Chip off its shoulder
RETURNING riders have created a niche for middleweight machines that aren’t encumbered by engine chips that limit performance to learner level.
They don’t want the ride position or rock-hard suspension of a sports bike either but they appreciate lean angles enough not to want a dual-purpose machine.
Honda now has three machines fitting that bill, from the top-shelf VFR800R to the cheaper CB650F naked bike and its CBR650F faired sibling.
At $10,599 before on-roads, the CBR650F is a genuine allrounder. Compromises have been made compared to race versions with the CBR plate — ABS is the only electronic aid.
What it lacks in terms of the latest tech it more than atones for by having the chassis/ suspension setup to roll over rippled corrugations at 40km/h without upsetting the line or rider. It then progressively weights up in response to more aggressive cornering.
With this combination, the bike is aimed at riders who want an even-tempered steed capable of handling the Monday-to-Friday grind then getting to grips with a favourite section of tarmac on the weekends.
This is an engaging bike that can quickly get your attention and if it can’t stay with a 600cc supersport in a straight line, it won’t disgrace itself through the bends.
The engine participates in the game by being hugely linear: tractable and with little throttle snatch from 3000rpm before opening up at about 8000rpm to engage eyebrowraising acceleration.
In common with most of Honda’s small and middleweight fleet, it is built in Thailand but you won’t know it from the typically high build quality. The fake carbon-fibre panels around the LCD instruments and the fairing show great detail and the gaps are consistent across the machine.
The clip-on handlebars look sporty without unduly loading Accept the fact that the Honda engineers can set up the suspension better than most riders and the CBR650F makes an ideal companion for those prepared to sacrifice outright track speed for real-world rideability.