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.
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.
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.