HONDA CB500 (1994-2003) Review

Published: 24 November 2006

"Huge fun because it's so confidence-inspiring"

Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Riding

"Huge fun because it's so confidence-inspiring"

  • At a glance
  • 499cc  -  57 bhp
  • 50 mpg  -  200 miles range
  • Medium seat height (775mm)

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

The Honda CB500 is a first big motorcycle you’ll never want to sell. It’s huge fun because it’s so confidence-inspiring, meaning you can take it anywhere and it’ll make you feel you can push your limits. Very competent: commuters and couriers love Honda CB500s for their reliability and all-round, top-notch performance.  In all aspects, the Honda CB500's a winner.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

Everything is stable and friendly, meaning the rider can hone their skills whilst chucking the Honda CB500 about with wild abandon. It’s comfortable, the suspension’s ok, the gearbox is smooth and both slow and high speed handling are excellent. Very versatile, the Honda CB500 will cruise up to 90mph on the motorway without a fairing.

 

Engine 5 out of 5

The Honda CB500 motor’s incredibly smooth with loads of power across a broad range. Even more fun… There’s an unexpected surge of welly, just after 8000rpm, which makes the Honda CB500 take off. Power delivery’s clean from a responsive throttle. Furthermore, the Honda CB500's very reliable and you can rack up the miles with little care.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

So good, we almost need a fanfare. Honda CB500 engines go on and on and on, as many a courier will tell you. Weaker points are the easily-rusting downpipes and short-lived exhausts. Otherwise, the Honda CB500 is pretty damned good: far more refined, and with far more longevity, than its rivals (see below).

Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5

Excellent. The Honda CB500 is a hugely versatile machine that’ll surprise you with its ability. Competitors, such as the old Kawasaki ER-5 or Suzuki’s GS500E, may be slightly cheaper but don’t have the quality (or the extra horsepower) of the Honda CB500. Be wary of ex-training school/race bikes (the Honda CB500 had its own series!) which have been dropped/crashed a lot. Find a Honda CB500 for sale.

Insurance group: 9 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 3 out of 5

Nothing too flash (the money went on the Honda CB500's chassis and the engine) just well-thought-out and well built. The Brembo brakes work wonders. The Honda CB500 clocks are large and clear but very basic. A good seat with a decent amount of room for a pillion, too; and there’s a grabrail. Comfort’s good overall on the Honda CB500 but it can be cramped for giant riders.

Owners' Reviews

15 owners have reviewed their HONDA CB500 (1994-2003) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.3 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3.7 out of 5
Engine 3.9 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.2 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.1 out of 5
Equipment 3.8 out of 5
5 out of 5

wolf in sheep's clothing

08 May 2010 by hillfish

This bike is a brilliant all rounder that is really rewarding to ride - it has great performance at 'real' roadspeeds and the twin engine is really torquey making it feel a lot more powerful than it would suggest on the engine spec - it really flys... Read more once you get the revs up! I have loved every minute of riding it whether commuting/fast A road riding, even camping trips - it can keep up with all but the fastest bikes if you really give it some and the handling is great. My only criticisms are suspension is a bit bog standard which comes to light on rougher roads, and it is a bit too lightweight for very long distances and sustained highspeed riding ie motorways - its a bit vibey at high speed plus light front end, say over 85mph. my first recommendations are: get a givi screen and a tail rack plus heated grips and it'll really work all year round in any conditions, I easily get 55-60mpg (sometimes higher) even when riding fast/mixed conditions which gets over 200miles before hitting reserve. if you need a cheap bike to do it all and not ever let you down get one of these, you'll not regret it - the scores of london couriers who use them can't be wrong!! my only other comment is what a shame they stopped making them..

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
4 out of 5

fun, but easy on the wallet

09 January 2010 by eternallytroubled

Doesn't break, does the buisness! Relativly lightweight, goes and stops well, cheap to run, insure and service, lots of parts available. I found the following website very usefull: http://www.cb500club.co.uk Read more

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Cheap thrills

14 March 2009 by Butta

I bought this bike after five years away after a big accident. I love it and cant bring myself to trade it in for something bigger. Had it for three happy years now. Its fast enough for the streets of London. The engine is smooth and powerful... Read more enough to comfortably cruise at 90mph on the motorway. I have had it up to 120mph but this is not its forte. Much better to take the A roads and enjoy the corners. 200 miles to a tank. Above 8000rpm it can move along nicely and can surprise a few other bikers when they haven't shaken you. Others of course fly on by! I ride this thing come rain, hail or snow. It always starts, never breaks, tough as nails. The alloy on the engine is corroding due to the year round riding. I wash is about once a couple of months so am definitely not religious about it. The bike is 14 years old now so its gotta show a few signs of age for a year round bike hey!? Suspension has its limits but have replaced the front springs and oil to stiffen it up as well as replaced the crappy Hagon shock someone put on it. Bought it for £1250 three years ago with 10k on the clock. Cost £110 a year for insurance. It just doesn't make sense to get rid of this little beast!

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
5 out of 5

beut!!

27 November 2008 by Gilly500

Absolutely love this bike, it hardly breaks, and if it ever does you can guarantee that you (the rider) is most likely to blame. The bike is so forgiving, if you thrash it about it just gets on with it. MPG is brill, even in heavy traffic. Read more

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
5 out of 5

Workhorse

24 October 2008 by hwhalley

I have taken this bike two up touring (with all camping gear) into the alps and it has been completely reliable. I use it for a 100 mile round trip commute twice a week in all weather and to bust traffic in London. It is cheap to run, enough fun on... Read more smaller roads to make you grin and holds its value very well, there are always people wanting one after their test. BT45s are the best tyres for it. Frequent oil changes will see the engine last forever. 180 miles / tank cheap spare parts cheap insurance cheap servicing loads of mpg BUT I still can't wait to get a bigger bike after 5 years!

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

I bought this bike as my first big bike, like so many others. It's brilliant!

25 September 2006 by mattcb500chef

I've done 15000miles on it and its only done just over 480000! Seen some people with over 100,000 "!"""!!! Best tyres I have found to be are bridgestones bt 45's. It's so trouble free only gotta replace the clutch cable but tht can wait and... Read more i like to race the couriers lol I can beat most :). It's been to bout 140 and I've got 130 with my mate on the back on the motorway. 0-60 I've had it over in less than 5. I love it and can't wait to get a cbr600f next April. Strengths: Engine its a Honda!. Petrol consumption is wicked, at least 50mpg or bout 100miles per £10. Weaknesses: The brakes could be a bit better, but better than my old 250 wetdream lol.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5
Engine 3 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

Fantastic for first Bike or commuter...

27 May 2006 by johnny5655

I bought my CB500s the day after I passed my test. I did think about getting a 600 but common sense kicked in and I parted my cash and bought it. After a year's ownership I haven't looked back, it's economical, servicing is cheap and it's mega... Read more reliable. OK, it's not the fastest bike in the world but for a 500cc it's great. I've shocked some bigger bikes quite a few times! I've never had any problems with it. It's fun to ride and a great bike to learn your skills on as it's really forgiving. I recommend it to anyone! Strengths: It's fast for what it is, economical, reliable, brilliant bike. Weaknesses: Brakes could be a bit sharper (but they're fine) Gearbox is a bit clunky in 1st and second.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 1 out of 5
Engine 1 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

My Review

22 June 2002 by ssol97

Great introduction to larger bikes. Easy to learn and very forgiving. Quick enough round town and M/ways, nippy on the twisty stuff too with gr8 handling. Feels like its never going to trip you up other than a slight run in with some black ice and a... Read more mini roundabout. Brakes could be better. Corrosion on downpipes is a bit quicker than expected although it was ridden all thru' winter. Buy one !!

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

My Review

13 March 2002 by SIEGE007

First bike since passing my test. Good solid handling machine, found this out during my bike training course with MAC. Good powerband. A bit blustery at the higher speeds requiring you to hang on. Read more

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

My Review

17 February 2002 by dave whitcombe

This is my first proper bike and it is excellent. It handles well. The only thing I dont like is the exhaust. I think I will change this in the future. Read more

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 1 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
Read all 15 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1994
Year discontinued 2003
Original price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 9 of 17
Annual road tax £58
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 57 bhp
Max torque 35 ft-lb
Top speed 120 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 13.2 secs
Average fuel consumption 50 mpg
Tank range 200 miles
Specification
Engine size 499cc
Engine type 8v parallel twin, 6 gears
Frame type Tubular steel cradle
Fuel capacity 18 litres
Seat height 775mm
Bike weight 173kg
Front suspension 37mm fork, preload
Rear suspension Preload
Front brake 296mm disc
Rear brake 240mm disc
Front tyre size 110/80 x 17
Rear tyre size 130/80 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

1994: Honda CB500 launched. It had a drum brake at the rear and Nissin caliper up front. Naked version only available.
1997: The rear brake converts to disc and both brakes get Brembo calipers.
1998: Honda CB500 race series kicks off and a silver version of the bike becomes available to celebrate. A half-faired Honda CB500S version joins the Honda fleet.
2003: Both Honda CB500 models discontinued as they didn’t meet EU emissions laws. Replaced by the Honda CBF500.

Other versions

CB500S: half faired version of the Honda CB500, introduced in 1998 and discontinued in 2003.

Photo Gallery

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  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Top view
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda CB500 motorcycle review - Side view
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