My 2021 Honda CBR650R superbike: Purchase & ownership review

This was probably the most fun running-in that I did on a bike, although the Yamaha R3 was not bad either.

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Yes, It's a Honda this time after riding Yamahas for almost 2 decades. It's the 2021 CBR 650R that lured me away from the Yamaha while keeping me mesmerized with the Japanese finesse.

What you will Like

  • Build quality is TOP NOTCH
  • Engine is extremely refined. Carries the Honda Bullet Proof attributes.
  • Gear shifts have no drama and click right in place and slipper clutch assist makes it seamless during downshifts although the first gear clunks in when you start
  • Pleasant Torque at every gear. You could go from 40 km/h to 3 digit numbers in 6th gear making it very useful on highways
  • Linear acceleration makes it very easy to connect with and control
  • Dual-Channel ABS with Dual 310 mm Discs in the front makes braking crisp. I personally loved this bit.
  • Looks stunning from absolutely any angle you look at
  • Not too aggressive stance making it a good sports tourer
  • Sound of the inline 4 is eargasmic, to say the least
  • Showa Separate Function Big Piston front shockers are adequately stiff to give a very controlled ride
  • 7 step mono shocks with adjustable preload at the rear let you tune it just the way you want it
  • All LED headlight setup looks sharp and works great and not compromised by design elements
  • HISS. Honda Ignition Security System. The bike will not start until the microchip in the key is close-by
  • Smaller details like engine cutoff when the side stand is engaged, hazard light coming on automatically on sharp braking or well-designed grab handles beneath the rear seat to hold on when needed are nice
  • Does not guzzle fuel and does a good 20+ km/ltr and with a 15ltr tank capacity, gives a good 300+ km range

What you will Not Like

  • Price! It would be best at an on-road of sub 10
  • Some weird switch placements. The traction control switch is in the usual Pass Switch position. Horn has an inverse way of application. Indicator switch position takes time to get used to
  • Missing adjustable clutch lever. The brake lever is adjustable. Levers are long for shorthands like mine
  • Vibrations at around 6000 RPM. The rest of the bands below are super smooth.
  • Engine is a bit too refined and misses the grunt
  • Missing touring creature comforts like the USB port on the handle and Bluetooth connectivity with map integration
  • Taillight, a compromise in design when compared with the overall bike design
  • Stickering in the red colour is overdone but that is subjective
  • Low Ground Clearance. 130mm. To give a perspective, BMW Z4, a pretty low sporty roadster has the same ground clearance. I have not scrapped the bottom yet but it will be pretty close with a pillion onboard
  • At this price, it would have been good to have some usable riding modes like city, highway, track, rain etc.

And now, I'll share my buying experience along with my review based on the first 60 days with the bike and long time ownership experience as it builds up.


In a way, it's a full circle as the first experience of mine on a bike at the age of 4 was sitting on the fuel tank of a supposedly CKD unit of a Japanese made Hero Honda CD 100 which made me grin all the way. It was a short ride by a family member every evening but it is still strong in my memory. Decades later, I grinned again around a Honda with a tad more powerful engine, a 650cc. In between, there were two other Hondas which has caught my attention. CBZ and the Karizma. And then came the RX to my life and I was sold to Yamaha to an extent that I even had the bug-eyed Fazer. This was followed by the R15 and then the R3.

Due to sporadic schedules, I stopped riding for some time and a close friend got interested to pick up my ride (Yamaha R3). He is amazing with his vehicles and I thought, if it has to go, it has to be with him and she will be pampered. And true to my thoughts, till date the bike looks and is kept as good as new.

Then came the itch to get back to riding. Covid lockdowns made the urge to step out and ride free even more strong. Seeing my friends taking their steeds out for some glorious rides tempted me to book one right away and this was in June 2021. A calm and balanced head decided to take it easy and gift me one on my birthday in early 2022. Then came July and I already broke down on my thoughts and decided to pick up one right away. I started looking around and the first option was definitely to look at the Yamaha stable and I would not mind picking up the R3 again. I browsed their website and felt like may be they have a new division and website called, Yamaha Big Bikes or something. To my surprise, there were some smaller bikes and scooters. What happened to the superbikes? It was all gone. Then I started seeing some bikes in camouflage with Inverted forks and some blogs started reporting them as the new Yamaha R3 and I decided to wait for the launch and pick it up. Being a part of a few well observant rider groups, it was soon noticed that the engine placement was just a replica of the R15 and is definitely not the R3 but could be either the R15 v4 or the R2 which was recently trademarked in many places in the world. Neither of which really lured me in as I wanted something at par (R3) or an upgrade.

So I started looking around and my first pick was the Honda CBR 650R because of the Honda quality and the finesse. And the CBR650R felt like a perfect upgrade from the R3. I started reading more about it, watching almost all youtube videos out there and decided this is it. Not sure about the colour, I called up the showroom and I asked if the 650R was available and it was Jeril on the other side who said, sure and it's ready for delivery too. I could see no end to my smile and the first weekend after that, I decided to check out the colours as they had the red and black, both and then take a call. The same day, a known acquaintance was picking up an Africa Twin so we waited patiently admiring that bike and then came to our turn to inspect the go-down. We went and Jeril stood next to the CB 650R and said, here it is. And I was like, what just happened after 30 mins of wait. I looked back at my WhatsApp messages and realized it was my mistake. I kept saying 650R and the mind reads what it wants to as Jeril read it as CB 650R instead of CBR 650R cause he had that in stock. That was not the end. I accepted my mistake and asked Jeril to show me a CBR 650R and to my surprise, the response was, 'It's sold out for this year'. I was like, let me get this right. CBR 650R 2021 which was launched around March 2021 and deliveries started sometime later is sold out by July 2021? Yes, that was the answer. I went back home, updated in team-bhp (2021 Honda CB650R and CBR650R launched at 8.67 & 8.88 lakhs) to avoid any further heartbreaks to others.

Now, there was no looking back and there had to be a bike in the stable soon cause the hunger increased more after visiting the showroom. So if it's not the Honda CBR 650R then which other inline 4 and then came to the option of the Ninja 1000 SX or if I had to 'settle', the Ninja 650 although not an inline 4. I inquired and was promised delivery in 3 weeks for either. That was great but somehow I was not convinced and was still fiddling around. I could not believe the 2021 CBR650R were sold out in India and I reached out to Jeril who sure tried and still came back with a negative response. I still did not want to accept that and thought of one last crazy idea. I recalled Mr Yadvinder Singh (or Yadvinder San as he is called internally in the organization) was in the press releases of Honda in India in quite a few places. I read a bit more about him and realized that he is the Director and Board member of HMSI. I searched and found him on LinkedIn and expressed my desire to get back into biking and nothing was really working for me in terms of connecting within the budget I had. I messaged and kept the phone aside with honestly no hopes, still browsing other bikes. Just about an hour later, he replied courteously asking for my coordinates to get this done and I kept telling myself, is this for real? The next day, Mr Harmeet from HMSI Gurugram connected over WhatsApp and said, do not worry, we will get one directly assigned from the factory, which dealer will you prefer? I never dealt with a situation like this and all this was a very warm welcome to the Honda stable. Honda BigWing Topline, Bengaluru was my pick.

The very next day I got a call from Jeril saying that they will process my booking as they got an additional allocation, beyond what their usual allocation count was, just for me. He also thanked me for making this happen which was quite amusing. We both had a hearty laugh out of joy and then began the booking process. The booking amount was paid and then began the wait. 2 weeks later I got a call from Ayush who owns the show at Honda BigWing Topline, Bengaluru confirming that the bike is allocated, confirmed and is getting dispatched the next day from the factory and hence I could start the formalities of payment and everything else. I still remember his words. 'I have fantastic news for you, and fantastic it was. Till now, starting from Mr Yadvinder to Ayush, everyone was really courteous in their conversations and I was slowly settling into this Honda ecosystem and after 2 decades it was a big step to 'Try' a new brand. I honestly was a bit sceptical after my experience with the Honda Cars division where their arrogance had made me buy the Ciaz instead of the City but this has been a welcome change.


23 Aug 2021: I got a message from Ayush that the bikes have reached the warehouse. What a message to get on a Monday. Things were surely moving super fast. I requested Ayush to let me know when the bikes reach the showroom so that I could do a quick PDI and confirm one from the lot.

25 Aug 2021: I was told that the bikes have reached the showroom and I could come and have a look. My day was already planned and hence I had to move the PDI to the next day. It was going to be a long wait until the next day.

26 Aug 2021: And finally the day where I would be able to see the bike. I took my neighbour, Paul, along with me to check out the bike. We had a quick breakfast on the way and then straight to the showroom. We reached the showroom and were directed to the basement where they had all the CBR650Rs were lined up. What a view that was.

I was definitely overjoyed and started looking at all the identical bikes. Every bike was perfect. No issues at all at least at the first glance. The build quality was amazing. I tried to use the freedom of having the bikes in front of me by adding up numbers and all the works to take a pick. After picking one, I asked them to assign it to my name and in came the surprise that all bikes, other than one were already booked. Riders were not as occupied as I unfortunately was and they came the very moment they got to know that the bikes have come and booked it against their name. So I was left with 'The One and I had no qualms as none of the bikes had any flaws.

Spent a little more time with the bike and it was time to get some life into her. On came the ignition and got the message of the Angels around blessing the moment. The time on the console was 11:11.

The sound of the bike was absolutely amazing. An Inline four waking up is something to be experienced. With the mild echoes across the basement, it was a symphony to the ears. I could hear that through the day but then that's for later.

After the required formalities, the bike got registered on 27Aug2021, which is just about one month from when I started my conversation with Honda to get the bike. That, comparatively was quite quick, considering that this bike has shown people even months of a wait before they got a hands-on one. Although the bike was registered, considering advice from people around me on a good date, I decided to wait for 2 more days before I get the new member of the family home.

In these two days, I would have looked at the pics a zillion times and I personally found too many stickers on an otherwise beautifully designed bike. The sharp angles, the design elements were just perfect. The stickers were not really needed and I started working on photoshop to see how it would look without the stickers. One thing I got to know is that the sticker on the tank was under the clear coat and hence I could not remove it and it had to be the rest on the fairing and all which I could remove.

This looked MUCH better and this would be the first change that would be done after I get the bike. If I could, I would remove all, but to keep in synch with the sticker in the tank, this would be probably the best way to appreciate the design elements well.

My R3 was completely wrapped with a zillion stickers and here I am trying to remove every possible sticker coming from even the factory.

30 Aug 021: D Day. It was but obvious a sleepless night preparing myself for the big day. Wake up every hour to check the time. The usual anxiousness did not spare me. Finally, it was morning and I was all ready with my riding gear to leave for the showroom. A family friend, TJ, who also owns a CBR650R (Black-2019) came in, on his bike. That sure added up to the moment. He parked the bike and we went to the showroom in my car. It was fun driving the car with riding boots on. The only thing missing was the helmet. I would not mind that actually !!

The delivery was scheduled for 11 in the morning and we (TJ and my family) were there by 11. We started looking at the bike which was still in the basement to check if everything was okay. I had got most of the required accessories beforehand itself and the showroom team were kind enough to have installed everything nicely, ready for the delivery. (The accessories are mentioned in one of the posts below). The bike was all ready and I went upstairs to complete the last few formalities to add up a few necessities like Extended Warranty and Road Side Assistance.

Extended Warranty: Extends your factory warranty by 3 years or 42,000 km, whichever comes first. So I bought my bike in 2021 which makes it valid by default till 2023 but with this, it gets extended to 2026.

Road Side Assistance: In short, it covers you for any issues to be attended to if the issue is within 300 km from your closest Topline dealer. After that, it's 30 INR/km. This includes towing costs if required. Spares are on actuals.

All formalities were done and it was now time to unveil. Unveil a bike which I saw a few days back and then again a few mins back but the fun of unveiling had to be lived !! It's customary.

The customary key handover by Ayush who was quite helpful in the whole process.

It was an amazing feeling to get back into riding after these lockdowns and everything else. I could not stop grinning and it continued for some time now. Took the bike to a Shell outlet right around the corner, tanked up and was ready to ride. The ride back home was a lot on learning the bike, getting used to the controls, weight, power etc. It's the time when the biker and bike bond! Right after reaching home, TJ took his bike and we went for a very short spin to take some pics to mark this day!

And that concludes the wonderful delivery experience !!

Evening my Neighbors, Reba, Paul and Eva pulled in a surprise cake cutting with a yummy homemade chocolate cake with a super fun creative. It's moments like this which makes a good moment, great!!

That full day was really overwhelming and a day to remember.

The next day was the day to get blessings from the Gods for the happy and safe miles ahead.

Not to forget the welcome gift from Honda

The box had a Honda branded coffee mug, wrist band, key holder and chocolates.

Soon I was also added to a few WhatsApp groups where Honda riders catch up and discuss the bikes or plan rides.

  • Blr Topline group for CB/R 650 R/F owners in Bangalore (Managed by BigWing Topline Bengaluru)
  • S.H.A.R.K.S. - Superbike Honda Riders of Karnataka (Managed by a few Honda Riders from Bengaluru)
  • CBR 650 riders - All India group for CBR 650F/R riders

It was good to reconnect with many riders whom I had ridden with almost 15+ years back. And that completed my welcome to the Honda Family.

It was not surprising to see many R3 riders already in the group and more joining in, in my few months over here. Yamaha's miss, Honda's gain.

Continue reading BHPian abhisheksircar's review of the 2021 Honda CBR650R for more insights, comments and information.

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