Going from a 125cc to a bigger bike can be daunting for many people, which is one of the reasons why Honda produces the CB500F.
For a start, the seat height is only 785mm – adequate for most people of average height to keep their feet firmly on the ground. And boy, does it look good! In fact it looks stunning – especially in the striking orange colour. Is it powerful though? Well not too bad – it pushes out 47bhp which is enough for a bike this size. Cheap and cheerful this bike is not! It certainly doesn’t lack power on everyday riding. The bike has a feel like all Hondas, they really do care, and this shines through in the ride quality.
For most people it’s easy to ride and bags of fun. A new slip and assist clutch is the smallest ever fitted to a Honda and is 45% lighter at the lever. Gears now feature nine smaller ‘dogs’ instead of six for slicker changes, but it sometimes finds a false neutral if you hammer the revs between first and second.
Showa forks have new progressive springs (soft at the top and bottom, hard in the middle) and there’s a new single tube rear shock. Ride quality and overall balance is spot-on, and the CB500F manages to keep its composure when pushed hard. Michelin Pilot Road 5 tyres are grippy, wet or dry.
A single disc front brake set-up is friendly and won’t have you rolling over the bars when you yank on the lever, but stopping power is there when you really need it, especially if you stamp on the back brake too. A new ABS pump has less intrusive settings and automatically flashes the hazards as it starts to lock.
It gives the parallel twin cylinder engine a dark, rumbling soundtrack on the throttle and a gentle race bike-like pop and bang on the overrun. All 2020 CB500 models get the same new digital dash, but on the CB500F it also acts as your only defence from the wind (it doesn’t do a bad job). A gear position indicator has been added for the first time, along with fuel consumption info.
With its aggressive creases and sharp edges the CB500F’s new bodywork, drenched in deep paint, has more than a sophisticated air of Italian design about it. The general finish, including the engine and Autosol-shiny exhaust headers, are more like you’d get on a 10 grand super naked, let alone a machine costing around half of that.
Check out CB500F online owners’ reviews and you’ll see just how reliable and easy it is to live with. Problems are few and far between.
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