Honda CB500F

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Well, your original Honda CB550F from the ’70s has become a sought-after cult classic lo these 40 years later. According to my internet sources, its key numbers were: 26 degrees rake/ 105mm trail; wheelbase 55.5 inches; 423 pounds with a full tank of fuel. For our new 2014 CB500F, Honda says 25.5/103mm rake and trail, 55.5-in. wheelbase and a wet weight of 420 pounds (our scales say 418). Why mess with success?

Forty-three horsepower are not many, but on our favorite roads they mostly seemed to be enough, even under our heaviest pilots. Like with the NC, the overall CB package is so balanced and all systems work so well together, the CB encourages you to keep its two little 34mm maws inhaling air and fuel nearly constantly, maintaining momentum. Dirty Sean did indeed look like a gorilla in love with a football on the way up Highway 39, but he seemed to be opening a gap in spite of it. Hmmm …

Even Big Dirty Sean couldn’t crush the little CB500F’s spirits.

Even Big Dirty Sean couldn’t crush the little CB500F’s spirits.

“The other bikes should have left it in the dust,” says Sportbike Troy, “but that wasn’t the case. It’s way more athletic than I expected. I started to feel guilty at how much I was pinging it off the rev limiter to keep up with the rest of the group, but it was the surprise of the test. I was expecting it to be outgunned in every category, to the point I wouldn’t want to ride it. Not the case. I really enjoyed riding this bike and hustling it for all it’s worth.”

Basic but comprehensive and easy-reading. A 4.1-gallon fuel capacity yields a 200-mile range.

Basic but comprehensive and easy-reading. A 4.1-gallon fuel capacity yields a 200-mile range.

Once down off the mountain, the skinny little CB is also surprisingly comfortable, commendably fuel-efficient and a great dissecter of congested traffic patterns. Kudos to Honda for bringing this thing to market for a mere $5799.

“The CB500’s motor is a playful little thing that doesn’t feel egregiously underpowered against the significantly bigger rivals in this group. Use the light-action tranny to good effect, and the CB is able to keep within sniffing distance. It’s torquey yet revvy, unlike its NC brother, which is only torquey. The CB’s peak horsepower is only a few ponies short of the NC’s, and its midrange is impressive for such a small motor, pulling off 80-mph highway passes without a downshift.” – EIC Duke

2013 CB500F and CBR500R Review

+ Highs

  • Way more fun and competent than the spec chart suggests
  • Way more comfortable than it looks for long hauls
  • Suffer no guilt treating it like the cheap, over-eager tramp it so desperately wishes to be
– Sighs

  • Not much fun to ogle after hours in the garage
  • We have no garage
  • An adjustable brake lever would be nice

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