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Honda CBR 650F First Ride Review

25 September 2015, 09:53 AM Vikrant Singh

What is it?

Honda CBR 650F

If I were to take the price out of the picture, the Honda CBR 650F is a well thought out motorcycle, especially in the Indian context. It’s not cutting edge modern looking or eyeball grabbing in the same way the Kawasaki Z800 or the DSK Benelli 600i are, but the Honda has its own special charm. The paint scheme makes it look racier and big-bike like than it really is.

And, if you look closer, the large petal discs and the aluminium swingarm add a further dose of desirability to this Honda. It is well finished too like you’d expect a Honda to be, and it has been designed with daily rideability and touring in mind. This one isn’t for the hardcore race-replica rider but for someone still coming to grips with the whole big-bike owning incident.

How does it ride?

Honda CBR 650F

The focus on everyday usability and touring is evident the moment you start rolling on the CBR 650F. It has a relatively upright seating; a large, comfy and low-set seat; and a fuel tank you can comfortably lock onto without even trying. But, it’s the lack of weight at the front, especially at slower speeds makes this Honda a breeze to negotiate traffic with.

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Honda CBR650F

Honda CBR650F

  • Displacement648.72 cc
  • Mileage - Owner Reported20 kmpl
  • Max Power(bhp)84.2 bhp
  • Kerb Weight216 kg
  • ;

Last known Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 7,09,543

The ride quality – the way the Honda CBR 650F handles the road ripples and undulations, the odd bump and camber change, and even pot holes (unless these are deep with a near vertical edge) – is one of the finest we have experienced on a large capacity, big bike. It might feel firm at times but never jarring, bumpy or unsettling in any way.

Honda CBR 650F

And when you get on the highway, the Honda CBR 650F’s relaxed but linear throttle response allows you to open the bike up without ever worrying about any rude reactions like the front coming up or the rear spinning up from under you. For an inline four, the 650F isn’t short on usable torque either. So, short shifting and roll-ons even in sixth gear give you enough turn of speed to never feel slow or bogged down. But, the true nature of this 649cc, 85bhp engine only shows past 7,000rpm, and by the time the engine nears its redline (past 11,000rpm), it finally sounds like it should – a wailing four cylinder. The 650F also feels the most potent right at the top.

Like the engine, the handling of the Honda CBR 650F isn’t exactly sportsbike-exciting. It does the job: it turns in willingly, has enough lean clearance, and it doesn’t feel heavy or ungainly through quick direction changes. The Dunlops are grippy too. But, it lacks the sharpness, the urgency and exploitability of proper, focused sportsbikes.

Anything else I should know?

Honda CBR 650F

When it comes to braking, the Honda CBR 650F is outstanding. It gets ABS as standard but not of the Combined or CBS variety. Nonetheless, it is the bite, the adjustability and the balance offered by the front petal disc brakes that completely blew our minds. And, the brake lever gets reach adjustment as well.

Honda CBR 650F

The 650F also gets digital instrumentation. It throws up info on time, trip, and average fuel consumption. It isn’t a master-class in aesthetics, but, it suffices. The switchgear looks good and works well, and for those of you who like to tour with your mate, the CBR can ferry around a pillion – even over long distances – in relative comfort. Seating space, usable grab handles, and ergonomically sound seat-footpeg positioning play their part to the Tee.

Honda CBR 650F

The thing we didn’t like about the CBR 650F was its vibey engine. One expects Honda engines to be butter smooth, easy revving units, but the one on our test CBR was a busy unit. More so, in the mid-range with vibrations being felt on the handlebar, the tank and the footpegs. The gearbox felt a little out of sorts too requiring additional effort to shift.

Should I buy one?

Honda CBR 650F

It’s time to bring the CBR’s pricing into the picture. At Rs 7.3 lakh, the CBR 650F is way more expensive than the Benelli 600i (it’s dearer by over Rs 2 lakh). Both bikes make similar power, and though the Benelli doesn’t come with ABS, it does have competent cycle parts to take on the Honda. At the other end of the spectrum is the Kawasaki Z800. Again an inline four, but with significantly more power and torque, much better sound, and almost alienesque styling. The Kawasaki, which costs a little over Rs 50,000 more than the Honda, is clearly more desirable. Just to put things in perspective then: if we were to take the pricing out of the equation, the Honda CBR 650F is certainly worth considering, no doubt. Bring back the price, and it becomes difficult to justify the purchase.

Where does it fit in?

Honda CBR 650F

The Honda CBR 650F, as we mentioned above, walks the middle ground. It finds itself between the Benelli 600i and the Kawasaki Z800 but it fails to make a convincing case for itself against either of the two. Then, if we were to look at pricing alone, there’s also the Ducati Scrambler and the Triumph Thruxton to deal with. The Honda CBR 650F might have things going for it, but with that price tag, it will still prove to be an uphill journey.

Pics: Sanchit Arora

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