Honda’s CBR650R is an extremely popular motorcycle with both new and experienced riders and has enjoyed great sales success in many markets.
The CBR650R is offered in two versions. A full power version making a claimed 94 horsepower as well as a restricted A2 or LAMS version making a claimed 46-48 horsepower and not exceeding power to weight ratio of 268 horsepower per ton for (A2 without rider) or 200 horsepower per ton (with 90 kg rider LAMS).
In other regions, there might be other versions of the CBR650R with slight variations in restriction/specifications to the Euro A2 and Aus/NZ LAMS models in other.
Typically, learner motorcycles have always had smaller capacity engines making learner-friendly power. Depending on the country you live in the motorcycle you can purchase and ride as a new learner rider will be dictated by specific learner laws
Recently it seems that many countries have universally adopted learner laws that share at least some parity making it much easier for motorcycle manufacturers to provide one or various motorcycles that meet these laws without having to design or spec the same motorcycles for different markets.
In respect of A2/LAMS motorcyclists; they must ride a motorcycle that meets their respective learner laws for at least two years, at which point after completion, said motorcyclists either automatically have their full unrestricted license or must take a further license test to qualify for their unrestricted license allowing riders to then purchase and ride a full power unrestricted motorcycle.
With the above in mind, many new riders now have the choice to either go with a low cc low power (but full power) learner motorcycle or go for a larger engine motorcycle that is restricted. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Honda’s CBR650R restricted A2/LAMS motorcycle would be one of many big engines restricted motorcycle choices and is a choice that many make.
The advantage of buying a restricted large engine motorcycle is that after the two-year probation period you can derestrict the motorcycle to full power with no need to purchase a new motorcycle.
If you went the other route and purchased a smaller engine motorcycle that meets learner laws such as a Ninja 400 or YZF-R3, once your probation period is over there is no derestricted option available for you. If you want a full power large engine motorcycle you must purchase a new one.
This is a dilemma many new motorcyclists face when choosing their first motorcycle
Many full-power big cc motorcycles are tested for their performance but learner motorcycles and A2 or LAMS motorcycles seem to be neglected in this respect by the motorcycle press despite there being huge interest from potential buyers who want to know how fast a restricted learner motorcycle performs in isolation and/or compared to other learner motorcycles whether restricted or full power.
We have already tested the full-power version of the CBR650R HERE.
Restricted A2/LAMS CBR650R Dyno and Engine Performance
The full-power Honda CBR650R produces a claimed 94 horsepower at the crank from its 649 cc inline four-cylinder engine making it an amazingly fast motorcycle that bites on the heels of some Supersport 600 motorcycles.
There have been various modifications to the motorcycle from the factory to ensure that the CBR650R meets the imposed restrictions.
It is not easy to cut the peak horsepower of a motorcycle in half while keeping it rideable and not causing harm to the engine.
Without getting into too many details, to achieve the goal of halving the CBR650R’s power Honda has made it possible primarily by restrictions in the ECU, the Intake, and exhaust that have effectively taken the sting out of the CBR650R’s tale.
The restricted CBR650R produces 39 horsepower at 9500 rpm and a healthy 36 ft/lb at a partly 3500 rpm while the full power CBR650R makes 82 horsepower at 10500 rpm and 44 ft /lb at a much higher 8500 rpm.
Reducing the power of the CBR650R does not mean that the character and delivery will be the same, but half!
Halving the power completely changes the character of the engine from a linear and rev-hungry willing engine to something quite different and alien to the character of an inline-four engine.
Typically motorcycle engines and particularly sportsbike engines thrive on revs, and the more you ask of them the more they generally give and with enthusiasm.
There are exceptions such as Harley Davidsons, which are big cc long-stroke two-cylinder engines that do not really like to go rev beyond 5000 rpm.
This weirdly enough is the same behaviour of the restricted LAMS/A2 CBR650R which also has a power and torque curve shaped in a remarkably similar way, albeit spread out over a wider and higher rpm range. Strange for a mid-sized engine 4-cylinder sportsbike engine,
– A2/LAMS CBR650R – CBR650R
Equally, if you were to look at the power and torque curve of a diesel engine car you would see similarities with the A2/LAMS CBR650R’s power/torque curve shape, though most diesel engines do not rev much beyond 5000-6000 rpm while even the restricted CBR650R revs to beyond 12000 rpm.
If we study the dyno curve it seems that the restricted CB650R makes comparable if not a little more power and torque to the unrestricted version from a little over tick over and up until around 3500 rpm only.
From then onward the restricted CBR650R only builds power very slowly while torque rapidly falls off a cliff.
Pulling away from the lights you would barely know the difference between the restricted and full power version but once you start demanding more speed via the normal delivery method of increasing rpm you quickly realise that the engine has very little to offer comparatively.
The most usable part of the engine really is 3-6000 rpm and where it feels its most responsive. taking the engine further just generally feels like the engine is just making noise rather than propelling you forward whether objectively true or not.
Gear plotted against speed. It is your torque curve represented in each gear.
Thrust/Acceleration is what you feel when you open the throttle. Thrust curves are much more useful to look at than just power and torque curves as you can see the actual acceleration of the motorcycle in each gear and at any speed.
As you can see the restricted CBR650R delivers a very ‘peaky’ thrust/acceleration curve in each gear where it provides the bulk of its acceleration in the early point/speed range of the gear.
The acceleration it offers in each gear quickly falls after its peak at which point you need to think about changing gear.
What this means is that in normal riding situations you tend to short shift and treat it almost like a truck engine despite it being a high rpm inline-four.
While riding the restricted CBR650R it is extremely hard to know exactly at which point in the rpm or speed to change gear for optimum acceleration.
If we look at the graph to try and understand how to achieve the best acceleration through the gears, typically you should change gear at or before the point where the thrust curve from one gear overlaps the following gear.
For a critical mass of sport motorcycles, unless they have a large drop-off in torque/power at high revs, or they have one or more gears that are very close together you will not see too many instances of massive overlap or none at all so you can take their gears right to the limiter before changing.
For the restricted CBR650R, if we look at the first gear you will see that at around 56 mph (90 km/h) 1st gear overlaps second.
And as the speeds increase it overlaps every other gear until sizth gear. This is not something you see in unrestricted sportsbike engines.
What this is telling us is that we should not rev first gear past 56 mph or approximately 10900 rpm if we want the best overall ETs from any speed to terminal.
As if we rev beyond this point, first gear produces less thrust and acceleration than 2nd gear from 56 mph onward despite there being more rpm and speed in first gear to go if we were to take it to 12,000 rpm and beyond.
Despite knowing the above, when you are riding and looking to be in the best gear for a particular overtaking scenario or you are blasting through the gears the engine is not intuitive as it gives you mixed signals.
As a result, you do not know when to change gear and you do not know what the best gear is to be in for the fastest overtake from various speeds.
This feeling is due to the nature of the power delivery falling away after peak as you increase rpm and noise.
It is very weird and counterintuitive because the noise as the rpm increase tells you one thing while the thrust and acceleration falling away from you as the rpm rises does not match the frantic noise and scream of the 650’s four-cylinder engine.
There is a kind of audio/performance dissonance going on.
– A2/LAMS CBR650R – CBR650R
We know that the restricted A2/LAMS version of the CBR650R is slower than the full-power model but being half the power does not really tell us the entire story and how each engine will differ on the road and in the real world.
If we look at the two thrust curves for both motorcycles it is very obvious to see that below 3500 rpm or for the first quarter of the usable speed range in each gear both motorcycles are similar.
The restricted version surprisingly has a little more thrust off tick over/the very beginning of each gear versus the unrestricted model. And this is because of the two examples the restricted model makes a fraction more power and torque below 3500 rpm.
I am not sure if this were intentional or an indirect result of restriction, or it could just be machine or dyno variation.
The restricted CBR650R repeats its advantage in all six gears in the early part of the speed range of the gear which would be below 3500 rpm in each gear.
It does not take the full power version long to assert its dominance, as anywhere above 3500 rpm or above (17.8 mph in 1st), (23.2 mph in 2nd), (28.9 mph in 3rd), (35 mph in 4th), (39.8 mph in 5th) and finally 44.9 mph in 6th.
It is much stronger and delivers much more thrust and acceleration.
From above those speeds in each gear, the unrestricted model will take off and vanish in no time as the thrust/acceleration quickly tales off on the restricted bike while the full power versions’ thrust continues up in a linear fashion right to where it relents slightly but still is strong (past peak torque) in the upper end of each gear.
Put simply the restricted bike is breathless and feels much better if short shifting where really you should only take each gear to a max of no higher than 11000 rpm if you must get the most out of it but changing up between 7000-9000 rpm might only lose you 5% in straight line performance but will save you much more in unnecessary noise making and fuel consumption.
Restricted A2/LAMS Honda CBR650R Acceleration- 0-60 0-100 and top speed
|Restricted Honda CBR650R Acceleration|
|Top Speed||110.8 mph|
Now to the part where we see what the restricted A2/LAMS CBR650R can do from 0-60 mph and so on.
Despite the engine not looking like it can move the motorcycle in an acceptable fashion, it is not all bad as the A2/LAMS CBR650R is deceptively quick considering it makes only 39 horsepower and is a porky 208 kg wet.
The restricted A2/LAMS CBR650R can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 5.39 seconds and 0-100 km/h in 5.71 seconds which is around 2 seconds slower than the full-power version.
As I explained before, the engine is not intuitive and from the seat, it is hard to know when to change up gears for the best results, but it turns out that if you change up anywhere above 10000 rpm and below 11000 rpm will net you the most consistent results.
Before though you must turn off the traction control. It is basic and cuts in when there is no wheelspin and ensures that the bike bogs down. It almost feels like the bike has run out of fuel and is gasping as it jerks about.
The TC is nothing like the more sophisticated systems you find on larger bikes. I suspect it is either a gimmick or is only supposed to be useful in slippery and wet conditions for a learner rider as I really do not think this restricted model can spin the rear in the dry.
You must dump the clutch aggressively for the best launch and 0-60 mph ET.
You can get slightly better times if you use the whole of first gear for your 0-60 mph run as you do not lose time changing gear, but this will hurt your quarter mile time and any other ‘zero-to’ benchmarks after 60 mph.
The restricted CBB650R can accelerate from 0-100 mph in 18.40 seconds which is some 11 seconds slower than the full power version but still respectable, but trails the Ninja 400, YZF-R3 and Honda’s own CBR500R.
You must sacrifice a tenth from your 0-60 mph time to guarantee the best quarter-mile time which the A2/LAMS CBR650R does in a decent [email protected] mph. Again, a decent time but not class-leading by any stretch. Most of you will be getting high 14s and low 15s.
A2/LAMS CBR650R Top Speed 110.8 mph
The restricted CBR650 really lives best below 90 mph which is where it feels most responsive. While it will still charge onto 100 mph respectively the last 10 mph which is towards its top speed of 110.8 mph will take another 20 seconds.
the restricted CBR650R’s top speed is hard to get to if the road is not long enough. For example, the restricted CBR650R required a whole mile to get to 110 mph from a standing start but will still hit 90 mph in a quarter of a mile.
The CBR650R has a tiny frontal area and decent room to get tucked but the screen is very small which ensures that the CBR650R’s 39 horsepower has its work cut out punching through the air and beyond 100 mph, but it will do it if you are committed enough.
The restricted A2/LAMS CBR650 can hit its top speed in three of the six gears. Fourth, fifth, and of course sixth. It almost hits top speed in third too, but the rpm limiter cuts it short at around 105 mph.
Remember the restricted model has the same gearing as the full power version so both have a theoretical top speed of 260 km/h plus if they could both hit their limiters in top gear, but neither can.
The restricted CBR650R has decent performance for a learner motorcycle and if it is your only experience of a motorcycle, it will feel fast enough at least until you get used to it.
The full-power learner bikes such as the YZF-R3, Duke 390, Ninja 400, and CBR500RR are all faster accelerating and have similar or better top speeds.
These smaller bikes are lighter and have more exciting engines that reward you when you thrash them as they are not engines that have had their power cut in half which drastically changes the character to much less performance orientated.
On the plus side, we can’t get away from the fact that the CBR650R is a 650 cc motorcycle, so despite its power being cut in half its torque is not that far off of the full-power CBR650R.
This makes for a lazy engine that drives from low rpm and is not too fussy about what gear you are in while the small capacity full power learner motorcycles often require more dancing on the gearbox to make good progress.
So around town, the CBR650R can feel peppier than some of its rivals.
For thrills the CBR650R restricted version may not be the most exciting but if you play the long game, once you derestrict you have a motorcycle that has big bike performance and thrills which will smoke any of the other motorcycles mentioned without effort.
Some motorcyclists will cheat and derestrict before they legally can so that is always an option should you choose.