Small tweaks help breathe some old Hor­net spirit into the CB650F

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Jon Urry GUEST TESTER

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

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