Piloting a capable motorcycle can be described as the closest thing to flying for mere mortals. But joining the world of motorcycling can be a daunting task. Not because it's a scary sport, but, rather, because selecting the right bike for your needs is crucial to the experience.
2013 marks an important year for the industry, as Honda recently released a trio of half-liter streetbikes that are bridging the first-bike gap. There's the CBR500R sport bike, an open cockpit CB500F, and the CB500X adventure bike — all three flavors are friendly enough, yet capable enough for seasoned gearheads.
A few years ago it seemed the only options for new riders were 600cc sportbikes and entry-level 250cc options, leaving no middle ground. Generally, as the size of a motorcycle's engine increases (measured in cubic centimeters), so does the horsepower and the physical size of the bike. A 250 has enough power for riding around town, but can be a little small for sustained highway jaunts, especially if you're a larger rider. Meanwhile, a 600 is a precision instrument built for the racetrack.
Propulsion for all three variants finds the sweet spot with a 471cc parallel twin engine that serves up healthy doses of mid-range torque. The liquid-cooled, fuel-injected twin cylinder engine also features a 180-degree crank configuration and a counterbalancer. These are all big terms that really just mean the engine produces great power without vibration.
As far as fuel economy is concerned, with a rating of 71 mpg and a 4.1-gallon tank, the CB500s have a range knocking on 300 miles while running on regular-grade gas.
When it comes time to bend through the turns you’ll find a capable steel semi-double-cradle frame suspended by 41mm forks and a Pro-Link single shock. Translation: the combination proves a willing partner on a twisty road while also absorbing all but the biggest of bumps in the urban jungle.
Braking performance is crucial on a streetbike, and the Honda CB500s have plenty of technology when it comes to stopping. Up front, a 320mm single Wave rotor is pinched by a twin piston caliper, while a 240mm variant is sandwiched by a single piston caliper out back. In short, these things have impressive stopping power. But perhaps the biggest surprise at this price point is the available anti-lock braking system (ABS), which is a must for new riders. Simply put, ABS is the single biggest safety feature on a motorcycle that helps new riders stop safely.
Good news: the new Honda CB500 models are priced with your wallet in mind. The standard CB500F starts at a rock-bottom $5,499 with the CBR500R sportbike and the CB500X adventure bike coming in at $5,999.
So, when are you joining the two-wheeled party? This is the dawn of the CB500 era. Click here for more information about your next favorite ride.
Justin Fivella was raised in a house of hot rods and motorcycles, and later discovered his love of writing and photography.