First Impressions | Honda CBR650R (2019)

Honda CBR650R (2019)

Honda’s new 650 sportsbike makes for a mightily fine real-world racer

Fast, great looking and great value - say hello to the new CBR650R
Comfy for a sportsbike A modern-day Baby Blade
High-set pegs wont suit all Small fairing likewise

IT TAKES A LOT for a sportsbike to really float my boat, normally the ergonomics and styling are enough to make me ask myself the question, ‘is this a bike I could ride everyday in the real world?’. Well, after spending a few hours with the new middleweight sportsbike from Honda, I’m inclined to say, ‘it is.’

After riding the new, naked CB650R in the morning in Almeria, the change from the naked, upright riding position of the CB at first felt a little uncomfortable, especially on the wrists. The thing is though, it’s actually not that bad, especially when compared to the other supersport bikes available today.

Due to be in the showrooms next month, the new machine takes its styling cues from the latest generation of Fireblade and looks every inch the knee-down apex-chaser you’d expect – so much so it took me a while to notice that TT and NW200 winner, Steve Plater, was riding the bigger and more powerful Fireblade as he played the role of lead rider – also known as that tiny dot in the distance!

Rider ergonomics are good, high set pegs caused no cramp or discomfort and, being mounted at the top yoke and with an inch or so of rise to them, are much more forgiving than those of an out-and-out supersport bike like the CBR600RR.

The newly revised engine puts out 94bhp thanks to revised intake, exhaust and dual ram-air intakes that give a 5% power increase at above motorway speeds – circa 120mph and yes, you feel it.

EICMA 2018 - Honda

For a bike with such sporty connotations I was happy to find the CBR a pleasure to ride around the small towns and villages we passed through, with its noticeably plush suspension making for a bike that has genuine real-world potential. It’s small but well laid out fairing offers smaller riders like me some protection form the wind and the high-set (yet comfortable) pegs where only touching down a couple of times.

When the pace picked up and the roads became wider, the Honda’s character changed completely as it hunkered down in the faster stretches when you got on the power like a true sportsbike should, shaking its bars and wagging its tail on command.

For most on the launch, the Dunlop rubber that comes fitted to the bike was a tad on the vague side, but I didn’t really feel it. They heated up quickly and provided enough grip for me to trail brake into corners and scrape the footpegs with confidence, perfect if you’re a newer visitor to the sportsbike party.

The new CBR650R is due in showrooms next month and is priced at £7729.

I’ll be posting a full written review and video in the coming days.