2021 Honda CB650R Review

We spend some time with the Honda CB650R and come away impressed! But there's a massive chink in its armour! Read on to find out more!

By Kingshuk Dutta


1 mins read


Published on September 6, 2021

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  • The Honda CB650R Neo Sports Cafe Racer is priced at Rs. 8.67 lakh
  • It gets a 648.72 cc inline-four engine; 86 bhp and 57.2 Nm of peak torque
  • Offers excellent performance, looks good too, but priced too high

"You meet the nicest people on a Honda bike"! It is a lovely 1965 song from a band called 'The Hondells' and it served as Honda's tagline for the longest time. But all of that was in the past! The new-age premium Honda motorcycles are sharp, muscular and have solid road presence, which comes as a refreshing change! And the new age Honda that we are talking about today, is the new Honda CB650R!



(The Honda CB650R is perhaps the best-looking motorcycle in its segment)

Beatiful, neo sports cafe design, classically styled and unmistakable presence! The Honda CB650R gets a tick on all those boxes! I mean look at it! It is a tight, compact package. The colours look really good too but the standout piece of styling has to be the exposed and curved headers! It could very well be the motorcycle's Achilles heel too. There's nothing that protects those pipes from underneath. And while a ground clearance of 148 mm seems to be sufficient when you are riding on tarmac, you might want to be careful when you are riding over big bumps.


(The Candy Chromosphere Red along with the golden bits add a lot of class and elegance to the motorcycle)

Nonetheless, our test motorcycle looks really good in the candy chromosphere red colour and the bronzed out engine along with the golden USD forks up front add to the classic neo retro design. The good news is that there is a nice balance of the old-school charm and the new age look, which makes it one of the best-looking motorcycles in its segment.

Engine Specifications & Performance


(The CB650R gets a 648.72 cc engine, making 86 bhp and 57.2 Nm)

The Honda CB650R and its faired sibling, the CBR650R, get the same 649 cc in-line four cylinder engine which makes 86 bhp at 12,000 rpm along with a peak torque of 57.5 Nm at 8,500 rpm. It is a four-cylinder engine after all, which is why the performance peaks at higher revs.


(The CB650R's engine comes into its own after 8,000 rpm. The top-end on the motorcycle is really good)

Well, that inline-four cylinder engine has a roaring intake howl and a melodious exhaust note! I mean even if you are accelerating from 30 kmph to 50 kmph in the third gear, the sound that the motorcycle produces is sheer symphony. The engine has this dual personality! Like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Till 7,000 rpms, the engine feels vibey and slightly stressed and the moment you cross 8,000 rpm, the four-pot motor breaks into a song and rewards you with exhilarating performance and between 8,000 and 12,000 rpm is where the sweet spot lies!


(Handling on the CB650R is quite predictable and neutral)

This also means that the engine is not quite happy when pottering about in town at slow speeds. It is a rev-happy engine and needs constant throttle and gear inputs to keep you moving. And yes, the four-pot engine does heat up if you are caught in stop and go traffic. The six-speed gearbox is quite smooth though and operates flawlessly without missing a beat. There is a sense of tractability on the engine, but a slightly smoother throttle response at lower speeds would have made the riding experience much better.

Tech & Ergonomics


(The Honda CB650R offers a comfortable perch and can do some amount of touring as well)

The ergonomics on the CB650R are quite balanced. The riding position has the right mix of sportiness and comfort. The footpegs are slightly rear-set and the wide handlebar offer enough leverage for you to hustle the bike around! Speaking of hustling, the motorcycle is agile and whether you throw it around corners or filter through traffic, it is always going to be on your side, giving you enough confidence, which includes the grip offered by the Dunlop tyres. 


(The Nissin brakes have good stopping power and the suspension is set up just right for a middleweight naked sportbike)

The Nissin brakes offer good stopping power and shed speed in a measure manner although a little more feel on the brake lever would have been better. The 41 mm Showa separate function, big piston forks up front and the monoshock at the rear offers a nice balance between offering a taut ride around corners and is plush enough to soak up regular bumps and undulations.


(The negative backlit LCD unit is simple and reading it under a bright sun may be difficult)

The CB650R gets a simple negative LCD digital instrument console, ABS, switchable traction control along with full LED lighting too. Now, there are no riding modes and the throttle is cable-operated, which means there is a slight lack of finesse when it comes to throttle response. Also, the instrument console is basic and visibility under bright sun may be an issue. Given the price, we expected a better unit.

Pricing & Rivals


(The CB650R is priced exorbitantly! Aggressive pricing could have turned this into one of the better selling models in its segment)

And pricing is perhaps the biggest deal-breaker on the motorcycle. At Rs. 8.67 lakh, it is significantly more expensive than its rivals, the Triumph Trident 660 and the Kawasaki Z650, which are priced at Rs. 6.95 lakh and Rs. 6.24 lakh. All prices are ex-showroom. Given the pricing, one would expect better equipment and a longer list of features, which its rivals offer.



(The Honda CB650R goes up against the Triumph Trident 660 and the Kawasaki Z650)

The Honda CB650R is a lovely motorcycle and it does most things right! It is a good choice for you have as your first big bike. The look and feel is premium and the performance is par for the course as well, especially the inline-four symphony! It has everything going for itself, barring the price! Too expensive when compared to the rivals and not enough features on offer either. It may not need riding modes or ride-by-wire, but the Indian customer is always looking for a great overall deal and the CB650R does not offer that! A lakh of rupees less, maybe a little more, and then it would have made for a wonderful package!


Last Updated on September 6, 2021

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