After a mild winter and last season which stretched into November to the pleasure of many, I am very happy to start riding again. With spring upon us, it’s time for my first bike review of the year and I have the pleasure of being able to test ride the 2023 Honda CB650R.

I must admit that I can’t wait to try it out and share my thoughts on it! Due to the fact that in recent years, the CBR650R was one of my favorite bikes, I now have high expectations for the CB650R.

Honda CB650R 2023

Conception & Design

The first thing that struck me was its design. For 2023, the CB650R sports an absolutely stunning mat gunpowder black metallic color that gives it both an aggressive and modern look. Only the winged Honda logo and the CB symbol are metallic gray.

Moreover, a lot of attention was paid to the finish and small details, from the tank to the exhaust. The LED front headlight blends well with the design with the elongated clear-lens turn indicators and also gives it a “naked” silhouette of its own.

Honda CB650R 2023
I want to mention that if you are one of those who eliminate the rear fender extension, which usually holds the license plate as well as the turn signals, this time may be different.

Honda has managed to make an aesthetic and interesting design that does not disturb the eye compared to many other models and manufacturers.

One wonders if some manufacturers add just any left-over just to comply with current regulations… For me, it’s a little extra that ultimately turns out to be less expenses…

What I really appreciated about the CB650R is that several of its components are identical to its sister, the CBR650R. Whether it’s the 310mm dual front disc brake system with four-piston calipers, the suspension or the 17in wheel/tire combo, you’ll find all the benefits without the fairing and clip-ons.

To complete its look, Honda has opted for a chrome exhaust system which clearly highlights the fact of an in-line 4-cylinder engine with an equally stylish muffler.

Honda CB650R 2023

Comfort and Ergonomics:

Honda CB650R 2023

Although the CB650R is a motorcycle in the category commonly called “naked”, Honda has nevertheless opted for a sporty driving position which is more akin to a “streetfighter”.

The higher handlebars give a rather upright upper body position, but the lower body position, on the other hand, remains forward. I would be inclined to say that it is the same setup as for the CBR650R. A combo that offers pleasant everyday driving and increases your comfort when lying on the tank.

Dynamic? Yes. Uncomfortable? No, but for longer outings or trips, the question could arise. Let’s say that, when we ride, we can hardly forget the sporty nature of it…

As for comfort on the road, the front suspension has been improved with SFF-BP inverted fork technology (Separate Function- Big Piston front Fork from Showa) which offers well-balanced firmness. To put it simply, each side of the fork contains different components that perform a particular function.

The rear suspension has 7 stages of preload on a showa monoshock. Despite the state of our roads which are, let’s admit, rather imperfect in Quebec, this suspension still offers us pleasant and precise driving.

Technology and Features:

The technology in the CB650R is similar to the CBR650R, meaning minimal. At least, minimal for custom settings. No drive mode or electronic suspension. The throttle is cable-operated and you cannot deactivate the ABS.

Although pleasant for many, the electronic adjustments are not necessary to fully enjoy the Honda experience and in no way hindered my driving pleasure.

The new display is small but very effective. The digital display is clear, and its size goes well with the look and feel of the motorcycle.

The Honda comes with a 649cc inline 4-cylinder engine with 94hp and 47lb of torque. The engine offers a nice sound when made to sing at high revs with an improved airflow from the new twin-duct air intake and updated exhaust.

Note, one of the interesting and controllable features is the HSTC (torque control) which works in conjunction with the injection system equipped with 4 sensors offering optimal gas control.

The 6-speed transmission is well balanced with an Assist slipper clutch. The speeds are well spread and are suitable for the city and the highway. It’s very easy to shift gears, no matter your driving style…

I rode in downtown Montreal as well as in Montérégie, both in relaxed mode, as well as in Touring and sportier mode and the engine-transmission combo adapts well to different scenarios.

In addition, with a 15.4l fuel tank and an average consumption of 5l/100km, you will be able to enjoy a good range, more time on the road and less at the gas station.

Honda CB650R 2023

Price & Value:

The MSRP of the CB650R is approximately $11,200 compared to $11,900 for the CBR650R. In the 600cc “naked” category, the Honda finds itself slightly above average, which may be a point of reflection for some. I would have preferred it to be below the psychological bar of 10K to be even more competitive with other major manufacturers.

If the price of plates or insurance is causing you headaches, the CB650R is an excellent and sensible alternative to the CBR650R. As mentioned earlier, despite the “naked” label, Honda has managed to keep its sporty side as much as possible.

To Be Considered:

One of the major differences between the CB650R and its competitors will be their engines, whether you prefer the 4-cylinder in-line, a parallel twin or a V-twin, each of which gives a different experience. Personally, I love the 4-cylinder feeling with its power curve without forgetting its howl at high revs…
Honda CB650R 2023

Final Thoughts:

In summary, the 2023 CB650R is a very interesting and well-suited motorcycle to fans of naked bikes. The finishing details, throughout the CB650R, demonstrate Honda’s commitment to not only mechanical, but overall quality of their motorcycles.

In the end, my time with this bike was a real pleasure and my expectations were met! A beautiful machine that you can ride and enjoy for several years with good performance and recognized reliability.

If you want to know more about the CB650R or if you have comments, please write below!

Jean-Sebastien Mackay

Jean-Sebastien Mackay

Riding motorcycles since the 90's - Husband - Father - Army Veteran - Founder of KNUCKLE






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