Honda had first showcased the CBR650F at the 2014 Auto Expo and since then, fans have eagerly been waiting for the arrival of this sport tourer. For the uninitiated, a sport tourer is a bike that is used more for long distance touring, as the name suggest. But unlike an adventure tourer, a sport tourer has sporty bent to it. So don't think of the CBR650F as a CBR1000RR's smaller sibling but more of a scaled down VFR1200F.
Coming back to the matter at hand, we're familiar with Honda's design philosophy, which is what the 650F follows. In simpler terms, it is... er, simple. The single headlight isn't exactly attention-grabbing. The boomerang-shaped LED DRLs that flank the headlight look nice, and on the whole, the bike does pack plenty of visual muscle. Hide the 650F badge, and you'd forgive anyone who mistook it for a higher-capacity motorcycle. The full fairing cleverly exposes a bit of the four pipes sprouting out of the engine and merging into a single, stubby exhaust. The meaty 180mm rear tyre looks the part, too.
Adding some amount of flash to an otherwise understated design is the red, blue and white paint scheme. Some plastic panels sport a faux carbon fibre finish, which may sound tacky, but they look decent in the flesh.
On to more important things. The engine is all-new, and has been developed specifically for the 650F. The engine makes 85.3bhp, and 62.9Nm of torque, which seems acceptable for a motor of this size. Tech that waters down the riding experience has been given a skip. Power is sent to the rear wheel through a slick six-speed transmission.
Apart from the engine, Honda has decided to keep things fairly basic across the board. The chassis is the diamond frame type, and non-adjustable, telescopic front forks have been chosen over inverted forks which have become hygiene on high-capacity motorcycles. The front forks have a travel of 4.3 inches, which is good enough to soak most bumps, while the monoshock at the back gets seven levels of preload adjust and five inches of travel.
Just don't mistaken the word basic for obsolete out here. A wave of torque sweeps in at 4,000rpm, and once the 6,000rpm mark is breached, the engine comes into its element. The mellow exhaust note transforms into a blood-curdling scream as you close in on the redline. On a sufficiently long stretch, the 650F reaches 190kph with ease. Honda says it can do 220 clicks, and we don't doubt that claim one bit.
The riding position is upright compared to regular supersports, but leans on the sporty side of things. It is good enough for touring, giving the rider a clear view of the road up ahead. The huge fairing deflects the wind away from the rider, and when you're doing 130kph, it keeps wind blast in check. The single-piece seat (F in the 650F denotes full seat) is comfortable. It's firm yet supportive, and there's enough room for you to shift around on long rides.
The all-digital instrument panel is easy to read at a glance. There are two dials, one with an integrated tacho and speedometer, while the other houses a fuel indicator, trip and clock (handy when travelling long distances). The interchanging of the horn and the indicator button, can be quite irritating - when in traffic - and you're trying to kill the indicators but end up honking instead.
We like the way this bike corners. It stays composed in every situation. But, the weight and the meaty rear tyre, which inspire so much confidence around turns, affect the bike's liveliness. It just doesn't feel agile enough when changing direction.
The way it rides over a broken patch of road will leave you impressed. Yes, the suspension setup is on the stiffer side, but with generous suspension travel, you hardly feel anything while riding over broken surface. Uneven patches fail to unsettle the 650F. It just flies over everything.
There's plenty of ground clearance, which ensures there's no belly-scraping over speed bumps. Even if you spot a speed bump too late, there's no cause for concern. The 320mm dual discs upfront and the 240mm single disc at the rear can rein in this 215kg sport-tourer in a calm and composed manner. ABS is standard and functions at both ends, but for unexplained reasons, Honda has given its patented combined braking tech a skip.
Stopping at a fuel bunk for a top-up after riding the 650F through the ride, we do the math, and it returned a fine 17.1kpl. Couple this with a large 17-litre fuel tank, and you have a range of around 300km on a full tank. Sure, the fuel figures can be bettered if you go easy on the throttle, but considering how much fun this bike is, I doubt owners are going to take it easy on this.
At Rs 8.24 lakh (on-road, Mumbai), the 650F is not a cheap motorcycle, but this bike has a lot to offer. The versatile nature of the 650F gives owners the opportunity to ride it the way they want to, not to forget the bulletproof reliability of a Honda, and a 20-strong dealership network, which will ensure a perfect ownership experience. Specs\: Liquid-cooled in-line four-cylinder 649cc, 85.3bhp, 62.9Nm, 6M, 215kg, 17.1kpl, top Speed\: 220kph (claimed), Price\: Rs 8.24 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)Verdict\: Sorted but steeply-priced 650 that manages to impress on all fronts.