Motorcycle review: F is for fun in Honda’s CB500F – USA Today – USA TODAY
After logging nearly 1,000 miles on a motorcycle, you get to learn a few things about the bike and yourself.
For the first couple hundred miles, I didn’t think there was much to say about Honda’s 2015 CB500F. The 471cc liquid-cooled, parallel-twin engine handled smoothly and it shifted through all six gears with ease. Pretty much what you’d expect from Honda. In fact, the ride seemed about as exciting as a baseline Honda Civic.
Granted, my first couple hundred miles, 240 to be precise, was an all-highway ride from Long Island, N.Y., to Baltimore. And highway is not this bike’s forte.
It’s comfortable cruising speed tops out at about 70 mph. Sure, you can go faster, but you can hear the little engine working hard. And being Honda’s naked version of the CB500 series (it comes in a sportier R version and off-road capable X), it doesn’t have a windscreen or much fairings for wind protection, so after about an hour on the road, my neck and arms were fatigued.
Back home, I had time to ride the bike around city, through the suburbs and on the backroads – and that’s when I started to get into it.
It’s light (420 pounds wet), making it very maneuverable, and has a smooth, manageable engine that helps a rider stay in control. You can bang through the gears with a wide-open throttle and not get into too much trouble.
Throttle response is precise, and the engine, though mild-mannered, still provides enough torque in all rpm ranges. In fact, it has enough low-end torque to easily pull you around cloverleafs even in sixth gear.
Because the bike is so well balanced, I noticed I was diving into twisty roads with more confidence. It also made me want to ride off-pavement and partake in some hooligan-like maneuvers, though I mostly restrained myself. (I couldn’t resist tearing up a bit of my lawn, however).
The low 30.9-inch seat height made pushing the bike around with my feet really easy, even for a short, 5’2″ rider like myself. Seating position is upright and comfortable for a rider my size, though I would imagine taller riders may feel cramped after a while.
The instrument panel is easy to read. The CB offers the usual speedometer, tachometer, odometer, a clock, two trip meters, fuel gauge, average fuel consumption and real-time fuel consumption. However, it lacked a gear indicator, which would have been useful for new riders.
One interesting gauge to note: Fuel use. The bike tracks how much gas you’ve used. In other words, if you see you’ve burned through 3.5 gallons (the tank holds 4.1 gallons), it’s time to look for a gas station.
I was able to wring out around 53 to 68 mpg in my test rides, depending on what type of riding I did. I got the worst gas mileage on the long highway ride from New York to Baltimore because I had to push the small engine pretty hard to maintain the higher speeds. On slower local roads and in the city, the bike darts along comfortably, sipping at the fuel.
As for braking, the wave-style discs on the front and rear wheel gave solid stopping power. Honda also offers optional ABS, which is the version I tested.
The simple fairings and the single-halogen headlight give this small bike a bit of edginess, and I really liked the sporty look of the red and white graphics. The add-on saddle bags allowed me to carry a decent amount of groceries or enough clothes for a weekend getaway.
At the end of my test period, I grew to respect the spunky CB500F. It’s a great urban commuter, which is really its calling, and an excellent motorcycle for new or smaller riders.
It also doesn’t ask a lot from your wallet. Base model is $5,799; ABS version is $6,299. It starts getting pricey when you add factory accessories, such as the saddlebags and saddlebag stays, which at $1,000 costs more than upgrading the bike to the ABS version. This makes the ever-useful luggage almost too expensive of an option, in my opinion. Luckily there are plenty of after-market options for Honda.