It has a fairing, an in line-four motor, and looks super cool. Is that all we need?
IT’S HARD SATISFYING US Indians. We want the absolute best for the absolute cheapest. We want our suits to say Armani but with the price tag of a Lux Cozi. We want the luxury of a Bentley in a car that costs ten per cent as much. We want a single-cylinder with the sound of an in-line four which goes twice as fast as our legal expressway speed limits, and yet is as comfortable as a H-D CVO. It’s ridiculous, these demands we make. But automotive manufacturers have no other option but to strive and meet them. And somewhere, somehow, after a lot of compromise, we reach middle ground.
That’s what the Honda CBR 650 F is. The middle ground. The 650 F is the motorcycle equivalent of “Mr Nice-Guy”. It’s manageable, beginner friendly, does what it’s told, and doesn’t scare you while doing it. There’s of course a full fairing. While Honda meant the fairing for aerodynamics, we just need it to look cool. So far, the 650 F scores full marks. Does that mean that this is the perfect Indian sport bike? Let’s dig a little deeper to find out.
The powerplant is a 649cc DOHC inline-4 type which loves to rev. And when you do, there’s no perceptible step in power, save for a slight surge after 6000rpm. The exhaust is now louder compared to the previous gen’s, thanks to a new free-breathing end can. You fire up the motor and there’s a mellow growl. As you scurry along the rev range, the in-line four motor emits a fast spinning howl. The bike’s motor provides a butter smooth experience up till 5500rpm, after which a sizzle starts to creep in and stays right till the 11,800rpm rev limit. Peak power (85.4bhp) is produced at 11,000. The power though is
put down in a very calm manner. In fact it’s so goodnatured, I can only imagine that the F in CBR 650 F denoting Friendly. But, mind you, friendly does not mean slow. The second to fifth ratios are now shorter as compared to the predecessor. And that certainly helps quicken things up.
As a sports tourer, you’d want it to be comfortable. And that, the 650 F is. The rider triangle isn’t too sporty. However, Honda has lowered the clip-ons, to make for a more aggressive stance. Seats are not too soft so your butt won’t sink in after a long time in the saddle. The aerodynamics are sorted too. In fact, you won’t notice the alarmingly fast speeds you’re carrying while tucked in.
The front end feel is fantastic thanks to what is the biggest update on this motorcycle; Showa’s dual bending valve forks. Ride quality is supple for a sport bike on Indian roads, and stability is steadfast out on the highways. However, tipping the motorcycle requires the rider to put in some effort. This is by no means a light motorcycle. At 216kg, it’s quite heavy in fact. But the motorcycle masks its weight quite well within the city and doesn’t strain you out. Braking is exceptional, thanks to the new larger and more powerful Nissin brake callipers.
The one letdown in this motorcycle are the tyres. The Dunlops just don’t do justice to the motorcycle. While going around a few bends, we faced hairy situations where the tyres almost gave way. Make sure you slap on some stickier rubbers if you do go for it.
The overall fit and finish is top-notch, just how you’d expect a Honda to be. Switchgear too doesn’t feel flimsy at all and yells quality all over, but the placement of the horn and indicator switches still remains swapped and that will take some getting used to. The headlamp is now a full-LED unit, and not a great one at that. The throw of the highbeam is off, and the intensity issn’t that great either.
So what you get for that `7.37 lakh price mark is a handsome, well-proportioned, in-line four banger, blended with classic Honda quality, and unencumbered with electronics and gadgetry. It also has enough performance to entertain, without blowing your socks off. As I said before, Honda has managed to hit the perfect middle ground. ⌧
THE HONDA CBR 650 F IS THE MOTORCYCLE EQUIVALENT OF “MR. NICE-GUY”
Facing page: Chassis is confidence inspiring. Wish the tyres were too. Right: Want to stop on a dime? Nissin will help you out. One of the friendliest in-line fours money can buy