The perfect motorcycle doesn’t exist. Just ask anyone with two or more of them in their garage. But in an effort to make machines closer to perfect, compromise is often the name of the game. This CBR650F fills a hole in Honda’s lineup, between the beginner-friendly CBR500R and the track-ready CBR600RR, and rides pretty much like a blend of those two bikes.
There’s perceptive Honda DNA in the CBR650. In fact, I would argue that it is more a blend of the CBR500R and the VFR800 sport-tourer. The CBR650 has the feel of a quality tool in your hand—hefty and well-built, with the right amount of design. At 472 pounds it arguably has too much heft, but you could also say it’s a good thing that it doesn’t feel like a 7/8-size motorcycle. For a commute, it’s an approachable companion with a small dose of excitement blended into the recipe.
I have a few big takeaways from my time with this bike. One is a reminder of how simple can be better. The CBR650F doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is—sure, it’s got sporty styling, but it has its own character, too. Another piece that will be overlooked in a lot of other CBR650 reviews is the braking performance. The componentry on this bike is not fancy, but two 320mm rotors is basically superbike-spec. The calipers are basic, sliding-pin units from other commuter bikes, but putting two of them on board with dual discs means there’s plenty of power to stop. Recognition from the engineers, I think, that 472 pounds is heavier than a superbike. It’s thoughtful, utilitarian design that deserves a nod.
Think of this bike as a VFR650. Sport-Touring Lite. It’s a complete bike, with balanced suspension, linear power, good brakes, and a handsome aesthetic. Yes, it makes less power than a pure-bred supersport bike but it’s also friendlier on the street, more comfortable, and quite a bit less expensive. Hopefully in watching this video you understand why, and can decide whether or not it’s your next ride.
|PRICE AS TESTED||$9249|
|MEASURED WEIGHT||472 lb. (214 kg)|
|FUEL CAPACITY||4.6 gal. (17.4L)|
|SEAT HEIGHT||31.9 in. (810mm)|
|MEASURED HORSEPOWER||79 @ 10,760 rpm|
|MEASURED TORQUE||42.5 lb.-ft. @ 8740 rpm|