Recently, we here at Motorcycle.com brought you one of our biggest tests to date, in the form of our 2014 Middleweight Mash-Up Six-Way Shootout. In it, we wrangled six bikes with minimal  or non-existant fairings, ranging in displacement from 471cc (Honda CB500F) to 690cc (KTM 690 Duke) and put them to the test.

However, there was one bike in the mix that arguably didn’t belong. The Kawasaki Ninja 650, with its fully-faired bodywork was the odd man out – the Versys would’ve been a better fit, but Kawi had an extensively revised Versys – two of them, actually – in its pipeline. Sure, the Ninja’s engine was ripe for the party, but it wore too many clothes. And besides, taking it out would have given poor Burnsie one less motorcycle to write about – a welcome gift in the internet age of get-it-to-me-yesterday deadlines.

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This got us thinking: not every rider out there wants a naked bike. Some would prefer the added wind protection offered by more substantial bodywork and a windscreen. So we invited the Ninja 650 back to play, and this time brought along some more appropriately clothed friends, in the form of Yamaha’s FZ6R and Honda’s new CBR650F.

Something To Consider

Whether any of these three motorcycles is for you is obviously a personal decision, and price will likely be a significant factor in your choice. At $7,199, the Ninja 650 is the least expensive bike here. Add ABS, like on our tester, and the price rises to $7,599. Still lower than the rest. Meanwhile, the Yamaha comes in at $7,790, and ABS isn’t even available as an option. Then comes the Honda. At $8,499 ($8,999 with ABS), it’s the most expensive of the bunch.

2014 Middleweight Mash-Up Six-Way Shootout! + Video

Judged on price alone, the Kawasaki makes a strong case for itself. Then again, if wind protection isn’t as big a concern, $6,990 for a Yamaha FZ-07 may be even more attractive than our trio here. But that’s a discussion for another time …

Looking for an intermediate-level bike to commute and play on the weekends, but prefer full fairings and more wind protection? Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha have something for you.

Looking for an intermediate-level bike to commute and play on the weekends, but prefer full fairings and more wind protection? Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha have something for you.

Long-time readers may remember a similar test we did in 2010, pitting the Kawasaki and Yamaha against the now-discontinued Suzuki GSX650F (if not, you can read about it here). Little has changed with the Yamaha since then, it receiving only Bold New Graphics, while the Kawasaki got a complete facelift, with new frame, bodywork, instruments and suspension changes. The engine is the same, but internal tweaks give it more midrange and better fuel economy than before. In 2010 we called the Suzuki portly and just a tad confusing, as it didn’t appeal to either new or experienced riders. With the Honda, we expect a more clearly defined purpose.

Coming Back Around

It’s been more than four years since that shootout, so if you need a refresher on the Yamaha, check out the link above. You can also click the above links for info on the Kawasaki, but click here to read about the latest version of the Ninja 650. Being a new bike, the Honda CBR650F may be relatively fresh in the minds of our readers. If not, Evans’ story above will get you up to speed.

The dyno chart shows the twin-cylinder Kawasaki and four-cylinder Honda, both with 650cc, are neck and neck down low and in the midrange, with the Kawi even jumping ahead around 7000 rpm. The Honda’s ability to rev higher ultimately gives it the peak-power advantage. The graph doesn’t look favorable for the smaller,  600cc Yamaha, but its well-chosen gearing makes it difficult to perceive any real power deficit in the real world.

The dyno chart shows the twin-cylinder Kawasaki and four-cylinder Honda, both with 650cc, are neck and neck down low and in the midrange, with the Kawi even jumping ahead around 7000 rpm. The Honda’s ability to rev higher ultimately gives it the peak-power advantage. The graph doesn’t look favorable for the smaller, 600cc Yamaha, but its well-chosen gearing makes it difficult to perceive any real power deficit in the real world.

To begin this comparison, as usual we start with the engines. Both the Kawasaki and Honda are liquid-cooled, inline 649cc units. The big difference is the Ninja makes due with two cylinders, while the Honda has four. Meanwhile, the Yamaha’s 600cc inline-Four is borrowed from the previous generation R6 sportbike, circa 2003-2005. The engine has been retuned for better midrange and more streetable power.

2014 Honda CBR650F First Ride Review

After running all three bikes on the Dynojet dyno at CM Motorsports, the Honda pumped out 76.6 hp at 10,900 rpm and 41.8 lb-ft. at 8900 rpm. The Kawasaki and Yamaha were close on power but trailed behind the Honda. The Ninja peaked at 64.5 hp at 8900 rpm and 43.0 lb-ft. at 7100, while the Yamaha made 65.4 hp at 9800 rpm and 38.5 lb-ft. at 8400 rpm.

Honda’s all-new CBR650F also comes with an all-new engine. The “CB400F-inspired header design looks sexy, what little of it is seen,” says Duke. It put out the most power in this test but emits an annoying buzz through the bars. Still, it returned 42.5 mpg average during our testing, better than the 41.8 mpg of the Kawasaki and 38.4 mpg of the Yamaha.

Honda’s all-new CBR650F also comes with an all-new engine. The “CB400F-inspired header design looks sexy, what little of it is seen,” says Duke. It put out the most power in this test but emits an annoying buzz through the bars. Still, it returned 42.5 mpg average during our testing, better than the 41.8 mpg of the Kawasaki and 38.4 mpg of the Yamaha.

On the road, differences between the three are negligible, at least in terms of power. However, what surprised us was the amount of vibration coming from the 650F. “The Honda’s inline-Four is ridiculously buzzy,” says Mismatched Glove Editor, Tom Roderick. “If it’s not numbing my hands, it’s numbing my testicles.” Tom can sometimes get carried away when talking about his nether regions, but we all agreed the Honda’s engine produces the most vibes through the bars. This is especially felt at 80 mph in sixth gear. Back it down a touch and the buzz becomes bearable. The Honda also suffers from slightly abrupt off/on throttle fueling, which we found annoying.

In stark contrast, the Ninja, and especially the Yamaha, engines are silky smooth. With the most torque available, and offered at lower engine speeds than the Fours, the Kawasaki’s 650 Twin had pleasurable grunt at the bottom end and midrange, something we appreciated on corner exits. And although “the Ninja’s parallel-Twin engine sounds painfully pedestrian at idle,” says E-i-C Duke, “it blats a nice baritone honk when wound out.”

The Kawasaki’s 649cc Twin more than holds its own against the four-cylinder competition. Its torque figure is tops of the bunch, and when the Twin starts singing, she lets out a pleasing exhaust note. The steel-tube swingarm design is a nice touch.

The Kawasaki’s 649cc Twin more than holds its own against the four-cylinder competition. Its torque figure is tops of the bunch, and when the Twin starts singing, she lets out a pleasing exhaust note. The steel-tube swingarm design is a nice touch.

The FZ6R’s distinctive four-cylinder wail is muffled by the large underslung exhaust, which Duke labeled the ugliest of the test. None of that matters though, because the 600cc mill reminds everyone of its supersport roots every chance it gets. Tom noted that the “FZ’s engine definitely punches above its weight … in fact, it hung with the torquier Ninja during a top gear roll-on contest.” In addition, it’s incredibly smooth as well. No matter the road or engine speed, hardly a buzz is felt through the bars or rubber-cushioned pegs.

Kawasaki Ninja 650 vs. Suzuki GSX650F vs. Yamaha FZ6R

With its unexpectedly strong performance and negligible vibes, the FZ6R, the oldest bike in this test, easily won the Engine category of the MO ScoreCard, besting the second place Ninja by almost four percentage points. The Honda, docked points for its vibration, brings up the rear, more than 10 percentage points adrift, which was a big surprise to us. The low-key FZ6R kinda got lost on our radar screens over the years, but it’s a seriously impressive engine for its intended purpose.

More Surprises

The Yamaha isn’t done impressing us in this test. In the handling department, we were pleasantly surprised at how well it navigated the twisty stuff. It flicks from side to side fluidly and quickly, a trait Duke credits to the 160-series rear Dunlop Roadsmart, 20mm narrower than the CBR’s Dunlop D222s. The FZ’s upright bars are placed nicely to provide good leverage, too.

Nicely positioned bars and a 160-series rear tire help earn the FZ6R our praise for its agility in this trio. However, from this angle, that bulbous underslung exhaust is a real eyesore.

Nicely positioned bars and a 160-series rear tire help earn the FZ6R our praise for its agility in this trio. However, from this angle, that bulbous underslung exhaust is a real eyesore.

The suspension is damped on the soft side, and other than rear preload, there’s not much you can do about it. It dives on the brakes and, if it had more grunt, would squat on acceleration. However, both front and rear are balanced in their damping, so at least both ends travel through their stroke in harmony, making it easier to predict what they will do next.

An identical 160mm Roadsmart graces the Kawasaki’s rear, too, but we weren’t quite as enthusiastic about the Ninja’s handling. The upright handlebars place the rider’s upper body nice and tall, and its rearset pegs are the last to drag of the trio. However, the “Ninja 650 suffers an identity crisis,” says Tom.

The Kawasaki is fitted with a 160/60-17 Dunlop Roadsmart rear like the Yamaha, and while its high pegs make it more difficult to drag, the awkward bar placement contributes to its deficiency of front-end feel.

The Kawasaki is fitted with a 160/60-17 Dunlop Roadsmart rear like the Yamaha, and while its high pegs make it more difficult to drag, the awkward bar placement contributes to its deficiency of front-end feel.

“Its tall, pull-back handlebars put a rider’s torso in a very comfortable, upright riding position,” says Roderick, “but the high-placed footpegs force a severe leg bend with a short seat-to-footpeg distance. The higher footpegs provide plenty of ground clearance, but the front end is vague because there’s no weight over the wheel due to the handlebars. So, the Ninja is neither sporty like the Honda nor comfy like the Yamaha.” Duke also noted the Ninja’s bar bend “felt funky” in his hands, but he noted that switching to a different bar is an easy fix.

The Honda, meanwhile, feels the most sporty of the group, its bars the lowest here and suspension the firmest. Sit on it, and the rider feels like they’re sitting atop the motorcycle rather than in it. The feeling mimics that of the CBR600RR. Unlike the 600RR, though, the 650F’s clip-ons are placed above the triple clamp, giving the rider a more upright position in relation. The tradeoff for having the lowest bar placement is having excellent communication with the front tire.

The most sporty riding position of the three, the CBR650F offers great front end feel. Its agility is hampered slightly by its 180/55-17 Dunlop (all three wear 120/70-17 fronts).

The most sporty riding position of the three, the CBR650F offers great front end feel. Its agility is hampered slightly by its 180/55-17 Dunlop (all three wear 120/70-17 fronts).

Unlike the other two, the 650F wears a rear 180-series Dunlop D222. We had no complaints about grip levels from all three bikes, nor any major handling complaints, but Duke did have a quibble with the Honda’s flickability. “It feels the least agile in this group,” he says. “I’d put part or most of the blame on its 180mm rear tire, which dulls responses at the bars compared to the skinnier 160s on the Ninja and 6R.”

2009 Yamaha FZ6R Review

Ultimately, the extra effort to flick the Honda around, and its least amount of cornering clearance,  hurt its Handling score on the ScoreCard, with its 83.3% exactly five percentage points behind the Yamaha. The FZ’s margin of victory in this category was definitely unexpected. Meanwhile, the Kawasaki loses out, scoring 77.5% due to the negligible front-end feedback we felt.

Details like the stylized steel frame and aluminum swingarm (the only one of the group) are nice touches on the Honda, as is the clever exhaust cover hiding what would otherwise be an exposed (and ugly) exhaust canister.

Details like the stylized steel frame and aluminum swingarm (the only one of the group) are nice touches on the Honda, as is the clever exhaust cover hiding what would otherwise be an exposed (and ugly) exhaust canister.

It’s not all doom and gloom for the Honda. In fact, we praised it for having the best brakes of the bunch, with Kevin saying, “the brake package is of humble specifications, but it’s my favorite set of binders in this group. They’re not as powerful as high-end sets, but they offer a firm lever and highly predictable responses.” The Yamaha’s binders are a close second in terms of stopping power amongst all three testers, and the trio also agreed the brakes on the Ninja 650 were the least impressive here. It “takes a bunch more squeeze [on the Kawasaki] to get the same stopping results from the front brake,” says Tom.

We also admired the attention to detail Honda put in to the 650F. “The CBR looks decidedly upscale in this comparo, with a higher level of finish quality,” Duke says. “Like the others, the Honda uses cost-effective steel for its frame material, but its casting is contoured like a pricier aluminum frame that looks better than the steel tubes of the others. And its aluminum swingarm is much prettier than the steel swingers in this group, especially the FZ6R’s dated box-section design.”

The Daily Grind

While fun, exploring the performance potential of each bike in the canyons is but one part of the job. As all three bikes are meant to do a little bit of everything, how they perform during everyday tasks is equally important. Around town and on the highway, the upright riding position of the Kawasaki is enjoyable. Its windscreen, too, does the best job of deflecting wind up, over and around a rider’s chest.

The Ninja is a very favorable motorcycle from the waist up. The bars place you virtually upright, and decent wind deflection is given from the screen. However, the high pegs present a tight squeeze for those with long legs.

The Ninja is a very favorable motorcycle from the waist up. The bars place you virtually upright, and decent wind deflection is given from the screen. However, the high pegs present a tight squeeze for those with long legs.

However, the Ninja’s relatively rear-set pegs “compromise the amount of legroom for a rider,” says Kevin. It’s a complaint we’ve had about the Ninja 650 for some time, and if the shorties of the MO staff with 30-inch inseams are saying as much, those with longer legs will certainly be feeling the crunch after a short amount of time.

The Honda offers a much more relaxed knee bend, despite its sporty intentions, with Tom mentioning, “It may have the lowest bars, but it also has the most legroom.” Kevin and Tom also praised the Honda’s flat seat as being their most comfortable. However, the forward-most seating position of the Honda puts a mild strain on the wrists after a while. Combined with the buzzy engine that put some testers hands to sleep after an hour of freeway riding, and the CBR650F is not our choice of the trio to burn a lot of miles. YMMV, depending on your sensitivity to vibration.

The forward tilt of the Honda’s rider is plain to see, though the increased legroom might be less noticeable.

The forward tilt of the Honda’s rider is plain to see, though the increased legroom might be less noticeable.

In case you haven’t noticed the trend by now, the Yamaha FZ6R is the Goldilocks of this test, with its features rated as just right by our testers. The Yamaha hits the mark in the ergo department, striking a perfect balance between the cramped legroom of the Kawi and the sportbike tilt of the Honda. It also features my favorite saddle of the three, its thick cushioning best supporting my tush for long freeway drones. It also has the only adjustable seat; a reversible platform underneath allows it to raise 20mm from its standard 30.9-inch perch.

Meanwhile, the FZ6R strikes a nice balance between the Kawasaki and the Honda, its rider only leaning slightly forward, knees not quite as bent as on the Ninja.

Meanwhile, the FZ6R strikes a nice balance between the Kawasaki and the Honda, its rider only leaning slightly forward, knees not quite as bent as on the Ninja.

Age And Experience …

112714-2015-yamaha-Faired650s-FZ6R-Detail-4728112714-2014-kawasaki-Faired650s-Ninja650-Detail-4638112714-2015-honda-Faired650s-CBR650F-Detail-4732

All three gauge clusters are relatively sparse, with trip computers, fuel gauges and clocks as their only highlights – no gear-position indicators seems like an oversight. Both the Yamaha (top) and Kawasaki (middle) employ analog tachs, while the Honda (bottom) uses a digital unit. All three use digital speedos.

When it comes down to it, the Yamaha FZ6R is the winner of this test, but by the narrowest of margins over the Honda – by 0.23%, to be exact. Despite being the oldest bike here, the FZ6R won six categories of the ScoreCard: Engine, Transmission, Handling, Suspension, Ergos/Comfort and Grin Factor. The Honda won three categories by significant margin over the others – Cool Factor, Quality/Fit/Finish and Brakes – clawing back major ground in the overall rankings.

The perfect bike for you is ultimately your choice, and, of this trio, pricing might be a deciding factor. At $7,599, even with ABS, the Kawasaki Ninja 650 is still the least expensive motorcycle here. The 649cc Twin is a strong choice with lots of aftermarket support, and the chassis is a willing dance partner. All the issues we mentioned can be remedied via the aftermarket, too. “When it comes to best bang for your buck,” Tom notes, “the Ninja holds a clear advantage.”

Though it’s the most expensive bike here by a large margin, the Honda CBR650F exudes the typical Honda quality we’ve come to expect. Not to mention it looks the best of the bunch when viewed up close. Without having the Kawi and Yamaha to ride side-by-side, the handling differences likely wouldn’t register and if you’re worried about the forward lean, aftermarket solutions should be available in no time. “The CBR650F looks the most expensive because it is,” Kevin says. “If it was priced in line with its rivals, I’d give it the class win. If dollars are critical to your buying equation, the 650F’s vibration levels loom larger.”

While the Kawasaki received a significant update a few years ago, and the all-new Honda entered the scene, the aging Yamaha FZ6R is still our choice as the bike to have in the intermediate fully-faired sporty bike category.

While the Kawasaki received a significant update a few years ago, and the all-new Honda entered the scene, the aging Yamaha FZ6R is still our choice as the bike to have in the intermediate fully-faired sporty bike category.

That leaves the Yamaha FZ6R. Winner of this test in 2010, and the champ of this comparison, you could say the FZ6R has aged gracefully. Its perfect combination of power, handling, practicality and user-friendliness made it a hard combo to beat four years ago, and it’s still hard to beat today. Granted, its styling could use a little help, but if you’re a believer in function before form, then give the Yamaha serious consideration.

Honda CBR650F
+ Highs

  • Superb fit and finish
  • Great stopping power
  • Best seating position for sporty riding
– Sighs

  • Expensive
  • Engine is buzzy at highway speeds
  • Sporty position isn’t great for commuters
Kawasaki Ninja 650 ABS
+ Highs

  • Cheapest bike here, even with ABS
  • A close second in the aesthetics department
  • Strong aftermarket support
– Sighs

  • Cramped legroom
  • Weak brakes
  • Handling manners could be better
Yamaha FZ6R
+ Highs

  • Best compromise between commuter and canyon carver
  • Smoooooooth engine
  • Most agile bike here
– Sighs

  • ABS isn’t even an option
  • Looks a bit dated
  • Would an FZ-07 be a better buy?
Middleweight Intermediate Sportbike Shootout Scorecard
Category Honda CBR650F Kawasaki Ninja 650 Yamaha FZ6R
Price 84.7% 100% 92.4%
Weight 100% 99.1% 98.1%
lb/hp 100% 83.3% 83.3%
lb/lb-ft 98.2% 100% 88.5%
Engine 78.3% 85.8% 89.25%
Transmission/Clutch 81.7% 83.3% 88.3%
Handling 83.3% 77.5% 88.3%
Brakes 86.7% 69.2% 80.0%
Suspension 76.7% 80.0% 80.8%
Technologies 43.3% 43.3% 36.7%
Instruments 78.3% 81.7% 76.7%
Ergonomics/Comfort 80.0% 65.8% 83.3%
Quality, Fit & Finish 90.0% 81.7% 81.7%
Cool Factor 82.5% 74.2% 70.0%
Grin Factor 76.7% 71.7% 82.5%
Overall Score 81.3% 79.4% 81.5%
Middleweight Intermediate Sportbike Shootout Specs
Honda CBR650F Kawasaki Ninja 650 Yamaha FZ6R
MSRP $8499 (ABS: $8999) $7199 (ABS: $7599) $7,790.00
Engine
Type 649cc liquid-cooled inline-Four 649cc liquid-cooled parallel Twin 600cc liquid-cooled inline-Four
Bore and Stroke 67.0 x 46. mm 83.0 x 60.0mm 65.5 x 44.5mm
Fuel System PGM-FI Programmed Automatic Enrichment Circuit, with 42mm Throttle Bodies EFI, two 38mm throttle bodies Fuel injection
Ignition Digital Digital Digital
Compression Ratio 11.4:1 10.8:1 12.2:1
Valve Train DOHC; 4 valves per cylinder DOHC; 4 valves per cylinder DOHC; 4 valves per cylinder
Emissions EPA, CARB compliant EPA, CARB-compliant EPA, CARB-compliant
Horsepower 76.63 hp @ 10,900 rpm 64.69 @ 8900 rpm 65.35 @ 9800 rpm
Torque 41.81 @ 8900 rpm 43.04 @ 7100 rpm 38.50 @ 8400 rpm
lb/hp 6.02 7.19 7.19
lb/torque 11.03 10.80 12.20
Drive Train
Transmission 6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch 6-speed, multi-plate wet clutch, positive neutral finder 6-speed, multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive Chain Chain Chain
Chassis/Suspension/Brakes
Front Suspension 41mm fork; 4.3 in. travel 41mm fork; 4.9 inches travel 41mm Telescopic fork; 5.1-in travel
Rear Suspension Pro-Link single shock, adjustable for spring preload; 5.0 inches travel Single cantilevered shock; preload adjustable, 5.1 in. travel Single, preload-adjustable shock; 5.1-in travel
Front Brake Dual 320mm wave discs; 2-piston calipers Dual 300mm petal discs, 2-piston calipers Dual 298mm discs, 2-piston calipers
Rear Brake 240mm wave disc; single-piston caliper 220mm petal disc, single-piston caliper 245mm disc, 1-piston caliper
Front Tire 120/70-17 120/70-17 120/70 ZR-17
Rear Tire 180/55-17 160/60-17 160/60 ZR-17
Dimensions
Rake/Trail 25.3° / 3.98 in. (101.3mm) 25° / 4.3 in. (110mm) 26° / 4.1 in. (104mm)
Wheelbase 57.0 in. 55.5 in. 56.7 in.
Seat Height 31.9 in. 31.7 in. 30.9 in.
Curb Weight 461 lb. 465 lb 470 lb.
Fuel Capacity 4.5 gal. 4.2 gal. 4.6 gal.
Tested Fuel Economy 42.5 mpg 41.8 mpg 38.4 mpg
Other
Available Colors Red, Candy Blue, Matte Black Metallic Candy Lime Green / Metallic Flat Spark Black, Metallic Spark Black / Metallic Flat Spark Black, Pearl Flat Stardust White / Metallic Flat Spark Black Rapid Red/Raven
Warranty One year, Transferable, unlimited-mileage limited warranty; extended coverage available with a Honda Protection Plan. One year One year

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  • Motorcycle Extremist

    Every “honest” tester that has ridden the new Honda CBR650F has complained about the excessive buzziness of the engine. What a shame. Painful numb hands and feet are not something I will accept from a bike. Honda really needs to get this issue corrected ASAP. Besides that the bike is really under-performing for the price. What should have been a slam-dunk home-run of a bike for them has turned out to be another dud. And with the historic lineage of this particular model, that’s an even bigger shame.

    • Goose

      I can only go by what I’ve read but the vibration complaints for the CBR650F have been universal. If it is cost driven I’m pretty sure most people would give up other features to have a smooth engine.

      My questions is how does a smart bunch of people like Honda miss something so obvious? I have to assume they have FZ6Rs to use for comparison.

      • Guest

        The same way how Yamaha dropped the ball with the FZ09/MT09s underdamped suspension that is throwing riders off every minor bump, or the bad fuelling or that allocation of money on brilliant torquey engine then had no money to fine tune the chassis around it or provide proper suspension to make it enjoyable. They did budget cuts with the naked bikes and ruined it.
        This 650F was designed by a team of young engineers. Secondly the handlebar buzz has been fixed with heavier bar end weights and grip covers. Some buzzing was pointed out to fairing plastic touching at some point and is a 2 min job to add foam between the gap and fix it.
        The engine isn’t buzzy after 2000 mile run-in. The first few miles, at cold temperatures without proper warm up makes the bike buzzy. Proper warm up is therefore required everytime you set off,

        • Craig Hoffman

          I wonder if a Power Commander and some tuning smooth it out. I have not owned a bike yet that did not benefit from this. They all come lean, which makes them buzz more.

          The Honda would be worth all this if it cost at least a grand less. They are asking an awful lot for it, given the competition in the market. Nice bike though.

          • Anonymous RAW GM

            The problem is, if Yamaha and Kawasaki had to bring an all new bike, it will cost just as much as the Honda. The difference is in the cost of materials today vs the cost of materials 8 years ago. The R&D costs were far less for the other 2 older bikes back then compared to what it is right now wrt inflation. The FZR and N650 are charging a premium for what are almost 10 year old bikes in terms of engine and other mechanicals.

          • Craig Hoffman

            Gotta be a typo. 42mm would be huge for the small cylinders on the 650.

        • Goose

          If what the shy one says is true will MO re-test a CBR650F to see if Honda’s fixes work?

          For the Yamaha, the FZ-09 is what started me wondering about this. Maybe they are just trying so hard to meet impossible deadlines this is just the new normal. As a former BMW owner I’m very much used to the “don’t buy a first year bike” mind set, I’m just surprised to see it affecting Hondas and Yamahas.

          • Anonymous RAW GM

            their first ride reports contradicts the vibration part as someone already mentioned. This is what they said in their First ride report:
            ‘The vibration never really becomes bothersome, and with measured application and timing of throttle roll-on, the abruptness can be ridden around.’

            So i’m really going to guess they had a badly setup bike here.

      • Anonymous RAW GM

        The same way Yamaha dropped the ball on the suspension, fuelling and chassis of the MT/FZ 09 and 07s in order to make them “Affordable”. Hell most owners are now spending $2k worth of mods on their $9k bikes to make it rideable. Anyone over 180lbs with gear is thrown off the bike even over minor bumps. Its a pogo stick on wheels.

        This 650Fs issue is with handlebar buzz below 3k rpm. Heavier bar end weights and grip covers solved them. Total damage? $100. The other buzzes being reported are from fairing contacts and can be fixed by applying foam piece between them. The engine is very smooth above 3k all the way to redline. Improper warm ups also lead to buzzyness.

    • maykilceksin

      well, they were not very honest then. riding a cbr 650f for 18 k km now and also rode all bikes in this comparison.
      cbr650f is not the smoothest of the honda inline fours but never got numb hands even after one day 800 km rides and track days. vibration levels are never bothering too even at speeds over 160 kph for hours.
      kawa feels like a rocking tractor and yammy like a sewing machine. so not sure how come it is found more buzzy here.
      cbr650f handles much more better too, especially with an aftermarket rearset and fueling is top notch as expected from honda.

      and brakes really not good at cbr650f as well but sufficient and superb modulation.

      overall, it is the sportiest of the bunch here.

    • http://www.aliexpress.com/store/203487 cathries
  • Zandit75

    I test rode the FZ’s semi-faired cousin prior to purchasing my 2010 Ninja 650R. While it had plenty of go, and the engine was extremely smooth, the bike was fitted with a centre stand that now looks to have been deleted from the range. I’m glad to see that as it was a dangerous addition. Part of the frame work of the centre stand got in the way of my foot while going for the brake pedal. I thought I was pressing hard, but wasn’t slowing down.
    The Ninja just felt right the moment I sat on it, and I love the torque of the engine.
    I highly recommend getting new handle bars( I went with Sportsbars 3.0 from Ninja650shop.com) and have never looked back. They place you in a far more comfortable and forward position on the bike, and increases your control immensely.
    Great article guys!

  • Old MOron

    As if I didn’t have enough to be thankful for, slept in this morning, then went for a ride. Followed that up with a big, fat late lunch at the in-laws’, now I see that Trizzle has sneaked in a great shootout.

    I was expecting more from the new Honda. But I’m glad to learn that the Yam is aging so well.

  • Jonathan Hatfield

    I had a ’94 Kaw ZX6e that I piped and jetted. It put down 97hp on a DynoJet and had that Ram air intake that really let it breathe when the velocity reached triple digits. That bike would do everything these bikes are supposed to do (commute, carve canyons, freeway, long trips, 2 up, etc…) with ease and it was way more powerful and offered as good or better comfort and wind protection. It’s stock suspension likely wasn’t as good as these bikes, but if someone really wanted to push a bike hard enough to realize that then they should be looking at a different bike, not an all-arounder. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really glad the mfgs. realized that not everyone needs a race-replica if they want a sporty ride. Lots of people have outgrown their immature squid egos and just want a good street bike. I just don’t know if these $8k-$9k bikes are as good a value as my old Kaw was.

  • Anonymous RAW GM

    Some guy on the YT video posted this so i will copy paste it as it resonates my feelings with regards to the new bike:
    “That engine in the 650F is a detuned 600F engine which is a detuned
    engine from the 2007 600RR. But the 650F’s engine has new valves and
    head work done so as to provide torque throughout the revv range unlike
    the RR’s that requires you to get to 10k rpm to get moving on the
    streets. Much more usable power on the 650F. 6th gear pulls from 3k
    rpm to redline effortlessly from as low as 60kmph. The low rpm
    handlebar vibrations were sorted out by using better bar end weights and
    grips covers. Forum users are averaging anywhere between 50-60mpg with
    some hard riding to touring combos.
    0-60 in 3.5 and a 248kmph/155mph
    speedo indicated top end is all i need. Surely won’t be using all that
    power off the track but its nice to know that its there!

    Plus im not sure about the other two but
    the CBR gets HISS, which is a key with built in chip that only starts
    the bike when the transmitter gets the code from it. Its an anti-theft
    device”

    • Kevin Duke

      Sorry, anyone who says a bike with 77 rwhp can go 155 mph isn’t very trustworthy.

      • Anonymous RAW GM

        How about Mahay superbike’s test video on youtube? Speedo indicated 248 kmph. The bike did 258 at redline on my friend’s dyno. The video is also up on YT. Yes i do know dynos don’t have the wind and other rolling resistance but Mehay took a new bike after run-in in its stock form and showed its capable of 248kmph. He also took the standard variant to 233kmph. Both speeds speedo indicated. Assume 10% speedo error thats still nearly 140mph true speed.

        • Kevin Duke

          First off, the Mehay test rider has an appalling disregard for his life and the lives of the traffic around him. Second, I saw the speedo top out around 242 kph, which equals 150 mph. Count on about a 10% speedo error, and you get about 135 mph, which is likely the CBR’s actual top speed. A speedo reading on a dyno means almost nothing about a bike’s top speed.

          • Anonymous RAW GM

            it does tell you where the revv limiter cuts in on the final gear which is 258kmph on this bike. On the streets, the bike may never hit the rev limiter on the 6th cog.
            Thirdly the speedo shows 248kmph which is 154.xx mph.
            Fourthly given that he’s been test riding all the newly launched bikes on the same piece of road, i am going to assume that it is a minimal traffic expressway.

          • Tobias Barzydlo

            Fourthly, have you WATCHED the video? This jackass is lane-splitting at 180+kph and going full-out on the accelerator through sections of road with businesses (and thus potential car entrances into his lane) on both sides!

            If that’s his normal way of riding a bike, I don’t expect him to live out the MONTH. I like going fast, myself, but you have to choose your time and place better than THIS idiot.

          • HHH’s shovel

            thats a one way freeway with 3 foot walls on either sides. He tests all stock new bikes on the same road. He seems to be in full control. Pretty normal for asians. thai guys are crazy like that

          • HHH’s shovel

            that’s Thai guys for you. Its an elevated expressway afaik. No traffic will cut in as long as people stay in their lanes

  • Ron Hayes

    You know you could of added the Hyosung GT 650 to this but the model is old like the FZ.

    • Kevin Duke

      We tried!

    • DickRuble

      Thanks MO for only comparing comparable bikes, for once.. You can test Hyosung against Qlink and other rubbish in a different issue..that I won’t have to read.

  • maykilceksin

    ‘The vibration never really becomes bothersome, and with measured application and timing of throttle roll-on, the abruptness can be ridden around.’
    This is from the first ride report of cbr650f but now the first ride report is contradicting with this comparison. Which one to believe motorcycle.com?
    sorry, but this comparison sounds not so honest to me or subjective especially once you selected yamah fz6r with the tech coming from the decade before as the winner!

    all bikes in this comparison are good bikes IMO but honda has a very clear edge at every department here.

  • SteveSweetz

    I currently ride a CBR500R and the Yamaha FZ-6R would have been my next bike if only they offered with ABS. I test rode one and I loved it, but after having a very positive experience with the ABS on my CBR500R, I will never buy another bike without it.

    It’s especially annoying since they do make ABS for one of the versions of this bike available in Europe: it’s naked variant, the XJ6. Maybe next year, when ABS becomes mandatory in Europe, we’ll finally get ABS as an option here. However, I’m worried that the more likely outcome is that they’ll just kill the bike and not replace it, doubling down on the naked FZ series to fill the middleweight sport role.

    I may end up CBR650F, but just like the guys point out, the seating position is more aggressive than is needed or suited for this bike’s mission in life. It’s bars need to be around 2″ higher.

  • jon wong

    Currently ride a 14 Ninja 650. I have test ridden the FZ6R and just did not find what the test reviewers claimed. The agile feeling was at best average to me. The front end feels so long from the rider’s view imo. A bit vague to me. The Ninja 650’s only real drawback once different and lower handlebars are put on is the top heavy feeling. The engine is very very nice if you can stand some heavy engine braking in the lower 2 gears. Looking at the HP and Torque curve I think I made the right choice choosing Ninja over FZ6R, more of it everywhere where I ride, by the time 8-9k comes around Its too loud for me so I don’t usually rev it that high.

  • Andy C

    When I compared the FZ6R to the Ninja I went with the Kawasaki due to price. And not just MSRP, but the insurance with the twin was significantly lower than the Yamaha’s 4 cylinder. I wonder if the Honda would have higher insurance costs also.
    Something to think about.

    • Anonymous RAW GM

      number of cylinders also matter afaik. Plus most insurance companies have CBR as a high end sportsbike. Just the name CBR gives you higher premium. But you can talk to the company and sort it out. usually its the idiots on computers that put out the rates if you call them.

  • Pablo

    Thank You Motorcycle.com for this review. As a very satisfied owner of a ’10 FZ6R I have always felt my bike thrown to the curb and forgotten by magazines. It’s good to see that sometimes it’s not about being new but being good at it…

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  • Steve Schamp

    Great review as always, now a difficult question to be answered. My local Yamaha shop has the FZ07 at 6990, and a 2013 leftover FZ6R for 6000. Which to pick I ask? What a choice, for me at least, highway riding to work for 20 minutes ultimately makes my decision I guess. Or maybe a fly screen? Too bad screens never get reviewed.