Honda have announced two new colour options for the CB650R in 2023, so I thought I’d cover those and take a look at the CB650R, versus the new Hornet 750, as I think there’s some overlap, which leaves me asking… which is better, and do we really need both?
Anyway those new CB650R colours are a Matt Gunpowder Black Metallic, and Matt Dim Gray Metallic, joining the Candy Chromosphere Red and Mat Jeans Blue Metallic. So at least someone had some fun naming those colours!
With that paint confined to just the tank, this news probably isn’t earth shattering for anyone, unless they really like the totally blacked out streetfighter look, which the Gunpowder now offers, and I will say looks pretty good with a host of the accessories fitted.
But onto the comparison… let’s throw some shade.
Now for most parts of the world, these bikes sit on even footing in so far as being in a very similar class, with the CB650R being a more premium neo-retro that also runs a four-cylinder, while the Hornet 750 adopts a 750 parallel twin – 270 degree sure – but hardly a traditional Hornet powerplant and seems a more bargain orientated choice.
Does that make the Hornet the Camry of the motorcycling world? I’m not sure, but it’s just my take that the Hornet doesn’t stack up that well in this comparison in the styling department, although the bike is miles better in black.
Now first up, engines, the CB650R runs the 649 cc in-line four-cylinder with very attractively displayed headers, a slightly higher compression ratio of 11.6:1 and boasting 70 kW at 12,000 rpm, with 63 newton-metres of torque at 9500 rpm. So fairly peaky for max power, but being a four that’s part and parcel.
The Hornet runs a 755 cc OHC 270 degree crank parallel twin, at 11:1 compression, so the more affordable engine to produce, and probably service being fair, but also a layout that is frequently criticised for being boring.
I’d say the 270 crank offsets that, being the best of the parallel twins, but I’d probably have said a four has a bit more wow factor, as parallel twins become the most common engine type. The Hornet also only offers 67.5 kW but bumps torque up to 75 Nm, with both peaking much lower in the rev range.
The CB650R does show it’s age as a continuing model though, in running an LCD display, with the HSTC, or the Honda Torque Control system, where the Hornet 750 receives three rider modes, three engine power modes, engine brake settings, HSTC, and wheelie control, for a much more nuanced level of rider aides when it comes to intervention.
On the chassis side of things both run a steel diamond frame, with Showa Separate Function Big Piston USD forks fitted, and a monoshock with 10-step preload adjustment for the CB and only five for the Hornet. Wheels are 17 inch of course, but while both run the fairly generic 120/70 front, the CB650R gets a 180/55 rear to the Hornet’s 160/60.
Both bikes run Nissin radial mount four-pot calipers on the front, with the CB650R featuring 310 mm rotors to the 296 mm units on the Hornet, while the 240 mm rear rotor and single-piston caliper is a wash.
When it comes to ergonomics the CB650R runs a taller seat height at 810 mm and weighs in at a heftier 202.5 kg, although ground clearance is also a little more generous at 150 mm.
The Hornet shines in this area with a lower and more accessible 795 mm seat height, lighter 190 kg weight, but slightly less ground clearance.