The CBR500R has become a staple for riders looking for the excitement of a sportbike in a smaller package. Featuring aggressive CBR styling and a snappy, parallel-twin-cylinder engine, the lightweight CBR500R is a sensible fit for everyone from beginners looking for their first bike to veteran riders seeking a fun ride, as it delivers unmatched fun at an affordable price.
Fast, frugal, affordable and—most importantly—fun, Honda’s full-fairing CBR500R was originally launched in 2013, injecting a genuine sporting energy to its twin-cylinder “light middleweight” engine platform. Hugely popular with younger riders (often looking to move up from a smaller machine), the model instilled the excitement of sport-bike ownership into every ride yet also delivered sensible running costs, making it a great bike to commute through the working week and then enjoy on the weekend.
In 2016 the CBR500R assumed sharper styling and LED lighting to go with updated front suspension; in 2019 it got an even more aggressive makeover, with a new form and riding position that outlined a keener sport intent. Developments were also applied to the engine for stronger performance off the bottom, a distinctive surge through the rev range to the redline and more distinctive exhaust howl.
Having proved its undoubted star quality, the CBR500R received additional improvements for the 2022 model year and is back again for 2023.
DESIGN / STYLING
The CBR500R gets its aggressive form from straight, wedge-like feature lines and extended lower fairings that emphasize a true sense of speed. The rider’s seat pad and seat unit—plus the upper and side fairings—are narrow to improve ergonomics and movement. Sharply chiseled dual LED headlights stare menacingly ahead, completing the all-LED look.
The view forward from the CBR500R’s cockpit is pure sport. The handlebars clip on beneath the new top triple clamp, resulting in a sporty riding position; the fairing is also set low in keeping with the “Total Control” design philosophy, a fundamental concept for Honda’s CBR range.
LCD instruments feature a Gear Position and Shift Up indicator; this is set to a default 8,750 rpm but can be adjusted in 250 rpm increments between 5,000 and 8,750 rpm.
CHASSIS / SUSPENSION
As before, the CBR500R’s light, strong 35mm diameter steel diamond-tube mainframe has 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, keep vibration to a minimum.
Maximizing all-around handling performance is a Showa 41mm inverted Separate Function Fork Big Piston (SFF-BP) fork with 4.7 inches of cushion stroke, held by new upper and lower triple clamps. By dividing the functions—Big Piston pressure separation damper in one leg, spring mechanism in the other—reaction and ride quality are optimized. (The four-cylinder CBR650R uses the same setup.)
The single-tube shock absorber (as found on larger-capacity sport bikes) has a large-diameter piston that ensures excellent response and temperature management; it features five-stage preload adjustment with an optimized spring rate and damping settings to match the fork. Rear-wheel travel is 4.7 inches.
The CBR500R features light wheels with five Y-shaped spokes. The front-wheel width is 3.5 inches with a 120/70-ZR17 tire, and the rear is 4.5 inches with a 160/60-ZR17 tire.
The swingarm is constructed from 2mm steel (rather than 2.3mm) and employs a hollow cross member. Stiff rotationally but flexible laterally, the swingarm delivers excellent handling.
Dual 296mm petal-style rotors and radial-mounted Nissin four-piston calipers are standard. The required lever pressure when braking is minimized, but the small disc size keeps weight low.
The CBR500R’s curb weight is 423 pounds (with all fluids and a full tank of fuel), and the 50.7/49.3 front/rear bias percentage promotes nimble handling and excellent front-end grip. Wheelbase is 55.5 inches, with rake and trail of 25.5°/4.0 inches (102mm).
Nimble responsiveness is what the CBR500R is all about, so the view forward from the cockpit is pure sports. The handlebars clip on beneath the top triple clamp, so the riding position is unmistakably aggressive; the fairing is also set low. Purposeful aluminum footpegs replace the previous rubberized parts, saving 3.7 ounces and offering maximum support for spirited riding. The compact front fender is taken from the CBR650R.
Sharply chiseled dual LED headlights, also inherited from the CBR650R, stare menacingly ahead with a wide volume of light emission, matching by LED indicators. LCD instruments feature a Gear Position and Shift Up indicator; this is set to a default 8,750 rpm but can be adjusted in 250 rpm increments between 5,000 and 8,750rpm.
Seat height is low at 31.1 inches, making the CBR500R very easy to manage, and its riding position comfortably accommodates riders of any height. Overall dimensions are 81.9 inches long x 30.1 inches wide x 45.1 inches high, with 5.1 inches ground clearance. The fuel tank holds 4.5 gallons, including reserve.
ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN
The CBR500R’s 471cc, eight-valve, liquid-cooled, parallel twin-cylinder layout offers a well-proportioned balance of physical size and willing, enjoyable power output, with an energetic, high-revving character and zippy top end. The engine’s overall performance and character belie its relatively small capacity. Acceleration is impressive, due to good low-to-midrange power and torque in the 3,000 to 7,000 rpm range.
Feeding the PGM-FI fuel injection is a relatively straight shot of airflow through the airbox and throttle bodies, and settings optimize torque feel and character without compromising performance. The exhaust muffler features dual exit pipes, giving a sporting edge to each pulse, as well as a rasping high-rpm howl.
Bore and stroke are set at 67mm x 66.8mm, with a compression ratio of 10.7:1; the crankshaft pins are phased at 180°, and a primary couple-balancer sits behind the cylinders, close to the bike’s center of gravity. The primary and balancer gears use scissor gears, reducing noise. The crank counterweight is specifically shaped for couple-balance, and its light weight allows the engine to spin freely, with reduced inertia.
Acting as a stressed member, the engine complements the frame’s rigidity with four hangers on the cylinder head. Internally, the head uses roller rocker arms; shim-type valve adjustment allows them to be light, for lower valve-spring load and reduced friction.
A silent (SV Chain) cam chain has the surface of its pins treated with Vanadium, reducing friction with increased protection against wear. Inlet-valve diameter is 26.0mm, while exhaust-valve diameter is 21.5mm.
The piston shape is carefully designed to reduce noise at high rpm. Friction is minimized by striations on the piston skirt (a finish that increases surface area and introduces gaps in which oil can flow for better lubrication). The “triangle” proportion of crankshaft, main shaft and countershaft is efficiently compact. The crankcases use centrifugally cast thin-walled sleeves; their internal design reduces the pumping losses that can occur with a 180° phased firing order. A deep sump reduces oil movement under hard cornering and braking; oil capacity is 3.2 liters. The slick-shifting six-speed transmission is managed by an assist/slipper clutch.
One-year, transferable, unlimited-mileage limited warranty; extended coverage available with Honda Protection Plan.
- Meets current EPA and CARB standards
- California version differs slightly due to emissions equipment
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