Honda Honda CBR650R (2019) | Review

Honda CBR650R (2019)

We flew to Almeria in southern Spain for the press launch of Honda’s new middleweight sportsbike

The everyday supersport 600 machine
Great chassis, unintimidating engine, Fireblade looks
Tiddly tank, hard to read dash, the motor isn't a torque-fest

IT’S 3°C, and the seemingly never-ending hairpin I’ve just entered (a tad too quickly) has just tightened into an extremely sharp left turn that has my bum clenching. On a normal launch it wouldn’t normally be a problem but, cold tyres and a wintery ambient temperature are making me nervous.

Honda CBR650R Video Review

Honda CBR650R Review 2019

Adding to the pressure is the stupid part of my brain that tells me that I must keep up with the bike in front – regardless of what it is and who is riding it. And the bad news for me is that the pilot of the lead bike today is two-time TT winner and all-round top bloke Steve Plater, and he’s riding a Fireblade.

He’s not hanging about either. He coaches at the Almeria circuit and regularly leads journos and punters alike on the fast, flowing Spanish roads. But don’t think that me not keeping up with Plater is a downer on the bike, there is a member of the group who’s much faster and braver than me who is clinging to the back wheel of the ‘Blade like it’s the last lap of the British GP!

And that’s a good sign because it’s a tough time to be a 600(ish)cc sportbike. The love you felt in the 90s and 2000s has waned and the knee-down heroes of the B-roads have grown older and slower. Instead of picking up where the fluro-leather wearers left off, the new blood into biking from 2010 onwards choose the hipster route or bypassed the supersport class altogether in favour of the more powerful litre bikes.

Can Honda buck the trend of sliding supersport sales figures and build a bike that appeals to more than just the hardcore speed freaks?


The CBR650R is set to be in dealers next month with a price tag of £7729. That makes it about £2.5k less than the hardcore Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja and nearly £4k cheaper than Yamaha’s R6. If I was going for a supersport machine to ride everyday – I’d take the drop in power and £4k in the bank over a less comfortable and faster option.

PCP example:





Monthly repayments

36 x £99.00

Optional final payment





4000 miles p/a

Total payable



The DOHC four-valve motor puts out a shade under 100bhp at 12,000rpm which is accompanied by an understated yet pleasing wail from the revised and neatly upswept exhaust.

Peak torque of 47.2 lb.ft (63.9Nm) comes in at 8000rpm and that makes the bike extremely tractable on the tighter sections of the launch but not intimidating like a 750 or a thousand could be. Like any mid-sized four, it’s not an engine that lives much below 4k rpm and begs to be revved right the way to the 12k rpm redline. That’s one of the things I enjoyed about riding it, you have to work at it to get the best from it, completely the opposite to my long-term Africa Twin that’ll pull away in fourth gear. You need to get your tap shoes on and get dancing, but when you do the CBR is a more than willing partner.

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EICMA 2018 - Honda