HONDA CB500 (1994 - 2003) Review
At a glance
|Owners reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£110|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The Honda CB500 was launched way back in 1994 aiming the machine firmly at the commuter sector. If only they knew just how successful it would become...
- Related: Best first big motorbikes
It’s been toured on, despatched, there was even a 24-hour endurance race held at Le Mans where every team finished without a breakdown! Honda UK even had it’s own National race series – the Honda CB500 Cup launching the careers of WSB racers James Toseland and Leon Haslam.
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.
A half-faired version called the Honda CB500S was launched in
The Honda CB500 was replaced by the CBF500 in 2003, when new emissions regulations outlawed the CB500.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
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.
EngineNext up: Reliability
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.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
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).
Honda CB500 owners' reviews on MCN
We've got 29 Honda CB500 owners' reviews on the MCN site right now, with an overall score of 4.5 stars out of 5, and a build quality and reliability score of 4.4 stars.
Most owners bemoan the CB500's relative lack of kit, but considering its age and used values now, that's to be expected. It's still a cracking deal.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
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.
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.
|Engine type||8v parallel twin, 6 gears|
|Frame type||Tubular steel cradle|
|Fuel capacity||18 litres|
|Front suspension||37mm fork, preload|
|Front brake||296mm disc|
|Rear brake||240mm disc|
|Front tyre size||110/80 x 17|
|Rear tyre size||130/80 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||50 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£67|
|Annual service cost||£110|
9 of 17
How much to insure?
Top speed & performance
|Max power||57 bhp|
|Max torque||35 ft-lb|
|Top speed||120 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||13.2 secs|
|Tank range||200 miles|
Model history & versions
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.
CB500S: half faired version of the Honda CB500, introduced in 1998 and discontinued in 2003.
Owners' reviews for the HONDA CB500 (1994 - 2003)
30 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.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£110|
Annual servicing cost: £50
Ride quality is pretty good. Brakes are superb. It’s comfortable even for me at 6’2 and 17 stone although a bit in the small side. Makes me wonder why people by sports bikes when this thing handles so well and it’s pretty good fun once past the 7-8k mark where it suddenly changes character and wants to go.
One of the best engines Honda ever made.
Bulletproof. When motorcycles were built in Japan and made to last. Sure, the exhaust and rear shocks have a bit of corrosion but i could ride this thing to China and it wouldn’t break down. I had to get the carbs done and electrics when i bought it but the best £900 i’ve ever spent..
Cheap as chips to insure, run and service and very easy to work on. Tyres last and it’s pretty economical.. 55-60mpg on a normal run. It’s super cheap motorcycling..
It’s got Handlebars and a seat. It’s basic motorcycling..
Buying experience: Private purchase. £900 with 9k on the clock..
Annual servicing cost: £100
Had a 900 diversion which I totally love ( but heavy) getting arthritis in one knee got cb 500 Honda so much easier to pull about as lighter Honda cb500 1994 love it to bits marks out of 5 it’s a great 10 yes that good !
Well good brakes & exciting ride for such a small bike handles very well & is very forgiving
Easy to start every time very good pulling power & a surprise power band around 8500 rpm wow also seems bullet proof
Nice to clean & polish still looks great & starts easily even after a lay up easy to work in & a great ride too
So easy to do stuff with help of a Haynes bible access is good parts are cheap & readily available
All switches etc good n easy to work in leather gloves
Annual servicing cost: £100
I would recommend the bike to anyone, especially someone on an a2 licence, I’ve ridden the new CB500 and much prefer the older one, the handling is heavier but I’d say far superior, it can corner for fun and is so smooth, easily repaired, cheap for parts and so so much fun, it’s surprisingly comfortable aswell, it has under seat storage which is also handy
It’s disc brake front and rear, stopping power is phenomenal and can stop on a penny, you can really use them when you need them but you need not worry about being thrown over the bars
It’s basic, easy services, twin cylinder, typical Honda even when it’s not running right it’ll still get you home, it’s punchy at low revs and surprising the further up the Rev range you go, it has a 6 speed transmission which is silky smooth
Been very reliable, the only part that has caused me problems was the coil mounting bracket and spark plugs, which because the mounting bracket had broken, it was shorting the plugs and burnt them out once the bracket was welded back up and new plugs in, bikes run perfect since
It’s cheap to run, cheap insurance and cheap tax, great bike and smiles for miles with the very little it’ll cost to run
It’s basic, clocks are analogue, no abs, electronic sensors, it’s back to basics riding, and never any problems with it, I have an sp engineering can fitted and it sounds fantastic, love it, also have metzler tyres front and rear and they handle fantastic in the dry and wet, would stay away from Avon tyres in the rain they are poor
Buying experience: I bought mine privately, close to where I am staying, it was advertised at £1250, the seller was fantastic, a fair amount of spare parts came with it, as it was a road going track bike, I paid the full asking price, had a full service history and a bundle of receipts
Undestructuble bike and well built machine
Annual servicing cost: £30
When all the CBRs, ZZRs and Fireblades have gone to the knackers yard, my CB500 will still be tootling about the back roads and twisties... I believe Jesus rides one, I think he got it for Xmas off his dad.
Very comfortable indeed, the brakes are more than adequate.
Smooth as silk!!! And it has done 96,000 miles !!!!
I do my own servicing as the bike is so easy to work on!!
I put a bagster tank cover on with tank bag and threw some panniers over, heated grips, job done!
Buying experience: I bought the bike off my mate's dad for £800 8 years ago !! Best investment I’ve ever made.
Version: its a pc32 but like pc26 (rear drum brake); made in Italy
its my 1st bike, so I have only little comparison. But it seems inexpensive, reliable, does have very good ergonomics for 5'10'' person, good analog displays, is easy to ride; forgives small mistakes, suspension can and should be upgraded with better springs (its a much different bike then!), brakes are ok but far from greatness, engine wants to be revved/pushed to be fun, it does have enough power to overtake cars on country roads easily (if you revv it high!) and is fast enough for the Autobahn, the little Honda is not a showbike and not really good for cruising but nevertheless very versatile... I use it for commuting and for fun rides, also travelled the distance with full camping equipment,... yes, there are probably better allround bikes out there now - but I cant think of none for the money. Its a good 1st bike for safe and fun learning (without being lame) before deciding for s.th. more expensive with that experience (or sticking to the little one). Also I can recommend it as a everyday workhorse or as a budgetbike/ secondary/backup. 4 out of 5 only because of the just ok brakes and because sometimes I d like more punch at low/medium revs...
good positioning/ergonomics for five' ten'' rider; outstanding with suberbike bar; original springs are kind of soft and fine for commuting - harder springs improve handling a lot but will make the ride less comfy; I can still ride it for hours/ travel all day if needed (good weather and road conditions); brakes are ok but not better than that; no abs of course
enough power for trafficking of any kind even Autobahn, but needs to be revved above 6000 for fun and above 8000 for funfun, only mediocre performance at low revs, but it does have a good and precise gearbox!
seems to be excellent, no repairs yet (one year/8,000 miles)
value? It comes and goes for little money... tyres should last 12000 to 15000 km (roughly 7500 to 10000 miles)... cant tell about the chain yet (after 8000 miles with almost new chain)... fuel will take you at least 170 miles before reserve when pushing hard, above 200 when commuting/travelling... no repairs since I own it (one year/8,000 miles)... only the usual maintenance sort of things and some upgrading, can mostly be done by oneself (even without experience)
Bridgestone BT45; stronger fork springs and (YSS) progressive springs for the rear, suberbike bar, windshield (MRA/spoiler); extra bright light bulb; I will switch to a slightly smaller pinion (14 instead of 15 teeth) when installing new chain....
Buying experience: Bought it for a very reasonable price from an acquaintance, who opted for a different kind of bike. No regrets
Version: T, naked
Annual servicing cost: £50
My first bike, had it for 6 years not, not planning to sell yet. Must learn how to wheelie with it first. Rusts with time, but it's what to expect from a 21 year old bike. Needs some work to get it running smoothly every now and then. Perfect for short riders and women as it is low and light.
Extremely comfortable on long trips, can ride 600 km on one day easily. With pillion a bit more tiring as it's a small bike. Pillion loves the wide and soft seat. Takes curves like a dream (my curves were faster than Ducati monster and Suzuki gsxr750). Back brakes are still drum, but stops with decent time.
As the years go by, I find harder to buy original new parts for the bike. Some parts are not made by Honda any more and are not available in warehouse either. But a lot of them available as second hand parts.
I like that it's low. I'm only 1,62 cm and it suits me well. I use Kappa 2 helmet size top case, a bit big with wind but OK even with pillion on back. Handlebar could be wider.
Buying experience: Private seller. Got it for 1200 euros in year 2011
Superb bike, so cheap to run ,milage 200,000 miles no problems just change the oils 120mph just keeps on going.
unburstable engine typical honds 200,000 miler
Annual servicing cost: £300
Just coming up to 100 000 miles and still going strong with over 7 000 miles ridden this year so far. Everything about the bike is perfect for me, the other bikes I have owned at the same time as the CB [955i Speed Triple, 900 Hornet, XJR1300, CB500X and Gladius] are at best 4/5 compared with the CB500s 5/5.
The handling will see off bigger bikes around the twisties where they can't get 200 bhp down without a trip to casualty and don't turn as fast. Low speed lock-to-lock figures of eight are easy to achieve. I've ridden just under 900 miles in a day in the past, these days 500 miles/day is about the most I do. 2-3 hours between breaks is easily achievable if you are used to distance riding. Brakes are strong with the front good enough to 'stoppie' the bike and plenty of feel. The front judders before it locks.
More power is always welcome, but 57 BHP at the crank will see the bike into cruising at speeds frowned upon. Low RPM riding is easy and a 'change at 8' acceleration gives 0-60 in about 5 seconds. Ignore the 'test' mpg, in the real world and with big miles on the clock the bike returns between 60 and 75 mpg unless thrashed everwhere you go when it will drop to high 50s.
The only failures I've had are the reg/rect at 60 000 and the water pump having a bit of a dribble at 99 000. As with any bike ridden in all weathers there are bits of corrosion but my CB500X had a rotten frame after 11 days and 1000 miles of riding.
I service the bike myself apart from the valves due to lack of room and bench. The shims haven't been changed from new. Oil and filter changes are a doddle and there's not much else to do.
If you want tacho, speedo and a couple of warning lights then that's what you get. If you want a BMW level of buttons and displays you won't get it, but then you don't pay the BMW premium, service prices or accessory prices. The review states that the forks are adjustable [they aren't] but they don't need to be. The rear shocks needed the 'one click higher' setting for me to be happy on the bike. BT45s are the ideal tyre and allow hero blob damage. If your riding style is "not plodding" the front may triangle rather than square off with the wear appearing either side of the centre and the tread blocks stepping as the tyre nears it's worn limit. I have heated grips, 45L cases, luggage rack and a sat nav on mile. The underseat storage contains lock, first aid kit, puncture repair kit, puck, lock, cable repair kit and other tat that you won't fit on a monoshock bike.
Buying experience: Bought new in 1999 from John Lee in Higham Ferrers for £3600
Great first bike, big enough to put a nice sized box on the back for work gear etc.
First bike & compared to the couple I did my basic training on it's really confidence inspiring.
Always seem to have power there for you & if you really rev it there is a surprising boot at higher revs.
Pretty clean bike, only work to be done was to rub down the rear foot rests as they were corroding a bit, & the speedo gear in the front wheel was broken.
Not had it serviced yet, but getting 40mpg in mainly city riding.
I had the seat reshaped which reduced the ride height by approx 1.5inches, & it feels much better, even seems to ride better. I stuck on additional LED spotlights 'cos I felt it could be a bit more visible on the road (I'm in the city a lot so any extra helps) Also changed to mirrors to more 'sporty' looking ones.
Buying experience: Bought privately through a mate. €1600 in 2015.
need to know specifications
I bought this bike as my first "big bike" (Thanks eu licence restrictions) Overall the bike is great! I bought mine for £1200 and fitted a few extra's such as heated grips and a full luggage system. I'm currently averaging at least 250 miles each week and the only part that lets the bike down is the organic bit that sits on it (me)! So far I've put on about 5K miles in the last 4 months and she hasn't missed a beat. Overall I'll never have any intentions to sell this bike.
The brembo calipers front and back do an amazing job at stopping the bike. It's even more noticeable when there is a pillion on the back.
Very good on fuel apparently 45-60mpg is what I've had out of mine but I've been used to a 125 that does 120mpg so my view will be different to most. At less than 10 pence a mile I can't really complain.
Engine mounting bolt seizes to the engine and can be difficult to remove but that's my only complaint.
Annual servicing cost: £100
I brought my Honda CB500 last year for £1200, and with only 6k on the clock it was an absolute bargain because over 50k miles is pretty normal! So far I've used it for both work and fun on the weekends and its not had a single problem. Its a great first big bike or just a great bike in general. The performance is good and it handles very well. I personally like the brakes because they are very linear and strong when you want them to be. Handling is very good in all conditions and servicing is easy for anyone. I've had it a year and I'm not even thinking of upgrading because its so good for my commute and so reliable.
Brembo brakes are very strong and linear.
Good overall power. Good MPG I probably get between 50 - 65mpg even when you go a little mad
Seeing as its 18 years old its held up very well. My only problems so far have been slight rust on the rear suspension but that was probably caused by all the road salt over the winter. Everything else is great
Easy to service so do it myself. Probably looking at between 60 and 150 depending on if you need chain and sprockets or brake pads ect, but parts are very cheap and easily obtained.
No fuel gauge, which doesn't really bother me but might annoy some. The storage under the seat is huge! Also having a center stand makes servicing easy work.
An incredible bike, I paid £500 in 2013 with 23,000 Currently 38,000 and performs like a dream. I was knocked off my bike in early 2014, resulting with the bike being reluctantly sidelined to the back garden. A year later I returned to the bike with a new battery, two attempts later the bike started without any need for the choke!! Incredible! that same day I spontaneously rode the bike from Birmingham (Home) to London (University) with no issues and bearing in mind the petrol had been sat in the tank for a year! A month later I rode the bike around Europe, two up with luggage restricted to 47bhp, through mountains, motorways, rain, sunshine and 3000 mile later we returned home without the bike missing a beat! I would not only recommend the Honda, i'd make a mandatory law stating everyone should at least ride the little CB, I however realise, I may have been absurdly lucky with my bike but its the Best £500 I have ever spent and strongly recommend a CB500
Annual servicing cost: £120
Superb 500. The best I have ever ridden. Really responsive, very easy to manage, all in all a really great all round bike.
Bike is great around town and on fast A roads. Good for scratching around bends. Reasonable on motorway - up to 80mph.
Pulls like a train all the way up to 80. Bit hard work after this. But very smooth considering its a twin.
Consumables are very reasonable, very easy to obtain - but buy the very best you can afford. Do not scrimp on things like oil and filter.
Very comfy seat, handlebars are spot on, clocks nice and big.
Buying experience: Purchased privately. Paid good money - but very, very good example.
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 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..
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
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 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!
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.
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 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!
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 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.
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 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.
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 mini roundabout. Brakes could be better. Corrosion on downpipes is a bit quicker than expected although it was ridden all thru' winter. Buy one !!
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.
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.
I bought this bike as my company vehicle and as such it was used for eight months commuting to and from Macclesfield to Milton Keynes (250 mile round trip). With a weeks worth of clothes in the topbox and a laptop bungeed to the seat . The bike did suffer power wise on the bends and twists - but once on the motorway it was fine. Cruising at any speed between 70-100 is no problem and gives over 55 MPG. The only (big) problem I find with this, is severe hand numbing vibration - tightening the bar ends didn't have any effect. It's a great bike to ride in the wet (and snow) as the power in both quantity and delivery is very mellow, while the handling is great. The finish isn't great, but regular spraying with WD40 seems to keep most of the corrosion at bay. I don't really use the bike for 'fun' as I also own a Triumph Speed Triple, but the CB is great around less than perfect, bumpy little lanes and is probably faster than my Triumph in quite a few situations (don't tell anyone..). Easy predictable handling and power is often overlooked these days in the pursuit of power, but it's these very traits that make some bikes a lot quicker round the bends than their spec says they should be. The CB is one of these... It would be good to see the CB updated with a CC/Power Increase and maybe a more protective fairing - but I guess this is then getting into Deauville territory?
Feels very stable, very reliable. Has just about enough oomph with no passenger on board. fuel efficient, cheap to insure. Not enough oomph, especially with a passenger. Jittery engine at low revs. <br><br>
Very reliable bike, toured abroad (France) and in Southern Ireland on it. The finish holds up well if you look after it during the winter although I have had a new exhaust under warranty after the paint started flaking off it. The mirrors and vibration are the only problem. OK for day to day work and I can scratch with the best of them on track days but if you're touring then it becomes a pain. That is only if you're doing 500 or so miles a day. <br>
Perfect for riding all year round any weather bike . Has been 100% reliable despite having a noisy gearbox, hasn't got any worse in 3 years though. Had a new cam chain tensioner at 12000 miles (common fault I've been told). I do all own servicing no problems at all. Only wish I had a faired one.
Smashing little bike.Will commute all week and then stay with the fast bikes on the twisties with the bike club at the week-end. Loves to rev and the real action lives above 5000 to the redline (10,500) with a little additional powerband at 8000rpm. Corners with real confidence and screams when overtaking at speed. The seat is comfy for 100 miles at a time and fuel is required after 170 miles or reserve chimes in. Being a twin there is a little vibration but this is minimal and gives a bit of character. To sum up a cheap really good all rounder and quite exclusive-a well kept secret.