With the FMX 650 Honda has made supermotard fun and games accessible to a lot more people. Gone are the days where you had to buy expensive wheels with your XR enduro to get a Honda supermotard. True, the ultimate is still a CRF with supermoto wheels. But FMX 650 is not about ultimate performance, it’s about honest and cheap fun.
Ever since Honda launched the FMX last year I have wanted to ride it. Not because it is the most powerful or the lightest supermoto. Just for the fact Honda has finally made one that actually looks good. Our test bike is fitted with a few extras from Acerbis and a tattoo sticker kit. The hand guards from Acerbis are on Honda’s accessories list along with the sticker kit. It is a cheap way of transforming your standard FMX into a more mean looking street wise bike. This bike is from Honda Europe and I have 200 gruelling miles of mostly motorways ahead of me before I can have some fun in the twisties back home. And let me tell you straight away that it is no fun riding on full throttle for many miles on a big single. Vibrations, no acceleration, no wind protection and poor fuel range from a tiny fuel tank. But it is only transportation and I guess it beats the same journey I did on a MZ 125 SM last year. As with any supermoto the bends need to be as tight as possible. Instant torque from the big single is available and the Pirelli MTR 01 tyres provide all the grip the FMX needs to stop and accelerate quickly. As a stop and go bike nothing beats a supermoto and that is why, along with the narrow design and low weight, they are perfect for riding in towns and city centres. The long wheel travel and good ground clearance makes sure those pavement edges can be tackled easily as well. The FMX 650 was never going to be comfortable, but compared to the hard core supermotos from KTM or Husqvarna the FMX seat is more humane. Seat height is 875mm.
The engine is a single cylinder air cooled four stroke of 644cc. Power output is a moderate 37bhp whilst emphasis is on torque where a decent 52,3Nm is available at only 4,500rpm. The engine feels totally out of breath when keeping the throttle open above this. There is no rev counter on the FMX, but you notice that torque is all you have got to play with. Which is always fun, but in fourth and fifth gear there is no kick from the engine. Given these limitations, I prefer to stay on the twistiest roads and in town. And the FMX does not disappoint on the B-roads...
Good grip and moderate power means I can stay on the gas all the time and enjoy the superb level of grip the Pirelli tyres provide (120/70-17 and 150/60-17). Honda claims a 163kg dry weight which is not too bad. Compared to top spec supermotos this is heavy, but as a beginner’s bike or second bike it is quite ok that the chassis is solid making sure everything stays in shape. FMX 650 wheelies just as well as any other motard, but you do need to use the clutch in first gear and all 37 bhp. Engine braking is an issue if you are not used to a big single-particularly if you should run out of fuel whilst overtaking a car. The old carburettor design has got an old fashioned fuel/reserve switch and if you think you are about to run out of fuel it is just as well to switch over to reserve sooner rather than later. I wanted to know how many miles I could do on the motorway before the reserve had to be turned on and it happened from max 50 miles to min 70 miles. There is a 20 mile difference depending on whether you keep the throttle pinned all the time or not. To maintain motorway speeds it often means keeping the throttle pinned. And when you keep the throttle pinned you don’t get much warning before fuel stops dripping into the carburettor and the engine braking make sure you could be in a dangerous situation if you have not switched over to reserve in time. The small fuel tank takes 11 litres whereas 3.8 litres are in reserve.
The two piston Nissin front calliper grips around one big 296mm disc and is capable of efficient stopping power. However they are inferior to the brakes I have experienced on the high spec supermotos. The 45mm inverted fork provides 218mm of travel and provide great feedback through the Renthal handlebars.
Styling is a strong point about the FMX 650. Our bike also features the Acerbis hand guards and a sticker kit that gives the bike even more personality. The front mudguard is always an important styling point on any supermotard and Honda has pulled it off nicely without FMX 650 looking like every other supermoto. The side panels look very much the same as on the CRF which is a good thing. The double high exhaust is necessary to keep noise and emission regulations, but also a cool feature that makes the bike look bigger than it is. You can safely park it outside your favourite coffee shop.
I love both the way a supermoto looks and how it rides. Any supermoto is fairly single minded and FMX 650 is no exception. I hated it on the motorway and loved it on the B-roads and in the city. Just as expected. It might lack a few horsepower and it might be a bit on the heavy side. But FMX 650 is the perfect introduction to supermoto or motorcycling in general. I would love one as my second bike, but could never have coped with it as my only bike due to all the motorway miles that I do. The negatives are mainly due to the nature of such a motorcycle rather than the Honda in specific. Great fun for your money.