Ride Review: Honda CB650F ABS

04/09/2014 @ 10:05 am, by Iwan van der Valk14 COMMENTS

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For 2014, Honda broadens its range of affordable, smart looking, middleweights further with the new Honda CB650F ABS, and together with the Honda NC750 series, the brand now has covered virtually all types of riders in the street-naked segment.

The brand new (not-terribly-exciting) four-cylinder engine forms the trusty basis of a whole new series of motorcycles, as previously demonstrated with the NC models. Thankfully though, the 649cc motor picks-up extremely smooth from very low revs, and fills a round and creamy torque curve.

Apart from some vibrations in the bars and footpegs, there is nothing much going on below seven-grand; but once you pass this threshold, there is quite some lovely acceleration on tap. Still, we found the on-off reaction of the fuel injection to be harsh though: it was quite hard to get on the throttle smoothly on corner exit.

Finish and Accessories:

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The 2014 Honda CB650F is made in Thailand, but the quality is right up there with the proper Japanese built machines. This bike looks handsome from a distance as well as up close. The finish is fine and there is no trace of cheap parts, which have appeared on some Hondas, as of late.

You can’t go wrong choosing the ‘Tricolore’ over the boring grey, egg yellow, or old-hat red model: this red, white, and blue edition looks the best by far, and thatoss probably why Honda charges an extra €200 for it.

The four nicely curved and coloured exhaust downpipes give the bike a vintage feel, it is unfortunate though that they end up in a less-than-classic collector under the engine block.

The CB650F feels small underneath you despite the 31.8 inch seat height. The nicely finished dashboard is very easy to read, but we couldn’t find any engine temperature, nor gear indicator on there, pitty.

This is oddly enough not a Honda where ergonomics immediately feel natural: I felt I was sitting too much ‘in’ the bike, and as a result found my knees to be cramped up. The pillion has no way of holding onto the gas tank nor the seat edge so they will have to hug the rider closely.

Handling:

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Riding this bike feels dead easy and predictable, a great choice for novice and intermediate riders. The Honda CB650F loves to drop into the corners, and the chassis stays stable under most conditions. Steering, braking, switching gears…it all happens effortlessly.

More experienced riders will soon find that the rear suspension – especially combined with the Dunlop D222 rear tire – sets the limit for available warp speed in the twisties. It is still satisfying to carve a couple of corners though: the CB is flickable in the slow stuff and stable at higher speeds.

The clutch feels slightly clumsy with a very late biting point, but it doesn’t hamper changing gears at all. The brakes are typical Honda, in the sense that you don’t notice them: they work.

Verdict:

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Unassuming and easygoing — these words probably describe not only the handling, but probably the whole 2014 Honda CB650F as well. We have to look at this as a compliment though, especially as this is a good-looking motorcycle that is priced very reasonably: €6,999.

The all-new Honda CB650F is more than up to the task of accommodating beginners and riders with a couple of years in the saddle.

There are some vibrations and an under par throttle on/off reaction, but on the flipside there is the mature and handsome design, which is well finished. There’s predictable power and uncomplicated handling, and that’s basically all you need for a good ride out.

Photos: Honda

A special “dankuwel” to our friends at Testmotor.nl for sharing this article with us, and big thank you as well to Jan DeMan, who translated Iwan’s work from Dutch into English for our readers.

Comment:

  1. Ken C. says:

    So, the obvious question is how does it compare to the Yamaha FZ-09?

  2. GM says:

    @ Ken C.
    Performance wise, I have no idea. But the FZ-09 would at least seem to have some interesting character. I think Honda’s advertising slogan for the CB650 is “it is a motorcycle.”

  3. GM says:

    I do like the exhaust though.

  4. Sentinel says:

    I’m very disappointed with the vibration issue, which has also been mentioned by another tester. If it’s anything near the vibration level of the Kawasaki Z1000 and Z1000SX it will be intolerable for me.

    Thanks for the review.

  5. Bluey says:

    i like the CB400F throwback exhaust pipes.
    but then again, i’m a sucker for classic bikes.

    -B

  6. Mahdits says:

    Semi-good looking bike, I am growing tired of the MX look radiator shrouds that everyone is using.
    Gold wheels are a bonus.

  7. paulus says:

    It has been released here in Thailand for some months. Got to ride one for a while.
    Vibration is not an issue on the one I rode. The shocks need upgrading, but luckily there are aftermarket ones already available. This makes a big difference.
    It wont be long before somebody is releasing power via the ECU…. then it will great value.

  8. Andrew says:

    In other words, it will do everything that a 10-year old CBR600F4i would do… just not as well. So much for progress.
    (F4i had no problems with vibration or fuelling, and the build quality was right up there!)

  9. wow…juoss gandoz gan

  10. Meh says:

    Meh……another humdrum boring Honda……the japs really don’t the whole middle weight thing at all, there’s a reason the street triple light years ahead……besides is it just me or does it pass a striking resemblance to the Kawasaki ER6…?????

  11. boro says:

    Claimed specs from manufacturers

    Honda CB650F

    MAX. POWER OUTPUT 87 hp @ 11,000 rpm
    MAX. TORQUE 46 lb-ft. @ 8,000 rpm
    CURB WEIGHT 465 lb

    Yamaha FZ-09

    MAX. POWER OUTPUT 115 hp @ 10,000 rpm
    MAX. TORQUE 65 lb-ft. @ 8,500 rpm
    CURB WEIGHT 414 lb

    No contest.

  12. helmethelp says:

    What a sweet bike. The gold finish adds a nice touch.

  13. Phong Vo says:

    The only thing that i don’t like on this bike is the odometer, look cheap and ugly as hell !!!
    For the price this is one great bike.

  14. para says:

    Not sure about comparisons with the MT-09, this bike seems to go up against the MT-07, more likely. Similar pricing and output, but the weight might be an issue, guess thats what you have to accept for an extra two cylinders.