Honda CBR650F Problems: 4 Known Issues (Explained)

The Honda CBR650F is a 649cc sportbike that’s been around since 2014.

It replaced the long-time 600cc favorite, the Honda Hornet; the new engine has an increased bore and stroke to punch power into the bigger engine.

The 650F also has enhanced exhaust power and revised transmission-gear ratios for improved acceleration over its predecessor, but what are the common problems with the Honda CBR650F? 

Motorandwheels hit the forums to find out!

1. Sealant Incorrectly Applied to Starter Relay Switch

This section applies specifically to the first two-year model Honda CBR650F’s—2014 and 2015. You’ll know if your Honda CBR650F has a bad starter because, well, it won’t start. 

  • A CBR with a faulty starter may choke for a few rounds before struggling to ignite.
  • Or, you may turn the key and have nothing happen at all—no light, no instrument display, nothing. 
  • As always, you’ll check your battery first and find it’s sitting pretty.
  • Eventually, as you take the sturdy troubleshooting course through your dead as dust CBR650F, you’ll get to your fuses, and you’ll find the Main 30 fuse melted.
  • Then, thanks to remembering this article, your vigilance will guide you to noticing that the Main 30 fuse is sitting just off the solenoid relay starter. 

But, because you read this article, as you start investigating your charred and melted fuse, you’ll think to take a look at the solenoid cap, and you’ll realize it’s melted too.

And just then, you’ll recall reading about the following Honda recall on the CBR650F:

On July 1st, 2015, Honda issued an official recall statement regarding 2014 and 2015 Honda CBR650Fs.

Honda summarized the issue to be an error during the assembly of the starter relay switch. 

According to Honda’s recall system, the factory incorrectly applied the sealant to the starter relay switch on certain 2013-2016 CBR650Fs.

When applied incorrectly, the sealant could increase resistance across the main fuse and interrupt the motorcycle’s battery voltage before reaching the bike’s electrical system. 

The recall notice encouraged owners to run their VIN/HINs to determine if their specific model may have been affected, since electrical failure is a considerable safety risk.

Sealant-relay interference with the electrical system of a Honda CBR650F can:

  1. Prevent the bike’s engine from starting.
  2. Cause the motorcycle to stall out while riding.
  3. In extreme cases, a surplus of resistance at the main fuse could cause the starter relay switch to catch on fire.  

Honda notified all 650F owners, encouraging them to take their bikes to the local Honda Motorcycle dealership to inspect the starter relay switch’s lot. If it’s faulty, Honda will replace your switch and any other damaged components on the house.   

If your CBR650F was manufactured during the dates mentioned above, take it into Honda, especially if you bought it used, as not every owner is aware of recalls until the part fails.

An irresponsible previous owner may have left you to be the one to take your Honda in for the upgrade.

Related: How Long Do Honda CBR 650Rs Last? 7 Examples

2. White Chemicals Leach From Rubber Oil Seal

This isn’t exactly a problem, but since the forums are plagued with CBR650F owners who think it is, we figured we’d shed some light on this common complaint.

  • You might notice a white substance on your 650F, primarily where the head gasket is. 
  • Like any concerned and capable home mechanic, you start watching your oil and coolant to make sure nothing’s leaking, but your levels seem to be consistent.
  • I mean, sure, maybe you had to top your coolant off a bit, but no more than usual, am I right?

 Ok, first thing first, if you’re seeing white residue and your exhaust smells sweet, and you pull some oil out with a turkey baster and notice it’s milky, there’s a more significant issue, and you need a mechanic to take a look.

However, if you see white residue around the head gasket, it’s likely just the rubber gasket curing.  

The rubber residue you’ve been finding are bits of the rocker oil seal leaching out of the rubber—it’s completely normal. Wipe her up with a dry cloth once in a while, and, eventually, it’ll stop.

So, what’s the white residue near the head gaskets on a Honda CBR650F?

There’s a chemical called plasticizer added into the seals to make them malleable, aka soft and kind of bendy. 

As the rubber cures from the heat, elements, etc., the plasticizer leaches out of the rubber seal, leaving residue in the general vicinity. 

Miles has nothing to do with this bit of surprise either; only time will make it stop. As one 650F rider joked, “Mine still does it a bit after seven years. It slows down after about 5.”

So don’t be alarmed; there’s nothing wrong with your precious mid-sized ripper. Just wipe it free of white seepage and get back on the road!

3. 650F Motor Doesn’t Like Running Cold

Here’s another PSA based on more of a common complaint than what we’d call an issue, but just as we did in the above section, we want to isolate the quirks from the real-deal problems.

  • You might notice that when you pull the clutch in at cruising speeds, say around 6OMPH, you hear a weird “metal fan” sound coming from the motor.
  • You may have noticed the noise was accompanied by sputtering until your RPMs hit about 2500.
  • Chances are you’re riding in cold weather when you’re noticing this and that you didn’t quite let the engine warm up to temp before you took off.

The simple fact is that your ripping mid-sized Honda sportbike backs a liquid-cooled inline 4-cylinder 649cc motor that is as reliable as anything in its class.

Still, while that liquid coolant works miracles in hot weather, the simple fact is that inline-four motors don’t like the cold weather.

Let your CBR650R warm-up for 5-10 minutes before you ride in cold weather.

Chances are good your pistons will thank you for it—and by thank you, we mean heat up and run efficiently.

Related: 5 Most-Common Problems With Honda CBR 1000RR

4. Battery Fails without Warning

There’s nothing worse than a bike that won’t start. 

  • Sometimes you’ll notice the power supply seems to be waning for a few weeks.
  • Other times you’ll notice your 650F’s light cluster flickering out of the blue. 
  • And finally, on a real bad battery, you’ll notice the bike’s engine dying and restarting in rhythm with the flickering instrument display. 

To be clear, this isn’t a common problem specific to the Honda CBR650F, but we read enough puzzled testimonials on the 650F forums to warrant addressing the issue head-on. 

Testing your CBR650F’s battery voltage is part of routine maintenance, the same as on any other bike. Failing to check your battery voltage regularly can lead to your bike’s battery dying without warning.

When experiencing electrical issues on any CBR, any motorcycle for that matter, the battery is always the first troubleshooting step. 

Batteries die over time. 

The earliest symptom of a dying battery is dimming or flickering lights, a signal easily missed by many CBR650F riders since you’re not precisely starting your high beams in the face while you’re craning your starter. 

Still, pay attention to your instrument cluster during startup, as you’ll notice it dim during turnover before the battery craps the bed ultimately. 

Testing the battery voltage is best done after the bike has been inactive for a minute.

A healthy battery output on a Honda CBR650F is between 12.5 and 12.9 Volts—anything lower than that is a sign of a battery that isn’t operating at full potential. 

You’ll also want to check for a parasitic draw on a failing battery, best done with a multimeter like this:

  • Turn the bike off
  • Disconnect the negative terminal
  • Set your multimeter to read Amps (A) at a low setting (probably 100mA-200mA).
  • Connect one side of your multimeter to the negative battery post and the other side to the negative battery wire terminal
  • View results.
  • If you get any kind of reading, the chances are you have a parasitic draw. 

A parasitic draw can kill bike batteries without notice, as the battery never has a chance to rest.

The battery is an integral part of your CBR650F’s wiring circuit and needs to be working for the bike to run correctly. 

If you have a dead battery, the bike will charge it. However, if your battery is bad, from a bad cell, etc., your CBR won’t even run on a jump start.

NOTE: Once again, there’s nothing abnormal or defective about the stock battery Honda equips the 650F. Parasitic drain is often the result of inadequately installed after-market upgrades.

Related: 3 Most-Common Problems With Honda CBR 600RR

General Pros and Cons for the Honda CBR650F

Here are general pros and cons of the Honda CBR650F:


Below are some advantages of the Honda CBR650F:

  • The Honda CBR650F is exceptionally reliable. 
  • Fireblade style fairing and dual front lamps.
  • Rigid light frame, class-leading frame geometry.
  • Showa Dual Bending Valve fork gives the CBR650F some of the best handling in the 650 sportbike range.
  • The liquid-cooled 649cc inline 4-cylinder motor provides more than enough power to push the CBR650F for all practical city-street ripping intent and purposes. 
  • Ergonomical and comfortable riding position.


  • Sealant Incorrectly Applied to Starter Relay Switch
  • White Chemicals Leach From Rubber Oil Seal
  • 650F Motor Doesn’t Like Running Cold
  • Battery Fails without Warning

What Do the Reviews Say?

Combined with its lightish weight and a rear shock that holds up its end of the conversation, a good gearbox and strong brakes with great feel, this is a motorcycle, that just like that first F2, has great balance. All its systems play perfectly together. The engine never overwhelms the chassis but there’s always smooth power on tap with nary a lurch nor sharp edge, the steering seems perfectly weighted, and sporty but not too sporty ergonomics – with the clip-ons mounted on top of the clamp – let you pay attention to the road and put the CBR right where you want it, apex after apex.

What’s the Resale Value on a Honda CBR 650F

Year Mileage Price
2021 1 $9,699
2018 765 $9,188
2018 14,247 $8,598
2014 449 $7,999
2014 2,574 $6,188

Final Thoughts

The CBR650R sportbike is a gem of a medium motorcycle known to be one of the most reliable bikes in its class. After some heavy research, besides a few recalls, it’s safe to say that most of the aspects riders took issues with were either a simple matter of taste or the result of user negligence or misunderstanding.

Radial-mounted front brake calipers pair with the 320mm drilled disk, upgraded air intake with dual ram-air, a large exhaust pipe, close gear-ratio, flat torque, high red-line, assist slipper clutch, Honda Selectable Torque Control system, and ABS all work together in providing an enjoyable and fierce mid-range sportbike experience.


2018 Honda CBR650F First Ride Review |

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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.