Anyway, if you consider the outgoing Honda CBR650F, replaced in 2018) by the new Honda CBR650R (whose production started in 2019), the differences between are fairly miniscule: the front forks are different, the compression ratio is up slightly to 11.6:1 from 11.4:1, and the 650R is three kilograms lighter (due to two litre smaller fuel tank, which, at only 15.4L, brings the overall wet weight down to 208 kg). Considering the small differences, the rebadging of the CBR650F as an “R” was probably due to marketing purposes: it’s the same bike, with a slightly more advanced front end and a newer name.
Whatever the ending letter, the CBR650 is still a very solid middleweight bike. Compared to superbikes models, this motorcycle is highly affordable in many ways (fuel, insurance, overall cost) but mostly is a guarante of ease of riding. The shift towards a more accessible “sportiness” is a sensible one: the 650 is a motorbike which you can ride around town, while still enjoying a decent level of street cred. You can keep up with larger bikes on most public roads and if you take one to the track, you’ll have a lot of fun, just like our beautiful German bikergirl and tremendous socialite Franzii in the suburbs and outskirts of Hanover. She prefers the classic version and honestly you can’t blame her: taking off from a stop is easy with her Honda CBR650F, with a surprising amount of grunt for a middleweight inline four-cylinder. In fact, grabbing a handful of throttle at 4500 rpm reveals more acceleration than we can ever recall with this type of engine; you can actually pass cars on the highway below 7000 rpm by just twisting your wrist, with no tap-dancing on the shift lever. When’s the last time you ever heard of doing that with a 600? She definetely has no time for pussies. So guys, don’t tell this tough motorgirl that you prefer the R version instead of the F one, unless you want her to show you also what the F can stand for…
Next to a sunflowers field
Near the railway
For the latest CBR600F, 2018 version, “revised intake funnels and updated exhaust enhance power output and provide a raucous exhaust growl”, while “revised transmission-gear ratios provide an improved acceleration feel”. It was “tuned especially for strong acceleration from a standing start and strong midrange roll-on throttle response for real-world street-riding performance”.
The 2018 Honda CBR650F doesn’t look radically different from the prevous models. The fairing was mildly reworked and the CBR650F gets new graphics, and is available in two new colours, called Millenium Red and Matte Gunpowder Metallic Black (the colour of our test bike). The biggest noticeable change was the all-new LED headlamp, LED taillamp and bronze-coloured engine crankcases.
The 2018 Honda CBR650F carried forward the same 649 cc, in-line four cylinder engine, and with the tune-ups to meet the latest emission regulations, power and torque have marginally decreased over the outgoing model, now putting out over 85 bhp at 11,000 rpm and 60.5 Nm of peak torque at 8,500 rpm. It still felt familiar as the outgoing models, but what is immediately apparent is the improvement in the sound, thanks to the new intake and exhaust flow management. The air intake funnels are shorter and four-into-one exhaust employed a dual-pass internal structure as well as a larger final exit aperture. And the difference was noticeable, not just in the sound, but the mid-range feels stronger and punchier than before.
The comfortable ergonomics and superb ride quality and stability made it an excellent mile-muncher, and it returned consistently good fuel economy, if you were not overtly enthusiastic with the use of the throttle hand. Gentle use returned over 19 kmpl in our test runs, and even with spirited riding, the CBR650F’s fuel consumption never fell below 17 kmpl. On the flipside, the engine might have been smooth at low revs, but the mid-range (which bikers use mostly), did feel ever so slightly buzzy, which magically seems to disappear when you hit the powerband, which kicks in quite high, north of 7,000 revs.
For someone upgrading to their first sportbike, the 2018 Honda CBR650F definitely was (and still is) a very good option. It’s street friendly, has comfortable ergonomics and is absolutely brilliant on the highway and even if it’s a really fast and powerful bike, new riders can also appreciate its easygoing and unintimidating nature, and more importantly, its pocket friendly maintenance costs.
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