Writing about bikes for 20 years. Published in dozens of titles on five continents. Mildly obsessed with discovering how things work.
We’re not getting the revamped CBR600RR next year so if you’re after a middleweight four-cylinder Honda sportsbike the CBR650R remains your only option in 2021. Unlike its sportier sibling it’s been given Euro5 type-approval that means it’s set to remain on sale for the foreseeable future.
Both the faired CBR650R and naked, neo-retro CB650R get the same changes for 2021 including the updated Euro5 engine and new front suspension to improve handling in the absence of a more hardcore supersports model in the range.
The Euro5 tweaks include revised ECU settings, new camshafts, revised intake timing, a new exhaust, catalytic converter and silencer. A new crank sensor is also added to help achieve the misfire detection that Euro5 demands. Key dimensions, including the bore and stroke, the 649cc capacity and the modest 11.6: compression ratio, aren’t altered.
Peak power remains the same at 94hp – it’s a figure Honda will stick to, as going any higher would make it illegal for the bike to be restricted to a 47hp, A2-licence-legal machine. Just such a restriction is also offered, of course. The power peak comes at 12,000rpm, as before, but the torque dips fractionally from 47.2lbft to 46.4lbft, still reaching its maximum at 8500rpm. You’ll be hard pushed to notice such a fractional change. Weight – for the CBR650R – rises by one kilogramme, probably as a result of the exhaust changes, to 208kg wet.
On the chassis front, the big news is the adoption of Showa’s ‘Separate Function front Fork Big Piston’ forks (SFF-BP). These replace the old bike’s non-big-piston Separate Function front Fork (SFF). Both the CB650R and CBR650R get the update
The ‘separate function’ bit refers to the fact that the springing and damping are separated, with the spring in one fork tube and the damper in the other, reducing weight, while the new ‘Big Piston’ part means there’s a larger piston in the damper, improving damping response and feel.
Cosmetically, the CBR650R gains tweaks to the seat unit design with new side panels to make it look more minimalist, as well as new licence plate bracket. Up front, the headlights get a resigned reflector, while from on-board there’s a tweak to the LCD dashboard with a new font and revised angle to make it more readable.
Colour tweaks on the CBR650R include silver highlights rather than red ones on the ‘matt gunpowder black’ model, while the old ‘grand prix red’ version is replaced with a ‘candy chromosphere red’ scheme with black and white graphics on the sides, tank and tail.