Honda’s fully faired CBR650F, launched in 2014 alongside the naked CB650F, provided a healthy slice of four cylinder middleweight performance, very much at the sporty end of the ‘sports touring’ spectrum. In 2017 it received sharper styling, highlighting the engine more, plus a peak power boost, Showa Dual Bending Valve front fork and revised Nissin brake calipers.
For its 2019 evolution, the CBR650F has become the CBR650R. Taking styling cues directly from the 2018 CBR1000RR Fireblade, but with an attitude all of its own, ‘F’ becomes ‘R’ indicating a potent shot of sporty ability that’s designed to be explored, used and enjoyed on the street.
In the process of its transformation the CBR650R has become, deliberately, a rare breed: a sports bike that provides similar pleasure, enjoyment and adrenaline to an RR machine, yet with enough practicality – and sensible running costs – to make it a viable option as day to day transport in addition to weekend fun.
While the new CBR650R draws heavily on the CBR1000RR Fireblade for styling direction, its distinct new lines have an aggressive look of their own, especially around the upper front fairing.
The riding position has been adjusted to move the rider’s weight more forward, and downward. All lighting is LED and the new LCD instrument display now includes a Gear Position and Shift Up indicator.
6kg has been shaved from the chassis compared to the CBR650F, thanks to revisions to the frame, fuel tank and footpegs. A 41mm Showa SFF USD fork, radial mount four piston calipers and floating discs are new additions. The wheels are also redesigned.
A new intake and exhaust, plus cam timing change and increased compression ratio are responsible for the engine’s 5% peak power boost and smoother, stronger torque delivery through the mid range. It also now revs to 12,000rpm, an extra 1,000rpm.
For 2019 an assist/slipper clutch is now fitted to ease upshifts and manage fast, successive downshifts; new Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) maintains rear wheel traction.
Styling & Chassis
• Aggressive lines build on the pure sports styling of the CBR1000RR Fireblade
• Lighter frame plus other savings shave 5.6kg from kerb weight
• 41mm Showa Separate Function Fork (SFF) USD front suspension
• Radial mount brake calipers and floating discs
• Full LED lighting and new LCD instruments
• Clip on handlebars now mount below the top yoke
While its fourcylinder power unit is still firmly on display, the CBR650R’s new wrapping ramps up the pure sporting appeal; dual LED headlights emit a penetrating, uncompromising stare, and the upper and (extended) lower fairings blend muscularity with sharp, slim lines and angles.
The seat unit, too is more compact and truncates the rear of the machine, adding to the harderedged sense of purpose. The aggressive riding position starts with clipon handlebars that now mount beneath the top yoke; they’re 30mm forward and lower than the CBR650F, and footpegs are 3mm further back and 6mm higher. Seat height remains 810mm.
The steel diamond frame is updated for 2019 with pressed (rather than forged) swingarm pivot plates; it’s 1.9kg lighter than the previous design and uses twin elliptical spars with a rigidity balance specifically tuned (stiffer around the headstock and more ‘flexible’ in the spar sections) to deliver balanced handling characteristics with high levels of rider feedback.
Kerb weight is reduced at 207kg thanks not only to the lighter frame, but also savings to both fuel tank and new super sport style footpegs.
Also new is the 41mm Showa Separate Function front Fork (SFF) USD fork. Adjustable for 7 stage spring preload the single tube monoshock operates directly on the curvaceous gravity die cast aluminium swingarm. Rake is set at 25.5° with trail of 101mm and wheelbase of 1,450mm.
Four piston radial mount front brake calipers work on 310mm wave pattern floating discs, matched to a single piston rear caliper and 240mm disc. Two channel ABS is fitted as standard. The cast aluminium wheels are a brand new design and mount 120/70ZR17 and 180/55ZR17 front and rear tyres.
• 5% more power above 10,000rpm, 1,000rpm higher redline
• Torque delivery smoothed and boosted
• New intake and exhaust designs flow more gas, and enhance the engine note
• Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) features for the first time
• Assist/slipper clutch
• Easy 35kW conversion available
Honda’s development engineers wanted to create the purest, most enjoyable midsized four cylinder performance possible for the CBR650R rider. So the 649cc, DOHC 16valve engine has been tuned to eliminate a slight torque dip at 5,500rpm, and deliver 5% more power above 10,000rpm with a redline raised 1,000rpm. Peak power of 70kW arrives at 12,000rpm with peak torque of 64Nm delivered at 8,500.
The net result out on the road is a motor that spins harder, and for much longer, at high rpm, with a smooth, linear torque delivery that builds strongly as revs rise, and sounds great in the process. An easy 35kW conversion is available for A2 licence holders.
Direct cam actuation makes for a compact cylinder head; bore and stroke is set at 67mm x 46mm with compression ratio raised to 11.6:1 (from 11.4:1) and combustion chamber shape optimised by use of a revised piston design. The valve train has been reinforced and valve timing revised; iridium spark plugs are also now employed.
Asymmetric piston skirts minimise bore contact and reduce friction. Ferrous spines on the outer surface of the cylinder sleeves reduce oil consumption (and friction) with improved heat transfer, and a silent SV cam chain reduces frictional losses by using a Vanadium coating on its pins. Internal water channelling from cylinder head to cylinders does away with most of the exterior hoses.
New twin ram air ducts feed the airbox from either side of the fairing with a larger volume of air, as opposed to the single, central duct of the CBR650F.
They also produce a throaty intake roar. The exhaust now features a larger bore tail pipe – from 35 to 38.1mm – inside the muffler to flow more gas and, with its exit pipe angled upwards, to transmit the evocative howl more directly to the rider.
The engine uses a compact internal architecture, stacked six speed gearbox and starter layout with the cylinders canted forward 30°. An assist/slipper clutch is a new addition and eases upshifts (with 12% less lever load) while managing rear wheel lock up under rapid downshifts. Also, for 2019 Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) is fitted to manage rear wheel traction; it can be turned off should the rider choose.
Fuel consumption of 20.4km/l (WMTC mode) gives a range of over 300km from the 15.4L fuel tank.
A range of Genuine Honda Accessories is available for the CB650R:
• Front Fender Panels, Side covers, Seat cowl (aluminium parts or aluminium inserts)
• Wheel Stripes
• Tank bag and seat bag inherited from the CB1000R
• Quick shifter
• High Screen (2 versions: clear, smoked)
• 12V socket
• Heated grips