First Ride

Honda Honda CBR500R (2019) review

Visordown was in Tenerife for the press riding launch of Honda’s new A2 sportsbike – here’s how we got on.

Details
Manufacturer:
Honda
Category:
Sportsbikes
Price:
£ 6099
Overall
4.5
Average: 4.5 (1 vote)
The aggressive styling changes look epic
Rear brake lacks bite

Frame and Suspension

The bikes 35mm steel diamond tube-frame remains unchanged from last year’s model but there is a new lighter rear subframe.

Unfortunately, no fancy upside-down forks are equipped on the CBR, which for the price is a little bit of a downer. Instead, it’s kitted out with 41mm conventional forks (which are preload adjustable) and a single piston mono-shock rear (5 stage preload adjustable). After sitting on the bike and giving it a few yanks, it did feel a quite soft but on the road it was a plush and comfortable ride.

Handling

The CBR500R does need a little bit of persuasion to be flicked from side to side as is a bit on the heavy side at 197KG (despite weight reductions), however, once you're sweeping through a corner it feels sweet. Being so composed and predictable, it urges you to carry as much speed into the apex as possible, not allowing you to point and shoot out of a corner like a bigger capacity bike would but I didn’t care. Honestly, you can learn a lot from riding a bike as friendly and confidence inspiring as this, all without leaning on power alone.

The feedback from the front end is good, you can one finger trail brake into corners tapping a little rear brake to get it turned in on the tighter stuff, no sudden heart-stopping moments as the Dunlop SportsMax tyres stayed planted. The updated ABS system (see below) also helps to increase braking confidence, especially if you are returning to or new to riding – surprising for a single disc setup on a near 200kg bike.

Brakes

I had my doubts seeing that single front 320mm wavy disk and Tokico caliper mounted to the CBR500R, but after some harsh emergency stops on the gorgeous high altitude twisties, those fears quickly evaporated. The front stopper provides more than enough power and feedback, with two fingers on the unadjustable lever. The brakes have good initial bite to them and in combination with the engine braking when shifting down the gears you can stop the CBR with gnat like agility.

My one bugbear is the mushy feeling rear brake - It’s hard to tell how much brake is being applied, but the ABS take’s care of it if you apply too much pressure. For more experienced riders the negative feeling might become tiresome, for newbies less so.

Comfort

The ergonomics have been changed slightly, the clip-ons are now mounted underneath the top yoke, shifting you forward 8°. The bars are also swept up of a couple of inches, providing a nice bit of lower-back relief after an hour or more in the saddle.

The seat is accessibly low at 785mm with chunks shaved off each side to help even the shortest of shorties. For a lanky bugger like me, at 6 foot 4, it still felt comfortable during more casual riding and only found it slightly cramped when aggressively leaning off the bike. The riding position on the CBR500R would make it a great sporty looking machine that could be used as a daily commuter.  

Rider Aids and Electronics

Now the purists out there aren't going to like the new two-channel ABS system, however on starter bikes like this they are the safety blanket that keeps your bike looking shiny, rather than scratched to shit and smoking in a heap on the A427. It's only when you really hammer on the anchors that the ABS kicks in but not in a stuttery on-off fashion, instead, it seems more progressive and smooth then older systems – top marks for that Honda boffins!

One of my favourite features on this bike is the TFT dash, as this level of tech is usually reserved for superbikes. The readout includes a gear position indicator, adjustable shift light, clock, trip A/B, fuel consumption calculation and of course speed and revs. It’s the most comprehensive clock sets I’ve seen on a middleweight sports bike. However, unlike the UK, Tenerife has quite a bit of sun and in direct sunlight, I found that the red rpm numbers and smaller figures did become hard to see, but the critical info such as speed remained clear as.

Verdict  

Honda has aimed the CBR500R at people who fit into the A2 licence category, someone who is after the look and feel of a sports bike without the intimidating power and knife-edge handling characteristics. For big-bike pros, it's not going to be the most exciting bikes in the world, but it is a pleasant, very competent and composed sporty road bike. It can be poodled on while you head to work or taken for a swift weekend blast – without going to jail for speeding or popping huge wheelies. All in all the CBR500R is a well put together package which would make an ideal step up from the learner legal category.      

Honda CB500x Review 2019

The aggressive styling changes look epic
Rear brake lacks bite

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