Honda brings a fresh new approach to the ultra-competitive naked middleweight arena, with the Neo Sports Café styling of the CB650R.
Honda has always thrived on exploring new boundaries – in design as well as engineering. In 2018, the new CB1000R, CB300R and CB125R trio brought a fresh identity to its naked motorcycle line-up, mixing café racer inspirations with an ultra-minimalist look under its ‘Neo Sports Café’ design theme.
One obvious segment remained for the new aesthetic to find expression: the hugely competitive naked middleweight arena. For 2019, the new CB650R confidently takes on this role.
Using the same styling blueprint as its siblings, the CB650R’s retro-minimalism is aimed at a young demographic that wants to show off in style and enjoy to the maximum the combination of exhilarating four cylinder engine performance and light, versatile, refined chassis handling.
Add to this mix of head-turning, individual looks and exciting, usable performance a spec sheet replete with high quality, premium features, and the result is a naked middleweight designed for maximum pride and pleasure of ownership.
The new CB650R mirrors the CB1000R, with pared-down lines designed to put maximum machine on show – this is the motorcycle laid bare. Its super-compact, trapezoid form draws extremities in tightly, and the four-cylinder engine – blacked-out with cam and engine covers highlighted in burnished bronze – is very much the centrepiece of the machine.
Tapered handlebars make for easy steering, and the riding position is on the sporty end of the naked spectrum. The CB650R also shares the CB1000R’s distinctive round LED headlight (all lighting is LED) and modern LCD instrument display, which includes a Shift Up and Gear Position indicator.
For the 650cc engine, a revised intake and exhaust, plus new cam timing and compression ratios bring a 5% peak power boost and smoother, stronger torque delivery through the mid-range. The engine revs to 12,000rpm, an extra 1,000rpm compared to the CB650F.
Tightly wrapped and aggressive, the CB650R’s Neo Sports Café style features the signature compact ‘Trapezoid’ proportion of short, stubby tail and short overhang headlight. The long fuel tank is a key motif of the family design; its smooth lines accentuate the solidity of real metal surfaces and crown the engineering of the four-cylinder power-plant. It also houses the ignition.
Honda’s development engineers wanted to create the purest, most enjoyable mid-sized four-cylinder performance possible for the CB650R rider. So the 649cc, DOHC 16-valve 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.