A fantastic new middleweight | A fantastically quick and surprisingly agile bike to ride both for long distances and short city rides.
When I first heard about the 2014 Honda CBR 650F, I was confused as to what Honda was going for, introducing another middleweight sports bike. The new 2014 Honda CBR650F sits at 461 lbs wet, about 40 pounds heavier than its main competitors. At first, it seemed as if Honda was introducing a bike where its only redeeming quality would be its budget price, a full $3000 under its supersport sibling, the CBR600RR. I was (very happily) proven wrong.
She came to me, looking pretty in blue. The bike is aesthetically glorious. The curves are well directed, and the beefy 180/55/17 Dunlop Sportmax D222 tire in the back definitely turns heads. The kick angle is steep, so the bike stands relatively erect when the kickstand is down. The stand itself also has a wide base, and does not sink into pavement easily on hot days. The controls feel solid and sturdy, and the even turn indicators have a satisfying click to them. At times, they failed to activate, but were reliable for the most part. I do wish Honda had included a passing high-beam trigger on the left grip. One thing I found interesting about the 650F is a digital clock on the right LCD, which never fades, whether the bike is on or off. The rest of the dash is quite wonderful. The CBR650F sports a digital speedometer that mimics an analog one, which I particularly enjoyed. Redline is at 11.4k RPM, a rather modest number for a middleweight sport bike. I think the use of a lower rev-range extenuates Honda’s goal with the CBR650F; creating a not over-the-top outrageous, manageable and truly affordable bike. The 2014 CBR650F is just that.
The bike explodes into the powerband without hesitation. Straddling it, I observed that the extra weight is not very noticeable; the balance point is very well-established. Giving it a few blips, my attention was immediately drawn to two things. Firstly, the sound of the exhaust; I wasn’t really a fan of the stock pipes; the sound was too flat for my liking. Of course, this is something that a few hundred dollars on the aftermarket could fix very easily. Next, and more importantly, I immediately fell for the feel of the throttle. This bike’s throttle system is superb. It’s incredibly smooth, even in first gear. It operates with pinpoint precision, and is extremely responsive. This CBR650F is an immense joy to ride. The amount of control given to the rider by just the throttle system makes it an easy ride. The only qualm I would have is that the spring action on the throttle is slightly too taught, and my right wrist began to feel a little strained after a longer ride.
Though the new CBR from Honda is very easy to ride, it has more than enough torque to keep an experienced rider more than entertained. The 650F’s DOHC inline four-cylinder pulls strongly at the low end, but the front wheel stays planted on the ground. Suspension on the 650F is relatively rudimentary, one of the ways Honda is able to keep the price so low. The shock’s seven-position spring preload is the only adjustable component. Keeping this in mind, the suspension it soft enough to almost completely mask imperfections in the road, while remaining firm enough to allow some hard riding. Rising through the gears, the handlebars vibrate a little more than I’d like past the 9k rpm mark. This isn’t really bothersome during hard acceleration, but rather a good sign to shift up when cruising along.
For those long stretches, the CBR holds up very well. Its ergonomics are more reminiscent of a sport-touring bike than the immense forward lean of a sport. One other thing to note is the windscreen, which serves its function exceptionally well, reducing the amount of chest wind by a significant amount. The seat is comfortable as well, making it a perfect bike for a long ride to some winding roads, where the CBR650F will impress and amaze once again. Though not quite as agile as other middleweights in its class, the 650F dips surprisingly easily into turns. Coming out of some hard turns, I felt the Sportmaxes do get a little bit skittish, but not enough to be a cause of concern. The brakes are also perfectly grabby and stopping power does not diminish during a long squeeze. Even with a couple of hard brakes, the ABS was barely noticeable, if it even activated at all. After riding for a while, I noticed that during my 2-1 downshift at a stop, I often ended up in neutral. This did become a bit tedious, but nevertheless, it could easily be overlooked by the many redeeming facets of the Honda CBR 650F.
All-in-all, the 2014 Honda CBR650F is a fantastically quick and surprisingly agile bike to ride both for long distances and short city rides alike. The enjoyment of ripping around on this machine will keep even the most experienced riders hooked. Coming in at $8499, and an extra $500 for ABS, the 650F is very affordable compared to other middleweight sports available today.