What you're looking at here could utterly transform the face of motorcycling. "Redline," a member of CBR250.net claims to have taken these photos at a presentation at Honda's manufacturing facility in Thailand, saying they show the 2013 Honda CBR500 and 2013 Honda CB500, faired and naked versions of the same bike.
"I have not yet been informed of the markets it will be sold in," continues Redline. "It will be cheap and released to steal sales from the Ninja 300, Er-6n and f. It will be a bigger brother to the 250 and not a smaller brother to the 600. See it as double the 250, and not 5/6ths of the 600."
It's hard to divine any mechanical details from these images. Any details about engine arrangement or frame configuration or whatever would be pure conjecture. But, we can see components like the right way up forks, non radial brake calipers and the CBR250-alike tail. All that points at a low price and broad practicality over race-like performance. Don't expect this to be a successor to high-revving, high-price bikes like the NC30 and CBR400RR, rather a nice looking, fun, affordable, practical, do-it-all motorcycle.
Styling on the faired version appears to riff off the 1st gen CBR600RR, which is no bad thing, while the naked looks very similar to the CB1000R, again, that's awesome. Strong styling like this combined with decent performance, a comfortable riding position and a low price could be a killer app in broadening the appeal of motorcycling, while also encouraging new riders to start on machine they can handle over too-much, too-soon, too-fast race replicas like the CBR600RR.
Currently, the US motorcycle market is experiencing a boom in small capacity, cheap bikes — CBR250R, the CCWs, the Ninja 300 — and high zoot 600s and liter bikes continue to have a strong presence. Giant, heavy, intimidating ADV bikes are also popular. But, there's really nothing in the middle. Nowhere for riders who did the right thing and started on a CBR250 to go next. Bikes like the Kawasaki Ninja 650 or even the Honda NC700X are wonderful, practical machines, but at $7,600 and $7,000 respectively, they create a large price gap over the $4,000 CBR. A $5-6,000 CBR500 could nicely bridge that gap, while being more appealing to young riders than either.