In the process of its transformation, the CBR650R has become a rare breed: a sport bike that provides similar pleasure, enjoyment and adrenaline to an RR machine, yet with enough practicality to make it a viable option as day-to-day transport in addition to weekend fun.
Honda’s development engineers wanted to create the purest, most enjoyable midsized four-cylinder performance possible for the CB650R rider, so the 649cc, DOHC 16-valve engine has been tuned to ensure a smooth, linear torque delivery that builds strongly as revs rise, and sounds great in the process.
Direct cam actuation makes for a compact cylinder head; compression ratio is raised from 11.4:1 to 11.6:1, and the combustion-chamber shape is optimised by use of a revised piston design. The valve train has been reinforced and valve timing revised; iridium spark plugs are also now employed. Asymmetric piston skirts minimise bore contact, reducing friction. Ferrous spines on the outer surface of the cylinder sleeves reduce oil consumption (and friction) with improved heat transfer, and a silent SV cam chain reduces frictional losses by using a Vanadium coating on its pins. Internal water channelling from the cylinder head to the cylinders does away with most of the exterior hoses.
New twin air ducts on either side of the fuel tank feed a larger volume of air, as opposed to the single, central duct of the old model, raising atmospheric pressure in the airbox. They also produce a throaty intake roar. The exhaust now features a larger bore tail pipe inside the muffler to flow more gas and, with its exit pipe angled upward, to emit an emotional howl. The engine uses a compact internal architecture, stacked six-speed gearbox and starter layout with the cylinders canted forward 30°. An assist/slipper clutch is a new addition and eases upshifts while managing rear-wheel lock up under rapid downshifts. Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTV) manages rear-wheel traction; it can be turned off should the rider choose.
The steel diamond frame is updated for 2019 with pressed (rather than forged) swingarm pivot plates; it’s 2kgs lighter than the previous design and uses twin elliptical spars with a rigidity balance specifically tuned (stiffer around the headstock and more flexible in the spar sections) to deliver balanced handling characteristics with high levels of rider feedback.
Kerb weight is reduced by 5kgs to 207kgs(measured with all fluids), thanks not only to the lighter frame, but also savings to both the fuel tank and the new super-sport-style footpegs. Also new is the 41mm inverted Showa Separate Function front Fork (SFF). Adjustable for seven-stage spring preload, the single-tube shock operates directly on the curvaceous gravity die-cast aluminum swingarm.
Four-piston radial-mount front brake calipers work on 310mm floating discs, and are paired with a single-piston rear caliper and 240mm disc. Two-channel ABS is standard. The cast aluminium wheels are a brand-new design with five Y-shaped spokes, reducing weight, improving handling by reducing inertia and unsprung mass.