STING IN ITS TAIL
Small tweaks help breathe some old Hornet spirit into the CB650F
Replacing a bike as popular as the Hornet was never going to be an easy task so when Honda launched the original CB650F in 2014, they were at pains to point out it was most definitely not a Hornet. But despite what they said, the fact it was a naked middleweight powered by a retuned CBR600RR brought comparisons that left many disappointed. But this looks set to change for 2017 as the CB is updated – and this time it has been stung with a bit of Hornet spirit.
Although the majority of the CB’S components remain the same, an extra 4bhp has been squeezed out of the 649cc motor despite it now meeting Euro4 regulations and a new exhaust adds a bit of rasp. The styling has been sharpened to give it some attitude, the bars lowered by 13mm to push the rider more over the front and Showa’s Dual Bending Valve (SDBV) forks added to improve handling.
In essence, Honda have injected a bit of fighting spirit into the slightly lacklustre CB650F. And they have done a great job.
As soon as you sit on it the CB feels small, light and ready for action in a similar fashion to the old Hornet. The change of riding position puts you right up and over the front and once moving, this stance combines with the new forks to deliver the kind of sporty ride that was so lacking in the old model.
The Showa forks work wonders on the CB650F, giving it the kind of feel that rivals like the wobbly Yamaha MT-07 can only dream about. Chuck the CB into a corner and it sticks with little protest, yet on the open road they feel well-damped and plush.
And this new-found agility is complimented with a refreshing burst of acceleration gained through the altered internal gear ratios. The CB is more than happy to cruise around at low revs, but go searching the top end of the rev range and the inline four explodes into life.
But being an inline four, the CB lacks the instant punch and mid-range of its rivals’ twin-cylinder motors so you do need to use the gearbox more and because of this trait its lack of gear indicator stands out.
The CB will give the the MT-07, SV650 and Z650 a good run for their money. Priced in the same ballpark, its chassis is right up there with the very best.
In a class that was once dominated by inline fours, but now consists almost entirely of twins, the CB650F is the only four-cylinder machine. That could well be its trump card as not every rider wants a twin and some still lust after an inline four naked bike that comes alive when it is thrashed.
Updated CB650 is fun, looks cool and is great value. Nice one Honda!
Honda have given the funk y CB more performance
Restyled face of CB650F is tidy
Twin-display dash is neat and simple