Where the CBR650F lines up against its entry-level sportbike brethren will make an interesting comparison. First impressions are that the Honda is smoother and more refined than the general level of the class, which it’ll have to be to justify the $8,499 price tag. (It’s $8,999 with very good ABS, though you’ll have to settle for the so-yesterday matte-black paint to get ABS, otherwise you can choose from a nice Honda red or a handsome, not-quite-Yamaha blue on the non-ABS models.) Remember that the Kawasaki Ninja 650 costs $7,699, Suzuki’s Gladius...er, SFV650, is $8,149, and Yamaha’s FZ6R runs $7,790. Plus you have the new wildcard, the Yamaha FZ-07, at a mere $6,990. We’ll get these bikes together soon for a definitive answer, but the Honda promises to be an extremely strong competitor in an important category. The CBR650F might be a gap-filler for Honda, but it’s definitely not a sportbike placeholder.