India is catching up fast with the rest of the world in terms of performance bikes. All manufactures are entering India either with their best products or with products specially designed for the Indian (or Asian) markets. So if you have an inclination and funds, then there is variety of options to choose from.
Same is the story with one of my close friends who is evaluating options to buy a 600cc+ motorcycle. Like me, he is also currently riding 223cc Karizma. So we were on a test ride spree. Honda CBR 650F was the first machine that we tested, well not extensively, but let’s say for about 5km, which was a mix of bumper to bumper traffic and a long free stretch.
[Just to give you guys an idea, below is the comparison of Pulsar 150 with CBR 650F.]
The cockpit: – (6/10)
The bike has a saddle height of 810 mm which shouldn’t be a problem to any rider. The riding position is a bit forward biased but it does not strain one’s wrist or neck. It is very well suited for long touring. Maneuvering the bike in the city traffic was not a difficult task but when one tries to flick the bike into back to back opposite corners, it does take a bit effort and the weight of the bike can be felt. But I think it is just a matter of getting used to it, and the fact that it is designed for touring and not for track.
The console I thought could have been designed better as there is a large amount of space unused. The mirrors are well placed and the height of the wind shield feels right. The buttons on the left feel a bit jumbled up. The pass switch is integrated with the high beam and a hazard button placed between the high beam and the horn. As a result, the horn button feels a bit cramped up and unusable when required.
The plastic quality over all felt good except the integrated grab rails beneath the pillion seat. I found them too plasticy and was afraid of breaking it into pieces.
Engine and Acceleration: (7/10)
I am not sure if it was our test bike or the characteristic of such a high CC in-line 4 motor, but getting this bike moving from a standstill into motion was quite an effort. It made me look like an amateur learning to ride a geared scooter that kept knocking off. I swallowed the embarrassment and fearlessly twisted the throttle to get the bike moving. And once it did, it accelerated like a rocket! I have never experienced such acceleration before on any bike. The ease with which this bike accelerated frightened me so much that I had to hold the handle bars tight in fear of falling off.
Like you expect from a HONDA, the engine is butter smooth. So smooth that if you hear it revving with your eyes closed, you won’t believe that it is a 650cc engine. Isn’t that good? May be not!
Exhaust note is an inseparable characteristic of a super bike. Be it in slow moving traffic or the long open stretch, I was twisting the throttle really hard but CBR 650F didn’t produce any music loud enough to cheer my heart or to make the heads turn. So all the insane acceleration is not coupled with any sweet sound.
Honda CBR 650F, like its younger siblings likes to keep it low when it comes to exhaust notes.
This crazy acceleration is well countered by the 2x 320mm discs ahead and 1x 240m behind with the ABS as standard feature. The brakes do their job fine but I found it difficult to stop the bike at the spot that I though in my mind.
I would have enough to contribute here if I could to steal the bike for a half a day and take it on a date to rider’s paradise…Lavasa!
The Looks: (4/10)
A bike of such a magnitude should turn heads with exhaust notes even before it arrives, but such is not the case with it. Neither does it stand out in the crowd when it has arrived. So much so, that people around even fail to notice it. The fairing looks good from side view but the front view is not that great. The single unit head lamp looks a bit out dated and I think the younger CBR250R has better headlamp unit.
So looks are a bit let down for me but as they say, “Looks are subjective”.
Price Tag: (5/10)
At 7.40 lakhs ex-showroom Pune (8.4 lakhs on road), it is not cheap. Many may argue that you have cheaper options in in 600 cc category, but this is an in-line 4 and not a parallel twin.
Also, Honda vehicles are known to be pricey. They have engines that can run without problem for decades. I thought after sales service would be an issue (which is for at least Activa and Shine owners who get a feeling of government office in Honda service centers) but the CBR 650F owners will be welcomed at a totally separate and exclusive service bays.
So it is not the best looking machine out there but it is bloody powerful. Yet it will not overwhelm the new riders who are promoting themselves from smaller capacity motorcycles. Also it will be a good companion for experienced tourers.
A better looking faring and a good looking price tag might have sealed the deal. But that is too much to ask from Honda who is happy selling Activas in India!