Honda’s new CBR500R, CB500F and CB500X

    American Honda
    Jan 08, 2013

Looking at the extensive lineup of Honda motorcycles, it’s obvious this company clearly understands what it means to have a passion for riding. The amazing variety of motorcycles Honda offers speaks volumes about its commitment to delivering excitement and fun in just about every riding niche imaginable. And now, add to those qualities one more priority: Exceptional value at an affordable price. That’s clearly evident in three fun, new and distinctly different packages ranging from the CBR500R, a nimble-handling middleweight sport bike, to the CB500F naked bike that delivers sporty performance plus convenient daily transportation, and the middleweight CB500X adventure-style bike.

Each of these brand-new models has its own look and personality, plus a tie-in to larger bikes in the Honda lineup. As its name suggests, the CBR500R features full bodywork much like that found on the potent CBR600RR and CBR1000RR Honda sportbikes. All sportbike riders, whether well established in the sport or still developing their motorcycling skills, always prize the excellent handling traits that come with a light and responsive mount. And the new, lightweight and nimble CBR500R absolutely delivers in that department. It’s a great size for sport riders moving up from the entry-level Honda CBR250R, and more experienced sportbike riders will appreciate the handling characteristics of this bike. Its aerodynamic bodywork provides significant advantages in air management for added rider comfort, along with a low drag coefficient and effective engine cooling, rounding out a package that looks as good as it works.

Naked bikes form another discrete category of motorcycling, one that fosters the image of independence and non-conformity. And that’s especially true with the CB500F, a bike that looks like a first-cousin relationship to the liter-sized CB1000R naked bike. This modern and sporty 500cc naked bike not only carries a full load of attitude and style, it also delivers plenty of performance and versatility. It’s got everything you need, and nothing that you don’t. Whether it’s used as a daily commuter machine, an affordable weekend ride for backroad day trips, or a bike for hanging out at the local gathering spot, the CB500F serves as a great option for just about any kind of street use. Its comfortable, neutral riding position and slim profile let riders feel right at home in the saddle. For a bike that’s affordable, stylish and fun, it’s tough to top the new CB500F.

We all understand that half the fun of motorcycling is the mental escape it provides when you’re tied down at the 9 to 5 job. For riders who love to dream about getting far away on a ride, the middleweight CB500X is a fantastic option that follows in the tire prints of the recently introduced and highly acclaimed NC700X adventure-style bike. This is a bike that begs to travel new roads and discover new sights to see, a fun-to-ride motorcycle with an extra dose of versatility. The compact windscreen up front can be adjusted to varying heights, and it also has an upright seating position, plus a larger-capacity fuel tank that has been carefully shaped to give the rider an unrestricted riding position. It features a longer-stroke 41mm front fork that produces a full 4.9 inches of travel and a wide handlebar allows for easy steering inputs. And while this 500cc bike works well for longer-range adventure tours it also serves as a versatile ride to fulfill those everyday needs too. For riders seeking a little more adventure in their lives, the CB500X delivers on that idea at a very affordable price.

Despite their very unique appearances, these three bikes share the same basic chassis components and engine—a smart move, since sharing common elements helps greatly in reducing development and production costs, resulting in a lower consumer price point. The engine is a totally new next-generation unit; a 500cc liquid-cooled parallel twin with a bore and stroke configuration of 67 x 66.8mm, plus four valves per cylinder actuated by dual overhead camshafts. This DOHC configuration was chosen for higher performance; it gave the engineering team greater latitude in developing the shape of the combustion chamber, the shape of the ports and the layout angle of the valves, while also allowing the use of lighter valves. The cylinder head design also incorporates a roller rocker arm for a more compact layout along with reduced friction. The choice of a shim-type valve adjustment system allowed a lighter rocker arm setup that, in turn, allowed for a lower valve-spring load to further reduce power losses through engine friction. The cams are driven by a silent-type cam chain, and the surfaces of the cam-chain pins are treated with vanadium for lower friction. Honda’s Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) system delivers the appropriate fuel mixture according to existing riding and atmospheric conditions for crisp throttle response. An engine counterbalancer helps smooth operation, and preloaded scissor gears are used for the primary and balancer gears to reduce gear whine/engine noise.

The engine is a stressed frame member; the cylinder head features four attachment points for engine hangers, which allows the rigidity of the engine to add to chassis rigidity. Such a design lent itself to a more simplified frame shape, and a more lightweight and compact chassis. The resulting frame is a diamond-shaped unit with a 35mm steel tube main member and the final design was significantly lighter than other comparable designs, which added greatly to its handling prowess. The CBR500R and CB500F share the same wheelbase of 55.5 inches, while the CB500X spans 55.9 inches between axles. The X model also has one degree more steering rake than its two siblings (26° 5' versus 25° 5'), and its 41mm fork yields 4.9 inches of travel in contrast to the 4.3 inches of fork travel with the other two bikes. All three share the same Pro-Link single-shock rear suspension system, which offers nine-stage spring preload adjustability and 4.7 inches of travel. Thanks in part to its slightly taller suspension setup, the CB500X seat is slightly taller at 31.9 inches, versus 30.9 inches for the CBR500R and CB500F.

All three models share the same lightweight cast aluminum wheels, a 120/70-17 front and 160/60-17 rear. The brake setups are likewise identical: a twin-piston caliper and 320mm wave-style disc up front, and a 240mm wave disc in back.

So there you have it: three different bikes; three different riding experiences for three different kinds of riders. But all three are lightweight, nimble and fun to ride, and each one a fantastic value for the money.

Honda Powersports
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