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Honda CB500F (2022) road test & review | Getting naked on the North Coast 500!

Honda CB500F 2022 review North Coast 500 tour

One of the most popular middleweight naked motorcycles in the UK has been given a 2022 facelift, but does the Honda CB500F fare on the North Coast 500?

Details
Manufacturer:
Category:
Naked
Price:
£ 5849
Overall
Not rated

Perhaps known as the indomitable learner bike, the Honda CB500F is an easy-going naked that’ll surprise you. Updated with its CB500 siblings for 2022 with a number of rather substantial pieces, this naked will no doubt continue its march at dominating the middleweight naked bike sales charts - a segment that is the most popular in the UK.

Our 3-day tour took us counter-clockwise starting from Inverness, and for this trilogy we happily started as Invernesians at the mouth of the river, heading north towards John o’Groats, across to Tongue, down to Gairloch, then around to Loch Ness and back to Inverness - roughly.

Completing the trio of adventurers, we had the pleasure of riding the 2022 CB500X, CBR500R and this CB500F around the famous North Coast 500 route in Scotland, an increasingly famous tour for two-wheeled, four-wheeled and caravaners alike.

Honda CB500F riding shot

With the CB500F, it’s next in line from a rich heritage for learners and first-time riders alike. Whether it’s your training school learner bike that you buy for yourself to continue plying your trade (45% of buyers are new riders) or the ol’ dependable that sits in the garage for year-round riding, this naked provides a stable foothold with relaxed riding - but as we found out, will happily get stuck into a big tour.

What’s new for 2022?

For 2022, the CB500F receives new Showa Big Piston USD forks & updated rear shock setting to match, new twin Nissin front disc brakes, tweaked weighting & bias (to make it balanced around 50/50), new LED headlight, revised fuel injection settings, and a striking new ‘Pearl Dusk Yellow’ colourway (as seen in the pics). 

Updates galore in 2022 - yet these updates add to a formula that has been serving riders well since it first hit the market in 2013. The mini streetfighter has an aggressive nature on the road, but it’s still just as comfortable to ride with slightly leaned forward riding position, wide bars and a capable A2 compliant motor propelling you along.

bumblebee yellow honda cb500f 2022

Honda CB500F 2022 price

Confirmed recently, the 2022 price of the CB500F will be £5,849 - only £100 more than the 2021 model, but with a substantial upgrade to the makeup of the bike.

For your money you get the basic necessities, with the rest tucked away on the accessories catalogue - including the heated grips, smoke fly screen, 12V socket and tank bag. Other bonus bits include a 35L top box, seat bag, main stand, and wheel stripes. 

For a tour you’ll want the really nicely integrated heated grips, the fly screen does well deflecting bluster up (and into your lid & over shoulders if you’re a bit larger), and the 12V socket will be nigh on essential for longer tours to plug in a sat-nav or phone for directions. 

It’s an attractive price point, with monthly costs of around £90. Factor the frugal running costs and hallowed Honda reliability, you could be onto a winner here.

north coast 500

Engine 

The same 471cc parallel-twin 8-valve motor is found here, A2 compliant out of the box with peak 47 bhp found at 8600 revs, and peak torque of 43Nm / 31.7 lb-ft found at 6500 rpm, the tweaked fuel injection settings have granted a smoother and stronger power delivery from a closed throttle, at low to mid rev ranges. 

The result of 9 years of this motor is an accessible, rev-happy motor. It’s smooth at top speeds, and working the 6-speed gearbox with assist & slipper clutch is really a delight. Demanding a quick draw of power can be achieved with a couple of taps down the box, and sailing past touring campervans - it really doesn’t disappoint.

The CB500F was my first wheels-on-road from Inverness all the way up to John o’Groats along the A9 & A99, and most notable for me was the exceptionally stand-out and raspy exhaust note. Peculiar as all bikes there shared the same motor, but a twist of the throttle really raised an eyebrow.

engine suspension brakes

Suspension and brakes

Next on the shopping list for Honda was the suspension and brake setup, effectively providing the CB500F with a whole new front-end for 2022. From the CB650R is the 41mm USD Showa separate-function big piston forks and matched rear mono-shock. 

It’s a really substantial set-up, very composed on the road (and really put to task on some of the less than perfect NC500 roads), reactive mid-corner and not excessively lungey under heavy braking. With a 5-step preload adjust at the rear you can hone it in for your requirements.

Stopping power is provided by a twin Nissin 296mm disc setup, with 4-piston Nissin callipers radially mounted - to replace the single disc on the previous gen. With a rear disc and two-channel ABS, the braking feels progressive and responsive, and a great place for a blossoming rider to start stretching their legs. 

Ride quality & commuter appeal 

17-inch wheels are paired with Michelin Road 5 hoops, tested in all weather (being Scotland) and performed admirably in all situations. 

Grippy in all conditions, it’s a stable setup weighing in at 189kg - feeling light on its.. feet? to throw left & right, and with the big-bike dynamics you’d need. The engine acts as a stressed member, with a steel diamond tube frame, new lighter swingarm, lighter radiator & lighter rims balancing out added weight from the suspension and bolstered brakes.

Flat, wide bars help you carve up the road, weight bias has been adjusted from 57/47 (F/R) to practically 50/50, and with a slightly forward-leaning riding position you have a good feel and response from the front end, particularly in corners.

led lights front on riding

Riding position is a tad cramped with tucked legs underneath (at least, from a 6’3” rider), and I found the 785mm saddle a tad firm after a few hours, but commuters shouldn’t be deterred - it’s still an overall neutral riding position, and how often will you be riding for 6 hours a day.

Commuters will also be pleased to hear it’s as frugal to run as it gets. The 17-litre tank is sipped at, averaging a rate of around 70-80 mpg (even when being thrashed) and returning a range in the region of sub-300 miles. 

Features and tech

Perhaps a segment where the CB500F is lacking - for want of a better word - is the tech features. It’s a simple reverse-LCD display, with no phone integration and just the basics displayed. Fuel consumption, odometer, gear indicator, revs. What else do you need to have, though?

side on motorcycle

Some competitors on the market, of which there are plenty, include the Yamaha MT-03, KTM Duke 390, Kawasaki Z650, Triumph Trident 660, et al. But none are really direct rivals; seeing as they’re either above or below the A2 line at 47bhp out-of-the-crate.

That’s surprising to me, as the A2 restrictions have been around long enough, and speaking to a Honda dealer recently, A2 limiters can dampen the fun of a motor if a rev limiter restricts your ability to open the throttle and use all of the gears. 

Features have been updated considerably for 2022 here, mind, and I’d struggle to recommend a new rider anywhere else. Perhaps I’m biased, having started my two-wheeled career on a Honda-fleet supported riding school - cheers CamRider!

Back to the point, some may want more here, but the necessities are covered off.

lcd screen cb500f

What we like & what we don’t like 

Updates to the fuel injection really smooth out any prior jerky throttle and give surprisingly aggressive acceleration off the line, matching a lovely raspy exhaust note. The yellow colourway was a definite grower for me, felt a bit Transformers Bumblebee. Lovely riding position too, wide bars gave a nice attacking yet somehow neutral riding position. New 2022 features are huge, in my opinion.

It’s difficult to complain about power for a bike specifically made for the 47bhp market, some may be looking for more premium features (like TFT dash), and it is a fairly basic offering for the price. I’m not convinced it’s the best bike for tall riders, you may want to consider the CB500X if you’re after a bigger Honda. Elsewhere, other riders may not like working the gearbox so much, I think that’s half of the fun.

cb500f scotland riding

Verdict

Despite being considered the starting point for a vast number of new riders, this CB500F should in no way be looked down on as a meagre option. Of course; it is accessible, fun and practical, but that simply sticks to the 500 series philosophy. 

Frugal to run, nippy in town and city streets and absolutely capable on the NC500, Honda has solidified itself in the A2 naked market with considerable updates to a model that wasn’t necessarily even crying out for them. 

In its striking yellow colourway, the CB500F may well surprise you on the road. With a raspy character at the low end, 2022 updates have injected a bit more eclectic poise for the road, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many riders after a year-round workhorse find one of these in the stable. 

scottish cliffs north coast 500

Certainly worth a test ride, stick heated grips, top box and screen on, and this’ll go just about anywhere. 

Cheers again to Honda, find out more (including spec, monthly pricing and more) on their website Honda.co.uk

Watch: Honda CB500 (2022 range) North Coast 500 tour

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