Honda’s fully-faired CBR500R – launched in 2013 alongside the naked CB500F and adventure-styled CB500X – gives a genuine sporting energy to its fun-focused twin-cylinder ‘light middleweight’ trio. Suitable for riders looking to move up from a smaller machine, it instils the excitement of sports bike ownership into every ride yet also delivers sensible running costs, making it a great bike to both commute through the working week and enjoy at the weekend. It’s also found favour with experienced riders looking to downsize their machinery, while preserving the essence of enjoyable motorcycling.
In 2016 the CBR500R assumed sharper styling and LED lighting to go with upgrades to its front suspension; for 2019 it gets an even more aggressive makeover, with a new form and riding position that outlines a keener sporting intent. Its engine is stronger off the bottom and spins readily to the redline, delivering a thrilling howl in the process. The CBR500R has always proved fast, frugal, affordable and fun. And for 2019 its spirit has not changed – more of the same, yes; and a little something extra.
For its 2019 evolution, the CBR500R’s fully faired form is made more aggressive still with straight, wedge-like feature lines and extended lower fairings that emphasise a real sense of speed. The rider’s seat pad and seat unit – plus the upper and side fairings – have been narrowed to improve ergonomics and movement. Sharply- chiselled dual LED headlights stare menacingly ahead, and the addition of LED indicators now means all lighting is fully LED-based.
The view forward, from the CBR500R’s cockpit, is pure sports. The handlebars now clip on beneath the sporty, redesigned top yoke and as a result the riding position is canted 8° further forward; the fairing is also set lower, to give the rider Total Control – the design philosophy behind the styling redesign, and a mantra for Honda’s super sports range since the 1992 arrival of the Fireblade.
Among the new LCD instrument’s features are a Gear Position and Shift Up indicator; the latter can be set to a default 8,750rpm but can be adjusted in 250rpm increments between 5-8,750rpm. The 35mm diameter steel diamond-tube mainframe is unchanged for 2019. It’s light and strong, with a tuned degree of yield that gives plenty of feedback to the rider as road surfaces change. The shape and position of the engine mounts, plus the frame’s rigidity balance also reduces vibration. The CBR500R’s wheelbase is 1410mm and rake and trail are set at 25.5°/102mm giving nimble, yet confidence-inspiring steering. Mass centralization, with the engine in close proximity to the swingarm pivot point, delivers turning agility and optimum front/rear weight distribution ensures stability. Kerb weight is 192kg.
Seat height remains low at 785mm, making the CBR500R very easy to manage and its riding position comfortably accommodates riders of any height. Overall dimensions are 2080mm x 75mm x 1145mm, with 130mm ground clearance. The fuel tank holds 17.1L – an increase from the predecessor’s 16.6L, including reserve and combined with the engine’s excellent fuel economy gives a range of 480km (over 260 miles) of mileages.
The 41mm telescopic front fork, with 120mm stroke, delivers a compliant yet controlled ride and gives great feel for front tyre grip. A new single-tube rear shock absorber (as found on larger capacity sports bikes) replaces the double-tube design of the previous model; its large-diameter piston ensures excellent suspension response and temperature management. It has 9-stage spring preload adjustment and works through a rigid box-section steel swingarm, which now features pressed steel chain adjustment end-pieces. Final drive is via sealed 520 chain.
Lightweight, 17-inch cast aluminum wheels employ hollow cross-section Y-shaped spokes. Front wheel width is 3.5inch with a 120/70-ZR17 tyre, the rear 4.5inch with a 160/60-ZR17 tyre. A single front 320mm wavy disc and two-piston brake caliper is matched to a 240mm rear disc and single-piston caliper. ABS is fitted as standard.
The CBR500R will be available in the following color options: Matt Axis Grey Metallic, Grand Prix Red