Honda’s known for its iconic lineup of CBR sportbikes – the CBR600RR and CBR1000RRare two of the most legendary sporting motorcycles to ever grace a racetrack. Look deeper into Honda’s product lineup however, and you’ll find Team Red has a host of other models also wearing the CBR nameplate. Here, we’ll take a look at the CBR500R. A 471cc parallel-Twin, the 500R represents a stepping stone to the bigger, badder CBR models – or does it? After spending some time with it, here are five things you need to know about the 2018 Honda CBR500R.
The CBR600RR and 1000RR have always been attractive, and the CBR500R continues that lineage. It was a decent looking motorcycle when it was first introduced in 2013, but after receiving a facelift for the 2016 model year the CBR500R looks aggressive and stylish – very befitting of the CBR name. Gone are the boxy headlights of yesteryear, and in its place are angular and edgy units that look sleek and sharp.
An inside joke amongst the MO staff is that the CBR500R should be called the VFR500R instead. It’s ergonomics lean heavily toward the comfortable side of sporty riding; its saddle is broad and well padded, the bars are raised just so the rider’s hands reach them naturally, and the pegs hardly put much of a bend in the rider’s knees. Simply put, it’s a very comfortable sporty bike for a normal-sized adult.
This is where the CBR500R falls short of living up to the CBR name. With only 42.7 hp to the wheel and 44 lb-ft of torque, some might argue the 500R underperforms, especially when motorcycles with nearly 100cc less displacement make just as much power. To Honda’s credit, the 500R is exceptionally well fueled, with a beautiful power and torque curve on the dyno. In fact, for a street-going motorcycle it makes a fine companion, but once you take it on a racetrack its limits are reached very quickly – its suspension too soft, brakes too mushy, and power simply adequate at best.
4. It’s heavy
Compounding the CBR’s performance woes in the engine department is the fact the 500R weighs 431 lbs with its 4.4-gallon fuel tank topped off. For reference, the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR we tested during our 2017 Superbike Street Shootout was only two poundsheavier and made 110 more horsepower. Granted, the 500R isn’t meant to be a cutting edge supersport, but the comparison is important when you consider the 500’s competition makes about the same power and tips the scales up to 75 lbs lighter.
5. And it’s also pricey
To add insult to injury, the CBR500R is a costly machine for its category. Non-ABS models will set you back $6,500, while ABS (like on our tester) is another $300. This is as much as $1,400 more than some of the Honda’s competition, so you really need to be on the Honda bandwagon to justify the CBR500R. That said, if you’re already committed to the Honda and a sporty street bike with excellent build quality and fuel mileage are important to you – and you’re taller and/or, umm…wider – then the 500R is worth considering.