR650F Styling

Honda CBR 650F India side view

First impressions of the motorcycle when you see it in flesh are actually quite impressive. Side profile is very sharp and the fairing has the waterfall effect as it flows downwards. Edgy panels at the tip gives it the unparalleled Japanese motorcycle look. Front-end is VFR-based as there’s a single headlight despite the fact it has nothing to do with a VFR.

Honda CBR 650F headlight

Single headlight in Honda has to be taken as VFR if you know Hondas well though. The white LED lights look like an aftermarket thought.
Reason why we criticize is because CBR series deserves those twin headlights which are corrected on the CBR250R as well.

Color scheme is well taken care of by the way as Black chassis, silver swingarm and rest of the red and white scheme falls in the right direction. The underbelly exhaust is shaped very nicely and does give it a sporty look whilst multi spoke alloy wheels are indeed a worthy addition.

Honda CBR 650F light LED

At the rear, the LED tail-lights seem to be directly taken from the Fireblade and look very cool and chunky. Overall, a very good looking bike that will grab a lot of attention. Sadly, the biggest mistake Honda made is that it’s available in only one color in a segment where everyone wants to be distinguished from each other. Fit-finish is good with top-notch quality like any other Honda motorcycle. Plastics all around have carbon fibre look and even the chassis has carbon fibre alike touch all around.

Honda CBR650F Speedo and Switchgear

Honda CBR 650F India cockpit

Probably the only downside seems to be the cluster of the bike. It looks very old school and has two very oddly shaped pods with very basic information on them. White background lit is a cool addition though. There is an average and current fuel efficiency and nothing more except two trip meters and an odometer with traditional warning light for oil pump and fuel pump, battery, etc. Solitary indicator site is oddly in the middle of the entire cluster. However, surprisingly there is no heat gauge or temperature bar.

Switchgear? Well, Honda hasn’t got it right even on super bikes. The right indicator has seen horn and turn indicators swapping places while Highbeam switch also act as the pass light switch. The horn button is biased to the right, so during emergency you’re better off with blipping the throttle to 11,000 RPM and roar the bike instead. Something that is faster and loud instead.

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Honda CBR 650F India Switchgear

Right side is devoid of light switch because it stays on all the time like a DRL, which soon to be a new rule for Indian bike manufacturers. This is only the second Honda to grace with an Engine kill switch followed by the CBR250 as Hazard light switch is also present on the left side.

Honda CBR650F Ergonomics

Honda CBR 650F India Review (7)

Riding position is fairly committed as the clip-ons are mounted lower and seat position is quite higher. The less extreme seat positioning makes it a comfortable tourer and also gives it a big bike feel. Pegs are rear-set but not all the way behind.

Honda CBR 650F Seat

There is a lot of legroom which tall riders will appreciate and despite big boots and the rider in the picture being 5’10”, we will give legroom the score 9 out of 10. Seats are the best part of the CBR 650F as they are wide and well-padded for both rider and pillion. The latter has scooped out recess below the tail-piece to hold on to as well.

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Honda CBR650F Performance

Powering the CBR650F is a 648cc engine which makes 86 PS of power and 62.9 Nm of torque. Power goes to rear wheel via a 6-speed gearbox. The 4-valve per cylinder, fuel-injected and liquid-cooled engine is smooth and rev-friendly but NVH levels are mediocre. Reason is because there are vibrations witnessed post 6000 RPM that become very apparent at 9000 RPM but in the 11000 RPM range they are very surplus.

Honda CBR 650F Engine

However, unlike a thumper, it’s acceptable and we think our test bike was an abused one at only 2.5k kms miles clocked. The big engine open up around 7,000 to 10,000 Kms usually, but still vibrations are present in a small degree. When it comes to driveability in the city, the CBR650F has a good amount of torque starting from 3000 and goes up to 6000 RPM – sensible if you spend most of the time driving in city. Throttle response is immediate thanks to shorter play.

Honda CBR 650F India Mileage

The shorter play in throttle has a downside, however, as it sends the torque to the rear wheels so quickly; despite having good tyres and immense traction it will spin the wheel on slightest of wet and muddy patches witnessed on our roads quite so often. Heating in the city is apparent and right two cylinders send the heat to right upper calf. The crankcase is pushed out quite wide and it can burn your legs if you don’t spread them and stand.

Mid-range is the best part of this inline-four engine thanks to the gear-ratios it works on. First five gears are tall and the sixth overdrive gear is very short typical to any other Honda engine. You can pick up from 4000 RPM in sixth gear and take it all the way up to 220 kph given an open road courtesy of the air cutting supremacy in the CBR650F.

Honda CBR 650F India inline four

The astonishing part is the noise the engine makes which is obviously the reason why the CBR650F has been an eagerly anticipated tourer – a low capacity four-cylinder promises more thrill in terms of noise and more than adequate performance.

Honda CBR 650F India (2)

Perfect for posers and amateur riders on public roads as there isn’t hardly any difference between this engine and the Fireblade inline-four litre class motorcycle, that we were lucky enough to witness in the past, except for the higher bass and volume levels.

The low-end of the engine is pretty subtle and quiet with valve train noise. Mid-range has that typical intake howl which will make the world certainly notice you and the top-end is like a cat with huge claws scratching a glass window from the top. It just screams and grinds at the top-end while emitting the jet-engine noise in the background from the exhaust.

Honda-CBR-650F-India-Performance

As you might have guessed by now, it isn’t top-end power band that screams like a sports bike but the middle. Honda CBR 650F is a road focused bike to the very end as apparent from the way its geared, the way it pulls and the way it delivers. In terms of performance, it easily does 100 kph in under 5 seconds and top-speed we managed to achieve was 231 km/hr, quite easily on an empty stretch.

Performance could have been better if it had weighed lighter. Wind blast on the bike is very well contained – a big bonus in the faired bike with a well crafted windshield.

Honda CBR 650F India (1)

Trip meter showed that it was giving 16.9 km/l on highway and 10.1 km/l in the city. Our tank-to-tank measurement showed that it ended up delivering 18.42 km/l. Pretty impressive considering the fact it saw sixth gear during its entire testing only twice or thrice. With a 17.3-litre fuel tank, it can deliver 300 kms if one is easy on the throttle and ride below 140kph.

Overall, there are no issues with engine performance but its the vibration at higher revs that bothered us all along. When it comes to this issue, we can’t give the benefit of doubt to  Honda engines as they are what they are since day one.

Honda CBR650F Dynamic

Honda CBR 650F India Review dynamics

Since it’s a road going Honda and not made for the track, it is like any other Honda we have tested till date. Honda loves long wheelbase nowadays and the 650F has the steering angle which isn’t specified but raked outwards. CBR650F also has a kerb weight of 215 kg making it a bit heavy compared to rivals.

Firstly, superb and we mean it, it has really good ride quality over our broken roads. Secondly, the high speed stability is rock solid and once top speed was achieved the bike showed no nervousness. Thirdly, due to rake being on the higher side, high speed lane changes and every steering input feedback were excellent.

Honda CBR 650F India Review

However, the downside was it has a slow steering and turning into corners takes time but once into a fast sweeper it remains rock solid. We only wished that the steering was raked half or one degree inside so it could be perfect despite the long wheelbase but physics doesn’t allow that sadly. Longer the rake, longer the wheelbase.

Honda has used very low component suspension bits as the front gets telescopic forks and rear has a gas charged shock which is swingarm mounted and not a pro-link suspension. Hence, the ride is stiff at the rear and softer up front. Handling can be best said as above normal and below the very best as it’s meant for touring and daily chores.

Honda CBR 650F Brakes ABS

Grip from the tyres is good, not great. Opting for Metzeler or Bridgestones can be fruitful because their air pressure settings have been specified on the bike too as the standard tyres are less sticky on the roads. Since this bike isn’t meant for track or sporty riding, Dunlops on our test bike were just fine.

Brakes are really good as it’s is tuned to deliver initial bite by itself and instantly responded at all speeds. If you want progressive braking, the brake lever can be adjusted to mask the bike’s massive kerb weight. This is probably the first time most of us will encounter Honda’s petal disc, as usually the Japanese company employed solid discs.

Honda CBR 650F India Review top-speed

At front and back they work brilliantly, better than Kawasaki petal discs, which have been in the market for a long time. ABS doesn’t kick in too early and when it does, it’s gentle enough not to scare the new rider. Word of caution: think before you blip the throttle aggressively on the 650F since there is no slipper clutch and torque going to rear wheel spikes forces the ABS to kick in quickly.

Honda CBR650F Review, Test Ride Verdict

Honda CBR 650F India (4)
So, despite being a Honda it isn’t perfect. However, as always, there are lots of positives that shadow the downsides. CBR650F is a reliable, comfortable and fast tourer but the problem is the competitors come at cheaper price and offer more bang for the buck. Thus majority of the prospective buyers are more likely to go with Kawasaki Z800 instead.

Both bikes are very different in many ways. However, comparison is apparent as 650F has an inline-four which bikers demand, but the CBR 650F has a fairing and windscreen to its advantage. Other 600cc motorcycles such as Triumph Street are much more performance oriented and offer even more comfort as they are naked motorcycle with handlebars rather than dedicated clip-ons.

Honda CBR 650F India (5)

Ninja 650 is also drawn into context as well as it has everything: a handlebar, a fairing and windscreen but is powered by a parallel twin. Benelli naked is a good option, but it isn’t going to be as impressive as the overly touring focused GT has been. Something that also doesn’t make sense in front of the all-rounder CBR. Moreover, the 600i has no fairing, lacks ABS and performance is pretty dull.

Honda CBR 650F India (3)

Honda says it has a good service reach than others but we think it’s identical to most manufacturers who provide superbikes whilst delivering ‘Service at home option’ since day one. Honda has its badge, fairing, inline-four, reliability and re-sale value at disposal as advantages nonetheless. Pricing can be justified as it is the most easiest to live with and road focussed bike of the lot thanks to it being a Honda.

Honda CBR650F High Resolution Picture Gallery

Pros –

  • Exhaust Note
  • Reliability
  • Top-notch quality
  • Touring capability

Cons –

  • Price
  • Styling Not CBR inspired
  • Lack of Color options
  • Ground Clearance

Honda CBR 650F Road Test Review

 

2015 Honda CBR650F Specifications
Engine: 649cc, liquid-cooled, inline-four, DOHC
Power: 82.6 HP @ 11000 RPM
Torque: 62.9 Nm @ 8500 RPM
Transmission: 6-speed
0 – 100 km/hr: 4 seconds
Top Speed: 250 km/hr
Fuel Consumption: 18-20 km/l
Frame: Steel Perimeter
Suspension: Telescopic forks (Front),  Monoshock (Rear)
Brakes:  Dual Disc 320mm (Front), 240 mm Disc (Rear) ABS
Tyres:  120/70/17 (Front), 180/55/17 (Rear)

 

2015 Honda CBR650F Dimensions
Length: 2107 mm
Width: 753 mm
Height: 1149 mm
Transmission: 6-speed
Ground Clearance: 133 mm
Seat Height: 810 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity: 17.3-litres
Kerb weight: 215 kgs


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