The Jumbo Shrimp Of The Honda CBR Lineup, And So Tasty!
Being a new rider and craving a sportbike is a mindset I fully understand. The styling, overall image, and performance are a magnet for my type of personality, which explains why I find the CBR500R to be such a fantastic bike.
The CBR500R is the sporty brethren in Honda’s lineup of 471cc parallel twins, alongside the mild-mannered CB500F and adventure-focused CB500X. Taking styling cues from the Supersport “RR” models and packaging it all in a more “new rider” friendly experience. Let’s break down this Honda, and why it might be the right choice for you.
Our Take: Why You Should Buy a CBR500R
The small-displacement sportbike segment has become a very competitive category. The Honda CBR500R is on the higher side of what’s considered small displacement, for me this is part of the appeal. Most of the key competition, think KTM RC390 and Yamaha R3, produce horsepower levels similar to Honda’s 471 cc parallel-twin, but cannot deliver it in quite the same smooth, linear fashion. The larger displacement translates into torque levels that happen at a lower RPM and gives you more overall grunt out of the CBR500R during typical daily riding. Bikes like the R3 on a spec sheet make a higher horsepower figure, 50 hp at 10,500 RPM, compared to the Hondas 47 hp at 8,500 RPM, but that also translates into needing to run at high RPMs to feel that small power advantage.
Once again, if simply comparing spec sheets, the CBR500R is honestly the heavyset one on the starting line and some see this as a negative. I would agree that being 50-60lbs heavier would affect the handling… if we were running the sportbikes against each other at the track, but I am talking about daily riding on the city streets. The added weight makes the CBR500R feel stable and planted during daily rides, perfect for new riders.
Honda has taken the correct approach here in my opinion, giving up outright track performance in favor of daily riding livability. Bikes like the R3 and RC390 are fantastic in the same way a scalpel is for making cuts, but do you really want to use a scalpel to cut your veggies when a sharp high-quality chef’s knife is available?
As for the rest of the Honda CBR500R’s bits and bobbles? The styling is on point with the family Supersports CBR600RR and 1000RR, aggressive and great looking. The suspension is a Pro-Link single-shock with 9 settings for preload in the rear, a 41mm front fork, 320mm front/240mm rear disc brakes, and a 160 section rear tire on a 17-inch wheel. The rear tire of the CBR is wider than the Yamaha R3 and adds to the overall more aggressive attitude.
Bottom line: The Honda CBR500R may appear on paper to be lacking versus the competition, but for daily riding, the vast majority of new riders will appreciate the intelligent Honda engineering that has gone into this great-looking, great riding motorcycle.
Reasons to buy the CBR500R:
47 hp is good power for most new riders (you won’t outgrow it too fast, you won’t find it too much).
It shares the same great looks with its wildly popular Supersport siblings.
The 471cc parallel-twin engine delivers power in a strong linear fashion.
The more upright riding position (compared to most sportbikes) is much more comfortable on long rides.
The brakes are better than average and ABS is optional.
Perfect for around-town riding or winding roads, a stepped two-piece seat also offers room for a passenger.
Reasons not to buy the CBR500R:
The pricing is on the higher side, and Hondas have great resale value, meaning you have to open the wallet a bit more to start.
It is not a track weapon or ultra-aggressive machine like the competition.
Production Run & Notable Model-Year Changes
Production Run & Model Generations
Honda introduced the CBR500R in 2013 as part of a family of 471cc parallel-twin machines.
First Generation (2013-2015)
Introduced in 2013 as a three bike family, April: CB500F, CBR500R released; July: CB500X released
The 471 cc engine was designed to meet the restricted power requirement of the A2 European driving license limit.
Second Generation (2016-2018)
EURO 4 compliance with smaller exhaust.
New LED headlamp
Preload adjustable front suspension
larger fuel tank
Fireblade style fairing
Third Generation (2019 – )
Revised exhaust system
Full LED lighting
New LCD instrumentation
Revised rear shocks
ABS becomes standard
Owner Reviews of the Honda CBR500R
Press & Magazines
RideApart Review: 2013 Honda CBR500R
“Want to get into the sport of motorcycling? Start here. Seriously, don’t argue, just go buy a CBR500R and start developing your skills. You won’t find a more forgiving, intuitive, easy package anywhere else, regardless of price or capacity and you’ll be rewarded with a surprisingly fun, imminently practical package too.”
“Despite wearing the CBR nameplate, the 500R is clearly meant to be a streetbike rather than a track weapon. On the open road, the Honda is every bit the excellent street machine we thought it would be.”
“CBR500Rs are pretty much bomb proof and our online reader reviews give nothing but glowing comments. It’s also a machine used at the Honda Ron Haslam School, thrashed for thousands of miles around Donington Park with zero mechanical problems.”
The power – the CBR500R has a smooth engine that delivers great power from down low in the RPM range. Great in the city traffic.
Riding comfort – Honda gets the riding position just right. I find this to be a very comfortable bike.
Reliability – It’s a Honda, what else can I say? They just never seem to break..
Fuel efficiency & range – getting near 70mpg and having a 4.15-gallon tank means less time at the pump.
What Owners Complain About
Soft Suspension – the suspension seems to show its limit faster if you really try pushing it like a track bike.
Price Tag – why Honda are you between $500 and $1000 more than everyone else?
The Bottom Line
The Honda CBR500R is a bike that you buy and love for a long time. The perfect dance partner while you hone your skills from a newbie to a confident biker. You love it every time you walk up with the keys in your hand. You love it each time you get a leg over the saddle.
The CBR500R isn’t meant to be the ultimate track machine, it has been fully designed to give a street ride that builds confidence and forgives mistakes. This kind of well-rounded nature is exactly why I love recommending this Honda to new riders seeking a sportbike experience. The CBR500R is a motorcycle that delivers a similar aggressive look, but not the frightening level of power and twitchiness of the CBR600RR.
Honda service departments are easy to find, though rarely needed, as the Honda twins are well regarded for their dependability. This level of quality and just overall appeal of the CBR500R ensure they hold value on the used market, so be prepared to pay a bit more. This is a bike that will keep you happy for quite a good while.
Honda CBR500R Competitors
If you’re looking at a CBR500R, you may also want to check out the Yamaha R3.
Honda CBR500R Specifications
The important specs are listed below. See the Wikipedia page for more detailed specifications.
471cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin
Est. 185 km/h (115 mph)
47 hp @ 8,500 RPM
32 lb⋅ft (43.4 N⋅m) @ 7000 rpm
F: 41mm fork; 4.3 inches travel
R: Pro-Link single shock with nine-position spring preload adjustability; 4.7 inches travel
F: Twin-piston caliper with single 320mm wave disc