Honda has thrown conformity to the wind by introducing their new line of 2013 CB500 models. Instead of stale modes of two-wheeled transport, the current crop of bikes are friendly enough for new riders but still capable enough for seasoned vets. But Honda knows that, like most good things in life, one style does not fit all.
While the CBR500R, CB500F, and CB500X might share the same motor, chassis and main components, the similarities stop there. Inside the trio of streetbikes you’ll find a stylish sportbike, a sporting standard, and a go-anywhere adventure bike. Let's examine the three.
The CBR500R is a looker, with swoopy full fairings (the shell around the bike that reduces air drag), dual headlights, and other style cues taken straight from the more powerful Honda sportbikes. Other touches include low-mounted clip-on handlebars that help riders tuck behind the fairing for high-speed runs.
The CBR500R definitely has a sportier feel, too, thanks to its low, 30.9-inch seat height. Much like a sportscar, the lower the center of gravity on a motorcycle, the better, and the lower the rider sits in relation to the ground, the quicker the bike will handle corners. A low seat height also makes it easier for riders to touch both feet flat on the ground, giving more confidence at slow-speed. This bike strikes a great balance between sport and comfort, with ergonomics that are low enough for corner carving but high enough for extended rides.
The CBR500R is easily the most sporting of the three, and is aimed at those who can handle a touch more performance. In other words, if you want the looks of a hardcore sportbike with the comfort of an everyday bike for commuting, the CBR500R is your ride.
The affordable adventure bike
The CB500X is easily the Swiss Army Knife of the line-up. A utilitarian full fairing and extended front fender keep you out of the elements, while a height-adjustable windshield also lets the rider dial the perfect amount of wind protection.
The X-model also sports extended forks (where that bouncy suspension lives) for more suspension travel and ground clearance, along with a taller seat height of 31.9 inches. The increased height allows for expeditions where clearing potholes and ruts are par for the course. Like a big four-wheel drive vehicle, a motorcycle with more ground clearance and suspension travel can explore farther off the beaten path.
Finally, the CB500X has the most upright riding position of the CB series, with a one-piece stepped seat that’s perfect for long rides. Translation: unlike a flat seat, a stepped version places the passenger slightly higher than the rider, giving them a better view of the road. Think stadium seating. In the end, the CB500X is made for those looking to get out of dodge for the weekend and explore the countryside.
The sporting standard
The CB500F boasts a traditional look that’s classic yet muscular (a little more James Dean here). A small fairing houses a single headlight, and adds a touch of wind protection at elevated speeds. And, instead of the lower clip-on bars like the CBR500R, the F-model receives a wide and upright handlebar that’s nearly 2 inches higher and significantly wider for a more commanding view of the road. The wider bar also gives the rider more leverage when turning and lighter handling. In short, the F-model makes turns with ease, and is great for darting through traffic and other tight city situations where lightning quick handling is important.
A more upright (read: more comfortable) seating position means a better view of the road without having to crane your neck. The F-model is the lightest of the bunch, and easily the smartest bet for those of you eager to shoot around town.
Finding the perfect bike is all about understanding what you want in your ride. Do you want speed, off-road versatility, or something to fly around town with? Click here to figure out which Honda bike is right for you.
Justin Fivella was raised in a house of hot rods and motorcycles, and later discovered his love of writing and photography.