Review: 2014 Honda CB 650 F - While Waiting For The New Hornet
Posted at 02:00:00 PM
File under Product Review Honda
Author: Loic Depailler
Location: Paris, France
Since this is a translation directly from French, some of the colloquialism may seem a bit strange at times, for which I apologize. It's not easy to translate. Any mistakes below are mine, and mine alone.
While Waiting For The New Hornet
No, the CB 650 F is not the Hornet's replacement. Sound, easy and sufficiently fast, she is intended primarily for beginners who are rather looking for their first real big engine then a sportsbike.
Honda is busy overhauling their roadster offers. After having dusted off their entry level bike with the CB500, the number one manufacturer is now starting with the next level. This level, the mid-sized roadsters one, is a big organized mess, including motorcycles like the peaceful Yamaha XJ6, Suzuki Gladius and the Bandit 650 to the much faster Kawasaki Z800, Suzuki GSR 750 or the Yamaha MT 09. This new CB 650 F would tend to be placed between the two, leaving sport in favor of versatility. And for a more radical machine, we will have to wait for a (real) replacement for the Hornet whose production has been stopped.
During the press conference, Honda made it clear that the CB 650 F went against the current fashion that sees mid-sized roadsters increase their displacement and power. A fairly rare occurrence for the Japanese manufacturer, their target clientele is not clearly defined. The winged brand preferring to present this CB as "the first step in the range of four cylinder Honda" and a transition motorcycle between the CB / NC and larger displacement motorcycles.
To design this new CB 650 F, Honda has developed a new four-cylinder 649 cc. It adopts the same architecture as the sports block with a cylinder bank tilted 30 ° and a gearbox and clutch assembly superimposed to be more compact. While the performance is modest with "only" 85.8 hp (64 kW) obtained at 11 000 rpm and 63 Nm of torque at 8000 rpm. But Honda announced that it worked the charging to deliver maximum torque below 6000 rpm, especially with camshafts minimizing the valve overlap and intake ducts elongated and narrow (Ø 30 mm).
The maintenance intervals are set at every 12000 km. The look has also been particularly worked to hide multiple liquid cooling lines coming from the casings, usually ugly. In the same vein, the exhaust manifold takes the characteristic design of CB 400 of the 70s while the muffler was compacted under the swingarm.
The dual beam frame, also new, is made out of steel and connected to a swing arm made out of aluminum. The rear shock absorber works without rod and the preload is adjustable over 7 positions. As for the nose gear it seems borrowed from the CB 500: same fork diameter (41 mm), even 120 mm travel, same rake angle 25°50 ' ... ABS is available as an option for an additional charge of €300. In parallel, a version adapted to the 35 kilowatts A2 license (Ed: Europe has a beginner, intermediate and a full license) will soon be marketed with ABS as standard but Honda does not know yet whether this model will 'un-delimitable' in "full". Regarding availability and colors, the CB 650 F arrives at dealerships late April in gray, black, yellow or a special tricolor version (+ € 200) and costs € 6599.
Aligned like a row of onions on the parking in front of our hotel on the heights of Alicants (Honda went looking for the sun in Spain), our CB 650 F look great. The style inevitably evokes the CB family with a drawing of the triangular optical very close to the smaller 500, like the side panels covering the reservoir and the radiator. The compact front slices with the rear part with finesse and exudes a gentle image of sportiness.
Made in Thailand, the CB does not have to be ashamed of its finish with a quality paint, fine adjustments, beautiful welds, no wires or lines that extrude and the amount of granular plastic is minimized. Better, Honda even put in a LED rear light. Not only is it fashionable but it's less expensive to change bulbs.
Above all, the four-inline flatters the retina with its stainless steel BTR screws, worked foundries and the exhaust gives a little effect on the right side. In short, a pure juice Honda. There are still two, three details that annoy such as a foot brake based on a motocross model of the 80's or the exhaust pot that would have deserved a side cover on the left, but nothing to cause a wave of ritual seppuku by the Japanese engineers.
In The Saddle
Good news for dwarves, the riding position is perfect for those with their torso leaning slightly forward, hands on a narrower than average handlebar and legs not excessively bent. With a high saddle of 810 mm (20 mm higher than a CB 500) and very close to the junction with the reservoir, it is possible to put your feet flat on the ground even when measuring less than 1.70 m. The largest of my colleagues (I found one of 1.82 m) have told me they do not feel like a toad on a match box but regretted the fuel tank was a little too large for their stump. The clutch is not adjustable contrary to the brake lever.
In the middle, the LCD backlit dashboard displays in the left part its speed and the engine revs while the opposite portion includes a clock, fuel gauge and -at choice- the total mileage, two partial trips and instantaneous or average consumption.
In The City
Pressing the starter, the sound of the 650 is close to that of the Hornet, and more muffled.
In town, the novelty resembles a super CB 500. Capable of moving at a snail pace without using a tightrope, to turn around on a dime, this 650 is incredible easy. Putting it on an angle is neutral and progressive, the clutch knows how to be forgetten, the gearbox is impeccable and the small four-cylinder is "perfect" for this kind of exercise. Able to return to the idle speed in sixth gear (20 kph!) without showing the slightest disapproval -but offering pick-ups worthy of a Vélib' (Ed: Parisian bicycle sharing program)- the bike distills recoveries worthy of this name from 4000 rpm on the first three gears. And without having tested the CB 650 F in traffic jams, the narrow handlebars and short mirrors (but effective) suggest good skills in this area.
Not surprisingly, the comfortable speed is around 130 kph before suffering the lack of protection. For longer trips, the saddle should allow sufficient comfort with its wider rear portion and firm but not hard foam.
Set to the French speed limit, the engine runs at 6000 rpm. Knowing that the red zone begins at 11,000 rpm and limited to just over 500 revs later, it leaves a margin ... Note that some parasitic vibrations have occasionally appeared in the handlebar according to the engine revs without being unpleasant. Riding at illegal speeds (+ 180 kph), stability is more than adequate provided you do not cling to the handlebars. But at this rate, the strong suspensions have moderately accepted the large couplings of the asphalt on the Spanish highways. Nothing dramatic, for a non-sport motorcycle, it is well within the norms of the genre.
Secondary and Country Roads
The highly variable quality of asphalt inland calls for caution on the first kilometers. The Dunlops D222 specific F 120/70-17 front and 180/55-17 at the rear do the job properly but were a little short on information feedback. Alternating turns and quick combos, the 650 F reveals a healthy and balanced chassis.
The front has no "bicycle" side as with a CB 500 or the cutting edge of a Hornet but the compromise between agility and stability is very satisfactory. On the engine side, the bike at midrange allows you to ride without mechanical screaming and the very gradual arrival of the power combined with a long enough pull on the right handle can easily be assayed with the arrival of the power. The small displacement forces you to make sure to keep the needle between 7000 and 10000 rpm to enjoy the full potential of the 87 horses. Voluntary, the new block even offers a small extension of an additional 1,000 revs until the red zone. After, while riding beyond the reasonable, the CB 650 F does not hesitate to show its disapproval. On the succession of bumps, the hydraulics lack restraint and can cause some pumping. And then there are the curve entries in disaster on the brakes that freeze the front a little. Fortunately, the good agreement between front and rear makes sure the bike is never disunited, just noting that it's time to calm down. In summary, this Honda may roll (very) fast but is not naturally conducive to a merry ride, preferring a fast-pace attack with the knife between its teeth.
The Wave discs show the same manufacturing process as the NC 750 with a rear 240 mm disc carved inside and 320 mm front discs in order to lower manufacturing costs. The two superposed piston calipers on the front and the single-piston rear caliper provide stopping power perfectly in line with the engine performance. The front brake combines biting, power and dosability and the ABS our test machine has never shown to be intrusive.
Duo and Practical Aspects
The pillion seat is relatively comfortable and has grab handles but it is still very narrow in its rear part, forcing the pillion to stay stuck to the rider. It can be a good excuse to pass your backpack to that bag of sand ...
Under the saddle, there is enough space to accommodate a U-lock or rain clothes and the rear buckle has two lugs for securing an elastic net. And to improve the daily lives, Honda has a range of accessories including a 35 L top case, a saddlebag that docks on the pillion seat, a host of "carbon look" parts (seat cover, wheel, fender ...), engine guards, alarm, heated grips ...
Finally, like all Honda's latest generation motorcycles, the key has been shortened and is now a Wave type in order to limit theft.
With its 17.3-liter tank and a consumption of 4.8 L/100 km over a standard WMTC (World Motorcycle Test Cycle), the total range announced is more than 350 km. In real life, rely rather on 300 km which puts it still in the high average for current roadsters.
With this CB 650 F Honda has a roadster with an attractive look that will appeal to the greatest number. Between the sound and balanced chassis and a small four-cylinder, brave if not temperamental, it should please anyone looking for a good motorcycle to do everything, used 365 days a year and satisfying. When compared only to other four cylinder motorcycles, the CB plays placed. The Bandit 650 is a great value but weighs 30 kg more while providing a shrinking dynamic behavior. And facing the Yamaha XJ6 (€6,799), Honda is both swifter (+ 10 hp) and less expensive. Facing the duo of twins, the MT-07 (€5700) and ER-6n (€6,000), the game is much tighter with motorcycles that are certainly less versatile but much more exuberant. Face it, the Honda plays more on pragmatism than the emotional fiber to seduce. Still, its selling price of €6599 does not make it the most affordable. As for those who expected a Next Gen Hornet -it was deflated but full of torque- will gnaw a little at the bit ... Honda hints of a larger displacement version which will probably be unveiled by the end of the year ...
|Strong Points||Weak Points|
- Comfort and stability
- Too sensible for a sports bike
Via: Le Repaire des Motards