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Honda Introducing Naked CB650F to U.S. Market; CBR650F and Grom Return

2018 Honda CB650F

When we last tested the CBR650F, we were impressed by its comfortable ergos and grunty inline-four engine. Both the CBR650F and the naked version of it, the CB650F, were redesigned for the European market last year, but did not make it to the United States. Next year, that changes as both models will be in U.S. dealer showrooms beginning this August. Also returning is the popular Grom.

Take a look at the following press release from Honda, which includes a description of the changes made to the 650s last year in Europe. Among other changes, both models received a “Showa Dual Bending Valve” fork. Here is the full press release:

TORRANCE, Calif. (May 9, 2017) – American Honda announced today the addition of the CB650F to its model lineup for the 2018 model year, while also confirming the return of two other exhilarating sport bikes in the capable CBR650F and the incredibly popular Grom. The CB650F is the latest in an admired lineage of Honda middleweight four-cylinder naked bikes dating back to the CB400F of the 1970s, and with a great power-to-weight ratio, pared-back style, and comfortable riding position, it has all the elements of a great-performing midsize street-fighter.

“We’re pleased to offer the tough-looking, strong-performing CB650F to American customers for the 2018 model year,” said Lee Edmunds, American Honda’s Manager of Motorcycle Marketing Communications. “The CBR650F has shown that this four-cylinder power plant is a solid performer, and in this package it adeptly rounds out our comprehensive lineup of naked sport bikes, fitting in perfectly between the CB500F and the CB1000R.”

CB650F

Honda’s newest middleweight naked bike is powered by a compact 649cc inline four-cylinder engine that provides a satisfying rush of power and torque while emitting a throaty growl through beautiful side-swept exhaust headers (a Honda signature) and a single, organically shaped, under-swingarm muffler. With minimal bodywork, the view of the handsome engine and twin-spar frame is unobstructed. Suspension comprises a Showa Dual Bending Valve fork and adjustable shock, and both the headlight and taillight feature LED bulbs. All three brake rotors are wave-style, the dual 320mm front discs being squeezed by Nissin calipers. Longer rides are made comfortable by the sporty-yet-natural riding position and a rubber-mounted handlebar.

2018 Honda CBR650F

CBR650F

The full-fairing sibling of the naked CB650F, the CBR650F touts an unorthodox 650cc displacement size that offers a great mix of midrange torque and low reciprocating mass, earning the model praise as a powerful, nimble midsized four-cylinder sport bike that’s ideal for a broad spectrum of users, from weekend canyon carvers to weekday commuters. The competitively priced CBR650F benefits from a number of revisions for the 2018 model year, including enhanced power via updated intake stacks and muffler changes that also deliver an improved sound. The gear ratios have also been revised for improved acceleration feel. The fork is now a Showa Dual Bend Valve unit that has better damping action for more comfort over varying road conditions, and the headlight now has LED bulbs. Rounding out the changes are L-shaped air valves on the wheels to simplify air-pressure adjustment. While the sporty bodywork provides wind-cheating aerodynamics, strategically placed windows offer peekaboo views of the handsome cylinder bank and sculpted exhaust headers.

Grom

G-R-O-M: For anyone remotely familiar with the cultural revolution birthed by Honda’s 125cc sport bike, that simple four-letter word conjures thoughts of enjoyment and fun. An instant cult classic, the Grom has captured the hearts and throttle hands of riders of all sizes and ability levels through its unique ownership of the small-bore sport category. A major portion of its charm is due to its diminutive stature, which is friendly to new riders, offers nimble handling, and is an absolute blast for carving turns. The pint-size Honda’s lightweight feel and peppy powerband contribute to its broad appeal, while the big-bike-inspired styling turns heads in every environment. With a four-speed transmission, manual clutch, and disc brakes, the Grom is as serious as it is delightful.


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70 Comments

  1. motorhead says:

    Awesome. 650 four cylinder should scream nicely at high rpm. As we all know, it’s more fun driving a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow. This will be fun.

  2. ROXX says:

    Of all the “transformer” styled bikes, I’d say this is the cleanest and gets closer to the mark on style than any of the others.
    And just lookie there? A REAL seat that works with an actual passenger!!!

    Good job Honda. Now can we bump the displacement a 100cc???

  3. Cyclemotorist says:

    I like the CB650F.

    People forget about the popularity of the Kawasaki 650 fours.

  4. paul246 says:

    The CB650F has my vote. I really like it. Hopefully I can try one on a demo day this summer. I expect this bike will be a solid prospect for Honda.

  5. John says:

    It’s a shame the F isn’t styled like the CB750F/900F of the early 80s. Much prettier.

  6. Lenz says:

    The CB is a tidy good lookin bike – some reservations on the suspension capability and travel but I hope Honda sell heaps of them to new riders.

  7. Kyle says:

    Honda GB MSRP to USD is about $8400. Not bad.

  8. slipjoint says:

    Refreshing to know Honda can still get it right when they want to. Good form and function and aimed at a large market, middleweight nakeds. How did that happen?

  9. Artem says:

    I do not care about Honda CB600f. It’ all about stupid managers.

  10. Artem says:

    When I was a programmer at my youth, my friend, manager, drove CBR600f.
    So, good luck.

  11. Gary says:

    The CB650F is one of the best looking bikes Honda has turned out in quite some time. There are many interesting features (such as the “waterfall exhaust”) and and I like the simple design theme. I haven’t been to a Honda dealership in decades, but that is about to change.

  12. Don says:

    Both of those 650s are good looking bikes. Could be my next bike as long as I can get it in any color other than red.

  13. Ricardo says:

    I like the looks of the naked one. Very nice bike and with a four cylinder. I think I am going to the dealer now and place my deposit…it will be a good addition to my 1978 CB550k cafe racer.

  14. Bigshankhank says:

    I test rode a 599 Hornet back when they were still available and really like that bike but couldn’t abide by the tariff driven price compared to other machines. This looks like a nice upgrade from that bike, and hopefully can make a mark in its intended price-point.
    Good for Honda.

  15. Vrooom says:

    The coolant bottle cover or whatever that thing is above the engine in front of the tank has to go, or at least be reduced. The motor sounds perfect, it could probably be turned into a decent sport tourer if GIVI would cooperate.

  16. Bob says:

    Make the seat flatter, remove the large plastic cover above the engine, install double analog gauges, replace the ugly muffler with a graceful tailpipe, replace the saggy headlight with a nice round one and add a centerstand. There you go, this thing would be gorgeous, because the proportions are essentially perfect. (Honda should hire me.)

  17. wes says:

    Those links are the same btw.

  18. Norm G. says:

    (Honda, write this down)

    re: “peekaboo”

    not a word to be used in any motorcycle ad copy hoping to appeal to men EVER…!!!

  19. Frank says:

    Nicest looking header pipes in the business…should be a great bike.

  20. Norm G. says:

    re: “that simple four-letter word conjures thoughts of enjoyment and fun.”

    hey, don’t forget my smoking buddy during my stint in the Gulag.

  21. Fred M. says:

    Not a big fan of I4 engines in street bikes and even less so in the middleweight class, where the lack of low-end torque is even more apparent. This isn’t a race-on-Sunday-sell-on-Monday sort of bike, so why not go with an I3, V-twin, or V4, all of which are better engine configurations for street use?

    • Norm G. says:

      Q: This isn’t a race-on-Sunday-sell-on-Monday sort of bike, so why not go with an I3, V-twin, or V4, all of which are better engine configurations for street use?

      I3 A1: cost.

      V-twin A2: too simple, as a rule Big Red’s love is for multis.

      V4 A3: see answer A1.

      • 5229 says:

        An inline four over the years has been proven to be an excellent engine configuration for street use. Does 1969 ring a bell with you? Motorcycling hasn’t been the same since.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      They could tune that I4 to produce the same power curve as an SV650 if they wanted to. Personally, I think the bike wears that I4 well.

      • Selecter says:

        This. The cylinder configuration is just one in dozens of factors. My GPz1100 could out-pull any similar-sized twin from its time from 1500rpm on up. The modern Bandit 1250S can do the same.

        I would actually argue that maybe this bike is a bit too “linear” to differentiate itself in the marketplace… It’s not really a learner bike, so why not open up the top end for a bit of that typical I-4 powerband? We hardly need another dull sub-750cc twin out there…

        The suspension upgrades do seem like they’d make for a pretty nice package, provided they don’t knock the bike into the $9000 territory. But I think the chances of that happening are approaching nil.

    • skortch says:

      I’ve owned multiple singles, twins, I4s, and V4s. I don’t consider any configuration inherently better on the street, just different with their own set of pros and cons and each enjoyable in their own way.

      One early favorite was a used GPz550 with a Kerker pipe. Docile enough for town use down low and it really came alive when you wicked it up a bit in the canyons. Amazing character and fun for an old middleweight. There is a satisfying thrill in revving through the I4 gears that twins seldom deliver.

      Also not sure how a V4 is a better street configuration? A great engine, for sure, but generally costly to manufacture and maintain. Honda has no history with I3s but I’d certainly welcome another example of that great layout.

      • Vrooom says:

        I’m with you there, I’ve owned singles, twins, triples and fours, and really can’t say there’s one that is superior simply due to it’s engine design.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “really can’t say there’s one that is superior simply due to it’s engine design.”

          90 degree (desmo) V-twins for the WIN…!!!

          • Snake says:

            “90 degree (desmo) V-twins for the WIN…!!!”

            Not necessarily, no. Rode a ST2, 2-valver, and it was rather vibey and out of breath at 80MPH. Certainly not quite its comfort zone there.

          • Bob Marren says:

            I have several twins now after years of owning I4 machines. My ST2 is not hard to ride ans vibration is almost nil. It will do 135 two up easily.

        • VLJ says:

          V4s produce the best balance of low-end grunt, a fat midrange, and top-end rip. 90-degree Twins either lag on top or at the bottom, depending on how they’re biased.

          The problem with the V4 is cost, plus it’s more difficult to package in the chassis.

          For the street, I can’t imagine a better motor than a good Triple, if not a V4. Always wondered why only Triumph ever tried to race a Triple, at least in recent years. It’s a great motor, sharing most of the same virtues as a V4, with none of the downsides of an I-4.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “90-degree Twins either lag on top or at the bottom, depending on how they’re biased.”

            (VVT) 90 degree (desmo) V-twins for the WIN…!!! 🙂

    • Dave says:

      Because v-engines are harder to package and more expensive to make. i4’s get a bad rap because they’re often used in high string sport applications, where the tune leaves them wheezing at lower (realistic) rev’s. I’d almost bet my VFR that this engine is much more streetable with its milder tune.

      • mickey says:

        all of the liter I-4’s I have owned (77 KZ1000, 83 GS1100E, 01 and 04 Yamaha FZ-1’s, 13 CB1100 and 14 CB1100dlx) will pull cleanly in top gear from 1200 rpms. They certainly don’t lack low rpm torque and had powerbands about 9000 rpms wide. The 5 Valves FZ-1 also had a top end rush like nobody’s business.They are almost like automatics, you can get to top gear and ride around all day from passing thru small towns at 25 mph to passing someone on the freeway in Utah at way illegal speeds. Nothing wrong with a full size I-4 motor.

        650’s and smaller can be wheezy down low.

  22. Geoffrey Hill says:

    Not a bad looking modern bike. Get rid of the wasp tail, crap at front of gas tank. Hate to buy as is, but I might have to. Getting old, need a lighter bike. This might have to be it.

  23. dman says:

    The CBR650F seems like it is not only a good “entry” bike (now that 650 is considered an entry size) but I think it would also be a good bike for mature riders like me (i.e. those that started riding on sub-200cc bikes and a 650 BSA or Triumph was a BIG bike) that enjoy solo sport touring. So why does it have graphics like an old Trans Am? How about some discreet, solid colors Honda??

  24. Neal says:

    If my old SV650S ever dies this looks like a fitting upgrade. A bit more smoothness, a bit more power, ABS, updated forks.

  25. CrazyJoe says:

    Cycle World just did a comparison of bikes in this range. Wonder how this would compare. The Yamaha won as it could be wheelied in 3rd. All three stop from 60 in around 135 feet. Which makes me think they all could burrow the technology Nissan uses to get 100 ft stops on the Sentra Nismo. They call it “Large Rotor”.

    • Scott says:

      That technology is called “weighing 3000 lbs. and having a 9 foot wheelbase and a center of gravity about a foot and a half off the ground.”

      Even MotoGP bikes can’t stop like a car, and that’s with a professional rider floating the rear tire just off the ground.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        They also cleverly use four fat sticky tires instead of two skinny ones.

      • CrazyJoe says:

        Bikes do stop as well Cars. Just not all of them.125 ft to mid teens is normal. 900 lb Cruisers stop in the low 120’s. Most sports bikes in the teens. Racers have slicks so a 10% gain compared to street tires?

        By some accounts here an eighteen wheelers stops better because the have more rubber thingies(?). I don’t think it works that way.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “By some accounts here an eighteen wheelers stops better because the have more rubber thingies”

          (detector begins beeping, red rotator begins rotating)

          FALSE EQUIVALENCY ALERT…!!!

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Price wise, the Honda competes with the light-heavy weights, but performance wise it is a middle weight.

  26. ABQ says:

    What? No DCT transmission?

  27. Jeremy in TX says:

    I think the CB650F is probably the most attractive of the modern middleweight naked bikes. I love the waterfall exhaust.

  28. Martin B says:

    I once (briefly) owned a Jap import Honda 400-4, with variable valve technology. This was a terrible bike, totally unsuited both to me and our riding environment. There was bland, feeble power at lower revs, then all of a sudden at 7k revs it woke up and took off in a hurry. Which was not nice in decreasing radius corners, or when struggling to overtake and going down through the gears in an effort to find some grunt. Meantime my riding buddies had disappeared into the distance. Totally inappropriate technology for a small engined four, and for our hilly terrain where lazy road makers went around undulations rather than flattening them out.

    A 650 Honda Four would be a much better proposition, with bigger grunt coming in earlier in the rev band. In my experience, Honda fours find their sweet spot in the middle capacity. The old CB500 was a real honey, smooth and with beautiful handling.

  29. Bill says:

    This is why I am a confirmed Honda-hater. They have never had an original idea. Anyone see an FZ resemblance besides me?

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Aside from the fact that they are both naked bikes, I see no resemblance whatsoever. Also, both bikes appeared as 2014 models, so I am not sure Honda would have had much time to copy the FZ.

    • Tank says:

      “They have never had an original idea.” I guess you weren’t around in 1969.

      • Randy in Ridgecrest says:

        I seem to recall the Italians did it first

        • Tom R says:

          Maybe, but almost nobody knew or cared, or wanted one. At the time anyone who had ever owned anything that was Italian and mechanical from that era knew better than to buy one of their motorcycles.

          • Randy in Ridgecrest says:

            Apparently Honda knew and cared. The point was about originality. Honda had good business sense, no question there.

        • mickey says:

          Randy which Italian? The Sei didn’t come out until 1972, and I can’t think of another early Italian I4

          There have been inline 4’s in one direction or another since 1905

          • Bill says:

            MV had an inline 4 road bike before the CB750. That’s what he was referring to (most likely.)
            The Sei was a Benelli 6 cylinder, by the way.

          • mickey says:

            doh.. you are right Bill, what was I thinking about the sei? lol. Anyhow MV had 4 cyl race bikes in the 50’s and 60’s however I don’t recall reading about any MV 4 cyl street bikes until Cagiva bought them in the early 90’s.

            but like I said I4’s are nothing new and date back to the belgian FN of 1905 (longitudinal not transverse)so I guess technically the Belgians did it first.

          • Selecter says:

            Look up “MV Agusta 600”. Production started in 1967. I still think it’s one of the coolest-looking engines ever produced…

          • mickey says:

            huh, googled it. Did not remember that one, but then again only 127 were made so it probably didn’t get much press. Dubbed “the Black Pig” and “possibly one of the ugliest motorcycles ever built” lol

            Thanks Selecter for helping me increase my mc knowledge base. I have a pretty big selection of reference books and don’t think I have ever seen that one mentioned in any of them.

    • dt 175 says:

      fz what? I see 400 four…

    • 5229 says:

      I quite frankly don’t see the resemblance between the CB650F and the Yamaha FZ. Nice to see another bike added to the affordable sport bike class. Having ridden the CBR650F myself I think this bike will be a winner.

  30. Craig says:

    Very nice bike… Honda’s lower priced answer to the supersport (Ducati)… sporty, but great on the road as a full fair bike. I’d like this as a used bike for sure… I don’t want to by it new knowing I can do something a lot better with fully adjustable suspension and electronics for the same price if I look at something 2-3 years old.

    But… well done Honda… you build a nice looking bike!

    Of course, I’m no hipster, so probably they’ll like the grom or electric bike… 🙂

  31. steveinsandiego says:

    so, ok, i’m enamoured of 650 fours, having owned two. however, my advanced (to me) age and waning strength limit me to around 410-420 pounds. sigh. but hope springs in the CB500F 🙂

    • Randy in Ridgecrest says:

      418 vs 457, just in terms of weight I think you’d hardly feel the difference. The four is going to be a very different engine experience, I would think that would be a big factor for you. But if weight is everything what about the FZ07, another even lighter twin with 20 more HP than the 500?

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