Test riding the Honda CBR 650F

Honda's latest flagship product, the CBR 650F gives you a sporty ride, without annoying your neighbours

Honda stunned the world when it launched the first CBR 600F in 1987. Back then, it was a revolutionary motorcycle that set the middleweight performance motorcycling scene aflame. Then, in 2003, came the more focused and goal-orientated CBR 600 RR, a super-sport bike that set the benchmark of the day. Honda's latest flagship product, the CBR 650F, carries the weight of that brilliant legacy.

The CBR 650F, unlike the CBR 600F and the racier CBR 600RR, is not designed solely for thoroughbred-like performance. It's a sport tourer, instead. The bike's design, however, is edgier than what you'd expect of a sport tourer. The racy effect is also visible in the riding posture. The handlebar is a proper clip-on affair and not set too high. The foot-rests are set so that your feet are properly tucked behind you. As a result, you sit with a slight front bias. However, this the wrists don't ache.

The touring element of the design also comes to the fore when you look at the instrumentation. It's an all-digital affair with three virtual dials giving out your info instead of the digital-analogue set up. Swing a leg over the split, stepped seat and you're in for the second surprise of the day - the CBR 650F doesn't feel like a middleweight motorbike. It gives the aura of being easily manageable without even having gotten started.

Start the engine and your ears are in for, hold your breath, no aural delight. There is no angry howl from the 649 cc liquid-cooled in-line four. Instead, you get a relatively quiet buzz at idle. In line with its quiet nature, and, like all Honda engines, this one feels smooth and refined. There are barely any vibrations and, even while on move at a fairly decent clip, no one will sue you for ruining their siesta.

Power is available right from the get go and comes to you in one smooth flowing arc all the way to the bike's peak output of 87 PS, which is attained at 11,000 rpm. There's a healthy 62.9 Nm of maximum torque as well at 8,000 revs, which helps to either crawl through the city on your way out or while overtaking on highways without having to work too hard. However, if you do want to work a bit harder for your own pleasure, then you'll find this Honda rewarding.

The 320mm front discs with Nissin callipers offer good bite and progression. Pics/Sanjay Raikar
The 320mm front discs with Nissin callipers offer good bite and progression. Pics/Sanjay Raikar

The bike is stable. There's none of the nervousness-inducing skittishness that might catch you unawares when you wish to accelerate. When hitting the brakes to set up the bike for the bend ahead, you'll appreciate afresh the CBR's stable nature as the pair of 320-mm dial front rotors with Nissin four-piston callipers bite with potent force. Not to mention, there's plenty of progression from the brakes. Again, there is that remarkable lack of nervousness as the weight transfers from back to front with the bike shedding speed rapidly. At the rear, the bike gets a single 240-mm dial disc. ABS is standard kit.

Flick the bike into the turn and its dynamic capabilities truly come to the fore. The CBR 650F's suspension set-up is on the softer side. Even though conventional wisdom would suggest that a soft suspension set-up would affect handling adversely, on our far-from-perfect roads, it does the exact opposite. It enables the tyres to be in constant contact with the patchy surface at all sorts of speeds, thus making the ride predictable.

Nothing in the world, however, is perfect, and in the CBR 650F, the chink in its armour is its price tag. At Rs 8.02 lakh, on-road Pune, this sport tourer isn't inexpensive.

Need to know Honda CBR 650F
Price — Rs 8.02 lakh, on-road, Pune
Engine — 649 cc, liquid cooled, in-line, four cylinder
Max Power — 87 PS @ 11,000 rpm
Max Torque — 62.9 Nm @ 8,000 rpm
Transmission — 6-speed

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