First Ride

Honda Honda CB500F (2019) review

Visordown took Honda’s new A2 licence friendly naked for a spin at the press launch – here’s what we thought

Details
Manufacturer:
Honda
Category:
Naked
Price:
£ 5559
Overall
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)
Low-speed agility
Rear brake lacks feel

Style

To look at, Honda’s new CB500F is a vast improvement on last year’s model. It gains a more aggressive LED headlight, wider tank with pronounced air intakes, and sharper, more muscular body work that make it a proper ‘mini-streetfighter’. The reserved look of old has gone and is instead replaced by a machine with more attitude and presence, not afraid to show off its best bits – like those blingy ceramic-coated engine covers.  

Honda CB500F video review

Price

CB500F OTR £5,559

So - for all that extra bling you do pay a bit of a premium, especially given that the new Z400 comes in at just under five grand, but after looking up and down the bike I found very little in the way of cheap bolts and poor finishes - You’d be genuinely hard pressed to find a bike that’s as well put together as the little 500F.

Engine

The quality is carried over to the engine which is a silky smooth 471cc liquid-cooled parallel twin, the same motor that’s mounted in the CBR500R and CB500X. However, the boffins at Honda slightly modified the fuel mapping on the F to increase low to mid end torque, with a maximum of 43Nm (31ft-lbs) at 6,500rpm. The ’19 model also boats a 4% uplift in power over last year’s model, making an A2 compliant maximum power of 35KW (47bhp) @ 8600rpm.

The all-new super-light slipper clutch that’s fitted to the bike helped keep composure under hard braking and heavy downshifts, despite my best efforts to slide her into corners… no such hooliganism occurred. On upshifts the 6 speed gearbox is tight and smooth, seamlessly pulling you to national speed limits – and a fair bit further.

As you pick up speed the standard twin port exhaust sounds decent, but some more noise would be ideal, especially if you’re commuting and want to get people’s attention as you nip through traffic.

Frame and Suspension

The engine mounts into the same tubular steel diamond as the previous model, and there are no complaints on that department here – the chassis is composed and nicely balanced, although the 120mm preload adjustable forks are a bit uninspired. The front-end setup is certainly not as taut as the upside-down ones equipped on some of the bikes in this class, but they do the job well enough. The introduction of a single piston fancy looking pro-link rear shock nicely completes the package. On the tight winding roads of Tenerife everything seemed to communicate well despite the suspensions basic exterior.   

 

Handling

The F comes into its own on tighter slow to medium speed corners, as its thicker tapered handlebars helped me to flick from one side of the road pilot 5’s to the other with ease. The extra leverage of the handle bars greatly reduced the effort required to hustle the bike into and out of the bends. However, as the roads got straighter I noticed a small head wobble at higher speeds, particularly when the road surface unsettled the bike. Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t an Isle of Man TT tank slapper, just a polite way of the bike saying ‘slow down, your being a prat’! Like most naked bikes, keep it under 80mph and you’re golden.

I think what I’m trying to say is keep it swift but legal, and the CB500F is a proper treat to ride. It’s clearly not a super-sports bike, but it munches up bends and is a nimble bugger at low speeds. So to get the most enjoyment out of the F, take advantage of its open cockpit and enjoy the view of the country lane you’re comfortably zipping (but not racing) down.

Low-speed agility
Rear brake lacks feel

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