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Old 31st March 2024, 12:25   #1
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Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800

I’m Srivathsan Suresh from Chennai and this is my first long post in Team BHP. My craze for motorcycle travelling started back in 2018 when I decided to upgrade from my Yamaha FZ-S 150 to a KTM RC390 after several days and sleepless nights of research , comparison , test drives and I finally decided to go with the RC390 which at first glance might not be the most practical or the fastest bike in its class courtesy of the more expensive rocket Kawasaki Ninja 400 but the way this short stroke high compression single accelerates with all it’s raw nature and the unbeatable price tag back in the day will make anyone fall in love with it instantly , RC390 is a bike that can cruise at 140-150 KMPH all day without breaking a sweat and can easily keep up with the bigger capacity motorcycles. In terms of handling , dynamics and agility I can say with confidence that this bike is the best in class with its inverted WP apex front forks and WP rear monoshock that are tuned to dominate the track along with absolutely demonic braking courtesy of the ByBre 4 piston calipers ensures that the bike handles like it looks. 4 years and 22000 kms later my itch for upgrade started again since RC390 is definitely not a touring bike with its super aggressive rider triangle but still for a lot of emotional reasons I cannot let go of my RC390 and therefore this time I was not looking for upgrade but was looking for a second touring bike with the same capabilities of the RC390 but with a little bit more comfort for long distance touring and mile munching. This time there was no comparison at all and the bike had to be the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 thanks to its timeless design that ages like fine wine and peach of an Engine with its Burbly V twin like exhaust note courtesy of the 270 degree crank and a rather basic handling and dynamics package that surprisingly offers great stability on the highways along with surprisingly good offroad capability courtesy of the 174mm ground clearance. I had an absolute blast with the Interceptor 650 driving it around 11000 kms of high speed stretches , offroad stretches , canyons , coastal roads , reserve forests covering most parts of south India. Fast forward to 2023 and slowly things were falling into place for my first big bike upgrade.


The plan now was to give my RC390 to my little brother and upgrade to a middle weight sports bike. The options were Honda CBR650R , Kawasaki Z900 , Triumph Street triple 765R , Kawasaki Z800. I was initially crazy about the Kawasaki ZX6R and the Daytona 675R but eventually found out in a hard way that middle weight super sport bikes are too uncomfortable for touring and can only be used for short rides and track days due to their super aggressive clip on's that take a toll on your back after 80-100 kms of riding. I started off the journey by test riding the Z900 and the Street Triple R 765 and these two are just absolute missiles thanks to their 120+ HP high revving engines along with superb handling and dynamics package (Street Triple was more towards track riding with its razor sharp dynamics and Z900 was more towards touring with its comfortable riding posture that makes you feel like you’re enclosed by the bike) . I personally leaned towards the Kawasaki Z900 because of its top of the class refinement and Japanese reliability and personally I’m a huge huge JDM fan. The Best thing about these middleweight Naked bikes is the Psychotic acceleration they offer but with great power comes great responsibility and one who owns these machines should constantly be reminded about this mantra because one small mistake where you give a bit more throttle than required and these bikes can pile drive you into oblivion. Then came the Honda CBR 650 R which does not seem a fair comparison at all when it goes up against the likes of missiles like Kawasaki Z900 and Street Triple 765 but still at the end of the day it’s a bike that carries the legendary CBR name , A name that gives me goosebumps till date ever since I saw CBR1000RR Fireblade for the first time back when I was in 10th standard.

Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800-img_0638.jpg
CBR650R nails it when it comes to first impression with its super aggressive fireblade inspired design.

As soon as I cranked the CBR 650R Honda’s top class refinement shows with its creamy stock exhaust playing the inline 4 symphony , Silky smooth clutch which sometimes make you feel if it is actually engaged or not. I was lucky enough to take the bike on a safe deserted empty stretch of road where I disabled the traction control system and launched the bike. The magic that Honda did with this bike is to give it Super sport level tall gearing with adequate torque lower down that makes it beautifully tractable in bumper to bumper traffic and also gives it a screaming top end characteristic. One might initially think that 12800 RPM rev ceiling is very low for an inline 4 sports bike but the super tall gearing makes sure that the bike gives you super sport level screaming like characteristics, to put it into perspective the CBR 650R can comfortably pick itself up without any knocking from as low as from 18 KMPH to 218 KMPH in just 4th gear and has a top speed of over 250 KMPH courtesy of the full sport bike fairing.

Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800-img_6555.png
A glimpse of what the CBR650R is capable of (Taken from YouTube)

All these factors make the Honda CBR 650R punch above its weight class in terms of ability to maintain very high speeds with ease which is the one area where I was not comfortable with the Middle weight naked machines which even though faster than the 650R still did not give me the confidence to hold on to those very high speeds due to extreme wind blast courtesy of the lack of fairing and power wheelies even in the third gear courtesy of their overkill power and torque figures for Indian roads. Therefore the decision was made to replace my KTM RC390 with the Honda CBR650R which was an absolutely perfect fit for my requirements although part my heart still longed for the Kawasaki Z900 a little bit. Unfortunately the CBR 650R was not available in Bingwing Honda and there were no signs of it releasing in the near future too. Thankfully a promising reference lead to me purchasing a used BS4 2019 Honda CBR650R which comes with Matte black with red accents which constantly reminds this to me when I check out the bike after I park it , “Damn bruh! Honda has no business making such a beautiful Sports bike”.

Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800-img_7255.jpg
The super aggressive design of the bike often can lead to one thinking that its a proper super sport built for the track but in reality CBR650R leans more towards sport touring.

It’s been almost 4000 kms with the bike and I’ve been having an absolute blast in both touring as well as breakfast rides thanks to the bikes beautiful gold finished Showa big piston front forks and a Unnamed Rear mono-shock that is tuned to perfection with its planted high speed manners (Bike remains rock solid at high speeds) and a pretty damn good cornering stability (I agree that it’s not the sharpest handler when compared to a Street triple but still it is up there in the 8.5-9 out of ten similar to a Z900 where Street triple would score a 10 on 10 according to me and last but not least the stress free and bullet proof reliable engine often makes you forget that you’re redlining it which happens a lot of times and this keeps you reminded again and again that it’s a Honda.

Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800-img_6654.jpg
I named my CBR650R as "Minato no Yūrei (or) ミナトの幽霊" which means The Ghost of Minato.

So now I have a CBR 650R and an Interceptor 650 and I should be happy with both the bikes right ? Eh no! The goblins in my head started itching again and this exactly happened one day when I was taking my interceptor through the beautiful twisty east coastal roads early morning and decided to go a little bit faster than usual thanks to non existent traffic and safe empty stretches tempting me to twist the throttle a little extra. My big fat mind now coming from a CBR now starts to expect the same level of high speed handling manners from the Interceptor which is an entry level roadster with a peach of an engine that is more than capable of handling high speeds but with a rudimentary handling and dynamics package courtesy of budget suspension and Top heavy nature of the bike at times. Because of this Every time I shift a gear and twist the throttle a little aggressively I notice a mild wobble which goes away in a matter of milli seconds and the overall soft nature of the suspension during high speed corners started to play with my mind. In reality these factors should never be a deal breaker to buy the interceptor because it was never designed to carve corners like an rc390 or an Aprillia RS 457 and it’s meant for chilled out touring and to be a perfect mile munching companion and in that aspect Royal Enfield have knocked this bike out of the park. But by the time I returned home after the ride my mind was set on upgrade and this time I was not sure about my upgrade path and therefore started researching on touring bikes that fall in my budget. The options were the KTM Adventure 390 , Kawasaki Ninja 650 and obviously the Kawasaki Z800 or Z900 (preferably used models) even though I knew these bikes were absolute missiles but still the “sometimes the Inner squid in me wants what the Inner squid in me wants”. Upon plenty of research and test drives the KTM adventure 390 was the first one to be crossed off the list because I already had experienced the same engine and it doesn’t bring anything new to the table in terms of performance. Ninja 650 was a very very hard bike to cross off the list because it just had no negatives with its crazy torque which will make you power wheelie every time you let go of the clutch and it’s very good touring abilities although the one major let down for me was the 130 mm ground clearance. As the options now got narrower I it was clear that it was either gonna be a used Z800 or Z900. Z900 is a better bike than Z800 in every way with its missile like performance with refinement and reliability along with top class handling for long distance tours but the first let down for me was the ground clearance which was 130mm against Z800’s 150mm and the Z900’s short gearing resulting in scary power wheelies and high speed death wobbles where the Z800 was very planted thanks to its 231 kg kerb weight. The Kawasaki Z800 basically does 90% of everything a Z900 does in terms of performance while offering more stability and super tall gearing (Very similar to the CBR 650) that makes it more touring capable than the canyon carver the Z900 is with a 15-18% reduction in price in the used market. I was lucky enough to get refereed to a beautiful one of a kind 2017 Z800 Sugomi edition which was the final bike that launched before it was replaced by the Z900. I instantly was blown away by its black and cherry red looks very similar to the color pattern of my CBR and therefore would go well with my garage.

Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800-img_7812.jpg
Kawasaki's sugomi design at it best with its super aggressive body work.

The Kawasaki Z800 is geared in such a way that the lower gears delivery a psychotic rush of torque which along with super tall gearing of the bike makes sure that the bike redlines at 111 KMPH in first gear , To put it into perspective in the first gear Z900 redlines at 98 KMPH, Street Triple and the CBR650R redlines at 108 KMPH. Along with the tall gearing the wave of torque that hits you after the bike crosses 4000rpm makes sure you hold on to those handlebars with your dear life as there are no electronics to save you from this brutal engine, however as you progress up the gears the bike becomes noticeably mellow and cruising at 6th around 100-130 kmph makes you want to check if the bike is still running or not. When it comes to handling and dynamics the duties are handled by upside down Kayaba forks with pre load and rebound damping adjustability and a rear gas charged monoshock with pre load and rebound damping adjustability, The bike with its stock settings is on the stiffer side and one might feel the undulations , pot holes on the road but on the bright side of things this setup makes sure this bike is a canyon carver and can handle corners like a charm and not a single time We would notice the 231 kg kerb weight thanks to the low center of gravity of the bike that ensures that Z800 is always planted aiding in high speed touring. Last but not least the looks of a samurai makes sure the bike gets a celebrity like attention on the roads.

Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800-img_7828.jpg
I named my Kawasaki Z800 as "Rurouni Kenshin" or "るろうに剣心" as a tribute to one of my favorite manga series I grew up watching.

To sum it up 2023-2024 has been a roller coaster of a year for me. Not even in my wildest dreams I thought that I would upgrade my RC390 and Interceptor 650 which were already among the best in class bikes in the country. Nevertheless it has been an amazing experience touring with the beautiful Japanese inline 4 screamers that not only look like legendary samurai warriors but also perform like one. Looking forward to more rides with the two bikes in the future. I also wish to write more about my experience with my RC390 and my Interceptor 650 in the future which in itself deserves a separate thread because they’re such good bikes our country has to offer.

Here's a list of top 5 thins I love about my CBR650R.
1. High speed manners are just exceptional, One can easily hold on to very high speeds with very minimal effort.
2. Screamer of an engine, One of the very few bikes which can be pushed to its absolute limit where it will still remain stress free.
3. Perfectly tuned suspension setup ensuring a reasonably plush ride along with amazing stability during cornering. The bike although not a track tool can still be taken on track days and will certainly put a wide smile on our faces.
4. Reasonably comfortable seat along with a decent rider triangle ensuring that the rider's back is not sore after long rides. I personally was able to do 200km at a stretch without breaks.
5. Looks like a samurai warrior and sounds like one with its inline 4 screaming engine.

Here's a quick summary of what I love with my Z800.
1. Psychotic acceleration in the initial gears that ensures the rider holds on to those handlebars clinging on to dear life.
2. Phenomenal tractability in the city. The bike can be put to motion from a standstill even in third gear.
3. Reasonably plush suspension which works wonders during cornering. Every complaint you have with the stiff setup will disappear when you're carving the canyons.
4. creamy smooth engine that is on par with Honda's refinement and has a more bassy exhaust note than the CBR650R that sounds amazing on the higher RPM's.
5. Looks like a samurai warrior. This bike grabs a lot of attention on the city due to its aggressive design.

I am not listing down the cons of both the bikes at this moment in time because I feel its gonna take at least a few more thousand Kilometers for me to be able to learn deeper about these bikes. I will do a comprehensive review in the near future for both these bikes.

Hope my experience can help someone with their decision on buying a big bike in India. I will keep posting further updates on my rides and service/ maintenance costs for both the bikes. Thanks in advance for the read.

Attaching some more pictures of the bikes.


Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800-5c4f4b6b7dbc469da1ecaf4d683ff251.jpg
Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800-img_8170.jpg
The garage as of 2024.
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Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800-img_1218.jpg
Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800-img_0640.jpg
Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800-img_6661.jpg
Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800-fullsizerender.jpg
Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800-img_8004.jpg
Attached Thumbnails
Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800-0fca4b7a4a46421db0a9a49df25a077e.jpg  

Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800-ed967f6dd37a41f7b7785b2929db6eca.jpg  


Last edited by Aditya : 1st April 2024 at 21:43. Reason: Rule #11
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Old 1st April 2024, 10:36   #2
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Re: Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800

Mod note: Thread moved to Superbikes & Imports.
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Old 1st April 2024, 13:11   #3
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Re: Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800

Lovely garage.

With no intention of planting any thoughts in your head , but only thing missing is a 3-cyl Triumph to partner up with the 1cyl, 2cyl & 4 cyl in your garage
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Old 1st April 2024, 13:15   #4
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Re: Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800

Lovely, 2 more needed so that you can name it as Mon, Tue, Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat and Sun.

Thanks
Alok
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Old 1st April 2024, 14:07   #5
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Re: Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800

Congratulations for buying these beauties.

How is the heat management when you compare Z800 and CBR650R?
I am glad to see a Z800 with stock exhaust, I tried buying one in the used market couple of years back almost all were with aftermarket exhaust.

Ride Safe
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Old 1st April 2024, 17:34   #6
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Re: Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800

Lovely garage, beautiful! So so happy for you and learning so much from your posts!

Ride on.
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Old 1st April 2024, 18:45   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minzanurag View Post
Lovely garage.

With no intention of planting any thoughts in your head , but only thing missing is a 3-cyl Triumph to partner up with the 1cyl, 2cyl & 4 cyl in your garage
Haha I would love to add a 3 cylinder bike to the garage in the near future , I really wish Yamaha would launch their MT09 in India because it’s such a killer bike. Street triple is an absolute perfect bike but I personally like Japanese machines more

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tvk1991 View Post
Congratulations for buying these beauties.

How is the heat management when you compare Z800 and CBR650R?
I am glad to see a Z800 with stock exhaust, I tried buying one in the used market couple of years back almost all were with aftermarket exhaust.

Ride Safe

Indeed my friend, it is very difficult to find a Z800 with stock exhaust in the used market. My first criteria when I was checking out the bikes in the used market is that they are maintained bone stock.

When it comes to heat management I would say the Z800 will run 100-103 degrees in bumper to bumper traffic and it will slowly come down to 90-95 degrees when the bike is in motion and will further drop down to 87-90 degrees during highway runs. On the other hand CBR 650R does not display the temperature but I would say it is 10-15% cooler than the Z800 on every above situation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DDIS_RE650 View Post
Lovely, 2 more needed so that you can name it as Mon, Tue, Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat and Sun.

Thanks
Alok
Hahaha hope this happens in the future. Thanks so much for the read .

Last edited by KarthikK : 1st April 2024 at 19:23. Reason: Please use the EDIT or QUOTE+ (multi-quote) button instead of typing one post after another on the same thread. Thanks!
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Old 1st April 2024, 19:50   #8
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Re: Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800

Quote:
Originally Posted by shiv11bhargava View Post
Lovely garage, beautiful! So so happy for you and learning so much from your posts!

Ride on.
Thank you so much my friend
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Old 3rd April 2024, 10:38   #9
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Re: Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800

What a great set of wheels you have there. I just wonder how you maintain these beauties in great shape. The parking space, time required to pamper all, and cost involved with the upkeep of a multi-ride garage must be a lot, right?

I have an Interceptor since 2020 and have sold my Duke and CI Standard Bullet ever since the twin came into the picture due to the lack of parking space, time, and regular maintenance. Two Suzuki Access 125s does the utility side.

Completely off topic, what type of handle bar do you have on the Interceptor? I have been looking to get a similar look out of my ride. Do you use the stock cables? How is the reach-and-ride comfort?

Last edited by cjnigesh : 3rd April 2024 at 10:39. Reason: Correction
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Old 6th April 2024, 23:07   #10
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Re: Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800

Quote:
Originally Posted by srivathsanSures View Post

Awesome review man! I loved the energy and enthusiasm you infused your review with. The bikes look delicious and you do have an enviable garage. All that is missing would be a good ADV or an off-roader. Looking forward to a long-ride report with your beauties.
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Old 7th April 2024, 10:48   #11
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Re: Living with the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Z800

Quote:
Originally Posted by mugen_pinaki27 View Post
Awesome review man! I loved the energy and enthusiasm you infused your review with. The bikes look delicious and you do have an enviable garage. All that is missing would be a good ADV or an off-roader. Looking forward to a long-ride report with your beauties.
Thank you so much mate , indeed I would love to add a sub 500cc adv to the garage in the future. I really hope Aprilia India would consider launching a Tuareg 457 which is too good to be true.
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