Last year at the RevFest, HMSI came up with their contender in the middle-weight ‘sport-tourer’ segment which fits well according to the Indian terrain and motorcycling needs of the country. When launched the bike was praised for its good looks but on the contrary Indian market was bit confused when the pricing part was considered. It made its debut to the world audience in 2014 and it’s the same bike we have in India presently.
It was the first big bike from Honda to be brought in the country via the CKD route and now Honda has also revealed their recent plans to bring the the CRF 1000 Africa Twin through the same route which will be launched later this year, but that’s a different story.
This is an absolutely new product that doesn’t share its platform with any other bike from Honda, which means its engine, frame or any other body component has been designed for this product alone. So if you are making a bike from scratch, that means the manufacturing costs are bound to shoot up and it will be higher priced no matter what. But one more thing that needs to be understood here is that it propels an inline 4-cylinder engine and the only eligible competitor of the CBR650F is the Kawasaki Ninja 650R which runs on a parallel-twin engine, so the latter’s unit is significantly different in nature and is also seen in other Kawasaki motorcycles like the ER6n and that’s the reason why the Ninja 650R is priced significantly less.
Design and looks -
Photographs really do not do justice with what the CBR650F actually feels like in flesh. It’s a big machine with nicely designed body lines and supremely finished body panels. The tank is designed in such a way that it is tall as well as feels wider at the top and narrow towards the bottom. The headlight assembly though is bit compact in ratio to the wide plastic panels it sits in between. The boomerang shaped DRLs look good and the white stripes on the side delineates the aggressive nature of the front.
Gazing from the sides, the fairing on the bike has been smartly designed and opens up nicely, giving it a wide look. The engine casing is clearly visible and the four golden pipes that sprout out of the engine are designed to merge into one underbelly exhaust. Presently the bike is only available in the White-Red-Blue paint scheme but we hope that Honda will introduce the internationally available colours in the domestic market as well. Looking at the rear end, the LED tail light is a small rectangular old-school design and it looks smashing, especially at night.
Talking about the switch gear quality, it is exactly what you would expect from a premium machine. Though Honda has swapped the indicator and horn position but we think it won't be an issue once the rider gets habitual to it after continous riding.
The instrument cluster on the CBR650F is a full LCD multi-function digital meter and is split up in two parts. One that displays the rev counter and speedometer; the other displays general information like the ODO meter, time and fuel gauge. But surprisingly there is no gear indicator on either displays.
Engine and Performance –
Its 648.72cc in-line 4-cylinder engine is made to produce 85.3bhp at 11,000rpm and 62.9Nm of peak torque at 8,000rpm. These are respectable numbers when its engine capacity is taken into consideration. Everything on the bike is new and mostly this engine. It is not a retuned version of any other engine made by Honda, it was made specifically for this bike alone. Though looking closely will reveal that the clutch and ignition cover reminds of the ones seen on the supersport CBR600RRs mill, but thats insignificant. The 67mm cylinder bore is the same but it’s the 3.5mm longer piston stroke that has contribute to the extra 50cc capacity on the CBR650F.
This engine delivers strong low and mid-range torque which is useful in city conditions. The euphoria of riding this in-line four is simply an aural bliss. It’s an extremely refined unit and though it makes less sound on low rpms, but once you push it past 6,000 rpms it howls in anger.
Engine delivers the power all the way to the 11,000rpm line. Also Honda claims that the overall size of the engine is kept small in line with the supersport motorcycles to help aid mass centralization. This engine comes mated to a 6-speed transmission that we felt is not among the most precise ones, as sometimes it feels you really need to shift with more effort than generally required.
Ride quality and Practicality -
The CBR650F was built on the idea that whether a bike that inherits supersport lineage can be practical as well. After having ridden it for a couple of days in the hectic traffic around Delhi, this bike impressed us with its ease of riding. First of all the ergonomics on this one lies somewhere in between the full up straight and aggressive lean position. This sure is comfortable for longer rides and looks sporty at the same time as its handle bar position allows you to tuck in at high speeds to avoid wind blast and when trundling at low speeds it is positioned accurately to control the bike without any hassle.
Seats are wide enough to comfortably accommodate riders of all dimensions and taking this bike on a long journey will prove to be a fun experience. Also it can accommodate 17.3 litres of fuel when brimmed to the top and with a fuel economy of 22-25kmpl, this bike can easily cover more than 350 kilometres without asking for more fuel.
It is wrapped around steel-diamond frame which works marvellously with the front 41mm telescopic forks and the rear 7-stage adjustable monoshock. This frame is capable enough that makes the bike a confident handler around fast corners. On the other hand Honda has perfectly tuned the suspension setup according to Indian roads conditions and so the suspension works well to soak up all the rough patches.
Apart from the comfort bit, this write up cannot be completed without mentioning its brakes. It comes with twin 320mm discs at the front and 240mm single disc at the rear, and we can vouch for the fact that these are one of best in class brakes. Also these are linked with dual channel ABS that kicks in at the right time and adds to confidence when braking hard.
Honda CBR650F sits in a segment which doesn't have much competion to offer as of now.That said, the Honda CBR650F is a motorcycle that comes with an exciting 4-cylinder engine, practical ergonomics and sporty design. Being priced at Rs 7.3 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) the bike is priced slightly on the higher side, but is a brilliant overall package nonetheless. In short, it’s more of a grown up sport tourer than an overexcited corner carver.
Photography - Mohd. Nasir