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Long-term test: Honda CBR500R review

Does the CBR feel exciting straight after riding a Ducati Hypermotard SP? Not exactly, but I still like it.

MY CBR500R loan bike has had some difficult acts to follow in the last week or so, by chance more than design.

Last week I went to two bike launches, riding the 140bhp Kawasaki Z1000SX followed by the 147bhp KTM 1190 Adventure. Earlier this week I had a go on the 108bhp Ducati Hypermotard SP, an angry bulldog of a motorcycle.

Then I got back on the 47bhp CBR to London from Ducat’s UK headquarters at Silverstone.  

It could have felt boring by comparison. I’ll be honest, it was a little, initially. Like switching off Grand Theft Auto and having a cup of tea. Nice but underwhelming. I thought: Did I just open the throttle. I can’t be sure. 

It didn't take long to start enjoying it again though. There’s a cheerful nature to its (relatively) torquey engine response which is endearing. It felt tame but eager, hard-working and happy to get on with its job. And sporty. With some music playing on my headphones, I was fully recalibrated to its 47bhp again before I hit the M1.

It’s testament to the Honda that it can follow machines more than twice as powerful without seeming altogether dull. To me, it also shows that the sensation of power and speed is linked to expectation, and 47bhp can be enough, if you want it to be.

I’ve been riding the CBR for three weeks. It’s part one in a kind of long-term comparison test of bikes suitable fort A2 licence holders (by no coincidence restricted to 47bhp).

Today I took it back to Honda, then headed north to KTM to collect a Duke 390. More on that next time.

I got 67.4mpg from the CBR, on a mix of roads, making no concessions to frugality. It's perfectly good for fairly high-speed motorway cruisng. You could ride to the south of France on it, no problem, and have fun.

At the moment, if I were an A2 licence holder, or just in the market for a five grand sporty all-rounder, it would be top of my list of prospective buys. Will the 390 knock it down a place?
 
Model: Honda CBR500R

Price: £5,099

Power: 47bhp

MY CBR500R loan bike has had some difficult acts to follow in the last week or so, by chance more than design.

Last week I went to two bike launches, riding the 140bhp Kawasaki Z1000SX followed by the 147bhp KTM 1190 Adventure. Earlier this week I had a go on the 108bhp, 821cc Ducati Hypermotard SP, an angry, barking bulldog of a motorcycle.

Then I got back on the quiet 47bhp CBR to ride from Ducat’s UK headquarters at Silverstone to London.  

It could have felt tepid by comparison. I’ll be honest, it did, initially. Like switching off Grand Theft Auto and having a cup of tea. Nice but underwhelming. I thought: Did I just open the throttle? It's impossible to be sure. 

It didn't take long to start enjoying it again though. There’s a cheerful nature to its (relatively) torquey engine response which is endearing. It felt tame but eager, hard-working and happy to get on with its job, and sporty. With some music playing on my headphones, I was recalibrated to its performance before hitting the M1.

It’s testament to the Honda that it can follow machines more than twice as powerful without seeming altogether dull. To me, it also shows sensation of power and speed is linked to expectation, and 47bhp can be enough, if you want it to be.

I’ve been riding the CBR for three weeks. It’s part one in a kind of long-term comparison test of bikes suitable for A2 licence holders (by no coincidence restricted to 47bhp).

Today I took it back to Honda, then headed north to collect a Duke 390 from KTM. More on that next time.

I got 67.4mpg from the CBR, on a mix of roads, making no concessions to frugality. It gives a theoretical 232-mile range from the 15.7 litre tank.

It's perfectly good for fairly high-speed motorway cruisng. You could ride to the south of France on it, no problem, and have fun.

At the moment, if I were an A2 licence holder, or just in the market for a five grand sporty all-rounder, it would be top of my list of prospective buys. Will the 390 knock it down a place?
 
Model: Honda CBR500R

Price: £5,099

Power: 47bhp

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