2018 Honda CB650F Review

2018 Honda CB650F Review - Honda has been making outstanding mid-sized inline-4 motorcycles for 40 years, including naked and full-faired bikes. The 2018 Honda CB650F is the motorcycle we've been waiting for--a comfortable naked upright to fight it out on urban streets and twisting canyons.

After putting some serious miles on the new CB650F, here are the 11 essential fast facts you want to know about this new sport bike.

2018 Honda CB650F Review

1. There have been upgrades to the platform, including a Showa Dual Bending Valve fork, tighter gear ratios between 2nd and 5th, improved air intake routing, updated muffler, lighter Nissin brake calipers, an LED headlight and taillight, updated below-seat plastic, and L-shaped valve stems on the wheels. This puts the 2018 Honda CB650F on par with the ’18 CBR650F.

2. It is not only the lack of fairing that turns the CBR650F into the CB650F. In addition to less plastic up front, the CB650F also gets different handlebars and mirrors. This pulls about ten pounds off the CBR650F, most of it high and forward of the center of gravity.

3. The 2018 Honda CB650F has a modern upright feel. With taller and wider bars that are less swept back, the CB650F has almost Supermoto-like ergonomics. It's immediately comfortable with riders who have dirt experience, and street riders quickly realize the leverage and control benefits.

4. Feel free to strafe around town on the CB650F. It's narrow and the upright seating gives you a good view of the road. Lane splitting is a breeze, and the mirrors are easy to manage in tight quarters. The motor is soft at lower RPM, so you can maneuver at slow speeds with confidence, as a slight throttle error won't have an unexpected negative result.

5. Freeway speeds don't challenge the 2018 Honda CB650F. Despite being naked, you don't get blasted by wind. The handlebars are rubber-mounted, so the vibrate level from the high-revving inline-4 is nicely masked. You might need a downshift to really blast past someone, so the flawless transmission is welcome, as well as the closer ratios in the middle of the gear set.

6. The suspension is urban-friendly. The non-adjustable Showa Dual Bending Valve design mimics a cartridge fork and it works. Along with the shock, which only has spring-preload adjustment, the CB650F has a compliant suspension that takes away the hard hits you can get on neglected city streets, yet there’s not a hint of wallowing.

2018 Honda CB650F Review

7. That same suspension pairing makes for a smooth canyon ride, too. Like any sport bike, the CB650F prefers a smooth road, but the sometimes-rough roads in the various mountains in Southern California do not put the chassis off its game.

8. Certainly, you can tool around at a pace you consider comfortable all day long without a worry. However, should you find yourself pushing harder due to more aggressive riding partners, the CB650F allows you to push your confidence envelope wider on an as-needed basis. This is a motorcycle that does not create drama.

9. Turn-in is effortless. All it takes is the slightest body and bar input and the CB650F is turning. It's such a willing turner that early on you may find yourself over steering it. Once you learn how eager it is to turn, you will love how little effort it makes to initiate cornering. When hauling through corners, the CB650F is not absolutely planted. However, you can change lines at will, and that comes in handy on unfamiliar roads.

10. If you have a reasonable level of experience, the 2018 Honda CB650F motor will never intimidate you. Soft at low RPM, with most of the power from the midway point to the 11k redline, the CB650F delivers fully controllable power. With just 162cc in each cylinder, there's not much in the way of torque, so revving the motor is necessary if you're interested in making good time. Corner speed definitely helps, and I never felt the need for traction control, even when getting back on the power early when exiting turns. The motor isn't ultra-responsive, so you can make errors without paying a price. Again--the CB650F is not a drama queen.

11. Experienced riders will love revving the inline-4 joyously. The motor loves to rev, so it you like that sound of a wailing four-cylinder machine--and Honda improved the sound incrementally for 2018--then the CB650F is darn rewarding. Pushing the red line through the twin tunnels on Angeles Crest Highway yields great aural rewards. From a power perspective, those revs do result in an enjoyable, if not overwhelming thrust. Wheelies are possible, but require malice aforethought.

12. Braking is truly intuitive. There are no surprises at any speed. The initial bite is gentle, with it is ramping up as needed--just apply more pressure. The rear brake is easily modulated as an aid to the double discs up front. ABS is a $500 option, and more important if you ride in slippery conditions.

13. The 2018 Honda CB650F is a looker. On top, you have some seriously modern angular styling, with the beautiful touch of the four parallel diagonal headers pouring from the cylinders. It is a direct homage to the 1975 Honda CB400F Supersport, one of the most iconic naked upright sport motorcycles in history.

14. A direct descendant of the late, great CBR600F series that ran from 1987 to 2013 (not always in the US), the CB650F is a fantastic do-it-all motorcycle. From city to rural, the friendly motor, easy handling, and relaxed ergonomics conspire to make the 2018 Honda CB650F a highly desirable mount.

2018 Honda CB650F Specs

2018 Honda CB650F Review

Type: Inline-4
Displacement: 649cc
Bore x stroke: 67mm x 46mm
Compression ratio: 11.4:1
Valve train: DOHC, 16 valves
Fueling: EFI w/ 32mm throttle bodies
Transmission: 6-speed
Final drive: 525 O-ring chain

Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable Showa Dual Bending Valve 41mm fork; 4.3 inches
Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-assisted shock w/ spring-preload adjustment; 5.0 inches
Wheels: Cast aluminum
Front tire: 120/70-17; Dunlop Sportmax D222F
Rear tire: 180/55-17; Dunlop Sportmax D222
Front brakes: 320mm discs w/ 2-piston Nissin calipers
Rear brake: 240mm disc w/ single-piston Nissin caliper
ABS: Optional ($500)

Wheelbase: 57.1 inches
Rake: 25.3°
Trail: 4.0 inches
Seat height: 31.9 inches
Fuel capacity: 4.6 gallons
Curb weight: 454 pounds (ABS: 459 pounds)

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