Honda CB650R Problems: 3 Known Issues (Explained)

The Honda CB650R is a performance-packed street fighter hidden in a simplistic naked-bike package.

Its inline-four engine is tuned for maximum street play.

The motorcycle is recognized as a go-to choice for those who want a simple street ripper, but no bike is perfect. 

In this article, we’d bring you the 3 most common problems with the Honda CB650R.


1. Strange Shifting and Missed Quick-Shifts

This is probably the most common issue I came across.

It begins with complaints about clunky or rough shifting from 1st to 4th gear, but riders generally claim that 5th and 6th gears and downshifting are smooth.

According to one CB650R rider, the gear-clicks were so rough he felt it through his boots and helmets.

To make a mystery mystifying, most riders report that the problem goes away sometimes, while others report false neutrals and miss shifts when using the quick-shifter.

The good news?

CB650R owners fixed all these problems the same way; by adjusting the gear shift sensor.

How to Adjust the Gear Shift Sensor

Follow these steps to adjust the gear shift sensor:

  1. Assemble your tools.
  2. Assess your work zone.
  3. Work back the rubber boots at both ends to expose the square ends of the elbows. Use a 12mm spanner on these to limit damage.
  4. Loosen the locknut on both sides
  5. Adjust the lever by spinning the connecting rod only.
  6. With the spanners, re-tighten both the locknuts; they need to be tight enough not to vibrate loose.
  7. Work the rubber boots to tuck them over the square edges of the elbows.

Please also read our article about how long Honda Rebels last.

2. Valve Gasket Gunk

This one isn’t exactly a problem; it’s more of a quirk.

But, as it’s confused more than a few CB650R owners, we thought to shed some light on the weird white gunk that builds up on the valve gasket.

It looks like cheap frosting caking around the gasket seal.

It leaves a lot of riders concerned, but it turns out it looks worse than it is. In fact, almost every CB650R does it; at least that’s the word in the forums.

They say it’s the plaster seeping out of the rubber gasket and that after a certain point, it stops.

Still, it’s advised that riders clean it off, so it doesn’t attract debris or burn.

Make sure to also read our article about how long the Honda CBR 650R lasts.

3. Bunk Buzzes and Wack Whistling

There are so, so many complaints out there about trouble finding the culprits behind these strange noises that there’s no way we couldn’t include it.

Now, these are two separate issues, and this may sound silly, but there’s a big difference between a buzz and a whistle, so let’s look at both.

i. Key Buzz

CB650R owners describe the notorious reverberating and vibrating buzz as a generally high-pitched sound, like metal vibrating against metal.

It was the owner of a 2019 CB650R that had 5,000 km on the clock who finally gave me the answer I was looking for while combing the forums.

The rider claimed his bike was stock, with no modifications or fabrications of any kind. He noted that he generally doesn’t push his CB650R hard, apart from the occasional rev to redline in 1st when he’s up against a beckoning stretch of road.

As many riders have reported, the noise doesn’t seem to happen when the bike is in neutral, perhaps because it takes less fuel action to get it revving, and one theory is that it’s the revving that affects vibration.

The buzzing is most noticeable in 1st and 2nd gear. According to more than a handful of riders, a few of them mentioned that it was hard to say whether the buzz persists in the high gears due to wind. They think it did.

Remember, this buzz expresses vibration and has nothing to do with the throttle position or bike speed, nor the typical chassis vibration.

We’d also like to clarify that this is a metallic sound, high pitched, and much different than the standard engine vibration of the Honda CB650R.

Finally, a rider figured it out. It was the key.

He took the bike apart for valve clearance and inspected everything, including the PAIR valve, and everything checked out.

He was dumbfounded when his internet search pulled up threads from non-Honda manufacturers talking about the same thing happening around the same RPMs.

Apparently, some owners found that putting a rubber vacuum pipe at the top of their keys to eliminate the problem has successfully got rid of the buzzing.

This provides strong evidence that the buzzing was coming from the key in the ignition or the pins inside it. In fact, one rider claims to have seen the key vibrating in rhythm with the high frequency.

ii. Cluster Whistle

More than a few riders have noticed that anytime they ride above 45 mph, a high-pitched whistle emanates from the wind that runs over the gauge cluster.

When a rider sets their hand on top of it, the whistle-whine vanishes.

Riders found that installing Honda’s aftermarket windscreen only offered a little bit of wind protection for the rider, but the windscreen did wonders for preventing the gauge cluster whistle.

Now I’ve never ridden one, but apparently, it does so with zero buffering. Some Honda CB650R owners indicate that Honda designed the windscreen to get rid of the whistle. Regardless, it cures the whistle that some riders found unbearable.

The windscreen comes in the form of a compact flyscreen and an affiliated install kit. It redirects the air over the nose of the motorcycle.

The installation comes with simple instructions only requires a few hand tools.

True to their reputation for reliability, Honda designed the screen to use hardware that’s on the motorcycle; the support mounts with the two headlight bolts and two of the gauge cluster bolts.

Installation requires the removal of the headlight, but it’s a straightforward job that can be knocked out quickly by a single person.

And if that cluster whistle was really getting to you, it might be worth your time.

First, install the brackets. From there, it is just four bolts and a handful of plastic and rubber washers to mount the flyscreen to the brackets. This is a super-secure mounting point, and the quality feels absolutely spot on for this bike.

The windscreen adds a sleek and stylish flair to the otherwise minimal naked bike, adding texture particularly to the front end.

It encloses the floating gauge cluster aesthetically, but also provides a solution to the common complaint of a whistling whine that gets on the nerves of CB650R owners while roasting up the town.

Also read our article about 3 problems with the Honda ST1300.

General Pros and Cons for CB650R

Here are key points about the advantages and disadvantages of the CB650R:


With the CB650R, Honda proves that the sweet spot between style, performance, and reliability is a real place, and they’ve found it.

The CB650R is the perfect latter-rung for riders looking to rise to the next level of zippy motorcycling to upgrade from a smaller-displacement bike into a medium, ride-hungry naked ripper. 

Don’t mistake this for a bike you’ll drop once you’ve leveled up from novice, though. Its power and muscle will ride you far past the amateurs.  


  • Strange Shifting and Missed Quick shifts
  • Valve Gasket Gunk
  • Bunk Buzzes and Wack Whistling

What do the reviews say?

Styling-wise the CB follows the shape of Honda’s awesome CB300R, an entry-level streetbike that rides better than you’d think considering its sub-five-grand price tag. The 650 sports flat lines that are modern and tasteful. Trim body panels showcase the chiseled 649cc inline-four and the elegant symmetrical pipes that were styled off of Honda’s ’75 CB400. Most importantly, it looks unlike other manufacturers’ naked bikes.

On the road, the Honda feels balanced and ready to play. Updated suspension components offer a pleasing compromise between sporting feel through twisty sections of tarmac and everyday comfort over beat-up road surfaces. True, there isn’t any suspension adjustment (aside from spring preload on the shock), but the damping is so well-calibrated we didn’t miss it. Metzeler’s awesome and do-it-all Roadtec 01 tires further complement handling. 


What’s the Resale Value of a Honda CB650R?

Year Mileage Price
2019 1,125 $7,999
2019 1,170 $8,995
2020 10 $9,199
2020 1 $9199
2021 1 $9199


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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.