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Honda Joining the Comfy, Premium Sportbike Category with New CBR650R (with video)

Honda’s CBR650F was introduced as a 2014 budget model with sporty styling and relatively upright ergonomics. The fully faired machine was updated in the U.S. just last year (and tested by MD) with new styling, more power and a Showa Dual Bending Valve front fork. It was still essentially a budget bike, however, with engine and chassis performance that could not be compared to a genuine supersport.

With the relative collapse of the race replica category, in terms of sales, manufacturers are moving higher performance, and higher spec components, into sporty bikes with more upright, comfortable ergonomics. There are several examples now, but the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 and Suzuki GSX-S1000F come to mind. Following this market trend, Honda has updated its mid-displacement models with more performance. The CBR650R (dropping the CBR650F moniker for 2019), in particular, is taking a big step up-market.

The new bike loses a total of 11.6 pounds (now weighing a claimed 456 pounds wet), gains horsepower, much improved suspension and brakes for 2019. A new Showa SFF upside-down fork holds radial-mount, four-piston brake calipers acting on dual floating brake rotors mounted on a redesigned front wheel (the rear wheel is new, as well).

On top of last year’s horsepower increase, the 2019 CBR650R adds 5% for a claimed 94 horsepower at 12,000 rpm. Redline has been boosted by 1,000 rpm, and the new bike should be decidedly more rev-happy with peak torque of 47 foot/pounds coming at a loftier, 8,500 rpm. Compared to a 600cc supersport this is still, principally, a mid-range motor, but added revs were needed for the 2019 power increase.

Traction control (Honda calls it HSTC) is another, new premium feature along with an assist/slipper clutch that will both smooth corner entry, and reduce clutch lever pull effort.

The new wheels save unsprung weight (roughly a pound each, front and rear) and, although the new fork appears to be non-adjustable, overall chassis balance and performance should receive a big boost for 2019.

Styling is entirely new, and the ergonomics are slightly more aggressive (still much more comfortable than a supersport) with rider weight shifted forward. Full LED lighting and a new LCD instrument panel are featured, as well. The styling draws on the latest CBR1000RR for inspiration, according to Honda.

Pricing and date of availability in the U.S. market have not been announced. Stay tuned for a further report on MD when that information becomes available. In the meantime, take a look at these photos and the Honda video posted at the bottom of this article. You can also take a look at Honda’s web site.

See more of MD’s great photography:



  1. mike d says:

    Great bike, but for that money you can get a Suzuki GSX-S1000F. I love Honda, but not that much.

  2. Barry says:

    It’s crying for a fender eliminator kit, and I don’t even have one on my Ninja 14. But that thing…. wow.

  3. rolandk says:

    I guess having a little storage space under the seat is a bygone era. I’d take my old F4i at a fraction of the price over that.

  4. Pacer says:

    Did they sneak ram air ducting similar to the old F4i? They had vertical tubes, for lack of a better term, that helped when the engine wanted air at slower speeds.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The latest gen VFR is gorgeous and you can ride it all day. It’s a bargain overlooked by many.

    Tweak the suspension ( like I did with mine ) and it will carve corners surprisingly well.

  6. Mike says:

    Vfr owners have been begging for the same thing since the 6th gen debuted. Unfortunately, no one at Honda is listening. Ditch the Vtec, give it decent suspension, keep it @ 500 lbs and just give it some balls for christ sake. Doesn’t have to be Busa power. Maybe 125-135hp. What’s so hard about that?

    • Dave says:

      Bikes with fairings that fit that description are actually relatively few. The Ninja 1000 and Suzuki GXS-S1000F are really good, but most of the rest are hyper-sports bikes. Must not be a big enough slice of pie to concern Honda, because with the new CB1000R, they’ve proved that they can deliver if they want to.

      • Fred says:

        Honda could do so much more with the Africa Twin 1000 motor.
        A light weight modern motor like that one in a VFR style of bike would not cost that much to bring to Market you would think?
        Honda can’t see past scooters and lawn mowers now.

        • Dave says:

          I thought the same thing when the Africa Twin came out. Honda has long been in the practice of leveraging engine platforms so hopefully that one makes it into vehicles other than side-by-side UTV’s.

    • Snake says:

      +1, totally agree 100%!!

  7. The Street Standard says:

    I’m still waiting for them to put slider spool mount points on the swingarm… :-/

  8. LIM says:

    It’s 650cc middle weight bike. Comparison should be made against bikes in that class. And rather than asking the bike to ‘adjust’ to suite the riders’ riding style, it would be easier for the riders to adjust themselves to work with the bike.

    When the dynograph of the bike is out, ride within the power and torque curves, and it’ll be fine.

  9. bmidd says:

    The 636 is a Super-Sport bike. This is not. They can’t be compared as far as performance goes and the Honda looks more comfortable.The Honda has over 2″ longer wheelbase, so it most likely will be more comfortable. This is pretty much a new bike for Honda, while the 636 is relatively unchanged since 2003.

    Honda still sells a SS 600, so it’s not an evolution of the 600cc class.

  10. hh says:

    Maybe this is the new VFR for riders coming in while other folks have gone GS or liter sport touring or naked. What’s not to like here? Ok, if you want more grunt there are lots of bikes with more power and/or more comfort OR if you want cheaper then there are those too. But, a sharp looking reliable 650 with ease of ownership and performance, then there it is. Of course, an extra 100cc and a triple with adjustable suspension would have been sweeter but I think Yamaha and Triumph may have that covered.

  11. PBrasseur says:

    I like it. But please Honda give us comfortable 1000Cc that looks just like this and I’m buying!

  12. tomg says:

    Build a 1000 to look just like this and I will buy it. I like the cbr1000rr but it is too extreme for me at 52 years old. I agree with most others. This will have a hard time selling for ~$9000 versus the Z900 and others.

  13. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    This thing will MSRP $9K and will get crushed by its competition. Aside from the pipes, there is nothing unique here. If you need a chep i4, get a Z900.

    • Anonymous says:

      Better off spending the extra bucks on the Honda. The Z900 is bargain basement crap.

      • Pacer says:

        The Z900 seems pretty nice to me. My buddy rides one. His is the only bike under 150 horse, yet we never wait up for him.

        • Tom says:

          If you have a modern 150+ hp liter bike you will never once in your entire life tapped the full power of the engine on the street.

          All modern bikes are power-limited by the ECU in the lower gears & you can’t tap the full power until you’re wound out in 5th or 6th gears going “get your bike impounded and go straight to jail” speeds.

          Peak HP numbers are for spec sheet warriors.

      • Neal says:

        Kawasaki makes great no-frills bikes. If you want something to show off in your garage, get another brand because Kawasaki doesn’t usually go the extra mile for design. If you want something solid that goes fast and can take a beating, get a green one.

      • regan says:

        The overweight CBR650r at 456lbs is very average looking and if you are comparing it to the Z900 at 114hp rear wheel horse power the CBR650s 83 rear wheel horse power the Honda pitifully slow. Also if the CBR650 is priced at $9grand its grossly overpriced.
        There are people who would pay more for the Honda and not mind getting there clock cleaned by a better performing machine like the Kawasaki but probably not many.

        • todd says:

          A higher performance bike has nothing to do with whether you will be out ridden by a better rider.

    • Tom says:

      Or buy an F4i for 1/3 the price

    • Neal says:

      The CBR650F was $9300, this will be $10k at least.

  14. Anonymous says:

    May we never hear from race-replica ergonomics again.

  15. mickey says:

    “94 horsepower at 12,000 rpm. Redline …..with peak torque of 47 foot/pounds coming at a loftier, 8,500 rpm…… this is still, principally, a mid-range motor”

    mid range motor?

    This is why I like riding liter bikes lol, no stratospheric revving necessary to get someplace.

    Personal choice

    • VLJ says:

      Yes, compared to something like the powerband/RPM potential of the R6, or of any smaller displacement sportbike, this is decidedly a mid-range-focused motor.

      Besides, who are we kidding here? “Stratospheric revving”? Really? 8,500 RPM is “stratospheric”?

      Well, sure, when you consider anything over 3K to be high revs! You even think an R1200R isn’t torquey enough down low, because you equate “down low” to mean “idle speed”! lolol

      • mickey says:

        lol yep, you read my book VLJ.

        8500 is redline on both of my bikes I believe, and peak torque is around 5K

        • todd says:

          Just disconnect your tachometer. RPM should not bother anyone, but it certainly helps an engine deliver more performance!

          • mickey says:

            I don’t care if someone else wants to run around at 12,000 rpms. More power to them (see what I did there?). I just don’t want to.

            Some people prefer smaller displacement machines running all Helter Skelter, and some prefer a more leisurely ride from their machines. When I was racing Moto-X for ten years, I was one of the former. Now on the street, I am one of the latter. Neither are wrong…just different.

  16. Walter says:

    Non-adjustable suspension & no lean-sensitive ABS/TC. I don’t think “premium” means what you or Honda thinks it means lol

    (apologies to W. Goldman).

  17. skybullet says:

    A high performance bike that is more comfortable… Wow! Who thought of that?

  18. Joe says:

    So Honda made a YZF600r (Thundercat), with fuel injection.

  19. Reginald Van Blunt says:

    Don’t need the carnival banner graphics, or the unusable rpm hp. Do need low/mid range every day torque and adventure bike ergos. Verrry interesting just the same.

    • Neal says:

      So you need an ADV bike and not a sportbike… I have to imagine this bike hits peak torque at 40-45 mph and redlines 60-65 in first, you should be able to use most of the engine on most rides if so inclined

      • Reginald Van Blunt says:

        Quite right Neal, however even a sport bike person will benefit from a useable torque curve vs high rpm power riding on the street, pretend not a racer on a track. A light smoothly faired adv bike ergo fit would be nice. Maybe Honda could do a TransAlp for the street with mo pow.

        • VLJ says:

          Sportbikes have usable torque curves. Even high-revving, relatively peaky 600cc racebikes have usable torque curves. Ride a 600 for a decent spell, and you’ll quickly adapt to its torque curve. Sure, the torque arrives higher in the rev range, but the motor spins up so quickly that you find yourself hitting that rev range without a second thought. You have so many more RPM with which to play that 6-9K on the tach effectively is your lower midrange.

          The only real negative of the 600’s peaky powerband has to do with the increased RPM you run during long freeway drones. The bike still accelerates like a banshee from 75 mph, but the constant 6K drone can grow a bit tiresome. The key is to find one that isn’t particularly buzzy. My old CBR600F4i was perfectly fine for freeway droning, up to and including 720-mile days from Sacramento to St. George, Utah, and I was also riding ST1100s and ZX-9Rs at the time.

          Point being, one needn’t race around like a maniac on a 600 in order to enjoy it. They can be ridden just as easily and docilely as anything else. They simply have greater sporting potential for the street, but that’s on you, not the bike. The bike is perfectly capable of doing anything you ask of it.

          Well, except for that whole ADV riding-position thing. Nope, you aren’t finding that on any 600cc sportbike. About the closest you’ll find there is with the Kawi Z650, the naked standard version.

          • Bob K says:

            “You have so many more RPM with which to play that 6-9K on the tach effectively is your lower midrange.”

            VLJ, it isn’t the actual number of rpms that’s important. It’s the percentage of the overall rev range that matters. When you overlay the curves of a bike like this on top of, say a twin, like a SV650, you can’t just lay it on top. You have to stretch the chart of one to match the max rpm of the other because both bikes have different gearing to achieve the same final drive ratio goal. So the 8000 rpm limit of one has to line up with the 12,000 limit of the other. Then you can truly see the true value of each bike’s torque curve. Often, you will find the lower rpm capable bikes of the same power output to have better torque curves over a greater percentage of their rev range. It has to for the math to work out.
            You mentioned 6-9,000 rpms above. I know it’s just a number out of thin air but big deal, that’s only 25% useful. Give me a bike where 50% of the range is useful any day.
            Case in point, one of my old 1203cc Buells is 117 RWHP (I used to race that one and it’s a 1250 too) out to 7000 rpms. My old Ninja 1000 (1043cc) was 123 RWHP out to 11,000 rpms. Similar peak HP. As a percentage, the Buell had loads more torque starting much earlier all the way out to redline. As a result, the Buell has about 60% of the rev range that’s truly useful starting at 2000 rpm through 6000. The last 1000 are over-rev and the peak HP is at 6500 so at 7000, it isn’t even signing off yet. I could move the limiter to 8000 like when I raced and it would only start to dip more dramatically. The N1k, while it builds revs fairly quickly, doesn’t reach max rpm as quick as the Buell since it needs more rpms to reach max torque. It’s useful range is between 4000 and 8000 rpm. After 8000 it’s too buzzy and stressed out. That’s only 36% useful.
            Of the same cc, I’ll take a longer stroke, lower rev version any day and sacrifice peak HP. It’s more useful where it’s needed.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            I owned an XB12X for several years. It’s a a matter of personal taste I suppose, but I didn’t care for that engine. It only felt good above 4K RPM, IMO, then hit the rev limiter very quickly after if I was in a hurry. It needed the XB9 gearing to better match the engine speed to the road speed in a given gear.

            An FZ6 I owned after the XB was considered a torque pissant by the MC press and buzzy up top, but I preferred it to the XB for riding around town. The engine was well matched to the gearing, and the result was a very broad slope of power that made it more flexible and pleasant than the Buell.

          • Mike says:

            Much of what you say is true, however there are flaws. First thing, a Buell making that kind of power is not stock. XB12’s were @ 100hp at the rear wheel. And your last sentence is dead wrong. Take a look at a ZX14R dyno chart, then look at a Twin Cam 88 chart. Both right around 1400cc right? And what your saying is you’d rather have the long stroke Harley motor? I doubt it has more power at any rpm. To each his own I guess.

    • MGNorge says:

      No bike is right for everyone but one of the major “complaints” of the original 650 was its lack of Pizzazz. From what I just read I think this will up the interest factor.

    • Superlight says:

      You mean like the Ducati SuperSport 939?

  20. Neal says:

    I think Honda nailed the looks on this one. Adjustable suspension would make it that much better though, so you could tighten it up as you get to know it and get comfortable pushing it. I fear Honda is really pushing the “Premium” part of the title and is pricing itself out of the competition for buyers looking for value. I find it hard to imagine spending my dollars on this if it costs $1,000 more than a Z900, even if I do think it looks better and I’d prefer a fairing.

    • matt says:

      yeah the Z has adjustable (still crap, KYB) suspension. This one should be better out of the box but adding adjustment is a trivial cost. ‘Premium’ and non-adjust are opposites. It boggles the mind.

      • guu says:

        It could have adjustment. The acronym SFF stands for separate function fork, spring on one side and dampening on the other. The blank cap on the right could be the spring side.

  21. GT08 says:

    Maybe Honda is on the way to give us a new VFR ?
    PS Honda, i mean real VFR no vacuum cleaner please.
    And give it over 1000cc

    • MikeG says:

      Aren’t all Hondas essentially vacuum cleaners?

    • Dave says:

      They did give us a new VFR and it’s spectacular, but almost nobody bought it. You can find 3 year old brand new ones, sitting at dealers for ~$7k.

      Still love my 01′.

      • SausageCreature says:

        Blame the styling, which was (and I’m trying to be polite here) odd. And the price vs. features compared to the competition (FJR, Concours) which was not in the VFR’s favor.

        I wanted to like it, but just couldn’t quite get there (I find myself saying that about quite a few Hondas lately).

  22. Pacer says:

    Interesting how this class evolves. The 636 was way first.

    • todd says:

      I had a 1982 XJ650R from Yamaha. It was an inline-four with class leading power and comfortable ergonomics. It even came with shaft drive and a center stand. This is hardly a new paradigm.

  23. Pacer says:

    I like the pipes.

    • Tommy D says:

      I love the pipes on this 650. I wish they did the same exhaust on the CB1000R naked. The new 2019 naked CB650 has this same exhaust and it looks awesome (same with the previous 2018 version but I like the more classic look of the 19). Like the old CB400F.

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