Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2017. Since then, a number of other good beginner motorcycles have hit the market, so we’ve decided to update this post with some of the newer options available for new riders. The list of is available below.
From EiC Duke’s initial ride of the littlest Duke in Thailand, we knew this small KTM was going to be special and it is. From the pointed profile of its front Pirelli to the tail-end bark from its 40-horsepower 373cc Single, this one does nothing to let down the family name, and on top of that, it’s one dollar less than 5,000. And that’s including ABS.
Going into it we surmised the little Duke was going to be the sportier ride and the Honda the more practical one. Guess what, that’s how it shakes out. Having said that, though, the practical Honda is really pretty damn sporty and the sporty little cheap KTM is practical enough to be your commuter – if you’re not much taller than 5’10, anyway. It’s way more compact than the CB500F.
When last we left the CB500F, we were all not exactly amazed but at least pleasantly surprised at what a very nice little inexpensive motorcycle Honda had sprung from its new Thailand factory. When it was new in 2013, the 471cc parallel-Twin CB won MO’s coveted Best Value Motorcycle for that year.
With BMW’s announcement that it will be producing a small-displacement, single-cylinder motorcycle – the G310R – aimed at newer riders and available come the latter stages of 2016, the German marque has signaled to everyone that it’s aiming at world domination. And if you’re familiar with South Park or internet memes, I’m imagining the plan goes a little something like this:
At a special event ahead of the EICMA motorcycle show today, Honda unveiled the updated CB500F. For 2016, the revised CB500F receives a makeover with aggressive new looks and a variety of technical improvements. The CB500F will make its U.S. debut this Friday at the IMS show in Long Beach, California.
The importance of this category should be obvious to any moto enthusiast seeing the graying demographic of the two-wheel world. The industry needs new blood to fill in the supply chain of riders, and we’re happy to support manufacturers who are devoting engineering resources to deliver fun and reasonably priced motorcycles for kids of all ages who appreciate agility and ease of use. For inclusion to this class, we’ve instituted an engine displacement of less than 500cc, and a key parameter will be the amount of value the motorcycle brings to the market relative to its rivals.
It’s easy for us to get carried away in the spirit of the MOment, no matter what kind of motorcycles we’re testing here at the MO. Manufacturers are constantly showering us with the latest greatest machines: $30,000 six-cylinder sport tourers? We love them. $15,000 retro nakeds? Fantastic! Cruisers? Fresh surprises every year, including the new Indian Scout.
There’s no reason not to be outside, behind the handlebars if you’re a female motorcycle enthusiast. It’s estimated that more than 12 percent of motorcycle riders are female – and this number is going up. For some, riding a bike is a high-adrenaline alternative that saves on gas, but for others, it’s a way of life and a passion that brings them inner peace, freedom and empowerment.
Honda’s 500cc middleweight duo, the naked CB500F and the sporty CBR500R, fill a mid-size displacement gap between smallish 250cc beginner bikes and larger 600cc supersport weapons. Similarly priced at $5,799 and $6,299 for the F and R, respectively, the bikes represent reliable and fun transportation that’s also economical and attractive. Introduced last year, the CB500F and R have struck a chord with the eco-minded younger generation that are also image-aware and price-conscious.
Less than a decade ago, the motorcycle market was experiencing unbridled success. Manufacturers were updating their sportbikes every two years, and the cruiser market was blazing hot with riders who sought personal freedom via riffs on the V-Twin archetype. Motorcycles sold at unprecedented levels, especially to a baby boomer demographic that was absolutely flush with cash, credit, and/or home equity.