It was built for a budget, and man, does it pack a ton of value into the package it does offer.
The Honda CB500F came out as a surprisingly capable little machine. In 2013 when it debuted, the bike was honestly rather drab. The appearances didn’t keep up with the feel of the 471cc parallel twin. It looked as cheap as it was. This has changed in 2016. Updated styling has given the bike a much greater aesthetic value. Tested in Candy Orange, it’s also available in a bold Matte Black Metallic. Both pallets include racing stripes down the centre, which I’m quite sure makes the bike go a tiny bit faster (at least I like to think so). For its price of $6799, it looks great. The bronze-ish gold covers on the engine add a good flair to the aesthetic, like a flower in the hair of a pretty girl. It works well.
She purrs, but not too loudly. The CB500F was designed to be the ideal beginner-intermediate commuter motorcycle, with more than enough capability to shred some curves. Thus, the exhaust has been tuned to have a crisp tone for 2016, while maintaining a volume level your neighbours will thank you for. Furthermore, the new exhaust is said to have better mass centralization, a claim which is backed up by the bike’s handling.
It rides easy and turns on a dime. The little 423lb ripper feels like it was meant for swerving around traffic in the city. It’s the ergonomics that really bolster the CB500F’s performance. The CB500F definitely sports some of the most natural ergonomics for a commuter motorcycle, and not just for the price. The handlebars are the perfect height for both manoeuvrability and comfort. Though they aren’t aluminum, the painted steel holds its own quite well.
Also new for 2016 is an adjustable brake lever! Honda has both heard and responded to the consumer’s gripes from the previous models. Brake feel is okay, there is slightly too much wiggle room at the top of the pull. More immediate feedback would be a definite improvement, though we must keep in mind that the CB500F is by no means a premium motorcycle.
It was built for a budget, and man, does it pack a ton of value into the package it does offer. Savings aren’t limited to the initial purchase either. The fuel economy of the CB500F is great. If I am careful, I can get almost 450km out of the 16.7L fuel tank, up from the 15.5L tank the last year’s model fit. Seeing as how it’s a small bike though, careful with the throttle may not be the easiest option.
The clutch is unchanged, but the slightest changes have been made to the transmission. An alteration made to the shape of the shift drum centre has resulted in a smoother and more confident shift. Finding neutral on this bike was no problem at all, nor was clicking straight through it. The gear shifting click was rather satisfying as well. Speaking of satisfying, twisting the throttle feels great.
I found that the throttle had a great amount of spring to it, and wringing it out was a pleasant experience. Gearing has been optimized for a quick getaway, with first being rather short compared to the rest. Again, this works well in its city-riding environment. The CB500F is still fitted with the same 41mm fork as the previous years, yet something feels different. Better. Small changes made to the bike have resulted in a smooth experience overall.
The CB500F packs in a whole lot of value for the price ($6,799 CAD). That being said, ABS is still not offered on this bike in Canada. Many other factors point to this being a stellar bike for a beginner, but a lack of ABS is a (minor) deterrent. When looking for competitors, the CB500F falls in a bit of an empty slot. Kawasaki’s Z800 (reviewed here), Yamaha’s FZ-07, and Suzuki’s SV650 are leagues above the CB500F in both power and performance, while the lower displacement standard motorcycles are leagues below. Honda has found a solid gap to fill with the CB500F, providing a easy and enjoyable experience in the city for beginner and intermediate riders.