Honda adds its CB650F to 2018's Performance Line-up

A new model and confirmation of two returning sport bike models for the American motorcycle market may have Honda fans excited.

American Honda is adding CB650F to its lineup for the 2018 model year, a range that will include the CBR650F and the unique urban rider, the Grom. The CB650F is the latest in a lineage of Honda middleweight four-cylinder naked bikes dating back to the CB400F of the 1970s, promising a great power-to-weight ratio, pared-back style, and comfortable riding position, giving it all the elements of a great-performing midsize street-fighter.

“We’re pleased to offer the tough-looking, strong-performing CB650F to American customers for the 2018 model year,” said Lee Edmunds, manager, marketing communications. “The CBR650F has shown that this four-cylinder power plant is a solid performer, and in this package it adeptly rounds out our comprehensive lineup of naked sport bikes, fitting in perfectly between the CB500F and the CB1000R.”

Honda’s newest middleweight naked bike, the CB650F, is powered by a compact 649cc inline four-cylinder engine that provides a satisfying rush of power and torque while emitting a throaty growl through beautiful side-swept exhaust headers (considered a Honda signature) and a single, organically shaped, under-swingarm muffler.

The 649cc engine uses a compact internal architecture, stacked six-speed gearbox and starter/clutch layout with the cylinders canted forward 30°. The DOHC 16-valve cylinder head employs direct cam actuation with a 11.4:1 compression ratio.

“We started with the engine from our popular CBR650F,” explains Honda. “Offering an 11,000 rpm redline, we gave it shorter gear ratios to ensure some rigorous acceleration through the midrange. Revised intakes and a free-breathing exhaust mean more peak power too.”

With minimal bodywork, the view of the engine, called handsome by Honda, and twin-spar frame is unobstructed. Suspension comprises a Showa Dual Bending Valve fork and adjustable shock, and both the headlight and taillight feature LED bulbs. All three brake rotors are wave-style, the dual 320mm front discs being squeezed by Nissin calipers.

Longer rides are made comfortable by the sporty-yet-natural riding position and a rubber-mounted handlebar. The CB650F’s steel diamond frame features twin 64mm x 30mm elliptical spars. They’re stiffer around the headstock and more flexible in the middle of the spars to deliver balanced handling characteristics with high levels of feedback.

Coming in the color of red, the new CB650F will be available in August 2017 with the price yet to be determined.

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Looking at the CBR650F, the full-fairing sibling of the naked CB650F, it touts an unorthodox 650cc displacement size that offers a great mix of midrange torque and low reciprocating mass, earning the model praise as a powerful, nimble midsized four-cylinder sport bike that’s ideal for a broad spectrum of users, from weekend canyon carvers to weekday commuters.

The competitively priced CBR650F benefits from a number of revisions for the 2018 model year, including enhanced power via updated intake stacks and muffler changes that also deliver an improved sound. The gear ratios have also been revised for improved acceleration feel. The fork is now a Showa Dual Bend Valve unit that has better damping action for more comfort over varying road conditions, and the headlight now has LED bulbs.

Rounding out the changes are L-shaped air valves on the wheels to simplify air-pressure adjustment. While the sporty bodywork provides wind-cheating aerodynamics, strategically placed windows offer peekaboo views of the handsome cylinder bank and sculpted exhaust headers.

Also offered in Red the newest model will be available in August 2017 and its price has yet to be announced.

Finally, a unique take by motorcycle manufacturers wanting to attract riders who live in cities or use their bike strictly for commuting, the Grom. Started with Honda’s 125cc sport bike, the Grom is being called ‘an instant cult classic’ through its unique ownership of the small-bore sport category.

Honda notes, ‘A major portion of its charm is due to its diminutive stature, which is friendly to new riders, offers nimble handling, and is an absolute blast for carving turns.’

Compact, low to the ground, pocket-sized in terms of price and parking, the Grom features a 125cc engine. Grom’s single-cylinder design is light, narrow, and revs fast. Fuel injection helps performance, electric starting makes it a snap to get going, and promises plenty of maintenance-reducing features.

Last year’s model started at around $3,300 but the price for the latest model isn’t available.

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