2023 Honda CL500

Honda is adding a new model to its 500 platform, introducing a retro-inspired CL500 street scrambler.

The new CL brings back a nameplate Honda used in the ’60s and ’70s for lightweight off-road capable motorcycles. The modern interpretation draws on that heritage with the upswept muffler with stainless steel heat shield, round tank with tank pads, and gaitered forks.

“We developed the CL500 as a machine that truly allow its owners to stand out from the crowd, and as a form of self-expression. It can be used and enjoyed casually – without hesitation – by the young generation in their daily lives and is designed to become a joyful and integral part of a lifestyle, says Hiroshi Furuse, Large Project Leader for the CL500. In standard form, the off-road street style has a visual charm unlike any other model in the Honda range, and can really inspire owners to take it further in any direction they wish.”

While the 500 series began with the CB and CBR models, it’s the Rebel 500 that shares most in common with the CL500, both in its aesthetics and the chassis. The tubular diamond steel frame is similar to the Rebel’s, with a loop-shaped subframe.

Of course, for the CL500’s light off-road aspirations, you need some alterations from the Rebel’s cruiser model. The CL500 is equipped with 41mm telescopic forks with 5.9 inches of travel and preload-adjustable twin rear shocks with 5.7 inches of travel, compared to the Rebel’s 4.8 inches front and 3.8 inches of rear travel. The CL’s top and bottom yokes are unique to the scrambler, with Honda claiming enhanced steering accuracy and feel.

The CL500 also runs on larger wheels than the Rebel, with a 19-inch front and a 17-inch cast wheels. Dunlop supplies the deep-groove Mixtours tires with a 110/80 R19 up front and a 150/70 R17 at the rear. The longer travel suspension and larger wheels contribute to 6.1-inches of ground clearance, and a 31.1-inch seat height.

The front wheel is equipped with a single two-piston caliper with sintered pads and a 310 mm floating disc. A single-piston caliper and 240 mm rotor are fitted to the rear wheel. Honda says the hydraulic pressure between the front and rear brakes are balanced for controlled braking on a wide range of surfaces. ABS comes standard, with settings optimized for both paved roads and dirt tracks.

The CL500 uses the same 471 cc Parallel-Twin engine as the CB500 family and the Rebel 500, but with revised mapping, and a new intake and exhaust. Honda claims a peak output of 46.0 hp at 8,500 rpm and 32.0 lb-ft. at 6,250 rpm. The upswept exhaust uses a two-pipe muffler fed by 2-into-1 downpipes.

honda cl500

From one of Honda’s many booths at EICMA 2022. Photo by Ryan Adams

The CL also uses a 41-tooth rear sprocket – one more than the Rebel – with Honda claiming crisper acceleration through each of the six gears. An assist/slipper clutch helps to reduce lever load and rear wheel hop.

Honda offers a range of accessories for the CL500, for sale on their own or combined in Adventure, Travel or Style packages.

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