The New Mid-Displacement Kid On The Block

Honda dropped an “F” and added an “R” to its lineup this year with its new CBR650R. The factory gave it a look that’s all its own with new fairings and a trim rear end, and it adds to the R’s race-tastic tendencies with an aggressive rider’s triangle. New Showa stems and powerful brakes add value while the souped-up engine adds compression and power to make the R a thrill to ride, along with new electronic safety features to help you keep it dirty-side down.

  • 2019 Honda CBR650R
  • Year:
    2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Displacement:
    649 cc
  • Top Speed:
    149 (est) mph
  • Price:

2019 Honda CBR650R Design

The new R borrows directly from the Fireblade program for design inspiration for an even sportier look than the outgoing F.

The outgoing F was billed as a sports-tourer with an emphasis on the “sport” aspect, and the new R is no exception though it borrows directly from the Fireblade program for design inspiration for an even sportier look. This manifests itself mainly in the upper-front fairing that rocks a windtunnel-tested look that’s lean as a snake above the brow, and LED headlights that give the R an angry visage below a minimal bubble screen.

The fuel tank, frame and footpegs were tweaked to move the rider’s triangle forward and down loading up the front wheel a bit more while clip-on bars pulls the pilot into the pocket. Yeah, Honda might try to act like this is some sort of sports-commuter ride, but it’s even further into the “sports” end of the spectrum than its predecessor so you can probably go ahead and disabuse yourself of the notion that you’ll be comfortable using it as an everyday commuter.

That said, there’s plenty here to love for riders who are looking for something a skosh more casual than a full-on RR model. It carries the typical cowl scoop up front, but some judicious cutouts leave us with a tantalizing glimpse of the drivetrain and the graceful arc of the four-into-one exhaust headers where they make their turn to head back to the abbreviated muffler.

A 4.1-gallon fuel tank defines the flyline with a wide flange up top to shelter the knee pockets ahead of the cut-down saddle. Gotta’ say; the break between pilot and pillion isn’t as abrupt as you’d expect from such a sporty ride, and the shoulder is probably just enough to act as a butt stop to keep you from driving the thing out from under yourself.

The subframe is upswept a bit, but not so much as to give the R a strong nose-down look so the posture is a bit more neutral, and you can pencil me in as a fan. For the passenger, there’s a pair of subframe-mount, fold-up aluminum footpegs and inconspicuous J.C. handles to go with the slightly elevated p-pad and grabstrap.

An LED taillight rides under the tip of the tail with LED turn signals and a plateholder out on the mudguard extension is backed up in its spray-control efforts by a forward-mount hugger. It doesn’t look bad, but as always, I think it’d look even better if the tag and winkers were to be mounted on a secondary rear hugger. Just me?

2019 Honda CBR650R Chassis

2019 Honda CBR650R
- image 814066
More horsepower and reduced weight mean a better power-to-weight ratio.

The R benefits from some weight-saving efforts to drop a total of 4.18 pounds from the bones. This year, the swingarm pivot plates are pressed instead of forged, and the steel-diamond frame rocks elliptical spars with balanced tuning and rigidity. The steering head rides with a 25.5-degree rake angle and four inches of trail to give the R a flickable nature with a curved, asymmetrical swingarm that pushes the wheelbase out to a compact 57-inches.

Brand-spankin’-new cast wheels round out the rolling chassis with a Y-spoke design that trims some more weight off the R to the tune of 0.97 pound up front and 1.2 pounds out back. Not only do they pare some fat off the overall total, but the reduced weight also lowers the gyroscopic forces that make the wheels resistant to changes in lean angle, and that has a direct, and positive, impact on the handling.
They’re symmetrical at 17-inches around and mount a 120/70 and 180/55, ZR-rated hoop on the front and rear, respectively, so you know they can take whatever kind of speed you decide to throw at them.

Also new for this year are the inverted, 41 mm Showa Separate Function forks at work opposite a coil-over monoshock that sports the obligatory spring preload, but nothing else in the way of adjustment. The anchors rely on some serious hardware in the form of dual, 310 mm discs and four-piston calipers up front with a 240 mm disc and uni-pot anchor out back. Dual-channel ABS protection comes standard to help you get the most out of the binders.

Front Suspension/ travel: 41 mm fork/ 4.25 inches
Rear Suspension/ travel: Showa Single Shock/ 5.04 inches
Rake (Caster Angle): 30.0°
Trail: 4.0 inches (101 mm)
Front Brake: Dual 320 mm discs with radial-mount four-piston calipers (ABS model w/ ABS)
Rear Brake: Single 240 mm disc (ABS model w/ ABS)
Front Tire: 120/70-17
Rear Tire: 180/55-17

2019 Honda CBR650R Drivetrain

2019 Honda CBR650R
- image 814060
The torque curve is more linear than before, so power comes on smoothly in an easy-to-anticipate manner that is rider friendly, relatively speaking.

Not to be outdone by the chassis, the inline-four powerplant comes with a host of improvements that deliver more of what you want, and less of what you don’t. The redline tops out at a full grand higher, and it generates five percent more horsepower above 10,000 rpm. That gives the water-cooled lump a total of 94 ponies at 12,000 rpm and 47 pound-feet of torque at 8,500 rpm for your riding enjoyment. The torque curve is more linear than before, so the mill smoothly delivers its power in an easy-to-anticipate manner that is relatively rider friendly, generally speaking.

Dual over-head cams time the poppets that come four to a cylinder, and they use a direct-actuation system that reduces the valvetrain’s footprint for a smaller and lighter head. The quartet of 67 mm bores and 46 mm stroke combine to hit the 649 cc displacement figure with an elevated compression ratio that clocks in at 11.6-to-1 to help generate that extra power.

New for this year are the twin ram-air ducts that capitalize on the pressurized air at the front end to raise the volumetric efficiency of the engine without complicating things with a turbocharger or compressor, and we’re seeing more and more of that, so I imagine it won’t be long before its considered standard equipment and an expected feature on all sport-type bikes. A slipper clutch couples the six-speed transmixxer to engine power for some backtorque mitigation and a lighter clutch lever pull.

Ready for some fandanglery? In a first for this line, Honda throws on its Selectable Torque Control feature that helps you keep it rubber-side down through the miracle of electronic intervention that prevents you from overwhelming the available traction due to your overeager right wrist, and if you’ve got the skillset for it you can turn it off altogether for full-raw power delivery. This gets you a top speed of somewhere in the ballpark of exactly 149 mph, but only on an abandoned runway, salt flat or closed-circuit course, right y’all?

Engine: 649 cc liquid-cooled inline 4 cylinder
Bore And Stroke: 67 mm x 46 mm
Induction: PGM-FI with 32 mm throttle bodies
Ignition: Full transistorized ignition
Compression Ratio: 11.6:1
Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive: #525 O-ring chain; 15T/42T

2019 Honda CBR650R Pricing

2019 Honda CBR650R
- image 814072
MSRP is still TBA as of this writing, but look for it to come in a little over $9k.

The price is still TBA as of this writing, but the bike that the CBR650R is replacing rolled for $8,999 (with ABS) last year, and I expect the new tag to be within around $600 higher, or so.

Model ID: CBR650R (ABS model: CBR650RA)
Warranty: One Year Transferable, unlimited-mileage limited warranty (Extended coverage available with a HondaCare Protection Plan®)
Colors: Grand Prix Red/Stripe
Price: TBA

2019 Honda CBR650R Competitors

2019 Honda CBR650R
- image 814075
2017 - 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 650
- image 741074
The Ninja rolls for $1k less, but you also get a less refined ride.

The 650 cc displacement is rapidly becoming a hotly-contested bracket, and as such, the rest of the Big Four are invested in it as well so I didn’t have to look far to find an appropriate competitor. Behold, the Ninja 650 ABS from Kawasaki. The Ninja line has its own deep roots from which to draw, and this model toes the family line with race-tastic good looks and a sporty stance that straddles the line between sport rides and the everyday commute.

I could argue that the Kawi is even more suitable to be used as not-so-basic transportation due to its short-rise handlebar that allows for a slightly more-upright rider’s triangle, and it’s hard to overstate the value of a relaxed posture. It unloads your wrists/shoulders, and gives your neck a bit of a break from the weight of your brain bucket for a more comfortable ride.

Much like the CBR, the Ninja rocks a cut-out cowling that gives us a glimpse of the beating heart, and it has a waspish waist for comfort and ease-of-footwork. The Ninja rides on vanilla suspension with rwu front forks and a preload-adjustable shock out back, so it isn’t quite as refined as the CBR, but it does come with an option for ABS for safety’s sake.

Both rides show the inline-four some love. The Ninja displaces a comparable volume at 649 cc with a slim grunt advantage at 48.5 pound-feet against 47 pounds from the CBR, and it comes on earlier at 6,500 rpm versus 8,500 rpm. Yeah, it’s a small advantage, but there it is. Honda flips that script with its electronics though, ’cause the Ninja has no answer for the traction control feature on the CBR, and that goes a long way toward explaining the $1,000 price differential that sees the Ninja 650 ABS roll for $7,999.

He Said

“Is the price difference worth it? Probably so, since it’s difficult to put an actual dollar value on safety. Even if you don’t need the TC, I reckon it might be worth having, even for grouchy old-school riders like myself. As for the CBR650R, I think it was a good move to do away with the “F” variant, but I question why someone would buy a not-quite racebike if it isn’t more comfortable for the kind of riding favored by the vast majority.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “Honda really gave this bike a lot of love for the 2019 update that turned the CBR650F into the new CBR650R. The more aggressive styling puts it visually right there with the CBR1000RR, and while it carries forward the same engine as its predecessor, the intake, exhaust and the engine itself have been updated to deliver more horsepower and more torque. More horsepower and the reduced weight results in a better power-to-weight ratio than the ’F,’ and the slipper clutch not only makes it easier to pull in the clutch lever, it also smooths engine braking for better control. Does it live up to being an ’R’? I dunno, but it does look like the most commuter-capable of the 650 cc sportbikes. Since most buyers won’t be hitting the racetrack with it anyway, I think that’s okay.”

2019 Honda CBR650R Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 649 cc liquid-cooled inline 4 cylinder
Bore And Stroke: 67 mm x 46 mm
Induction: PGM-FI with 32 mm throttle bodies
Ignition: Full transistorized ignition
Compression Ratio: 11.6:1
Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive: #525 O-ring chain; 15T/42T
Chassis:
Front Suspension/ travel: 41 mm fork/ 4.25 inches
Rear Suspension/ travel: Showa Single Shock/ 5.04 inches
Rake (Caster Angle): 30.0°
Trail: 4.0 inches (101 mm)
Front Brake: Dual 320 mm discs with radial-mount four-piston calipers (ABS model w/ ABS)
Rear Brake: Single 240 mm disc (ABS model w/ ABS)
Front Tire: 120/70-17
Rear Tire: 180/55-17
Dimensions & Capacities:
Wheelbase: 57 inches
Seat Height: 31.9 inches
Curb Weight: 456 pounds (ABS model: 458 pounds)
Fuel Capacity: 4.1 gallons, including 0.8-gallon reserve
Top Speed: 149 mph (est)
Details:
Model ID: CBR650R (ABS model: CBR650RA)
Warranty: One Year Transferable, unlimited-mileage limited warranty (Extended coverage available with a HondaCare Protection Plan®)
Colors: Grand Prix Red/Stripe
Price: TBA

Further Reading

Kawasaki Ninja 650

2017 - 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 650
- image 741069

See our review of the Kawasaki Ninja 650.

Honda CBR1000RR

2017 - 2018 Honda CBR1000RR
- image 774581

See our review of the Honda CBR1000RR.

Honda

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- image 794666

Read more Honda news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: honda.com, kawasaki.com

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