Honda conceived the CB500 model range in 2013, two years after the NC700, the highly innovative and visionary response to the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing slow motorcycle market. The CB500 model range appeared as a more traditional approach to the mission of enticing riders: neatly conventional in chassis and powertrain design, sporting the right styling in every variation, but still very accessible thanks to a smartly friendly and easy-to-use engine and surprisingly responsive chassis dynamics.
The CB500 range underwent an extensive redrawing that extracted a much stronger and attractive personality plus a sharper specialization of every model variant. Now the CB500F roadster, the CB500X adventure crossover, and the CBR500R sport model are most definitely aimed to meet the tastes of different classes of potential customers.
In 2019, the CB500 line also received technical updates and upgrades in both the engine and chassis departments. The CB500F runabout is compact on its wheelbase, spanning 55.5 inches, and its 31-inch seat height makes it easy to access and handle for all—beginners and smaller riders included. A 416-pound wet weight is made easy to manage even at low speed thanks to the well-centered mass for low center of gravity. LCD instrumentation display now includes a gear indicator and signals when to upshift. Front headlamps and rear light are all LED technology.
These same upgrades come on CB500X and CBR500R versions as well. CBR500X spans a slightly longer 57-inch wheelbase and a taller 32.5-inch seat height due to its longer-travel (150mm/5.9 inches) suspension intended to duly absorb the bumps on mild off-road rides. Additionally, the steering axis rake has been increased from 25.5 to 27.5 degrees to ensure more stability on the rough ground. Although not a really specialized off-roader, the CB500X is intended to easily manage moderate adventure rides. The look is inviting, the engine is super flexible at a claimed 47 hp at 8,500 rpm and 31.5 pound-feet of peak torque at 7,000 rpm, but the 435-pound wet weight is up 28 from the spritely F model.
The CBR500R shares the same chassis geometry numbers with the CB500F, but the look is perfect for any rider who dreams of an entry into real sportbikes. Basically the engine remains unchanged; only the upshift indicator on the LCD instrumentation is set at 8,750 rpm—250 higher than peak power, for that extra shot of adrenaline coming from the sound (well civilized) of a twin hitting high revs. The 31-inch seat height combines well with the clip-on bar position for a “sort-of” roadracer riding posture.
Now, the real technical novelty: The “square” (67mm bore by 66.8mm stroke), 180-degree twin has been upgraded to comply with Euro 5 emission standards, and that is a most relevant evolution mainly achieved by further refining the catalytic converter in the new, dual-tipped muffler. The Euro 5 homologation and the LED technology light all around are the most significant upgrades for 2021, plus new colors, and don’t forget the revised LCD instrumentation.
Only the CB500X has been announced for the US market as a 2021 model and will be priced at $6,999. Both the CB500F and CBR500R are shown on the Honda website as 2019 and 2020 models, respectively.