At first glance, everything seems to be normal with the Honda CB 650 R Neo Sports Café, but that changes on closer inspection. Compared to the competition, the retro bike with the new in the name is more expensive, but also more powerful.
The first lap around the retro bike is very satisfying: it looks really great. The colour combination in black with the coffee-brown elements is already good, but the howler (also in the figurative sense? We test afterwards) is the simply ingenious four-in-one exhaust system. This is what people used to wear, and the enthusiasm has not substbonstited to this day. The experienced workmanship and expensive details such as the Metzeler Roadtec tyres delight the biker anyway.
But what kind of bike is that? The Kawasaki Z 650, Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 or the Yamaha MT-07 immediately come into your head as competitors, the latter being the orderer of the brand. But somehow the whole thing doesn't fit. Compared to the competition, the Honda is about 1,000 euros more expensive than the competition at 7,675, which is an announcement. For this you get twice 20 packed, namely 20 extra hp (super), but also 20 kilos plus (not quite so great).
The rest is rather standard with Naked Bikes: By nature no wind protection, so rather not suitable for long distances. What I have noticed in many test machines lately: Obviously Naked Bikes are considered ideal single motorcycles, because both the seat and the knee angle of the rear seats are suboptimal, to put it mildly. It is 95 hp from a four-cylinder engine with 650 cubic centimeters. This is obvious, as it is suspected of having to deal with a rotary organ, especially since the maximum power is at a sporty 12,000 revolutions.
Let's go now, enough of the theory.
At the start, the key has to be turned over quite conventionally. Once the start button is pressed, in case the view of the very modern and chic looking display. At the same time, the turbine-like sound of the engine is noticeable, which appears louder than usual due to the four-in-one.
To anticipate this part of the test: The display is difficult to read even in normal sunlight, and parts of the handlebar fastening are reflected in the shiny surface. If you drive in the rain, the readability drops to near zero.
It's funny that Honda can be caught on such beginner's mistakes, because the rest of the bike is typical Honda: workmanship super, comfort at normal level, surprising here is nothing. Honda's own harmony also radiates the CB 650 R Neo Sports Café, both when driving and operating. It does not present anyone with problems or unexpected reactions.
Two things, however, should be known. We arrived for the test in pairs, and are further apart than usual with a concise detail: While Dietmar found the constantly concise sound of the four-in-one system great, he gets on my nerves after only 15 minutes. I find the noise rather roaring. This is a matter of taste, but pay attention to it during the test drive.
The second concerns the characteristics of the engine. It is clear that with 650 cubic meters you can expect no torque mountains. But there is no feeling here. For Harley drivers, who basically get along with the first and sixth gears, this is nothing here. The four-cylinder does not take low speeds badly as a typical representative of its kind - but retaliates with a performance similar to that of a sit-on mower. At least up to 6,000 revolutions. In addition, the Honda is catching up with everything that was missing from the 5,999 previous turns. Now also use vibrations that are not perceived by most as annoying. The Honda CB 650 R Neo Sports Café storms upstairs as if there was no tomorrow.
Pleasant, but a mid-range motorcycle with such a sharp design would not have been expected with the usual all-rounders of the Japanese. The short-translated gearbox fits this. Since the forward urge always comes from the speed, it would have to be switched crisply and precisely, which is the case. For this purpose, the Honda is nicely manoeuvrable, which is underlined by the slightly forward tilted seating position.
One thing to note: Since the performance comes quite abruptly, Honda agreed the traction control very clearly: If the rear wheel is twisted, the control locks down the performance extremely strongly.
So what is the Honda CB 650 R Neo Sports Café? Chic, not cheap, entry-level (gives the A2 version with 48 hp) and otherwise a typical Naked Bike. A high-quality and surprise-free Honda, too - if it weren't for this rotary organ character that sets it apart from its competitors.
Do you like that? Then buy, otherwise not.
Our thanks for the test bike goes to Motofun in Kaltenkirchen.