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Honda 2014 CBR650F: MD First Ride, Part 1

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We just returned from the press launch in Southern California of the 2014 Honda CBR650F. This is a brief report, which will be followed by a more extensive Part 2.

Honda has been piling on the value-priced models of late. The 2014 CBR650F, which starts at $8,499, is the latest and highest performing model in that family. It features a new, purpose-built 649cc inline four-cylinder engine that produces a remarkably broad spread of power.

The CBR650F, in typical Honda fashion, is beautifully finished in deep, solid colors, including Red, Candy Blue and Matte Black Metallic. It has a very thorough and legible instrument cluster, with two large LED panels.

Honda designed the CBR650F to move the rider’s seating position forward, closer to the bars, for ergonomic reasons and to help with centering the mass. The resulting rider triangle is largely upright, but the rider slightly leans into the wind.

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We rode at a quick pace through the canyons in and around Malibu, California, and after adding a click of preload to the rear shock (the suspension is otherwise not adjustable), the CBR650F changed direction easily and confidently.

In addition to an impressive chassis and handling, the new engine pulls well from as low as 4,000 rpm … remarkable for a mid-displacement inline-four. The bike can be revved out, all the way to 11,000 rpm, providing a huge spread of power that will entertain novices and experienced riders, alike.

This is a lot of motorcycle for $8,499 ($8,999 for the ABS version, which only comes in Black). Considering that current 600cc supersports start north of $11,000, and offer most of their thrust above 8,000 rpm, the CBR650F — with its more practical seating position and power delivery — will be an excellent alternative for many riders. Stay tuned for Part 2 for a more in-depth analysis of our first ride, and additional technical details.

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87 Comments

  1. Akash says:

    Honda CBR650F is the first four-cylinder sport bike in India. That’s a great news for the Indian motorcycling.
    Any idea about its top speed??

  2. Martin B says:

    This is a “Sporty”, not a ‘SuperSporty”, and strikes the right balance between capability and cost. The “air” you don’t like paying for is what keeps you in your seat and facing the right direction, when you hit a bump in the middle of a bend. Otherwise you highside over a cliff.

    I had a Honda 400 four with variable cam engine, but I disliked the sudden impulse that happened when the cams changed to high lift, which always happened at the apex on a mountain road, and the low end torque was too soft. A bigger standard engine would have been a better bet, and would cope better with the additional weight of a four cylinder layout over a twin. I just love the rev it to the moon ability of a four, but I still overall prefer the agility of lighter bikes.

    I currently ride a Suzuki 650 single road bike based on a DR650. This started up with the original fuel after a 3 year layover (I had to have operations on my eyes to be able to see properly). If I need more power, who knows?

  3. Don Fraser says:

    only read these now for Norm’s comments

  4. mickey says:

    don’t know why anyone is surprises by Hondas offerings which tend to be a little heavier, a little slower and a little more expensive, than the creme of the competition but generally have the betert ergonomics, fit and finish and dealer network. Honda makes perfectly serviceable motorcycles that will undoubtedly be good bargains in the long run and will probably still be running well 30 years from now.

  5. Tom says:

    I can’t help but think that the old F4i is better in every way except for the modern looks.

    • Dave says:

      I agree but shouldn’t it be? It’s a more expensive bike (in ealry 2000′s dollars) aimed at a higher performance rider.

      • Tom says:

        True, but at the end of its life cycle the F4i was marketed similarly as this bike.

        • Dave says:

          Re: “True, but at the end of its life cycle the F4i was marketed similarly as this bike.”

          They did (as did Kawasaki with the ZZR and Yamaha with the R6s) but perhaps inappropriately. All 3 of these bikes were the fastest, peaky-est bikes they knew how to make just a few years before. None have been particularly good sellers, despite all being great bikes. I liken this more to the Fz6, which did great in the EU, but not so well here.

          Lightly used ZZR600′s and F4i’s are some of the best bang-for buck motorcycles in the world.

    • Mark Pearson says:

      I’ve had two F4i’s – one street, the other track. I’ve also had a YZF-600R, two R6S’ and two SV650′s. The only 600′s of that era I didn’t get to try but wanted to was the TT600 and last ZZR600.

      The SV Kool-Aid didn’t take with me. The YZF was the most comfortable but the build was flakey. The R6S was the most racy. The F4i was the most balanced. I actually like the looks of the F4 better.

  6. takehikes says:

    I aint buying nothing new until they get rid of the acres of air between the rear tire and seat…..I’m not paying for air and to look stupider than I am.

    • Norm G. says:

      well there’s always the CTX or the NM4…? no acreage under those seats. but not sure either of those will help with the whole “looking stupid” thing…? you my friend are stuck in a catch-22.

  7. Al Pinaweiss says:

    just saw that the very same motorcycle (without fairing) is called
    CB650F, and in Europe, the base version is priced at cca.7,900 Euro (which
    is 10,800 USD).

    therefore, for 8,400 USD WITH a fairing, the US-market CBR650F must be
    a jolly good value, so another point in favour of this Honda offering.

  8. 6 segment fuel gauge BAR FTW!

    All the best,
    Aaron Lephart

  9. DaveA says:

    Has someone finally built a 650 twin that has performance to rival a 98 SV650? Here’s hoping!

  10. ApriliaRST says:

    I wonder the weight, wheelbase and whether the frame is aluminum or steel?

    • tigen says:

      Honda’s web site has some info about it.

      - steel frame
      - 57″ wheelbase
      - 461 lbs curb weight
      - 4.5 gallon fuel capacity

      My Street Triple weighs a lot less. This is of course cheaper and has a fairing, if you are into fairings. Looks are a bit boring but inoffensive. Seems a lot like a Yamaha FZ6R for more money, which isn’t very exciting. Probably not a bad engine here with the extra 50cc.

      • ApriliaRST says:

        Too heavy. No sale.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          And if it were 420 lbs and $10,000, would you say, “Too expensive. No sale.”?

          • Norm G. says:

            and the hits just keep on coming. LOL

          • ApriliaRST says:

            Actually, I’ve set an upper limit of 400 pounds, give or take, for reasons I don’t need to note here. This would replace a different bike that meets the weight figure.

            Thanks for asking, tho. :-)

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            400lbs! Man, that must be a small list of bikes unless you are into supermotos! The FZ07 is the only midsize+ multicylinder bike I can think of that makes the weigh in. Even the air-cooled, minimalist Monster 696 scales in at over 400lbs.

          • mickey says:

            Grom? Lol

            Take a giant bandsaw, cut my ST. 1300 in half lengthwise and you’d be under 400 pounds…barely

          • mickey says:

            Sat on an FZ-07 today. Pretty nice fit and finish considering it’s price. My gripes? holy cow the seat is hard and theseat/tank junction is a nad crusher, luckily Yamaha saw fit to curl the front of the seat high onto the back of the tank. 2nd they saved some of the weight by cutting off the ends of a normal pair of handlebars. These things are narrow, low and angled poorly in the grip area. Really nitpicking, you couldn’t see the headlight or any of the front end from the seat, but I got off and walked around and there is a headlight on it. Haven’t had a chance to ride one yet, but from my observation I’d say it’s a Honda CB500F for the techno crowd.

    • Al says:

      Can’t you google for “honda cbr650F” and “specs” or check the Honda website…..?? You succeeded to type a senctence like “I wonder the weight, wheelbase and whether the frame is aluminum or steel?” after all.

      • ApriliaRST says:

        And you bothered the adults for that?

      • Curly says:

        It does seem there are quite a few people who ask first and Google second. The info is out there folks.

        This bike seems likely to draw the people still stuck on the Race Replica look but it is a bit porky compared to the FZ-09 and FZ-07 which it splits in price. It should perform well enough, provide a comfortable perch and be a pretty good value.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “This bike seems likely to draw the people still stuck on the Race Replica look”

          it’s intent is to be a viable alternative for the “yoot” who want the looks and revvy inline 4 sound they associate with being FAST AND FURIOUS…

          but when they arrive at the dealer, they’re hit with the post GFC reality, financing no longer exists for them, nor can they afford the insurance on the full tilt boogie CBR1000 they’ve been drooling over.

          their friends have already told them how they’ve ridden their sister’s new CBR250/CBR500 and it’s SLOW. ya gotta understand the psychology, as twisted at it seems, it’s important (for them anyway) they have the option of being able to make these kinds of mistakes…

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtbMr-hElDY&feature=youtu.be

        • Dave says:

          The FZ’s will show whether or not Americans will accept standard motorcycles yet. Historically, no fairing = poor sales in North America.

        • ApriliaRST says:

          Um, this is after all, a review. A review should have at least the basic facts without having to look them up. What is wrong with asking a question in a discussion? You waste as much time and content by your immature carping as my asking.

          • Al says:

            As I already said – Can’t you google for “honda cbr650F” and “specs” or check the Honda websit yourself??

  11. Johnny ro says:

    Looks good to me, I would like it.

    Lets hope its not suspended for a newbie weighing 135 pounds, as sold up in the USA. I am not enchanted by buying new rear shock and revalving and respringing forks on a new bike.

    Reminds me of the Suzuki GSX650f. A great bike that came out at a bad time.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I am not enchanted by buying new rear shock and revalving and respringing forks on a new bike.”

      you sir may want to consider that you’re in the minority. the majority (comma) ARE enchanted about dropping cash on the aftermarket. it’s only a billion dollar industry.

      check it, here’s the scam. ya go in and beat the dealer up on price pretending you don’t have any money right…? ok, once you’ve acquired the bike and put enough miles on it, you take it in for the first service.

      only now, in the few weeks between the unit’s sale and return, somehow it’s been “magically” fitted with a $1500 full Akrapovic exhaust system…? lest we forget, 2 weeks ago you were THAT GUY claiming poverty. if that’s not ENCHANTED, i don’t know what is…? :)

  12. MGNorge says:

    I have to say that I find Honda’s overall designs more appealing over the long haul. Nothing too far out there like some of the more Transformer based designs which may, or may not endure. As such, they may not spark anything in those who want to be seen as being on the edge but most likely appeal to a much broader audience, just as most Hondas do. I’d love to take this one for a spin.

  13. ABQ says:

    while getting an oil change and other work done I happened to sit on this model and the one next to it without the fairing. They both felt comfortable. The handle bars were as described with just a little forward lean. This is my prefered ergo because it distributes the weight of my body so it’s is not all on my rear. The pegs positioning also helped out with the weight distribution without putting me in a fetal position. The only personal issue I had was the seat height. As I aged I shrunk to a 29″ inseam. My bad.

  14. Jeremy in TX says:

    That is a beautiful header arrangement. Too bad it is tucked in behind all that fairing.

  15. Gronde says:

    ABS version comes in any color you want as long as it’s black.

    • Norm G. says:

      and there it is… (again)

      a “Henry Ford” 1920′s approach to sales being thumped more than a decade into the 21st Century.

    • goose says:

      The stupidity of Honda N/A’s marketing department is just amazing. I saw this and thought, what a practical, functional all around bike…Maybe I should try another four cylinder bike when I replace my practical bike next year. Now I realize I can only get ABS if I pass the pretty red bike and the prettier blue bike and buy the ugly flat black (metallic!) bike.

      Maybe Honda NA’s marketing department’s slogan is “We’ve sold 100,000 Yamahas!”.

      Goose

      • Yoyodyne says:

        To the marketing people, black is a more conservative color than red or blue; ABS is more likely to appeal to older, more conservative riders thus if it was to be restricted to one color, black makes sense. Having all three colors available with or without ABS would be an inventory nightmare for many dealers.

        • Tom R says:

          If so, that’s real nice of them to market non-ABS bikes to younger, less experienced riders…who could really use ABS the most.

        • motogrin says:

          Make ABS standard on all models like the Vstrom. Inventory “nightmare” solved.

        • goose says:

          I’d be much more included to agree with your logic if the black was gloss black. It isn’t, it is “Matte Black Metallic”. Speaking as an old, conservitive rider I’ve owned several gloss black bikes, I own one today. I never have and probably never will own this currently popular with the younger crowd matt black, AKA Rubatone. It looks like primer to me.

          I also don’t see why having the red or blue bike be the one with ABS would be an “inventory nightmare”. You seem to be stretching to defend these morons.

          Remember, these are the same genius’ who decided not to import the ABS version of the manual transmission NC700, a beginner bike is ever there was one, and today refuse to bring the new, improved NC750 to the US even though it is sold in Canada and everywhere else in the world. Hey kids, what to pay full price for the old, unimproved version? Great sales pitch.

          Goose

          • Yoyodyne says:

            No, I meant that having six versions (three colors with ABS, three without ABS) would be a nightmare. But you make a great point about the matte black, I missed that the black wasn’t gloss. It reminds me of when the 2004 Interceptor was offered in matte Asphalt color, totally wrong for the target demographic.

            I suspect the decision to include ABS, especially in less expensive bikes, is often driven by concerns about pushing the MSRP too high relative to competitors. For example, the Yamaha FZ-09 is offered with ABS in Europe but not here, perhaps because they didn’t want to dilute the impact of the amazing $7990 price by having another version that was $500-$1000 higher.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “I also don’t see why having the red or blue bike be the one with ABS would be an “inventory nightmare”. You seem to be stretching to defend these morons.”

            yup, it’s called a dealer trade. it already happens 3 and 4 times a month all year long.

        • Jim says:

          I’m guessing that flat black would be more interesting to the younger crowd. I’m a 50 year old conservative rider and I won’t consider buying a black bike (especially flat black). I have no desire to hide in traffic.

      • MGNorge says:

        I have to agree with you on color as I’m not generally attracted to any black vehicles. But black is one of the “in” colors today as is white (again). Motorcycles being what they are and tend to be extensions of rider’s attitudes it’s been popular to be dark and mysterious I guess. Honda probably knows that black will be popular and with that purposely offers the high priced spread there.

      • Pete says:

        Really? You do realize that none of the Yamahas in the USA have ABS so, maybe that should be regional where in the USA their slogan is “We’ve sold 100,000 Ninjas!”

  16. TimC says:

    What’s so wrong with at least having an analog tach these days? Dash looks like ’87 LeBaron’s….

    • KenHoward says:

      ‘Looks like the tach display IS analog. The speedo display is digital.

      • Blackcayman says:

        It will be a digital bar lighting up along those numbers…

        I’m with Tim, I like twin dials with sweeping hands

        Old Guys Rule

        • KenHoward says:

          I, too, am an old guy (who rides a Bonneville) but don’t object to a bar graph display – IF it has enough small increments to read virtually like an analog display (minus the sweep hands). I’d guess this new CBR-F is intended for someone a bit younger, though I think I’m ready for something sportier and faired, while still mostly upright.

          • David Duarte says:

            I don’t quite qualify as old (at 45), but I ride a Bonneville, too. As much as I love technology, I still prefer analog gauges.

    • Norm G. says:

      Q: What’s so wrong with at least having an analog tach these days?

      A: cost, reliability, warranty claims.

  17. Will says:

    It didn’t seem that long ago that I bought my ZRX 1200 for under 7k. Ok getting old, lost all sense of time! Looks like a fun bike, more fun than a versys? Or Ninja 650?

  18. Brian says:

    Reminds me of my old CBR600F2. If I get the money to upgrade from my current CBR250, this would be something to look at.

  19. Vrooom says:

    Nice looking bike, but it’s got a lot of competition in the FZ 07 & 09, the Kawasaki 650R, the Versys, V-Strom 650, Honda’s own NC700, etc. They aren’t all in exactly the same category, but close. Perhaps the market is that big for mid-size bikes, that’s good news if so.

  20. cage free says:

    Only problem I see is its more expensive than the FZ09 and FZ07.

    • Norm G. says:

      well it should be. no free lunch or free pistons.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I doubt Honda is too worried about either of those bikes with respect to this one. This guy is fully faired, looks like it carries an extra gallon of fuel and has a riding position more suitable to 70mph+ sustained speeds. I suspect what they are worried about is something bearing an FJ9 moniker coming out later this year both with respect to this CBR and the new (old) Interceptor.

  21. Denny says:

    Again, excellent product from Honda for very sensible price (made in Thailand?). Non-adjustable suspension is bit disappointing though; without that you can hardly call it supersport.

  22. Blackcayman says:

    Its a CBR not a CBF…. A dude can buy it and say I ride a CBR. It makes a lot more sense for a street bike than a SuperSport 600 (a good “next” bike for newer riders). The looks are pretty good… I think they will sell this bike to their intended demo.

  23. Tommy says:

    This Honda, unlike some of their recent releases, looks like a motorcycle should look (to my mind’s eye, anyways). I also like the more upright ergonomics, wide power band, low price and decent handling. With Honda’s fit and finish and reputation for reliability, it should attract a lot of riders.

  24. Frank says:

    I’ve been waiting to hear something about this bike. Sounds and looks like an excellent everyday ride, well suited for just about any thing you might want to do on road. Looking forward to throwing a leg over one and your follow up..

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