Honda CB650 R vs Triumph Trident 660 comparison - rebellion vs serenity

Motorcycle Sports

The mid-range can be an appealing proposition for many riders, from the more experienced to those who want to start riding upscale. Fortunately, the naked market offers plenty to suit those who want something in the mid-size range, making the choice difficult. That's why we've placed a British and a Japanese naked bike side by side, to help you choose which one best meets your standards.

You're probably already asking. Which one is the rebel and which one is the serene? Well, we explain it all over these pages. Looking at both, we would say that they don't lack rebellion, with Triumph standing out for the brand's logo in white on the tank, contrasting with all its black "body". On the other hand, we can not say that the Honda passes unnoticed in a very bright red, accompanied by a bronze rims, a chromatic register that remains in the engine covers. The obvious difference between the four-cylinder and the three-cylinder also stand out, mainly because of the particular bends in the CB650R's manifolds. And at first glance, this is what we feel,along with a greater sense of "aggressiveness" on Triumph's part.


The Honda CB650R is equipped with an inline four-cylinder engine that produces 95 bhp at 12,000 rpm and 63Nm of maximum torque at 8,500 rpm, while the Triumph Trident 660 has a three-cylinder engine with 81 bhp at 10,250 rpm, with a maximum torque of 64Nm at 6,250 rpm. Well, from all these numbers you can quickly see that both should behave quite differently as far as the engine is concerned. And it goes without saying, the numbers don't lie. The CB650R always seems asleep until 6.000 rpm, when we start to feel that there's something that wants to wake up, still needing some incentive, which in the Honda's case is more 2.000 rpm for the four cylinders to wake up and show all its potential. Effectively this engine needs rotation to cause emotion. This block always seems a little asleep and little energetic until it gets to the right rotation range, always demanding some gear changes, in situations of overtaking or driving a little more applied. In ride rhythm the smoothness of the four cylinders doesn't fail to impress, but we shouldn't forget that we'll need to downshift two or three gears for the CB650 R to react the way we expect. The Triumph Trident 660, on the other hand, and in typical British fashion, features a three-cylinder engine that is very smooth at low revs, but more importantly; always available in any situation. The Trident 660 makes you feel like there's a little hurricane underneath you, ready to take everything in its stride at any speed or rpm range. The block is much more energetic than the CB650R, without losing smoothness nor availability until the red line.proof of that were the tests we made of recoveries, where the Triumph was considerably faster, in any gear, there was a Honda approach already in very high revs, in situations where normally we would have already passed the box in the British bike. It is important to mention that the Trident 660 also has a rack much bigger than the CB650R, increasing even more this difference through the shorter final drive.


The engine is only one part of a set that is composed by much more. Although very important, it should always be accompanied by components of similar quality in order to provide a good experience to who rides the bike. Starting with the suspensions, the Triumph Trident 660 equips a Showa SFF inverted fork in the front, with 41 mm of thickness, in very similar to the Showa SFF BP of 41 mm that equip the Honda CB650R, both to have separation of the shock absorber and spring systems. Still, the Honda has a slight advantage in this department, with a stiffer front end that allows for sharper braking, for example. Placebo or not, the CB650R front end revealed itself very competent in the reading of the floor and in the comfort that passes who rides it. The Triumph seemed a little more nervous and restless, although we can't complain about bad readings during the ride. At the rear, the Honda has a mono-shock with pre-load adjustment, with a little more robust aspect than the mono-shock that we found in the Triumph, also possible to adjust in pre-load.The brake, in both, in the front, is Nissin's responsibility that equipped these bikes with two discs of 310 mm in the front, being that in the CB650R we have 4 pistons calipers (and radial assembly) and in the Trident 660 only 2, with conventional assembly. Comparing the braking power, we can't say that either of them has an advantage. We can only compare personal taste, and there the CB650R showed to have a slightly more linear feel, not being necessary so much strength to reach enough power to stop where we want. Of course, once again, it depends on personal taste and neither bike brakes badly, quite the opposite. To finish the braking chapter, we have a single 240 mm disc at the rear on the Honda and a 255 mm one on the Triumph, both competent and good complements to what we found at the front.


Trident seems to be always ready to use the electronic throttle in its full potential, even because that's how it feels comfortable, showing some irregularities in low speeds, something that must certainly be subject of improvements by the british brand in the next software updates. Honda, in the other hand, not having any riding mode, comes equipped with the conventional accelerator by cable, what can be an advantage for those who don't pay much attention to technology and riding modes, but also a disadvantage. Triumph delivers two modes -Road and Rain -selectable through the colour TFT panel, which clearly benefits less experienced riders or just want to calm a little more spicy character of this three-cylinder. The CB650R falls a little short in the technological department, with an LCD panel that's a little confusing at first glance and not much in the way of customisation.


You'll have to opt for the Triumph Trident 660...or know how to make good use of the potential of the Honda CB650R's four-cylinder at 12,000 rpm. The Trident 660 is always ready to give us a good dose of adrenaline as soon as we turn the right handle, unlike the CB650R that always seems to want a calmer and quieter pace, until it wakes up and says present! The Triumph has also a more restless behaviour and always gives the sensation that we are going faster than what really happens, contrasting with the Honda that is quite solid in its set and revealed excellent tuning between the frame and suspensions, keeping this set in line with the power provided by the engine. The choice of tyres was also different with Honda opting for a Dunlop Sportmax D214 and Triumph to equip its bike with Michelin Pilot Road 5, which although not so sporty provides good sensations even in a more applied driving, but also often make a light on the dashboard - the so-called traction control.


Honda has always been known to deliver smoothness in its engines and its bikes in general, and the CB650R is no exception. But perhaps even too much so. When we look at a naked bike with almost 100 hp we imagine a bike capable of creating strong emotions, being fast in acceleration and always wanting to lift the front end when we turn the right handle. It's not that all of this happens on the Triumph Trident 660, but it's clearly much closer and more present than on the CB650R. The British bike makes you smile every time you accelerate while the Japanese bike, the moment you start to smile, there can be a mix of excitement between happiness and fear for the more inexperienced. As I mentioned in the title, Triumph is more rebellious, but a controlled rebelliousness and without scaring, even in high rotation. The Honda, on the other hand, is quite serene and gives the sensation of being almost unshakable, but when waking up the 95cv it seems to want to deliver them all in an immediate and abrupt way from 8.000 rpm. I have in my mind the image that the Trident 660 is a sprint athlete, always ready to give the maximum and the CB650R a marathoner that has to take a deep breath to be able to extract all its potential already near the finish line. In the end, it doesn't mean that a sprinter is better than a marathoner, it just depends on one's ambitions.


So let's get to the overriding question and the reason you've read all this so far. Which one to choose? Well, there is no right answer. Yes, we know that by now you must be thinking: ' It's always the same answer...' It's not a question of not wanting to hurt feelings, it's a question of respect for each one of these bikes and their characteristics. It is difficult nowadays to find a bike from this range that is not good, and here we have two good examples from the intermediate cylinder naked range. Each one of them with their own strengths and faults, providing different sensations and certainly with different targets. I would say that Triumph is more emotional and pulls in a more immediate way by the sensations and driving pleasure, for everything that was written, contrarily to Honda that is more sober and probably will only be explored in its totality by those that don't let themselves be scared by the rev counter passing limits that many times we only use in circuit.


ENGINE liquid-cooled, four-stroke


POWER 95 kW @12,000 rpm

TORQUE 63 Nm @9,500 rpm

GEARBOX 6 speeds

FRAME steel, diamond type

TANK15.4 litres

FORWARD SUSPENSION41 mm inverted telescopic fork, zero stroke

REAR SUSPENSIONsingle-mount, preload-adjustable shock absorber

FRONT BRAKETwo 310 mm discs, 4-piston radial calipers

REAR BRAKE240mm disc


REAR TYRE180/55 ZR17



WEIGHT202 kg


ENGINE Liquid-cooled, single cylinder


POWER81 hp (60 kW) @10,250 rpm

TORQUE64 Nm @6,250 rpm

GEARBOX 6 speeds

FRAME steel tube-type chassis

TANK14 litres

FORWARD SUSPENSION41 mm inverted telescopic fork, zero stroke

REAR SUSPENSION single-mounted shock absorber, adjustable preload

FRONT BRAKETwo 310 mm discs, 2-piston callipers

REAR BRAKE255 mm disc


REAR TYRE180/55R17



WEIGHT189 kg

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