This past year Honda has really expanded it’s product range when it comes to motorcycles. The existing CB250R/RA had positioned them well for new riders and now the latest family of 500cc bikes provides even more variety, while still catering to experienced riders looking for a tamer, more comfortable commuter bike. Over the past Thanksgiving weekend I had the pleasure of testing out their new naked “Streetfighter” bike, the 2013 Honda CB500F. All of my Thanksgiving plans meant I got to spend a good amount of time riding the bike in varying scenery from country roads, to suburbs, to city.
During my time with the CB500F, I had a lot of fun on it. The bike is very comfortable for extended rides thanks to the upright seating position, and the rather spongy seat it comes equipped with. The long weekend required me to pack my bags and hit the road all weekend long. Normally, the thought of taking an hour-and-a-half long ride with my camera and weekend essentials in my backpack is enough to make me consider booking a chiropractor/massage appointment first. Not at all the case with the CB500F. I easily and comfortably made it to my destinations with a 40lb backpack on without even considering stopping to taking a break. (This never would happen on my personal bike, a Ninja 250R).
In the ‘burbs and on city streets the bike is extremely manageable and rider friendly. The wet weight of the bike is around 425lb according to Honda, but even at low speeds it doesn’t feel that way. The riding position and raised handlebars make this bike very easy to throw around even at the 20km/h mark. In addition to that, the 47hp, 471cc parallel twin engine never feels like it’s going to lift the front tire (even during a…spirited takeoff) which is very confidence inspiring for newer riders. Also, the inclusion of ABS as standard means that even in panic breaking situations you aren’t pulling endos or flying over the handlebars. I gave it a try in a couple parking lots at varying speeds and was pleasantly surprised when I stayed upright even after 4-finger braking at 80km/h. Where the bike does leave something to be desired is certainly on the highway. The bike revs around 6000rpm when moving with the flow of traffic but just needs a little more oomph to pull off a quick pass.
The lack of a windscreen means you need to either tuck, or hang on tight at around 120km/h or over. This doesn’t make the bike ideal for a cross country haul, or even for an extended stint on the highway. However, as soon as I hit the exit ramp and headed for the twisty roads I started having a lot more fun. For such an upright seating position the bike actually allows a significant amount of lean into your turns before you start feeling your inside peg touching pavement and the 320mm front and 240mm rear brake pack enough stopping power for you to ride hard into a turn. The bars require a bit of input to enter your turns, but once you start to shift your weight the thing really will lean. The fact that the gearing isn’t overly aggressive also allows you to seriously roll the throttle when exiting a bend.
With a price-tag of $6,299 MSRP and an average fuel economy of around 4.2L/100km, this bike won’t brake the bank either (well, maybe on insurance for younger riders under the age of 25 – but anything over 250cc’s will be pricey). Easily some of my favorite parts of the bike would be; the comfortable riding position and seat, manageable throttle response, and it’s surprising eagerness to accelerate on the backroads. The bike is also, in my opinion, a treat to look at – but it would be nice to have more than one colour option, Honda.
I do think the Honda CB500F would be even more versatile with the addition of a windscreen as well, but then I suppose you’re bordering on CB500X territory. Some things I’m not super fond of would be the exhaust note (an aftermarket slip-on is a must if you don’t want to sound like an angry scooter), banana-sized levers, and the rather large rear fender. But let’s be honest, those are probably the first things that I (and probably most other riders) would change on just about any bike out’ve the factory. Overall, this is a surprisingly versatile bike which ultimately is perfect for the new rider looking for a bike they can learn on, but packs enough punch to stop you from getting bored with it after one season of riding. It’s also the perfect bike for the experienced rider looking for a nimble commuter bike that can still take them on a weekend getaway to the countryside.
2013 Honda CB500F Gallery