CBR650F – Initial Ownership Review

This is another guest post for a new category on allzhere. BIKES !!! 🙂

It’s written by Rachit Kamal Dogra who has been riding for 17 years.
He has been dreaming to get an Inline4 for the last 8 years.
Rachit is actively involved in T-BHP and XBHP forums.

The post follows :
If you want to add the professional Intro side, you can. You know about the details. J Let me know if more is needed.

Well, the dream was not to own this one, but an R1. But the CBR more or less fulfils the dream being an Inline 4. I have had this dream for 8 years and have a lot to share and express, but will try my best to keep it short.

So, it all started somewhere in end of May, 2007. I was in Hyderabad for my internship. Hyderabad has a very good superbike scene. I got to see a few GSXR1000s, Hayabusas and my favourite a 2006 R1 Camel Edition. Before this I mostly dreamed about supercars. I knew all their 0-100 timings, BHP figures etc etc. I had been riding for quite sometime by then but never kind of realised that I was a biker or something.

After this Hyderabad stint, I started following more and more superbikes. My favourite was the R1 and I still feel, it was the bike that started it all for me. I would read Litre class comparos all day. Would feel disappointed seeing R1 loose the tests. Nevertheless this love for the R1 kept on increasing. Then came 2009, new crossplane R1 was launched and the first review out by the MCN chose it as the winner. I was over the moon. Although I still preferred the look of 2008 version. For me it was one of the best looking R1s. Over the years came the BMWS1000RR and completely blew everybody including me and I started lusting for it. Fireblade stood the test of time and even after years of getting launched, still kept getting good results in every test and gained my respect.

I got married and got a car and my riding became limited. This actually made me yearn for it even more. I would literally find excuses to ride and really missed it. Slowly got my wife comfortable with it and got her involved a bit, but only a bit. Delhi’s pollution and climate does not make it easy. I kept on slowly building my gear collection step by step hoping for a track day someday.

Somewhere in this dream of R1, I would realise I was not getting closer to it. Every year we would hope in the budget that our government would reduce the customs and these bikes would become more affordable. But on the other hand, they kept on becoming more expensive. Eg. Fireblade was launched in India at 13.5 Ex-showroom, today it is nearly 16 Ex-showroom without a model change. I would get restless and even the thought that I might never be able to make it came often. I was not saving either too. Honestly the target seemed so big, that I couldn’t even start.

Somewhere in 2013 my friend got a Ninja 650 and I got a chance to ride it. That was a very crucial moment as I realised how powerful even 72 horses can be on a bike. Ninja 650 almost scared me and made me realise that I actually didn’t need an R1. During this time some meaningful discussions happened with friends and I started tilting towards 600s and they felt more approachable as well. During this time frame Honda showcased CBR650F in the Autoexpo. After some thinking I realised this bike ticked all the boxes for me.

Then started an year long search/research of nearly all the reviews/impressions on the internet. First there were not many good one’s available as the bike was only available in Thailand. Around July last year the bike was launched in US and the Europe and then some decent reviews started flowing in. Most of them were positive and the bike felt perfect for my needs and wants too. Then the painful wait for the India launch started. I had opened an recurring deposit for the downpayment for 1 year and by April I had my downpayment ready. After that it became even more painful to wait.

So to pass time I went for a few test rides. Since, now I was in a market for a super bike, I thought why not use this moment to feel special and ride a few other nice bikes too.

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First one was the Z800. It was my first inline 4 and I was really looking forward to it and boy did it blew my mind. Before writing my impressions, let me get this out first. I have been riding 2 wheelers for around 17 years and I think I should be in 6 figures in terms of Kms done on them. But my experience on bigger bikes was still non existent. I mean no matter how many years you keep reading about these things, how many online videos you see on the internet about their acceleration, nothing prepares you for the real deal. These test rides were mostly very short and I was mostly scared and very careful and too mesmerised with these bikes. Still will try to write what I could feel.

Z800:
Unbelievable smooth engine.
There is so much torque and because of short gearing, from the 3rd gear onwards every gear felt the same to me. Even the 6th gear felt to have as much punch as the 3rd.
90Km/hr never felt this scary on a bike. I mean the throttle response, the torque available literally made even 90-100 scary.
I wanted to ride this bike fast as I wanted to judge the wind blast. I only got one opportunity to open its throttle. I was on 90 in 6th gear, I just opened the throttle, looked up, looked back down and I was at 150. Holly Cow, I chopped the throttle of and that was it. After that I rode very slowly back to the showroom. I was smitten.
The only problem was I didn’t want a naked bike. Many many discussion with more experienced friends concluded that on a naked bike because of wind blast the sense of speed becomes much higher. It is safer as you would ride slower, but on the day when you want to enjoy speed it will be a challenge.

If Honda goofed up with the pricing of CBR, I would have considered Z800 again.

Ducati 899 Panigale:
Panigale was not a planned test ride. I was not even considering it. Some friends wanted to test ride the hyper motard and were going to the Ducati showroom so I also tagged along. Everybody knows Ducati’s are gorgeous. But boy when I first saw the Panigale in real life, I almost went week on my knees and literally wanted to kiss it. It is drop dead gorgeous. Material finishes are exquisite and everything feels like art. This is one bike which you can buy on looks alone, trust me. Everything on the road stops and just keeps on staring at this thing. The test ride was very short and I hardly could make anything out of it.

The riding position was not that bad. It was sporty, but the reach to the bars was short hence kind of felt really nice. Seat height was very uncomfortable for me. Literally had take half of my butt out on side to put one feet on the ground.
I rode it in the Sport mode and it felt very docile, almost slow like. Probably because the power is really on the top end or throttle sensitivity was toned down, I mean this bike didn’t scare me which I was not expecting.
This bike gives a new meaning to heating up. After the ride I just idled it for 2 mins till my friend clicked my picture on it. I could honestly feel how a chicken feels inside a tandoor.

It was out of my budget and after sales is also considered to be on the higher side. Honestly it did screw my loyalties for a week though. Riding it would be like dating the hottest chick in town. Also I did not become a convert to its exhaust. I was still an inline 4 exhaust loving guy.

Triumph Daytona:
Before triumph came to India and before I started planning for CBR650F there was a phase of around 6 months when I really wanted to get this bike. After hearing triumph’s India plans and expected price for this, I was really considering the Daytona. The actual price did disappoint a bit but the bike didn’t disappoint any bit. This was also hot on my list and if life had no responsibilities, my money would have gone this way.

  • Very smooth engine
  • Wicked Intake growl
  • Quite aggressive seating and stiff suspension
  • Felt light and flickable
  • Decently loud even in the stock form

The only thing why I didn’t get the daytona was that at 12.2 on road it was a very uncomfortable stretch for me. Secondly the riding position was quite aggressive and a pillion wouldn’t be very welcome. For a married men, if buying a high dollar powerful bike is not selfish enough, buying one where your wife would not be able to sit only, is definitely heading towards divorce. I did not want a divorce.

2006 Firebalde:
During this time I got to ride one of my friends 2006 fireblade and the word scary got a new definition. Its riding position was even more extreme than the daytona. It felt so powerful that even looking at the throttle scared me. One of the problem with us guys riding smaller bikes is that we aren’t used to going smoothly with throttle. At least I was not. Everytime I would want a move on, I would grab a handful of throttle on my Karizma to do the job. This tendency was creating a lot of trouble for me with these bikes especially on the blade. I mean the throttle response is so sharp and resultant push is so big that the time between you looking ahead and you being there is very less. This was my first 1000 and boy it was so scary and yet so desirable. I mean if I had the money I would still get the new blade. Mid life crisis? Stress? Tension? This thing will blew everything away and replace it with only thing. FEAR. Beautiful Bike.

So now I will come to the CBR650F. I was constantly in touch with the dealer and every hour after the month of June felt like eternity. Then was the confusion on the price and anxiety levels were really running high. At the start of July the dealer told me that the bike will get launched in the first week of August and they might take Pre-bookings. Around 20th July bookings opening new became hot on the internet and I called him again. He said they will start the pre-bookings from 23rd July. Since I was going to my hometown on 23rd, he said I can give my cheque on the 22nd. On 22nd I gave a cheque of 50K for the booking. On 4th August the bike was launched with an ex showroom of 7.3. Honestly I wanted the price to not exceed 7.5 on road but considering the option this still felt like the best bet. On 5th August I went to him and he had the bike on display. I asked for a test ride. The bike was for test ride only, but it was not yet registered or insured so he was apprehensive. Some pestering later he agreed and I got a short test drive. Like the bike and started the loan process. The loan process took some time because of some confusion and eventually I got the delivery on 19th August making my bike the first delivery in North India and 4th in country.

Rider

Overall I had a good experience with the dealer. During the entire discussion process he was able to instil confidence in me for Honda as a brand, their servicing capabilities, spare stock and after sales costs of the bike. After the delivery I took the bike to them for getting Rim Tapes and Tank Pad installed and I must say the way they handled the bike was very good. Every possible step was taken to handle it with care and all the job done with great quality. Their service staff also comes across as well trained and educated and are able to handle customer well. Since this Wings dealer only deals with super bikes they treat you like that only.

I have done nearly 550 Kms till now and except for one thing I am pretty happy with the bike. I think this was the right choice for me considering the kind of riding I do. You can do occasional long distances, city riding and an occasional track day will also not be problem. Plus you can take your wife and daughter as well for that evening ice cream close by, if you want.

Here are my first impressions:
Likes

  1. The riding position is a very good mix of sporty and not so extreme. I think it is very close to a CBR210R riding position. The seat is wide and comfortable. Even for the pillion the seat is no less comfortable than a Karizma. Rather my wife said she liked this over the Karizmas.
  2. The bike has ample amount of torque low down and does not need working the gearbox that much even in our traffic infested cities. It feels very comfortable picking from 40-50 KMPH even in the top gear and most of the times I still keep shifting up from 6th.
  3. The bikes feels light on its feet and very easy to change lanes. Feels stable at twisties also.
  4. The power is linear and not abrupt and the bike feels happy doing 120-130 all day long.
  5. I have not felt a lot of wind even though the stock screen is quite low.
  6. Paint quality and fit and finish feels really good. The white is metallic white and really shines under light.
  7. Even though the tyres are touring oriented but from our Indian standards feel quite sticky and I have already started getting comfortable doing some decent leans.
  8. The Digital display shows some decent information like Average Mileage, Distance to Empty, Instantaneous mileage, 2 trip meters etc.
  9. The suspension although from India standards feel stiff but is not harsh for our roads
  10. Bikes comes with ABS and Honda’s Integrated Chip controlled Security system.
  11. The recommended fuel is 91 Octane (Indian Oil Extra Premium or the likes). No dependency on high octane fuels.
  12. Expected average service cost is between 4-6K.
  13. 180 section rear tire makes it look like a proper super bike from behind. Also if you want to get fancy, some nice sticky options available.
  14. The bike has enough performance to keep me happy for coming few years. The rush of acceleration, the feeling of torque and the effortless way in which she can gain and carry speeds is addictive.

Dislikes

  1. Vibrations – After the Z800 experience I really expected an inline 4 to completely devoid of any vibrations. Not that this bike is buzzy all throughout but it does has some vibrations under some situations. The vibrations are mostly off throttle and that too during certain RPMs and in certain gears. On the throttle there are hardly any vibrations and engine feels smooth. Although as I have put some KMs, it seems the vibrations have reduced. I am also used to it more and hence don’t find them that obtrusive. Plus it is quite possible I was not riding it the right way which I am getting a hang of now. So things have improved here.
  2. Although the gear box is very smooth and crisp but somehow I feel it does not like lazy shifts. It wants you to shift fast else sometimes feels clunky. Don’t know if it is with this bike only or is the same with other powerful bikes as well.
  3. Sometimes I feel there is too much torque low down like in the Z800. It kinds of stops you to enjoy the revs. I rode my friends 2004 Kawasaki 636 which has a very top end oriented power band. Felt really nice revving it and felt smoother at our city speeds. In the CBR because of higher torque sometimes the sense of speed is higher and in our city traffic throttle on and off can be sometimes jerky if not done right.
  4. I really miss a gear indicator in the bike.

Overall I feel this is a very good upgrade albeit a slightly higher priced one. I still believe Ninja 650 provides the most bang for the buck.

Overall Damages: 🙂
Ex Showroom – 7,30,000
Zero Dep Insurance – 14,652
Registration – Around 55K
Total – Around 7,99,000

My Riding Gear:

  1. DSG Maze Riding Jacket and Dainese Air-3 Textile Riding Jacket
  2. Vega Helmet and Bell Vortex Helmet
  3. Alpinestar SMX2 and Dainese Veloce Gloves
  4. Dainese New drake air textile pants
  5. Alpinestar SMX5 boots

Changes/Accessories:

  1. Saree Guard – Removed
  2. HRC Tank Pad – Done
  3. Red Rim tapes – Done
  4. 3M paint protection film – Done on few parts
  5. Yoshimura Fender Eliminator – Planned
  6. R&G Frame Sliders – Planned
  7. R&G Radiator Guard – Planned
  8. Akprapovic Exhaust – Planned sometime later

Side_Shot

More pics here ….. 🙂

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