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Old 16th October 2021, 18:25   #1
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Default Honda CB650R Review

Thanks to the good team at the Big Wing Kochi dealership, I got an extended test ride of the Honda CB650R. I took it on the highway, through narrow inner roads, dense traffic and so on, to see how it fared in mixed, real world conditions.

Here are some observations from the time I got with the bike
- The design is very pleasing and there are some lovely elements that make the bike stand out. I love the detailing on the headlight, the pattern on the rear tail piece plastic, and the elegant black and gold engine design.
- Not all the design is great though. The mirrors are more functional than stylish, and the rear tail lamp is a bit unimaginative.
- After sitting on the bike, the first thing that struck me was how compact and light it felt. Even when wheeling it around in the parking lot, the bike felt very easy to manage.
- Everything falls to place very easily. The ergonomics appear to be spot on.
- The display is small but useful. If I were given the choice, I would have preferred it to be a bit bigger, but on the move, it is very easy to look down and see the information that you want.
- The clutch is really light! The CB500X has a lighter clutch than this but for a middleweight bike, the CB650R clutch is such a delight to use.
- At lower speeds, the bike is super friendly. It is light, flickable and on the move, so much so that it feels like a much smaller bike. If you are upgrading from a Dominar or a Duke 200, you will immediately find yourself at home. This is not an intimidating big bike (which is a massive compliment).
- Once the road opens up and you twist the throttle, the bike picks up speed effortlessly. You need to look down at the inverted LCD to see what speeds you are doing. It will easily be 15 - 20 kmph more than what you think you are.
- The brakes are good. A bit more feel would have been nice but they do the job very well.
- I got used to the inverted position of the horn and indicators on the bike.
- The engine stayed quite cool despite a lot of 1st and 2nd gear riding. The fan, when it came on, was quite silent.
- Speaking of silent, with my ear plugs in, I could barely hear the lovely engine note.
- The seat is scooped out and is very comfortable. The pillion seat looks to be quite spacious as well.
- I think the indicators stay on while the bike is on the move. Im not a big fan of this system though.
- And now, coming to the biggest negative of this test ride bike. At around 4K RPM, some vibes start coming in and at 6K RPM, they become very prominent. It was a bit unnerving to find the vibes from below the seat and the base of the pillion seat, which gets transmitted to the back of your posterior.
- A minor nitpick is that the adjustable front brake lever is a little difficult to adjust because of the cables that are right above it.

To sum things up, it is almost like someone at Honda's headquarters did some mind reading and understood what I was looking for in a naked middleweight bike and engineered the Honda CB650R to match it to the tee. The bike is extremely forgiving and relaxed at low speeds and can handle city traffic with ease. When it is time to get going, the CB650R really gets going. This is such a usable, every day motorcycle. I feel that this is the perfect all round middleweight superbike for Kerala's conditions. I add the caveat of Kerala's conditions, keeping in mind our roads, high traffic density, plethora of speed cameras etc.

On the basis of this one hour with the bike, if I had to give it an overall rating, I would say that this is a 9.5 / 10.

While the price might seem high, I would suggest that you keep an open mind and test ride the bike. Like me, you too will probably end up coming out liking this bike, a lot more than you expected to.

Honda CB650R Review-20211013_151928.jpg

Last edited by neil.jericho : 17th October 2021 at 10:20.
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Old 16th October 2021, 19:09   #2
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Default Time for some pictures

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_155255.jpg
The black and red colours on display.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_155304.jpg
I prefer the black one.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_150153.jpg
Stylish side profile.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_150203.jpg
A closer look.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_145748.jpg
View from the top, you can see how slim it is.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_150001.jpg
View from the rider helmet.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_145622.jpg
Headlight detailing is really nice.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_152235.jpg
Headlight with the DRL on.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_145916.jpg
Long indicators are a bit dreary.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_152242.jpg
I would have preferred a bit more panache.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_145654.jpg
Nice design element.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_145644.jpg
The gold painted wheels are delicious. It helps that Mallus have a fascination with gold ....

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_145635.jpg
Those pipes are gorgeous. Even when they are caked in mud.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_145630.jpg
Some mud does get thrown up on the radiator.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_145705.jpg
The black and gold works very well.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_145906.jpg
I like this. A lot.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_150137.jpg
Nice red stitching.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_150129.jpg
Very light clutch.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_150121.jpg
Adjustable front brake lever that is a bit difficult to adjust.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_150044.jpg
The mirrors are very functional.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_150039.jpg
Though not very stylish.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_150021.jpg
On off switch could be a bit more premium.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_150029.jpg
Inverted indicators and horn placement.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_145937.jpg
Rear suspension does its job very well.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_145835.jpg
Upside down?

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_145821.jpg
Very nicely sculpted.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_145807.jpg
Inoffensive rear light.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_145738.jpg
Dunlop Sportmax tires are fine for regular use.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_145729.jpg
Alloy design is elegant.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_145719.jpg
Simple exhaust.
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Old 16th October 2021, 19:31   #3
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Default Walk around video of the CB650R

Here is a walk around video of the Honda CB650R.

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Old 16th October 2021, 20:00   #4
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Default If I had to pick the keys to one bike?

Given that my Triumph Street Triple 675 is a generation old, its not particularly fair to compare it with the newer Honda CB650R but as someone who has owned a middleweight for 3 years now and test ridden its established competition, here are some observations.

- The Street Triple 675 is not as friendly as the Honda CB650R at lower speeds in city conditions. The clutch is a bit hard and the Triumph is always straining at the leash and desperately wants the road to open up, so that it can be given the beans. The Honda is just the opposite. It welcomes 1st and 2nd gear traffic and is at home in the urban commute.
- On paper, the Triumph weighs nearly 20 kgs less than the Honda but if you try to move them around, you will be hard pressed to notice this.
- The Street Triple 675's intake roar and triple cylinder symphony is (in?)famous and the sound of one charging down an open highway will make you turn you neck and look at the bike. Twisting the throttle is delightfully all pomp and circumstance. On the Honda, there is the classic inline 4 sound that masks how the bike is tearing down the highway. No show, all go.
- The Kawasaki Z900 is another smooth operator, but from my foggy memory, it leaned more to the weekend fun side of the spectrum than for day to day usage.
- If I had to have a middleweight bike solely for weekend riding and highway blasts, the Street Triple 675 is an absolute hoot and all the current options in this segment are great choices, as well. However, if I had to have a middleweight bike for every single day use, then the Honda CB650R is the clear winner.

At the end of the test ride, if I had the option to pick between the keys of the Honda CB650R and my Triumph Street Triple 675 and go home, I would have picked the Honda because its more usable in a wider variety of situations and is a better bike for a conservative rider like me.

When you add in Honda's low cost of ownership, cheap spares (God forbid you have an accident on a big bike, you will know what I mean! A pair of alloys from the competition can cost between Rs 90K to 1.2 L. With the Honda, it is Rs 20K), overall consistent service experience pan-India, the CB650R starts making a very strong case for itself.

Honda CB650R Review-20211015_145604.jpg

Last edited by neil.jericho : 17th October 2021 at 10:27.
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Old 18th October 2021, 07:49   #5
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Default Re: Honda CB650R Review

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Big Bikes forum. Thanks for sharing!

Going to our homepage tomorrow
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Old 18th October 2021, 08:10   #6
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Default Re: Honda CB650R Review

neil.jericho & review on Honda CB650R...first thing to do was Thank all the posts & then start reading

Few suggestions, if you can cover going forward...
  • What every reviewer misses is pillion comfort; if you can cover that both as a rider & pillion (needs an expert rider to ride your around) on the same roads to share the experience, it will be awesome
  • RVM coverage & functionality
  • Suspension test on bad/potholed road (which is quite generous in KL hehe)

Obviously I assume the inline 4 generates lesser heat than Striple due to latter's high CR isn't it?

Last edited by aargee : 18th October 2021 at 08:11.
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Old 18th October 2021, 08:54   #7
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Default Re: Honda CB650R Review

Great review Neil. How did you find the complete absence of even a shortie naked style windscreen at high speeds. Was it felt? Would it benefit from a tiny windscreen for just a hint of wind deflection?

The Hondas truly are fabulous bikes and the CB650 looks like a mini CB 1000 (which can only be a compliment).

Good to hear it has a light clutch - even returning from a Sunday ride from anything beyond Dahisar can be a massive pain for the left hand.

My next big bike is going to go to the wire between some derivative of the middle weight Tiger and the Africa Twin. The only thing that dissuades me from the ATs is their very low sales numbers and therefore a concern around ready availability of unusual spares should one’s bike have even a normal incident (i.e. a rim replacement or something similar).

Nothing like a Striple owner doing a Honda CB 650 review. It’s just the spot on perspective. Do we detect a flip soon?
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Old 18th October 2021, 09:36   #8
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Default Re: Honda CB650R Review

Beautiful review of a beautiful bike. I absolutely love those staggered header pipes and gold powder coating on the engine casing. So tastefully done. Happy to hear it can handle Kerala conditions without heating up too much. I had test ridden the Triumph Trident 660 a month back and it does heat quite a bit at standstill , but isn't unbearable like in a Ducati. Could you share the on road pricing in kochi please?
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Old 18th October 2021, 13:52   #9
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Default Re: If I had to pick the keys to one bike?

Quote:
Originally Posted by neil.jericho View Post
At the end of the test ride, if I had the option to pick between the keys of the Honda CB650R and my Triumph Street Triple 675 and go home, I would have picked the Honda because its more usable in a wider variety of situations and is a better bike for a conservative rider like me.
Thanks for the detailed review Neil.

One question/observation: Any thoughts on the overall ergos for tall riders? How high is the seat and the position of the foot pegs w.r.t the seat height as well?

Asking this because that is something that is hard to find in reviews but is very important for me to know. I have skipped Monster, Z800/900 and GSX750 for this reason as at 6'2", these bikes are not what I am home at.
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Old 18th October 2021, 14:03   #10
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Default Re: Honda CB650R Review

Good One Neil, although I have not ridden the CB650r, but have had the pleasure to ride CBR650R, and I pretty much agree with all your views. The vibration part though was not that prominent on CBR, or maybe I was enjoying riding the bike too much to notice it. Personally I think CBR650 or CB650 is all the bike you need in India. It is practical, good looking, has right amount of power for our roads, and can keep you happy for years of your ownership experience.

The matt black finish looks dope too, I have ridden the 675 also extensively, but never bothered to compare the two as one is Faired and One is Naked. The sound on 675 with arrow exhaust is heavenly though, and CBR does sound muted. Though given a choice I would happily hop on a CBR650R between the two.
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Old 19th October 2021, 09:31   #11
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Default Re: Honda CB650R Review

Nice and crisp review. CB and CBR are very potent and complete duo. one cannot go wrong with these machines. But sorry to say very wrongly priced by Honda. One with such a budget in hand can lay his/her hands on one segment up bikes, which have way more tech and gizmos along with power.
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Old 19th October 2021, 10:53   #12
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Default Re: Time for some pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by neil.jericho View Post


Attachment 2219921
Adjustable front brake lever that is a bit difficult to adjust.

Nice detailed review and nice of you to compare with your own Street Triple.

Can we route the throttle cables below the brake lever? Looked closely at the images of a CB 650 as well as its smaller sibling the CB 300r, both have the same routing of the cables i.e. above the lever.
while my humble 2010 CB Shine has below the lever even though it has no lever adjustment dial
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Old 19th October 2021, 11:07   #13
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Default Re: Honda CB650R Review

Great review Neil! Looks to be a great bike which sadly has been badly priced in India.

It was great to read your take on the bike in comparison to your street triple.

The Honda is a bike I am dying to try out but no one in my riding groups have one.
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Old 19th October 2021, 11:45   #14
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Default Re: Honda CB650R Review

Thank you for your report, i have CBR650R in my radar since a very long time which is very closely related to this bike, while i had a fair idea about the bike but there weren't many Indian reviews and a lot of foreign reviewers and their condescending tone for anything lower than the R1 takes me out of those reviews.
Your review is everything i needed to know. Vibrations are what bothers me the most since i feel them in my r15 and hate them (no they are not at all excessive but irritating nonetheless and i always feel something is broken since i have never driven a vehicle with vibrations) and these 4 cylinder engines sound silky smooth and with my experience in cars i felt they will be super smooth too, although i had read about some faint vibes in particular RPM ranges but learning the fact that they are prominent sounds like a big turn off to me, shockingly even the 2 cylinder RE Interceptor hardly had any noticeable vibrations to speak off, this is a much superior bike.
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Old 19th October 2021, 12:10   #15
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Default Re: Honda CB650R Review

Very nice ride. Happy and safe adventures!

Even after all these years the Japs are still the leaders if you want a robust, sharp and well engineered bike that takes a beating and keeps on rollin'. Not even the Italians come close.
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