Meet The CBR500 Family

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Here, totally undisguised, we see the new Honda CBR500, CB500 and CB500X, three new models that make up the affordable-but-desirable push from Big Red. The CBR is obviously the full-faired one (seen here sporting styling that’s nearly identical to the CBR1000RR), the CB500 is a nake styled like the CB1000R, but the Honda CB500X is new, mimicking the just-released NC700X. What you’re seeing here is a transformation in both corporate philosophy and in the market place. These aren’t premium-priced luxury goods targeted at boomers, they’re intended to be practical, economical, fun transportation for you, the kids of America.

Previously, we exclusively brought you leaked specs of the new bikes:

- 470cc liquid-cooled, parallel-twin
- Six-speed manual
- 46.9bhp
- 30lb/ft of torque
- 401lbs (dry)/430lbs (wet)
- 105mph top speed
- 31-inch seat height
- 120/70-17 (front)/160-60-17 (rear)

That might not be the stuff of race-replica dreams, but it is a formula for a fuel efficient, accessible, affordable motorcycle. Now with the strong styling seen in these pictures, this is starting to looking like a very complete package. Or, well, three packages.

Honda CBR500

Holy hell does this thing look sporty…at least from 10 yards. Get up close and the big chrome exhaust, low pegs, big seat and high bars kinda ruin that effect. Still, this is a good-looking, practical sportsbike.

Honda CB500X

If it weren’t for the white paint and big ‘X’ on the side, you’d be hard pressed to tell this thing apart from the NC700X. Like that bike, it’s not quite a tourer, not quite an ADV, it’s just a practical, comfortable, upright bike that’s capable of commuting, distance, sport riding, you name it.

Honda CB500

All three of these bikes use the same frame, same engine, same tail, same seat, same tank, etc etc etc. The naked version will be popular in European cities, but nakeds traditionally don’t sell in the American market. Will it even be imported? We’ll know very soon.

via Motociclismo.it

Gallery link

  • http://www.ninja250blog.com R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

    These look pretty smart. That CBR500 does what the CBR250 doesn’t–looks good.

    • nwdothage

      I was thinking just the opposite in that I would like more of the cbr family to share the 250′s look.

      • Kyle

        Nah, 250 shares its looks with shamu I like this a lot.

        • http://www.cdavisdesigns.com Chris Davis

          The CBR250 is more interesting and more finished looking than this, though this certainly isn’t bad for what it is. Looks like they met their part reduction target, but that is one seriously large piece of plastic on the CBR500. Be sure to get the sliders.

  • rohorn

    Artsy video documenting salt flats speed record in 470cc class in 3. 2. 1….

  • Bruce Steever

    You meet the nicest people on a Honda, anyone? Looks like Honda is trying to sell bikes again, something they forgot to do over the last few years.

    • Tyler

      I’m Ron Burgundy?

  • Jon B.

    So cool to see this.

  • http://www.TroyRank.com Troy R

    Excited to see what they end up pricing them at! This is exciting for Honda. A return to reasonable, awesome, small-medium displacement bikes is what motorcycling needs.

  • contender

    Nice work Honda. I wonder how the riding experience will differ between the X and the NC700X…

  • Porter

    I don’t know, man. I get the whole sports-style-oriented efficiency thing they’re going for. And if you’re looking at a 250cc bike, I say go for it.

    But at 500cc’s I just don’t understand it. For near the same price (presumably around $6k-$7k) you could get a really nice used CBR600RR or GSX-R750 that if ridden carefully is nearly as efficient, but has about 3 times the fun-potential.

    Maybe in Europe it makes more sense than it does here in the US.

    • Toby

      The thing to keep in mind is that these aren’t designed first and foremost for the US market. In the South Asian market these will sell like mad: they’re built locally, dodging the heavy import taxes that keep GSXRs, R6s and CBR600s out of reach.

      With the number of these they’ll sell in Asia, the US market is literally an afterthought. They just need to sell enough to warrant the expense of importing them.

    • Steven

      Also, Honda doesn’t make its money selling used Suzukis.

      • Porter

        That is my point, almost entirely. Why make a pseudo sportbike that costs the same as a newish used actual sportbike? I guess Toby’s answer addresses that question in part: because it wasn’t designed with the US in mind. Which I suspected all along.

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          It’s not a sportsbike.

          • Porter

            Exactly. So if it looks like one, weighs and costs the same as one but has less than half the power and none of the handling, then what’s the point?

            • NewOldSchool

              It doesn’t cost the same as one, it costs half as much as a “sportbike.”

              We are talking NEW motorcycles here.

              • Porter

                I don’t care if it’s new or used. I’m thinking “How can I best spend the money I have?” If that means buying a new used bike with actual performance capabilities for the same price as a new bike with shit performance, I don’t think you can argue with that decision.

                • Tony T.

                  When it comes to financing and insurance, a new bike will have a lower finance rate (hopefully) and possibly a longer finance term than a used bike. Also, the insurance difference between faired and unfaired bikes can be significant, so a new naked standard 500cc is going to have a nice low insurance rate for a newer rider and would have lower payments and a lower monthly payment overall than if they were to try to pony up for that CBR600RR. I actually got a quote on the difference between that and my Buell XB9S and it was staggering. 2009 Honda = $1400/year, 2003 Buell = $215/year. Newer naked Buell’s didn’t impact the numbers much. $1200 can buy some nice gear. This example doesn’t take into account collision coverage which would be required were you to finance.

                • NewOldSchool

                  @Porter

                  I have something to tell you, and this may absolutely shock and surprise you. Ready?

                  Not everyone is you, and not everyone has your tastes or your bias toward outright performance. OH MY GOD!!??!?!

                  Yep. Some people take price, maintenance, running costs, comfort, insurance and other variables into consideration.

                  Some people are actually honest with themselves or just smart and know they should not START out on a 600cc repli-racer.

                  There is nothing to argue here, you have an opinion.

                • Porter

                  I hadn’t considered the insurance angle. I’ve insured both 600cc and 750cc sportbikes and it was always in the $600 – $800 range per year, but I’m in my 30s, have no tickets and don’t ride like a fool.

                  And, NewOldSchool, you need to relax. I’m not trying to make this a black and white issue, I’m merely stating my opinion. And I certainly never said I think someone should “START” with a repli-racer. Those are your words. I’m just saying, for me and for anyone who values performance (not insane, just decent), this bike makes no sense.

                • NewOldSchool

                  I’m just sayin with that reasoning someone in the market for a new Honda Civic should absolutely not get it because you can find a used C5 Corvette for similar money.

                  They’re just completely different markets and purposes.

    • je

      Transportation on two wheels doesn’t need to be done on a cruiser or sport bike.. It’s this mind set that our two wheel vehicles are either toys or weekend only use.

      Imagine spending 5500 on a cb500.. You could ride to work every day comfortably.. Enough power to deal with traffic, light enough to control with crafty drivers, and a good riding position to be comfy… Plus you could do long gaunts on it as well…

      • Porter

        Ok, fine. Replace “CBR600RR” with 919 or FZ6 or FZ8 or any number of other sporty standards that would cost similar but have decent handling and decent power.

        • szu

          The thing is they don’t cost “similar”. In Europe FZ8 costs 10.000Euro, while NC700X costs 7.000Euro and these CBx500 would be the +/- the same?

          3.000Euro buys you _lots_ of fuel. And… 2-cylinder 500-700cc engine is more practical & way more fun than inline four below 100Mph.

    • KW

      Who wants a CBR600RR or a GSX? Not me. I think all the guys that want used sportsbikes are buying them. The displacement is spot on AND the lame graphics seem to be toned down.

    • http://vtbmwmov.org Eben

      What’s with this $6-7K number? The NC700X is $7K and is a good bit more bike. The CBR250 is $4200 and the Ninja 300 is $4800. I’d expect this to come in around $5500 for a non-ABS version.

      Also, why compare the new price of one bike to the used price of another, totally different kind of motorcycle?

    • Tommy

      You’re obviously missing the point….

      • Porter

        I think that is something we can all agree on: The point of a bike like this is completely lost on me.

        • NewOldSchool

          @Porter

          That’s whats wrong with the US and what Honda is trying to curtail with these models.

          Most Americans think a motorcycle is supposed to do one of two things (or both): be insanely fast and powerful, or make them look like a badass.

          The rest of the world sees a motorcycle for what it is (or can be): Cheap, efficient, frugal and fun transportation.

          • Porter

            All right. You define “fun” as cheap and efficient, without consideration for performance. I define fun as cheap, efficient with consideration for performance. And in that respect, these 500cc bikes fail.

            Lop off 100lbs, add decent suspension and brake components for the same price and you got a deal.

    • BigRooster

      One word – INSURANCE. These will cost way less to insure than a “real” sport bike. The TCO for these will destroy the bikes you mention – even used. Yes, the lose the spec race but they win the practicality race.

      I dont care for the faired version but the naked one is very interesting.

      • Porter

        That’s a fair point.

        • BMW11GS

          What if I know I am slow and a 600 or 750 (perish the thought, an 1000 supersport) would be lost on me? I would much rather have something “sporty” than “racy.” I think these bikes may meet that requirement quite well and hopefully sell in the thousands.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

    The tail doesn’t look the same on the faired and X versions. Definitely not the same seat.

  • Corey

    I think that naked might be a seller if people can test ride it vs. the faired option. My only gripe is a single brake up front and looking at the left fork reminds me of a ruckus and it’s terrible ‘suspension’.

    • je

      The break and suspension is more then enough for the bikes intended purposes… With in no time you will see peeps swapping front ends for the look, so the “overkill” people are covered.

  • frick

    3 versions, very smart!

  • Kerry

    Why are they putting covers on them in the middle of the street?

    • Mitch

      The rest of the spy shots show that it’s part of a photo/video shoot, most likely for the upcoming EICMA show where they will be officially unveiled. So they do their best to limit exposure until then.

  • Coreyvwc

    You said it best in one sentence Wes. They look really good from 10 yards away. When you take a closer look you come away feeling a little dissapointed. Not worth the 6-7k pricetag they will probably come with, or such is my opinion anyway…

    • je

      Agree.. If these are over 6k I think they will have a hard time selling. Are they worth it, sure but people will usually justify a larger bike cause they think they need more and don’t believe a couple grand is that much when already spending 6k… We are retarded..

  • Trev

    I hope the CB500 gets imported to the U.S., even for just a year or two.

    • Mr.Paynter

      I’m thinking the same, but for south Africa!

  • John

    Honda is BACK!!!!!!!!!

    That’s excellent. I’m having a flashback to the VFR500, VT500 Ascot, etc.

    I’m in.

  • Dylan

    Looks a bajillion times better than the Ninja 300 or any 250. Hopefully more people will pick this up as a first “sportbike” instead of a used liter bike or modded out 600.

  • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

    I think I’d still pay a premium for the upcoming KTM Duke 390 if it offers better (and more tunable) suspension, with a lower wet weight.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      The premium you’d need to pay for any hypothetical KTM product would be more than enough for a little suspension upgrade.

      • BigRooster

        Yeah, but you would have a KTM and not a Honda. KTM has a bit of cache that Honda lacks. Logical or not.

        • cdeforrest

          Being able to find a dealership is a factor that rules out KTM for many people. There’s cachet and there’s being completely impractical.

    • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D [EX500]

      Agreed, the suspension will likely be the limited factor on the 500. Of course a set of cartridge emulators would help. I wonder if a full CBR600 front end will bolt on…

      • Coreyvwc

        A 600RR front end would probably bolt right up, but you’d need a new front wheel too. Stockers are single disk…

  • Squid_Squidly

    FUCK.

  • http://www.damiengaudet.blogspot.com damien

    I never liked the CBR600 headlights, so this is a definite styling improvement. Would this run in the same class as the old Kawi 500 in club racing?

  • Todd

    I’m really trying to decide if there is much to be excited about here. Maybe, maybe not. Honda has certainly been building a lot of stupid, directionless, and uninspired bikes for the better part of at least the last decade. I’m not sure yet if these reflect any change in that regard. That said, at least their pricing has recently gotten more realistic for the products they’re offering. Not sure if there are enough data points yet to call that a trend though.

    For those of you gushing about this/these new models, why not similar enthusiasm for the GS500? Seems to me this new Honda is no huge improvement over the long-in-tooth GS500F. Comparing specs, hp, torque, weight, brakes, and fuel economy all look about the same. Sure the Honda has EFI and is water-cooled, but the GS500 at least has a twin spar frame. Is this new Honda a better bike? Probably, but way to set the benchmark so low as a 9-year old (at least!) design in the GS500F. And no, for the record, I’m not a GS owner or fan-boy.

    This kinda looks like another example of Honda showing up late to the party with a bike that only equal or marginally better than the long established (read: old) bikes already in the class. On the plus side, at least Honda is now paying attention to the < 600cc streetbike segment. Maybe that's the big news here.

    In the end, I think price is what will determine whether this bike/platform makes sense (in the US) or not.

    • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D [EX500]

      I wouldn’t discount the improvement of adding EFI and watercooling, as well as suspension/brakes designed for modern tires, the low-maintenance advanced materials used in the engine(see CBR250), or the general build quality. For a lot of buyers, just the warranty is the most important thing.

      • Coreyvwc

        Hahaha since when is a single two piston caliper and a single 300mm disk with rubber brake lines mounted bargain basement fork a “modern” brake/suspension setup? There was obviously ZERO design and R&D money thrown into this project. Everything is recycled design and tech from older models. This is a profit margin machine, no more, no less.

        • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D [EX500]

          I don’t mean the suspension/brakes themselves are top-notch, but rather they’re sprung/dampened etc with modern radials in mind, rather than old bias ply (like a GS or EX 500)

  • CrankyHippo

    I applaud Honda for now making some great economical/learner bikes, i wish they had been around when i started learning to ride on the street. I feel like i may have missed the boat on this generation of Honda bikes, as i started on a 03 Ninja 250 that i bought for $600 and upgraded to a 02 f4i for $3000 later. I would however be interested if Honda made a CRF500L? The 250L looks like it would be loads of fun… but could i haz a 450 or 500 motard plz :D?

  • mchale2020

    Really like this bike, especially the fully faired model. Sure, the components aren’t anything to get excited about, but it makes for cheap, enjoyable transportation and I myself wound’t feel like a complete dolt commuting on like I do with my R6, which better serves me at a track day or isolated mountain road.

    I’m interested what kind of warranty Honda will offer with the bike. I’m expecting two years at least given the 500 probably has a very unstressed nature to it. I’m also imagining insurance being very affordable for such a bike. Hopefully Honda can market this new motorcycle here in the US with an attractive price without cannibalizing their entry 250 machines.

    • Peter88

      I bought a used liter bike (a Honda)for about the projected price of this 500. I do everything with it and I don’t feel like a dolt when I commute. That’s what is so amazing about current motorcycle technology. That liter bike can perform everything from commuting to track days to mountains without a single complaint. I don’t have any collisin so it’s cheap to insure. I guess I just don’t get it.

      • BigRooster

        Most people want to carry insurance, so riding without proper coverage isnt really a valid way to cost compare. Liter bikes are a bitch to insure. Me, I’d rather carry full coverage for a couple hundred bucks a year for a something else rather than forgo collision and still pay a couple hundred bucks a year for a liter bike.

        I look for the tweaners – fun bikes with decent specs but realistic insurance – something like a Monster, ST3 or my Griso ($175 a year for full comp/collision coverage & medical).

      • mchale2020

        I know I feel like a dolt when I commute on my sport bike since I have a car that is way cheaper to operate daily. True race replicas are out of place and out right obnoxious on most public roads. Most people just want to be seen on a sport bike and it becomes less about the sport and more about a superficial image that really degrades motorcycles as a whole.

        • Peter88

          Wow! Thanks for that analysis. But obnoxious? That thing is smooth, quiet, reliable and unless I’m 2-up it’s adequately comfortable. I throw a set of saddle bags across the rear seat and I can do a bit of grocery shopping or take a small trip. I’d like to make it into some kind of naked some day, like the latest Ride Apart video. That would be cool!

  • http://www.xenophya.com Xenophya

    At last!!! Someone saw the gap.

  • Rob

    So let me get this straight. Honda developed a parallel twin motorcycle at an attractive price point and is releasing it in Regular, Sport and Adventure versions. How innovative! Wait, didn’t Kawasaki do this in 2007 with the ER6/Ninja650/Versys line? Why yes they did.

    • Todd

      Ding! Ding! Ding! Winnah Winnah, chicken dinnah!

      …excepting that these Hondas appear to be slightly down-market from the 650 Kawis. Tip of the hat once again to Kawi for grabbing up some market share with some smart products.

  • John

    I would like to see this bike in a real dual sport version, but it is pretty damned porky for the engine size.

    WHY???

    Honda can’t make a 500cc parallel twin that is lighter than a 20 year old 650cc V-twin??? Come on.

    This is really cool stuff, but why is everything so heavy these days?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Modern bikes are heavy because of increasing emissions regulation and feature bloat. Remember that these are also budget machines, so going back in and adding exotic materials to reduce that weight isn’t financially attractive.

      The CRF250L is $4500 with a steel frame. The WR250 is $6500 with an aluminum frame. Which one do you think is slightly heavier and which one do you think is going to shift more units this year?

  • Duncan

    We have come along way baby…32 years ago my CX 500 made more hp, 50 miles per gal steady riding, shaft drive, comfy. Rode it two up with a top box all over the west coast. Pissed my brother off as it was about as quick as his Norton 850 and never broke down..lol
    DT

    • M

      fun bikes, for sure. and even with them coming into fashion among hobbyist/customizers fine examples can still easily be found for under a grand — if you like the cruiser-ey “custom” version.

      • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D [EX500]

        I really like some of the custom. Pretty standard cafe/dirt tracker theme, but a weird enough bike to make it unique.

        http://www.bikeexif.com/1978-honda-cx500

    • Campisi

      I never really understood the ideas behind the CX500′s engine. They gave it a transverse V-twin like a Moto Guzzi (a design whose merits primarily lie in superior air cooling for both cylinders), only to go ahead and give it water cooling anyway. It was also originally designed with a 90-degree pitch between the cylinders for smoothness, but then they decided that an 80-degree pitch would (by merit of being worse) give the engine character. They went with an unusual engine arrangement only to negate everything said arrangement is uniquely good at.

      That said, I do want one quite badly.

      • NewOldSchool

        I think they were made to appeal to people who wanted something quirky and different.

        Ah the golden years when manufacturers threw everything they could think of at the wall until something stuck.

        • M

          quirky and different is what they got.

          i’m pretty sure this started out as a longitudinally-mounted attempt at stealing hd’s thunder on flat-track. the engine was a failure to that end, but they had it, so, fuck it!

          the result could have been better, i’m sure. it definitely could have been a prettier engine, but i think it has a homely charm.

          it’s kind of funny, though, that the cx’s closest corollary was the beautiful, fast, exciting, cantankerous guzzi and it turned out to be ugly, workmanlike, boring, and reliable. an early 80′s japanese bike through and through.

          have to say i liked mine, though. the only thing that bothered me was that it had a tendency to torque out from under you if the ass-end went airborne at all. common shaft-drive issue, though.

          • Campisi

            Part of the reason why I like them is that the engine and transmission together look quite a bit like an air compressor.

  • ozgeek

    Meh

  • Greg

    CRF500L, So many people want this to happen, Come on Honda!