UPDATE: Here’s my review!
Currently offered under the 2018 model year, Honda’s got a pair of 650cc inline fours with the “F” suffix: the CB650F and CBR650F. That changes for 2019 as the F’s become R’s, but what does that mean (and should you care)?
Regarding the second question, you should absolutely care if you like middleweight bikes. My current favorite of the middleweight naked bikes is the Yamaha MT-07, but the Honda presents an interesting alternative as most competitors in this market are twins. The Honda is the only inline-four worth considering, as the other option is Benelli’s TnT600 and it would be a mistake to buy that.
There’s even less competition for the faired CBR650R, which is squarely in a market that Americans don’t seem to like (even though it makes a lot of sense). Like the Ninja 650R, this Honda offers race-replica-inspired styling (it sure looks a lot like the CBR1000RR from certain angles) but with much better comfort and street manners than their 600cc supersport counterparts.
Both bikes share the same motor, which has been retuned with a higher compression ratio (11.4:1 to 11.6:1), new combustion-chamber shape, revised valve timing, and new iridium spark plugs to produce 5 percent more power above 10,000 rpm (and redline has been bumped by 1k to 12,000).
Other improvements include an assist/slipper clutch, Showa Separate Function Fork, LED lights, and traction control (if you spring for ABS). Both bikes have also lost some weight. When comparing the ABS-equipped models, the naked CB lost 11.6 pounds while the faired CBR lost 5 pounds.
My personal preference leans towards naked bikes, which is why I’m more interested in the CB and what Honda has been up to with their Neo Sports Cafe design language. The 650 might be what Goldlocks calls just right, as it splits the baby CB300R that I reviewed a few months ago and the gorgeous CB1000R that Nathan is currently riding to review for you soon.
I’m a sucker for the Neo Sports Cafe styling, and the CB400F-inspired headers are the cherry on top. The world needs more quality middleweight bikes, and I’m hoping this compares favorably with the wheelie-machine MT-07 that I love so much – the Honda sure looks better, in my eyes.
Photos courtesy of Honda.