Honda CBR650R – Review, Specs and What to Look Out For



Production dates – 2019 to present

In 2019 Honda released an all-new sportsbike, the CBR650R. 

The new bike replaced the CBR650F, a fully faired sports machine with a more street-focused design and ergonomics.  

The CBR650F wasn’t quite the sales hit that Honda wanted, though. It was essentially a Honda Hornet with a Fireblade-style fairing, and for serious sports-style riders, that just wasn’t going to cut it. 

On the flip side, they already had the CBR600RR track-focused model, so it would be pointless to create another in a similar fashion. 

They went to the drawing board, and the CBR650R was designed, taking the best bits of the preceding F model in terms of comfort and then boosting performance and styling for a more refined sportsbike feel. 

Admittedly the later F models were awesome bikes, powerful 600s with comfort features for longer rides, and even touring if you so desired. 

Fortunately, the R is an equal and, in some departments, better replacement, so it is worth looking at in depth. 

Honda CBR650R Review

Honda CBR650F

Let’s get straight to it with a look at the engine of the CBR650R.

Engine and Transmission

The bike’s heart is the same 649cc, liquid-cooled inline-four from the CBR650F.

However, Honda has revised the motor to be higher performing. This started with adding traction control, new dual air intakes, exhaust tweaks, and new cam timing. 

The result of this is extra horsepower and extra torque taking the bike up to around 94 HP and 64 Nm of torque. 

Although the performance specs aren’t massively increased, it is enough to make the engine feel more exciting and engaging. Smooth acceleration and lots of power in the midrange ensure you glide to the redline quickly as a satisfying growl exits the exhaust. 

The six-speed transmission is smooth, slick, and very easy to manipulate as you work through it. Paired with a light clutch pull, you can’t ask for too much more.

I have to work very hard to dispel the myth that Honda motorcycles are boring. This is often because they are rather refined and reliable and err on the side of caution when it comes to styling. 

With the CBR650R, however, the myth is easy to negate, as the motor encourages you to stay at the redline and beyond. Admittedly, this will always likely be in illegal road-riding territory, so if you want to test your metal, you better head to the track. 

If smooth, mechanical whirring, clean power delivery, and rapid acceleration with the added ease of use are boring, sign me up. 

The engine is straightforward to navigate, and even in the wrong gear, wrong speed, wrong anything, you will find the Honda does what you need it to do at the right time to accommodate those minor rider errors. 

With a motor this well-refined, characteristic of Honda’s sportsbikes particularly, you may consider it a little tame compared to that of a Ninja 650. 

However, an easy-going, smooth nature doesn’t have to mean boring; just forget the quirks and focus on getting your speed up and lean angles down. 

Chassis, Suspension, Brakes

The engine is hosted in a classic twin-spar frame with pivot plates, engine hangers, seat rails, and other carefully selected components that help merge function and keep the weight low. 

Light and strong are the two points Honda has focused on when refining the frame for the CBR650R. These two characteristics are the key to a stable, well-handling machine. 

On the front, the latest model features a Showa Showa Separate Function Front Fork Big Piston unit. A premium fork that is light in weight, rigid, gives accurate feedback, and is adjustable. 

The rear shock does what it needs to do at the back, and the pairing suits most road-riding conditions riders will face.

Radial-mounted front twin-disc brakes are fitted, and single disc on the back. 

Stopping power perfectly matches the engine power; the brakes slow you down and bring you to a stop with little fuss. ABS is also now standard on the model. 

Overall the riding position is sportier than the CBR650F, with lower clip-on bars and higher pulled-back footpegs. With that said, it is not an extreme sportsbike ergonomically. 

Handling, Comfort, Styling

Honda CB 650 F

How does all this come together, then? 

Well, the riding position leans you more forward over the front wheel for better control and confidence at speed. 

While sporty, the position is still very comfortable and spacious, allowing for room to move as you ride and stretch out. Sports touring could be an option on the CBR650R.

Engaging, balanced, agile, swift, and confident is the best way to describe the bike’s handling. 

It is an easy-to-ride model in town, on the backroads, or even at the track. There is something quite refreshing in fully trusting a bike to do exactly what you need it to do at the right time. 

With precise steering and light handling, the bike would very much suit a rider new to sportsbikes who didn’t want to jump in with both feet. It will also serve an experienced rider who treasures comfort more than out-and-out performance. 

The Honda Selectable Torque Control system can be turned on or off. In aggressive riding conditions, it gives you peace of mind against rear wheel slip, as it controls the torque at the wheel.

ABS is always a big bonus for safe braking in all conditions. 

The slipper clutch on the latest model lightens the clutch pull by around 12%, which helps gear transitions be even quicker and smoother. 

On the styling front, the CBR650R takes cues from the Fireblade; putting the two side by side, you will see the fairing and bodywork are very similar. 

This gives the model a more aggressive racer look which is a step away from the tamer nature of the CBR650F.  

How does it stand against the competition?

There are a couple of competitors for the Honda CBR650R on the market, including the Kawasaki Ninja 650 and the Aprilia RS660.

The Aprilia is more expensive at $11,499, and the Kawasaki is cheaper at $7,999 or $8,199 for ABS. 

So the Honda sits right in the middle of the price bracket. 

It also sits between the two in terms of max power. The RS660 has 100 horsepower, the Ninja has 67 horsepower, and the CBR650R has 94 horsepower. 

The Aprilia is an exotic Italian with premium design and race-focused components. 

The Kawasaki Ninja is very aggressive style-wise. It is equipped with a punchy engine that needs to be worked harder than the CBR. Perhaps more suited to newer, younger riders at a more accessible price point and with less power on tap. 

Then the Honda slides right in with enough power to satisfy any rider for use on the road particularly; it delivers a smoother sporty experience while factoring in rider comfort above many other things.  

Honda CBR650R Specs

Engine and Transmission

  • Engine – Inline four-cylinder, four-stroke
  • Capacity – 649cc 
  • Bore x Stroke – 67 x 46 mm
  • Compression Ratio – 11.6:1
  • Cooling System – Liquid-cooled
  • Starting – Electric
  • Induction – PGM-FI with 32mm throttle bodies
  • Transmission – 6-speed
  • Final Drive – Chain
  • Clutch – Slipper Clutch
  • Max Power – 94 horsepower
  • Max Torque – 64 Nm
  • Top Speed – 160 mph

Chassis and Dimensions

  • Frame – Twin spar
  • Front Suspension – 41mm fork by Showa
  • Rear Suspension – Single Showa shock
  • Front Brakes – Dual 310mm discs, with radial-mount four-piston calipers and ABS
  • Rear Brakes – Single 240mm disc with ABS
  • Wheelbase – 1193 mm
  • Length – 2131 mm
  • Height – 1148 mm
  • Width – 749.3 mm
  • Seat Height – 810 mm
  • Curb Weight – 201 kg
  • Fuel Capacity – 15.5 liters/ 4.1 Gal.

Buying One – What To Look Out For?

If you are looking for a brand new Honda CBR650R, prices start from $9,899.

Motodays 2019 51

As the bike is not that old, the used market is not flooded with options, but you can find a few examples that will save you up to around $2,000. 

Even though the bike is not that old, be sure to do your basic checks to ensure it hasn’t been treated poorly by the previous owner. 

The CBR650R doesn’t seem to attract aggressive, hooligan sports riders, as that is not really its nature, so most used models should be in pretty good condition with low mileage. 

The big bonus with buying a Honda second-hand is that they are known for being super solid and reliable. 

You can save a fair chunk of money by buying one a year or two old that will likely feel like a brand-new bike. 

Final Thoughts

Overall the CBR650R is a great motorcycle. A sporty-natured rocket that is easy to tame and equally easy to rile up if that is your motive. 

It will have you chasing the redline in comfort and control. 

With comfort often overlooked by sportsbikes as performance is the number one priority, it is refreshing to have a high-performing 650 that you can take for longer rides. 

Image Credits

69PAULWALKER69, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
TheMalsa, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Nicholas Gemini, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons