2013 Honda CBR500R

The next big thing?

Posted: 12 November 2012
by Visordown News
The Honda CB500R has a clear agenda

THIS could be the bike that a new generation of riders will one day look back at with misty-eyed memories of their youth – the first sports bike developed specifically to cater to the new “A2” European licence rules that come into force on January 19 next year.

To recap, the new regulations will prevent anyone under the age of 24 from doing a direct access test and riding unlimited bikes straight away. Instead, 17 year-olds will be limited to 125cc bikes, and from the age of 19 riders will be allowed to use “A2” bikes – with under 35kW (47bhp) and a power-to-weight ratio of no more than 0.2kW per kg. Effectively that's a minimum weight of 175kg for any bike using the full 47bhp, so forget all those ideas of digging out old RG250 Gammas. Oh, and just to really make life awkward, you can't restrict anything “more than twice” as powerful, so the idea of sports 600s with restrictor kits goes out of the window, too.

While there are bikes out there that already fit those rules, most of them are so dull that anyone under the age of 24 would rather ride a bicycle than be seen on. That's where the CBR500R comes in.

Powered by a new parallel twin, 8-valve, 471cc water-cooled motor, making precisely 35kW, it's been designed with the A2 class in mind from the start. The motor's square bore and stroke – 67mm x 66.8m – should add up to a good spread of torque (32lbft at just 7000rpm, while peak power is only 1500rpm higher than that – the closeness of the peaks suggests a tractable motor). Using the same sort of stacked gearbox arrangement as most modern sports bikes, the new fuel-injected motor has been kept compact, too.

The motor is bolted to a tubular steel frame, with novice-friendly geometry (25.5 degree rake, 102mm trail and a 1410mm wheelbase) and low, 790mm seat. While the bike looks sporty, the bars are actually quite high and wide while the pegs are relatively low, although the aftermarket is sure to step in with alternatives that will give a more authentic sports bike riding position. The suspension is fairly basic, with conventional 41mm forks and a rear shock adjustable for preload only, and the brakes are similarly unspectacular, with a single 320mm front disc and two-pot caliper, albeit with ABS as standard.

Only the bike's weight – at 194kg ready-to-ride – seems a little disappointing, but on closer inspection of the specs, its dry weight is close to the 175kg minimum that the bike's 35kW output would allow while meeting the EU's petty 0.2kW-per-kg A2-class limit.

Price will make or break the CBR500R, and we're going to have to wait a little longer to find out exactly where it will sit. There's a big gap between the current £4100 CBR250R and the £7300 CBR600F, and the CBR500R will slot in there somewhere. However, with the NC700S currently only £5400 (and one of the few large-capacity bikes that could be legally restricted to fit the A2 licence class) the chances are that the CBR500R will be lower than that – maybe around £5k?

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Discuss this story

sounds crap!

Posted: 12/11/2012 at 19:18

"Sports bike"? Fuck off, eh. It's a bargain basement commuter in a frock, a new GS500 - almost exactly. Also, it's a Honda, it's like a well engineered ladyboy: all the parts look right, but something about it just feels wrong.

As to wet/dry weight, current UK regs define weight as wet, with any supplied tools, so there's no reason the rest of Europe couldn't follow our lead.

Considering how easy it is to restrict bikes, then whatever they price it at, it'll be the best bike that you can afford.

Posted: 12/11/2012 at 21:43

Sounds great to me. Almost bought the 250 last year but concluded that it was just a bit too lightweight - this, provided it's no more than £5K would have suited me perfectly, though a 400 single would have been more interesting.

Posted: 25/11/2012 at 18:28

Two words: KTM 390 Duke

Posted: 19/12/2012 at 23:38

The 125, 250 and 500 are all dilutions of the CBR label and are dragging the reputation of the 600 and 1000 down, Honda of a bad habit of using their name's to sell smaller bikes when all it really does is dilute the brand.
I'm in the market for this sort of bike and despite the Honda having more power the main turn off is its looks, personally I don't think it's a good looking bike (but it's not terrible) and for a sports bike to be popular looks are essential. It's almost like the Honda designers purposefully make the 125, 250 and 500 look cheap, maybe this is to protect the good looking 600's pedigree.
They have also admitted to the CB500X and the CBR to be the exact same as the F just with fairings etc. this makes the bike horribly unappealing as it does not appear as a true (ie designed this way) sports bike like the Ninja 300 or Aprilia RS125, despite Honda trying to combat this by giving the CBR500R its own race.
They have also missed the opportunity to give the Europe market the 54bhp version just restricted down, although this may be the case it has not been marketed. As riders are likely only to be on the restriction for two years after they buy this bike (unless they fail/can't afford the test) they will be looking for more power and instead they will have to buy a new bike, maybe this is to encourage sales of the 600RR by getting riders into the Honda brand, but a cheap under performing 500 will not grow loyalty to their brand.

Posted: 27/12/2012 at 17:52

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