Looking over the Honda for the first time and you’re struck with how pretty it is, especially in the Matt Axis Grey Metallic of the test machine. Re-sculptured for 2019 with more aggressive lines than it’s predecessor, it looks fabulous with it’s SuperSport family resemblance and superb attention to detail, it even sports unique aerodynamic winglets! Alongside the looks of the CBR, there’s been attention paid to the riding position with clip ons now attached beneath the yoke for a canted forward riding position and pegs that offer decent ground clearance without inducing cramp on longer runs.
What else? The CBR500R has a chunky looking 41mm telescopic fork set up adjustable for spring preload, as is the Pro-Link rear monoshock, a steel diamond-tube frame to enhance feedback and an engine that is close to the swingarm pivot point which, Honda say, generates fast steering and easy handling. There’s also a seat height of 785mm meaning that nearly all riders should be able to get both feet flat on the floor.
Sitting on the 500 for the first time, what strikes you is the quality feel of the grips, switches, tank and suspension. The CBR is an excellent proposition for the newly qualified rider and feels more sorted than bikes on offer for twice the price. Up front there’s the excellent inverse-display LCD dash with Gear Position indicator, rev counter and everything else that you might need. A quick stab of the go button is all you need to wake the excitable 8-valve, liquid-cooled parallel twin-cylinder engine who’s revised camshafts and valve lift, according to Honda, have increased low and mid-range torque for faster acceleration.
The CBR500R has been designed from day 1 to be fully A2 licence compliant and suffers no compromises when it comes to power and handling. Making 47bhp at 8600rpm and offering up 32ft/lb torque at 6500rpm may not sound much but it is the perfect amount for real roads.
With a low seat height and light weight the CBR500R is easy to manoeuvre at low speed and amongst traffic, seemingly dodging between cars at will, the Honda’s generous steering lock and relatively torque laden engine also having a significant role to play. Riding between 3000 and 8000 revs is especially rewarding due to revisions to the inlet, exhaust and valve timing, creating 4% more power and torque over the previous model.
Giving it large through the North Yorkshire countryside, the engine proves itself to be a willing and flexible companion. New riders will enjoy the instant drive and immense poise delivered in this reassuringly friendly package whilst the more experienced will revel in the Honda’s ability to change direction with the slightest nudge of the bars. Satisfying doesn’t come close to describing the feeling of taking the CBR500R by the scruff of it’s neck and being able to explore the revs in full, enjoying the Honda’s shift light illuminating when further gears are required, building momentum through the bends before setting yourself up for the next straight.
And then once you have decided that it’s time to be sensible, you can sit back and relax, enjoying the Honda’s ability whilst remaining more upright. Cruising at 70mph is perfectly comfortable with the CBR’s fairing providing a decent amount of protection from the elements and the engine just getting on with it.
For new or experienced riders the CBR500R offers up excellent real world performance, great looks and Honda’s legendary reliability for a quite incredible £6099. Commuting, touring or riding for fun, the CBR does it all.
Where will you go?