Road Test

Honda Honda CB650R (2019) review

Honda introduces the middleweight naked market to the Neo Sports Café design ethic

£ 6999
Average: 4 (1 vote)
Honda's CB650R brings some class to the middleweight naked market
Styling, Handling, Sweet motor, Surprisingly quick
Budget tyres, Small tank, hard to read dash

Frame and Suspension

As with the engine, the twin spar diamond chassis is a refined version of the old model’s but now makes use of pressed steel swingarm pivot plates as opposed to forged ones, helping to chip 1.9kg off the CB650F’s overall weight. The chassis has also been tightened up around the headstock and made slightly more flexible around the twin spars. The idea is that the taught headstock will make a more composed front end while the flex built in to the spars should aid rider feedback.

Front suspension is provided by 41mm Showa Separate Function Forks (SFF) with no adjustment while the rear is taken care of by a seven-stage spring preload adjustable monoshock.


Out on the road you can really feel the extra miles put into the frame design with me going as far as to say this is probably one of the nicest front ends on any middleweight naked I’ve ridden. It’s composed over bumps and damped perfectly for this 12-stone rider. On the faster sections when riding at (a lot) above motorway speeds, the bike felt stable enough to change direction with the Mezteler RoadTec 01 tyres providing an adequate but not staggering amount of feedback.

On the never-ending switchback hairpins the Honda turns from a stylish café racer into a genuine backroad scratcher. It holds a line well in corners and has more in reserve than I was willing to explore on the unknown Spanish roads.

If anything let the bike down it was the slightly below par rubber fitted, the Metzeler hoops are a decent sports touring tyre but didn’t heat up quickly enough for me and gave a few bum-clenching moments where both the front and rear of the bike began to wander. The thing is though, a tyre company isn’t going to fit the best product they have to a bike like the CB650R. For a start, not everyone will want a super-sticky tyre that needs bags of work to give any grip and doing so would also eat into their aftermarket tyre sales.


We have decent spec, radially mounted Nissin four-piston calipers up front biting down onto 310mm discs and a two-piston caliper and 240mm disc at the rear. The none adjustable lever was a comfortable reach from the bar and has a premium feel to it, which translates to a good quality but budget braking system. Like the rest of the cycle parts on the CB, the brakes just work as they should with no surprises, perfect for a machine aimed at newly qualified or less experienced big-bike pilots.


The CB650R features a more aggressive riding position than the CB650F with the tapered bars moved 13mm further forward and 8mm nearer to the top yoke. The pegs are also shifted back and up slightly to give a sportier seating position and a bit more ground clearance. With a seat height of 810mm, the CB650R definitely gives the feeling you’re sitting on it and not in it, but it’s decently padded seat and revised rider ergos make for a bike you can ride all day without too much trouble. Switchgear layout is typically Honda, with everything you’d expect and within easy reach.

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Styling, Handling, Sweet motor, Surprisingly quick
Budget tyres, Small tank, hard to read dash

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