– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Honda 2014 CBR650F: MD First Ride, Part 2



Following up on our initial ride report, we wanted to provide readers a more thorough review and technical introduction to the all-new Honda CBR650F.

Honda knows inline, four-cylinder engine designs as well as anyone with a heritage that extends back decades. The 649cc inline four, DOHC, fuel injected engine found in the CBR650F is entirely new and purpose built by Honda for this model. Honda’s goal was good peak horsepower that exceeds that offered by singles and twins in the mid-displacement category, together with a very broad powerband offering excellent usability on the street. The engine displacement is nearly 10% larger than supersport engines, further adding to the low rpm performance.

A six-speed transmission drives power to the fat, 180 section rear tire. Both the front and rear tires are 17″, accepting modern sportbike radial designs. We tested on excellent Dunlops.

The main frame is a perimeter steel design, with a shapely aluminum swingarm out back.  Curb weight, with the 4.5 gallon fuel tank full is 461 pounds. Identical to the wet weight of Kawasaki’s 650 twin that holds slightly less fuel.

Honda worked hard at centralizing the mass of the bike, and it feels light when you pick it off the side stand, and ride it. The ergonomics are a compromise between aggressive sportbike and bolt upright dual sport. Because the rider sits very close to the steering head (part of Honda’s mass centralization efforts), the seating position seems more upright than it really is. The reach to the bars is easy.

The seat height is 31.9 inches, not particularly short, but the narrow mid-section makes reaching the ground relatively easy. A short, female journalist at the launch seemed to have little trouble in this regard.

The largely non-adjustable suspension includes a 41 mm fork, and a single shock with stepped preload adjustability. The CBR650F has some serious braking power from dual 320 mm front discs and a single 240 mm rear disc. The front discs are squeezed by two-piston calipers.

Honda designed a unique dash for this new model that includes two large LCDs, that incorporate a speedometer, digital tach, clock, trip meter and fuel gauge. Legibility was excellent … notably better than some of the other digital instrument panels we have seen lately. Even the digital tach provided excellent contrast, and could be quickly read.


The styling of the bodywork impressed us, as did the beautiful solid color paint finishes. This is a very attractive motorcycle that sacrifices nothing aesthetically in comparison to most modern sports machines. Honda even went to the trouble of creating a window in the fairing to see the beautiful exhaust header tubes that are purposely reminiscent of the 1974 CB400 four-cylinder machine. The shapely design of the aluminum-extruded swingarm, as well as the thin-gauge multi-spoke wheels and petal discs give the whole machine a decidedly upscale appearance.

We were immediately impressed with the engine performance. A modern 649cc, fuel-injected, inline four promises pretty good punch, and the Honda delivers, but it was the flexibility of the power delivery that really surprised us.

Pulling smartly from as low as 4,000 rpm, the CBR650F has excellent around-town performance and manners. The fuel injection is very well calibrated, so throttle response never surprises you. Overall, this mill is smooth, predictable and potent.

Of course, it does trade the top end rush you would get from a 600cc supersport, but it continues to pull all the way to 11,000 rpm, allowing you to frequently hold a single gear from corner exit to corner entry … a rarity for a pure supersport.


There is some mild buzzing from the engine at high RPMs, but we would say the engine is generally smoother than most inline fours, and vibration was never an issue during our test. The mirrors remain vibration free, for the most part, and provide a good view rearward.

In our experience, Honda tunes non-adjustable forks better than anyone (such as on earlier VFRs and Interceptors) and the front fork on the CBR650F features excellent damping. At 200 pounds, our test rider is heavier and faster than most potential purchasers of this model, but the fork did everything from absorb everyday road irregularities to handling very aggressive canyon carving duties. Hard on the brakes entering corners while riding with a fast group, the front fork stayed up in the stroke quite well, and filtered good feedback from the front contact patch.

The rear shock is also versatile enough that we made one small change, increasing the spring preload one notch (from position 2 to position 3) to compensate for the weight of our test rider and make the bike steer more neutrally through corners.

As we said, the ergonomics are a compromise between hardcore sport and bolt upright, but they worked well over the 100 miles, or so, of our test.  Seat comfort was very good, and both the rider and passenger seat are clearly more plush than seats typically found on pure sport bikes.

The six-speed transmission shifted without issue throughout our test, and the gear spread appeared to compliment the flexible engine well. We did not test fuel economy, but the fuel gauge seemed to move pretty slowly, and we expect Honda incorporated excellent fuel economy into this brand new engine design. Honda is not currently offering an estimated fuel economy figure for the CBR650F.


This is a bike that you could do pretty much anything on, from commuting to touring to canyon strafing. The handling is easy and predictable and the engine is smooth with performance that will satisfy most novices and experts who are looking for an all-around mount. Honda says crank horsepower should be in the mid 80s, and our seat-of-the-pants dyno does not doubt it. This will put peak horsepower well north of competing twins, if a good step below pure supersport machines.

We were really impressed with the braking performance, which was quite powerful and controllable. For a “budget” model, we could not expect more.

Wind protection was adequate, but could be better for long-distance riding or touring. The windscreen is low, and wind hits an average size rider in the upper chest area.

At $8,499 for the non-ABS models, we think the CBR650F represents good value. At roughly $3,000 less than 600cc supersport models, you give up peak engine performance and higher grade adjustable suspension in exchange for improved comfort, practicality and engine performance at street rpm levels. You also get a very modern, attractive design that will mix well in supersport/superbike company. The ABS model (Matte Black only) is $8,999 MSRP. All three available colors are pictured in this article. We wish Honda had offered ABS with all of the color options.

For additional details and specifications, visit Honda’s web site.



  1. Neil says:

    “Ducati should have hired Norm instead of Valentino.” – Dirck, too funny! – A local dealer went to Americade and rode everything from Honda and Kawasaki. This 650 was his favorite bike. He simply said the fueling is spot on, it is comfortable and it’s fun. I’ve ridden many of the new Hondas and the only trouble I have is liking them all for different reasons. 500r, VFR, NC700, Valkyrie, CB1KR, had a blast on each one. Born in the 60s though so the CB11 fits me well in terms of simply being a ride. I could own this 650 in red. Nice machine.

  2. Andrew says:

    Today I rode this beauty in blue at my local Honda dealer’s demo day. These ride reports are accurate. I was really impressed with how light it feels, no matter what the actual weight is. It felt lighter than my old Yamaha FZ6, probably because of the mass centralization. I was expecting a steel-framed 650 to feel heavier. Fueling is perfect, brakes are excellent – both are better than the FZ6. I could not get this bike to misbehave at all. It is not a torque monster, but it won’t bog at low speeds and felt a bit more responsive at low RPMs than the three 600s I’ve owned. Very smooth but not completely. No shortage of power when revved. The suspension is a little soft for my 260 lbs., but the fork felt fine and handling was quick and responsive. Very comfortable for me. My only gripe is that I really wish it had an analog tach. Yes, the digital one works fine and is visible, but it still doesn’t look right to my eye. The rest of this bike is sweet and attractive.

    I also rode the 2014 VFR800 right after. Of course there is no comparing to its wicked VTEC snarl above 7000RPM, and the larger VFR felt more stable, but overall I honestly preferred the CBR650F – lighter, better comfort, handling, low-speed throttle and engine smoothness, and especially vibration. This new 650 is a real winner.

  3. Mars says:

    unrelated to the Honda – but since there is so much discussion of the cool colors and fit-and-finish, I’ll say it here: how cool would it be if the motorcycle companies built sport bikes so that if you broke the plastic you could just ride it without that plastic without the loss pf that plastic having functional parts affected? they could sell a naked and also sell a fairing kit but the point would be that a fully-faired bike could still be ridden after you tip your bike over in the garage without having to buy $2,000.00 worth of replacement plastic.

    • MGNorge says:

      I have seen sport bikes ridden after much of the plastic was broken off. Besides, that would destroy the rat bike side of the sport. 🙂

  4. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    Maybe I can talk the wife into getting one 😉

  5. Jeremy in TX says:

    The more I look at this bike, the more I like it – especially the blue one. And I liked it a lot from the get go. Faired bikes aren’t usually my thing, but this 650 is very tastefully styled.

  6. Norm G. says:

    heads up, just sat on one of these at the dealer. seems one arrived last week. matte black, NON abs.

  7. Hair says:

    I like this bike I like it for was it was designed to do. I see it as an everyday rider. One that is nice enough to be proud of and it has enough performance to stay ahead of the traffic traps. Not every bike needs to be a full on racer. Not every bike needs to be a specialty bike. I see this bike as a good solid motorcycle. One that I would not mind riding everyday.

  8. Sean says:

    Not enough savings for me to give up SS power, suspension, chasis, brakes, etc. But for those that don’t need or want those things this looks like a very nice package. As for me, I’ll pay the extra $15-20 per month.

  9. Silver says:

    Looks sweet! Who’s have thunk they didn’t forget how to make an attractive bike.

  10. Josh Davis says:

    Any news on the naked sibling, the CB650F? That’s the one I’m excited about.

  11. Mr.Mike says:

    I’ve been very critical of Honda lately but this seems like a really nice bike at a good price.

  12. skybullet says:

    GearDrivenCam, you are right. The Fueling Issue is with the FZ-09, not with the FZ-07. While I am talking about it, this is not an uncommon problem. I had an abrupt, jerkey throttle problem (most noticeable in corners when you roll the throttle back on) with an Aprilia Caponord and BMW F800GS. You can learn to live with it but it is one of those irritating things.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “this is not an uncommon problem”

      correct, just a commonly blown out of proportion problem.

      • 70's Kid says:

        It all comes down to what a buyer is willing to put up with for the money. Not something that I would really want to deal with, but I can understand how it might not be as big of a deal for others.

        In the case of the FZ-09, it could have the smoothest fueling on the planet, but I still wouldn’t be able to get past the looks of the bike.

      • TimC says:

        Heh, a change in gloves (to Held) has improved control feel such that I’ve inadvertently improved this behavior (FZ-6) to the point I didn’t notice I was doing it – one day I was like “boy, this thing sure hasn’t been as lurchy lately” so hmmm there appears to be something to rider skill and all that as it turns out.

        • Blackcayman says:

          I bought Held Phantoms for the track 3 years ago – easily the best mc gloves I’ve owned… After three years and many “on-offs”, the velcro isn’t quite as catchy, but still closes up.

        • mickey says:

          Lol its not a glove problem with the FZ09

      • Provologna says:

        It’s naive or ignorant to deny that riders may have different range of sensitivities to every aspect of life, including “fueling issue” while riding Whatever is someone’s sensitivity to anything, their opinion is always 100% valid. We all order our own food, and live with the results.

        Body mass is one of many variables affecting sensitivity to “fueling issue.” The heavier is the rider, the greater is motor torque required for forward movement, and the less does motor braking slow the vehicle. In effect, the heavier the rider the less are they affected, and the less is their sensitivity to “fueling issue.” The inverse is always true regarding lighter rider.

        My friend and I both owned mandarin ’00 BMW R1150GS. We are both similar age and accomplished riders with similar riding history. His bike seemed to ride exactly like mine. He repeatedly asked me how much was I bothered by the Beemer’s widely renown “fueling issue?” I repeatedly told him almost never.

        He weighs about 80 lbs less than me.

        Your “holier than thou?” attitude in this post is major fail.

        • todd says:

          Or it’s likely he has more experience with smoother bikes than you do. You may both have the same bike but you don’t both have the same frame of reference.

  13. goose says:

    Seems like a great new option for the more practical set or new riders. Pretty too. And, HURRAY, a fair sized gas tank. If it gets good milage (say 50 MPG in touring mode) 4.5 gallons could work anyplace in the US. I’m guessing not a lot of these will see duty in northern Canada or the Australian outback.

    “We wish Honda had offered ABS with all of the color options.” I completely agree. Even offering ABS on the blue or red version instead of the primer paint job would be better. I’d love to hear the explanation for this choice.


  14. skybullet says:

    Prices and spec sheets are one thing, performance is another. Wait for comparison testing to reveal a flaw you may not be willing to live with. The FZ-07 sounded great on paper until the ugly FUELING issue came up.

    • GearDrivenCam says:

      Wasn’t the fueling issue with the FZ-09 rather than the FZ-07?

    • Norm G. says:

      the “ugly fueling issue” is a myth perpetuated by laymen engaged in “group think” and influenced by the power of suggestion.

      • mickey says:

        no it’s not. I rode one at a Yamaha demo days. Even their rep said don’t put in A mode, it’s too twitchy. news flash B mode was also too twitchy. There was no partial throttle, it was either gas on, or gas off. Seat hard as a brick sloped toward the tank, ultra stiff suspension, no ABS. not the bargain they claim. When MCD reported on it everyone one asked “have you ridden one?’.. well I did. No thanks. Rather have a used Gen 1 FZ-1.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “I rode one at a Yamaha demo days. Even their rep said don’t put in A mode, it’s too twitchy”

          that’s the lawyers responding to the hysteria (see entry for allying your fears by telling you what you want to hear)

          ya wanna know what “twitchy” actually is? twitchy is nothing more than a bike with a high power/weight ratio paired to a relatively short wheelbase. all those people whining (not necessarily you) havent ridden a large enough variety of kit over large enough settings (ie. on road, off road, track, etc) to know from “twitchy”. have i ridden better…? yes. have i ridden far worse…? absolutely. its performance however (and this is critical) is right where it should be for the price point. iirc the Mk1 blade/929 circa ’00 was a fright…?!

          see for many of them its their first or second bike, so without any real reference of comparison…? they know precisely “DIKK”. perceptions are driven by expectation.

          Q: and what do they expect….?

          A: free lunch.

          • mickey says:

            I do believe they are being bought by a bunch of people without a lot of experience so maybe that’s the new NORMal for them (see what I did there?) lol

            Worse I’ve ridden was the 06 Yamaha, their first year Gen 2 FZ. Horrible.

            The FZ-8 however rode perfectly NORMal (did it again lol..I kill me)

          • Dirck Edge says:

            I agree with Mickey, and disagree with Norm. Fueling is a real problem on that bike. Our review underscored it:

          • Norm G. says:

            i disagree with dirk and agree with…

            wait for it…


            (bet you didn’t see that one coming)

            anyway i’m 215lbs, i’ll take an FZ9 off a showroom floor, not fuss with the injection, nor turn a clicker and i’ll run rings around most on a backroad or a track. i challenge anybody. how’s that…?

          • Dirck Edge says:

            Ducati should have hired Norm instead of Valentino.

          • mickey says:

            That only says Norm believes he is a good rider, not that the bike is any good. Im guessing challenging just anyone would not be a good idea. I’m guessing challenging mickey, well, you might win that one, but then again I don’t enter peeing up the wall contests..too short, 64 years old, weak bladder pressure.

          • KenHoward says:

            The staff of Motorcycle Consumer News, in their review of the FZ-09, were incredulous that Yamaha would release a new bike with fueling that bad. They actually gave their test bike back to Yamaha to swap for another, which they said was slightly better, but still suffered the same extreme abruptness. I guess they should be taking riding lessons from Norm G.

          • Jon says:

            Bullsh*t. Amazing the certainty you can muster when you haven’t even ridden the bike. I’ve owned one for several months and the fuelling is a problem. There’s a reason the reflash is so popular amongst owners.
            I’ve owned bikes weighing less and making an extra 25-30hp over this bike, and had no problem whatsoever with smooth throttle application. I’ve no problem with the fz09 once the throttle is already open more than 5%.
            And this is my 10th (maybe 11th, haven’t counted exactly) and i’ve been riding 14 years.

          • Jon says:

            If it’s not clear, my reply above was to the all knowing Norm..

    • Colors says:

      Did power commander go out of business? First model year is bound to have a few issues, if you gotta have one, its cheap enough you can scrape up an extra three bills for a PC, if you can’t well you probably shouldn’t be buying one anyway.

  15. todd says:

    If I had that kind of money to blow on (yet another) bike, then I’d be the first to yank off the fairing and attach a nice, round headlight. This is surely a really nice bike but used bikes still make so much more sense to me.

    • dino says:

      Good idea… And while rummaging around for the round headlight, how about a set of round Speedo and Tach gauges (Analog of course!.


    • Norm G. says:

      re: “used bikes still make so much more sense to me.”

      there’s a 919 out there with your name it.

  16. MGNorge says:

    I’ll take the red one, no wait, the blue one. That red sure is attractive, better stick with red…but that last shot of the blue has my heart racing. Damn.

  17. Michael H says:

    Nice bike, Honda. Now if you wouldn’t mind, jigger the handlebars and footpegs a bit and introduce a standard based on this package.

  18. Colors says:

    Any new sportbike that doesn’t look like a transformer is ok with me. Nothing new still really does it for me though. But hey somebody has got to buy all those sweet used 10-15 year old Superbikes and they still have better suspension and more power for half that price.

  19. Mark Pearson says:

    That’s not enough savings for me to put up with a non-adjustable suspension.

    • joe b says:

      when a manufacturer provides a non adjustable suspension, but gets the settings right, why would this be an issue? My ’07 GSF1250 had a non adjustable rear shock, but the stock setting was exceptional.

      • Mark Pearson says:

        A Bandit. Yea, I owned one of those too. I liked the ZR-7S better. The difference in feel between damper rods and cartridges is like night and day. The more you weigh the more dramatic the effect. It’s why SV cultists swoop down on GSX-R carcasses like vultures.

      • goose says:

        Because people have been brain washed into thinking suspension needs to be adjustable to be good. Part of the “I’m the next Mark Marquez” fantasy the manufactures like to sell.

        If it is right all you need is preload and maybe rebound on the rear. But that doesn’t put more money on the bottom line.

        Besides, suspension is one of the easiest thing to fix. Pretty hard to fix a bad chassis or small gas tank, ordering a shock or having a fork re-vavled/ sprung isn’t cheap but it also isn’t difficult.


        • Mark Pearson says:

          Wrong-o Honkboy, I’m a Rossi fan. I don’t care how many titles Marquez racks up.

          Damper-rod forks are the condoms of the motorcycle industry. If you’re unfortunate enough to fall outside the range of most Japanese suspensions (that is to say, weigh more than an eastern European gymnast) by the time you’re done throwing parts at damper rods it doesn’t cost much more (if any, considering a Traxxion SV Drop-in kit costs $350) to re-spring and refresh a set of cartridges. It’s the reason why there’s a SV suspension cottage industry.

          $9,000 for a bike with the same fork technology as a ‘35 R12. My god, what a bargain.

        • Trent says:

          I put ZX6R forks on my Z750S and the handling was much better at all speeds. Glad I did it.

  20. Jeremy in TX says:

    A little off subject, but I am pretty sure Yamaha still includes destination charges in their MSRP while the rest of the Big 4 now show it separately. Do any of you industry guys know if that is the case? If so, it seems that Yamaha is handicapping themselves with respect to MSRP comparisons particularly when it comes to bargain bikes.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “i am pretty sure Yamaha still includes destination charges in their MSRP while the rest of the Big 4 now show it separately.”

      not at the 2 franchisees local to me…? using the states as an example, not sure how yamaha could give a “one price fits all” MSRP that included that without backlash, since a guy on the west coast prolly wouldnt allocate from the same warehouse/distribution point as say a guy on the east coast…?

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki have “one size fits all” destination charges as do all auto manufacturers. They just break it out from the MSRP as a separate charge. I think Yamaha is the last holdout that keeps it rolled into the MSRP.

  21. xlayn says:

    Wow, no demand for ultralight chassis, or arms ripping power….
    Could this be (drummer please) the new SV650?

    As SmokinRZ says makes you remember the F2/F3 Hondas.

    As far as me I love the vertical line of the radiator on the first shot.
    I also see why so much grief about the black only ABS, the red one is lovely.

  22. frank says:

    Honda pretty much nailed it on this one. Unlike some of its latest offerings, this bike not only looks the part, but because it offers the versatility that should appeal to a large variety of potential buyers, it will more than likely meet with broad acceptance. Hopefully Honda has though about offering some appropriately sized and styled bags for it.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Hopefully Honda has though about offering some appropriately sized and styled bags for it.”

      hopefully Honda has thought about having the new team that styled this…? offer an appropriately styled 600RR….? that thing couldn’t look more dated now.

  23. Dan says:

    The new Yamaha FZ-07 weights 50lbs less, costs $1000 less….which is the better buy?

    • Blackcayman says:

      would you rather have a pizza or a double cheeseburger?

      • Norm G. says:

        Q: would you rather have a pizza or a double cheeseburger?

        A: one double cheeseburger pizza please.

        no, I’m serious…!!! sure laugh it up, but I got Papa Johns on the phone right now.

      • David Duarte says:

        hold the cheese, and add bacon

    • red says:

      Honda appears to have a some extra utility > fz07. If I were planning to travel, might choose the Honda.

      Love that fz07 though and cant wait to see the review!

    • Guylr says:

      Make that $1509 less than the Honda for the FZ-07. I’m hoping we see a comparison test.

    • mickey says:

      2 cyl vs 4 cyl, available ABS on the Honda, more wind protection, better dealer network, in my mind better looks, no question which one appeals to me more. I’d pay the extra for the Honda without question.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I guess it depends how much one is willing to spend for fairings, a sportier riding position and an extra gallon of gas. If the 10hp advantage (between claimed hp numbers from the mfgs) holds true, the weight penalty may not be that much of a handicap. The Ninja 650 is a better comparison.

      That said, the FZ-07 is a marvel of a package for what it is.

  24. Bones says:

    Some color matched hard bags would make this a great middleweight sport tourer. What do you say, Honda? (Turning blue while I hold my breath…)

  25. Blackcayman says:

    top picture shows the more upright ergos…. I think that makes sense for most riders of the intended demo.

    Is it my imagination, or does the blue look much better in the last shot?

  26. Kevin White says:

    Fairly similar to the FZ6R in a lot of ways. Just a little more of everything. Which is a very good thing.

  27. SmokinRZ says:

    Reminds me of my old 94 F2. What a great bike that was.

  28. TheSeaward says:

    Such a pretty bike and sounds like it works as well as it looks. New bike for the short list.