Honda CBR500R: Midweight ride honours legendary Honda-spirit

Honda CBR500R (Photo: Quickpic)By Gerry Bezuidenhout.

So, you’ve been riding ‘n 250 now for some time, wishing you could step up to something bigger, more powerful and a little bit faster. However, you also don’t want to throw a leg over a bike that will have you clinging to the bars, screaming in terror. Where to go?

Over the past few years, more and more motorcycle manufacturers have spotted the gap for milder, smaller-engined motorcycles for beginner riders, riders who have ‘graduated’ from entry-level models, or for the growing commuter-market looking for an affordable run around.

Honda is no exception and with the introduction of their new CBR500R the company has nicely filled a gap in the motorcycle market that is only now being filled with competitive mid-size commuters.

The goods

Although the CBR500R doesn’t boast high-end materials (think of the CBR600RR’s aluminium frame), or race-sourced parts (ditto), the additional weight on the bike does in no way limit its 471 cc parallel twin engine. A six-speed transmission directs the power to the rear wheel by way of chain drive, while anti-lock brakes can be fitted at an additional cost.

The brakes themselves consist of a twin-piston, single 320 mm wave disc brake for the front, while the rear comprises of a single 240 mm wave disc setup. The ABS-equipped version also has the same disc size.

The ride

Honda CBR500R (Photo: Quickpic)From the word go, the CBR500R is a joy to ride. The standard seat is comfortable, and even on longer rides, the rider is spared the agonies of ‘numb butt’. Seating position is far less aggressive than would be the case in the CBR600RR, and is more upright. This means that newer riders find it easy to adjust to the bike and from the get-go there is a feeling of trust. This is quite important when one steps up from the beginner-plate and races (no pun intended) to second base.

The CBR500R brings a no-nonsense approach to commuting. The engine-sound is extremely quiet – so much so that I had to glance down at the display to see where the revs are going. Here a gear-indicator would’ve been nice. If you can’t hear your bike’s engine, one tends to lose track of which gear the bike is in, meaning that on overtaking you sometimes find yourself either gearing down unnecessarily, or opening up the throttle and accelerating at what can best be described as a pedestrian pace. Give the CBR500R a break though – even though you may find yourself a gear high or low, the bike is willing once the throttle is opened fully. Acceleration is smoother than suntan lotion on a warm Clifton-day, neither jumping into racehorse-mode, nor lazily plodding along like a Clydesdale taking the milk to market.

While we’re on the subject of the gears, I may mention that the gear change is very responsive. No jumping out of gear, or teeth rattling grinding as the left foot frantically jumps up and down like a toddler on red cool-drink. The gears slot neatly and precisely into place, giving even more assurance that the bike is doing exactly what it is meant to do: giving the rider a fantastic riding experience, while saving them a tanker full of fuel.


The Honda CBR500R ticks all the right boxes and is an easy to ride bike with enough power to keep most riders through most skill levels comfortably entertained. Handling is nimble and responsive, styling is sporty and for the rider who is looking for a commuter that brings a spirited ride this mid-weight is a must-have. It is quick enough without being out of control, fuel-efficient enough to go all day long, and retains the beautiful Honda styling that will draw many an admiring glance.

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