Honda’s Neo Sports Café middleweight gains Showa’s 41mm Separate Function Big Piston forks, plus EURO5 compliance for its high-revving four-cylinder engine.
Other updates include more forward-set handlebars, improved LCD dash and USB Type-C socket under the seat. New side panels accentuate the minimalist styling.
Honda has always thrived on exploring new boundaries – in design as well as engineering. In 2018, the CB1000R, CB300R and CB125R brought a unique identity to its naked motorcycle line-up, mixing café racer inspirations with a forward-looking ultra-minimalist look under the ‘Neo Sports Café’ design theme.
One segment remained for the new aesthetic to find expression: the hugely competitive naked middleweight arena and in 2019, the CB650R confidently took on this role.
Aimed at a young demographic that looks to show off in style and enjoy to the maximum a combination of exhilarating four-cylinder engine performance and light, versatile, refined chassis handling, it has proved a great success.
Building on the momentum, for 2021 the CB650R receives a major front suspension upgrade, plus a range of detail improvements to enhance comfort, usability and practicality.
The major news of the CB650R’s update is the application of 41mm Showa Separate Function Big Piston USD forks* – a high-quality suspension that further heightens the bike’s handling ability.
EURO5 compliance for the engine has been achieved with no loss of top-end power; other improvements include slightly more forward-set handlebars, improved visibility for the LCD and USB Type-C charging socket under the seat.
New side panels and rear mudguard are minor cosmetic changes.
The 2021 CB650R will be available in the following colour options:
- Pearl Smoky Gray **NEW**
- Matt Gunpowder Black Metallic
- Candy Chromosphere Red
- Mat Jeans Blue Metallic
*Full name: Showa Separate Function Front Fork Big Piston (SFF-BP)
- New Showa Separate Function Big Piston (SFF-BP) USD forks
- Four-piston, radial-mount front brake callipers and floating discs
- 120/70-ZR17 and 180/55-ZR17 front and rear tyres
The CB650R’s steel diamond frame uses pressed swingarm pivot plates and 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.
Rake is set at 25.5° with a trail of 101mm and wheelbase of 1,450mm. Kerb weight is 202.5kg.
Showa’s Separate Function Big Piston (SFF-BP) 41mm USD forks are a significant upgrade. A pressure separation damper in one fork tube and spring mechanism in the other deliver high damping performance and lighter weight.
Together with the use of a larger sized piston, the result is increased feel, bump absorption and control.
Adjustable for 7-stage spring preload, the single-tube monoshock operates directly on the curvaceous gravity die-cast aluminium swingarm.
Four-piston radial-mount front brake callipers work on 310mm wave-pattern floating discs and are paired with a single-piston rear calliper and 240mm disc. The ABS is a two-channel system.
Cast aluminium wheels mount 120/70-ZR17 and 180/55-ZR17 front and rear tyres.
Styling & equipment
- New side panels and rear mudguard/number plate mount
- · Handlebar angle increased for easier low-speed manoeuvring
- LCD now more comfortable to read; USB Type-C socket under the seat
Tightly wrapped and aggressive, the CB650R’s Neo-Sports Café style features the signature compact ‘Trapezoid’ proportion of short, stubby tail and short overhang headlight.
The long fuel tank is a crucial motif of the family design; its smooth lines accentuate the solidity of real metal surfaces and crown the engineering of the four-cylinder powerplant. It also houses the ignition.
New, smaller side panels accentuate the minimalism, as does the rear mudguard, which is now constructed from steel rather than nylon plastic.
There’s also now a USB Type-C socket located under the seat, for easy charging of a mobile device. Seat height remains 810mm.
The round headlight is one of the keywords of the Neo-Sports Café design language.
It’s LED, as is the rest of the lighting. Sharp LCD instruments use the CB1000R as a baseline and include a Shift Up, Gear Position and Peak Hold indicator.
For 2021 readability has been improved with a change of LED angle and font size.
Another detail change is an increase in the handlebar angle, up 3° to 35°. This adjustment makes tight, slow-speed turns and U-turns easier.
Valerio Aiello of Honda’s Rome R&D Department on the Neo-Sports Café design aesthetic: ‘The entire current Neo-Sports Café range from Honda is the result of the CB4 Concept model presented at EICMA in 2015.
We desired to explore the world of the café racer and reinterpret it in a modern key.
All the models of this CB series are not merely retro-vintage motorcycles, but rather neo-classics – that is, modern motorbikes showcasing classic design styles combined with modern techniques’.
We wanted to create a new stylistic dimension, different from the muscular streetfighters of the last few years, and at the same time, far from the more straightforward café-racer style.
The result is that none of the bikes from the competition resemble the Neo-Sports Café range and, like them or not, they are easily recognisable as Hondas.
The competitors have classic or very modern motorcycles in their capacities, but in my opinion, not something that goes in the wake of both styles.
During the development of the CB4 concept, I found inspiration from outside the world of motorcycles, in watches.
We’ve always liked their technicality, and one of the critical images used during the Neo-Sports Café design was ‘Mechanical Art’.
‘Mechanical Art’ is the desire to show the beauty of the various mechanical elements to which Honda has always given great importance.
Watches do this very well indeed, with their mechanics still creating a certain charm.’
- 70kW peak power, 63Nm peak torque with 35kW A2 licence option
- Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC)
- Full EURO5 compliance
The 649cc, DOHC 16-valve engine is tuned to create the purest, most enjoyable mid-sized four-cylinder performance possible, with the classically fast ‘pick-up’ through the rev range and hard-hitting, high-revving top end for which Honda’s in-line’s fours are renowned.
Peak power of 70kW arrives @ 12,000rpm with peak torque @ 63Nm delivered at 8,500 rpm. An easy 35kW conversion is available for A2 licence holders.
Through the 2021 update, the only changes to engine specification are for EURO5 compliance; this has required revisions to the ECU, cam lobes, intake timing, exhaust pipe, catalyser and silencer, as well as the addition of a crank pulsar.
Direct cam actuation makes for a compact cylinder head; bore and stroke are set at 67mm x 46mm with compression ratio raised of 11.6:1.
Iridium spark plugs are employed and twin air ducts – either side of the fuel tank – feed the airbox and produce a throaty intake roar.
Asymmetric piston skirts minimise bore contact and reduce friction. Ferrous spines on the outer surface of the cylinder sleeves reduce oil consumption (and conflict) 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 cylinders does away with most of the exterior hoses.
The engine uses a compact internal architecture, stacked six-speed gearbox and starter layout with the cylinders canted forward 30°.
An assist/slipper clutch eases upshifts while managing rear-wheel lock-up under hard braking and rapid downshifts.
Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) is fitted to handle rear-wheel traction; it can be turned off should the rider choose.
Fuel consumption of 20.4km/l (WMTC mode) gives a range of over 300km from the 15.4L fuel tank.
A range of Genuine Honda Accessories is available for the CB650R:
Several aluminium parts and aluminium inserts to maximise the Neo-Sports Café design that CB650R and CB1000R have in common (meter visor, front mudguard panels, shroud covers, side covers, seat cowl)
- Under cowl
- Wheel stripes
- Tank bag and seat bag – the same as those for Honda’s native flagship the CB1000R
- Quick shifter
- Front visor
- 12V socket
- Heated grips
- Tank pad
Source: Honda Europe