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
Low-speed agility
Rear brake lacks feel

Brakes

After riding an NC750 a while back, that had similar a 320mm disk and Nissin calliper combination, I had my doubts about the performance of the CB500F’s stoppers. Thankfully the lighter, 197kg CB500F is a much better performing machine in this respect. There’s a good initial bite through the adjustable lever, and the stopping power is certainly adequate for any road applications. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the rear brake which I just couldn’t get along with. The rear worked but had a mushy feel at the lever, and for my clown-sized feet this wasn’t ideal.     

I found the openness of the 500F’s cockpit and its tame level of power allowed me to focus less on braking and more on carving through each corner as smoothly as possible, all the while maintaining momentum to compensate for the lack of raw power. If you need to suddenly jam on the anchors this machine is more than capable, with the added confidence the new 2 channel ABS system provides

Comfort

What will be confidence inspiring for the shorter riders out there (you know who you are) is the low 785mm seat height with chunks shaved off the side to make it even more accessible, and the cushioning provided by the saddle is firm yet comfortable. For the taller riders, the raised tapered handles bars allow for a more casual body position when pinging from switchback to switchback, no tying yourself in knots like you can on a more sports focussed machine.

However, one area which poses an issue for tall and short riders alike on any naked is the lack of wind protection. The F would massively benefit from a front screen, not only in terms of comfort but also handling. I have a sneaking suspicion that the gentle head wobble at higher speeds might be mitigated by the addition of a small screen for the pilot to tuck behind. Now, I know a screen would mess with the muscular exterior but in the long run it would make for a more pleasurable, and less taxing ride. Luckily, Honda sell a genuine tinted screen for a cool 165 imperial credits (£165).      

Rider Aids and Electronics

The purists will love that CB500F doesn’t come with traction control, but they aren't going to like the new two-channel ABS system. Yes, for any massively experienced rider, ABS might get in the way when trying to squeeze a tenth out of each lap time, but on the wet pot holed roads of England, it’s a welcome addition.

Another new tech feature is the LCD dash, which I initially thought was TFT as it looks so advanced, it’s the most comprehensive clock set I’ve seen on a middleweight naked bike (see spec for details). However, with the dash being digital, the red rpm numbers and smaller figures did become a bit of a strain to see in the Tenerife sunshine, while important info such as speed remained clear. Talking of light, the F has a full complement of super-bright LEDs from head to tail, a feature which separates it from many of its competitors and perhaps helps to justify the premium price tag somewhat.

Verdict

Honda makes no secret of the fact that the new CB500F’s presence and aesthetic make it look like a bigger bike, however under the skin this bike is a real pussy cat. Personally, as a sportsbike rider (and newly converted CB500X fanboy), it’s hard to picture myself on the F, but believe me, it’s a very capable and composed machine. The silky-smooth power delivery, seamless gearbox and flickability all make for a stimulating yet reserved A2 machine. Due to its nimbleness, it would make an ideal city commuter, just be sure to chuck a screen on it if your daily ride involves motorways or A roads.

Don’t take my word for it though, if the F floats your boat, book yourself a test ride and give it a whirl - you won’t be disappointed.

Low-speed agility
Rear brake lacks feel

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