HONDA CB500F (2022 - on) Review

Highlights

  • USD Showa Separate Function Big Piston Forks
  • Single disc becomes to dual set-up, with new radial calipers
  • New swingarm, revised shock settings, new wheels

At a glance

Power: 47 bhp
Seat height: Medium (30.9 in / 785 mm)
Weight: Medium (417 lbs / 189 kg)

Prices

New £5,849
Used N/A

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Honda CB500F has come of age for 2022 – stepping out from the shadows of the racier CBR500R and adventure-spec CB500X to forge its own path as a credible no-nonsense roadster, dressed in the premium naked finery it always deserved.

Now sporting 41mm Showa Separate Function Big Piston forks, dual front discs with radial calipers, plus a lighter swingarm and revised shock settings, it’s moved on from its previously conservative look to become a serious contender for the A2 naked bike top spot.

That’s not to say it wasn’t already popular though - far from it. In fact, the CB500F makes up 48% of all 102,000 Honda 500s sold since their introduction back in 2013.

And after a day in the saddle zigzagging along Scotland’s iconic North Coast 500 on the latest incarnation, it’s easy to see why.

A gently set riding position, generous foot pegs and a low seat height, combined with a rev-hungry 471cc parallel-twin engine that won’t rip your arms off - it’s ideal for riders stepping up to their first big bike, or experienced pilots looking for another addition to the garage.

Honda CB500F on the road

At home on an open countryside blast, or cutting shapes through urban congestion, it’s more than a simple steppingstone towards obtaining your full A licence. In fact, stick on the optional fly screen and it’d happily tour, too.

Alongside sharper suspension components and fancy stoppers, Honda have fiddled with the weight distribution for 2022. More mass has been placed over the front end to create a near 50/50 balance in the hope of greater stability under braking, and more feel through the corners.

The result is a bike that may look more serious than the old one but remains just as playful - switching direction without protest and remaining planted at speed – helped further by the quality Michelin Road 5 tyres beneath.

It’s also well-built, however lacks some of the technological gizmos enjoyed by some of its rivals, such as mobile connectivity or a TFT dash. What’s more, the smooth engine can sometimes feel almost too refined - lacking any discernible soundtrack above 60mph from its dual-exit exhaust.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

According to Honda’s sales figures, 45% of all CB500F buyers are new riders, looking for that first big bike thrill. This latest version looks to continue that trend, remaining an absolute doddle to ride in any scenario, regardless of your skillset.

It may use the same engine and steel main frame as before, but Honda are now claiming a near perfect weight distribution of 50.3% at the rear and 49.7% over the front – 2.9% more front end bias than the previous model. But the changes don’t stop there…

Golden non-adjustable 41mm Showa Separate Function Big Piston forks from the larger CB650R replace the conventional pre-load-adjustable units in the previous bike and there’s an all-new 1kg lighter swing arm at the rear end, said to offer a claimed 18% more lateral flex and torsional stiffness.

Complementing this are fresh shock settings and redesigned rims, which save 49g upfront and 455g on the rear to help reduce un-sprung weight, with quality Michelin Road 5 tyres providing ample performance in the wet and dry at any speed.

Not only this, but the old single front 320mm petal disc and twin-piston caliper have been chopped in for two smaller 296mm discs complete with grown-up radial four-piston calipers and ABS.

Honda CB500F front

As a result, the 2022 CBF is a capable, yet ever-so-manageable naked roadster – offering a holding hand to novices as they learn the ropes or thrilling an experienced rider as they wring its neck through the lanes.

Composed, predictable and light on its feet, it changes direction at low speed without fuss and holds a line at pace amicably. The new front brakes also provide ample, progressive stopping power, with the ABS never interrupting play at road legal speeds. A span-adjustable lever is a nice touch, too.

It’s no superbike-derived super naked, but there’s plenty of ground clearance for fun and enough suspension travel at both ends to soak up the majority of bumps in the tarmac, without falling to pieces when you up the ante.

That’s said, when you’re really tramping on you can detect a hint of wallowing from the back end, but this could likely be remedied by fiddling with the five-stage preload adjustment on the rear shock.

With wide, flat bars, narrow midriff, and a low seat height of 785mm, you sit in the CB500F rather than on it and it’s a comfortable reach to the ground for most riders.

There’s a comforting, spongey seat and gently set foot pegs too, however it can start to feel quite cramped after more than a few hours in the saddle, which could become more of an issue for taller riders over time. Bag yourself a long test ride, if you’re concerned.

Honda CB500F front wheel

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The 471cc parallel-twin engine remains largely unchanged for 2022. Afterall, it was made Euro5 compliant back in 2020 and already produced the maximum 47bhp allowed in the A2 licence class – so why fix what ain’t broke?

What Honda have done though is fiddle with the fuel injection settings to ‘improve feel and character’ and install a slightly smaller radiator, which shaves 96g off the total weight. Every little helps…

A stressed member within the chassis, the almost vibe-free motor is a new riders’ best friend, delivering a charming burble at low revs and gentle pops on the overrun. It’s nicely fuelled, and the light gear change is crisp, with a slipper clutch lending a hand when coming back down the six-speed box.

Honda CB500F engine

The circa 47bhp output is more than enough to carry the CB500F to any road legal speed quickly and it’ll comfortably keep ahead of the traffic. It’s also gentle around town, with no low-speed jerkiness and a light clutch making manoeuvres easy.

Out on the open road it needs to be worked hard to get the best out of it though – dancing on the shifter during overtakes and chasing the rev counter right into the redline for maximum thrills.

It’s at these higher speeds that you notice a slight vibration through the foot pegs, too. Arriving at around 60mph on a constant throttle, it’s a cause for minor irritation on regular rides, but could become a more pressing problem on long motorway trips.

What’s more, you also begin to lose the charming engine note at this pace – disappearing behind the wind noise and detracting from the riding engagement. This is nothing a more open pipe wouldn’t remedy though.

Honda CB500F front

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The 2022 Honda CB500F may be heavily revised, but the main frame and engine are both carried over from the previous generation – itself updated in 2020 to meet Euro5 emissions regulations.

MCN owners’ reviews of the previous model show an average score of 4/5 stars for build quality, with just one complaint arising for corrosion on the headlight mount and bottom yoke. Whether this model will meet the same fate remains to be seen at this stage.

Outside of that, the new bike is screwed together nicely, with the polished twin headers adding a touch of class to the overall appeal. There are no panel gaps, and you even get a proper metal fuel tank – rather than a scratchy plastic cover. One test bike did produce an audible vibration from the LCD screen when revved hard, though.

Honda CB500F headlight

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment

Honda are yet to announce an official UK price for the 2022 CB500F, however we’ve been told to expect only a small increase on from its 2021 price tag of £5749.  

With a strong dealer network, generous service intervals and a claimed fuel economy of over 300 miles between fill ups, life on the Honda CB500F should be as easy on your wallet as it is to ride. But it needs to fend off a myriad of competition, should it want to take A2 naked bike honours.

Starting in Europe, there’s £5099 KTM Duke 390 – the hooligan’s choice. It may be slightly down on power, but boasts a TFT dash, mobile connectivity, a flashy orange trellis chassis, and a thrapping single cylinder engine that barks beneath you like a road-biased trail bike. And all for over £650 less than the Honda! Look out for further updates soon, too – likely to follow in the wake of the recently revised 2022 RC390 sportsbike.

Sticking with the singles club, KTM’s sister company Husqvarna also produce a Svartpilen and Vitpilen 401. Both share the KTM’s 373cc engine and trellis frame, but come wrapped in more leftfield styling packages..

From Japan, it’s surprisingly slim pickings – with Kawasaki’s Z400 not available for Euro5 and Suzuki producing no A2-restrictable naked bikes lower than the seemingly immortal SV650 range. This just leaves the £5300 Yamaha MT-03, which has remained largely untouched since its arrival back in 2016, barring mild emissions and styling revisions.

Both the Yamaha and Honda are powered by relatively non-threatening parallel-twin engines and both sport USD forks and LED lights, however the latest Honda offering has it licked overall, with more contemporary styling and composed handling package to boot. Whether it can fend off the flashy KTM remains to be seen.

Honda CB500F front right action

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

Whilst the Honda CB500F may now come with thoroughly modern upside-down Showa forks and a sportier set of twin radial front calipers, you get a fairly basic level of standard equipment for your money.

There are no optional riding modes or traction control (not that it needs either) and the slim LCD dash is fairly underwhelming when compared to the mobile-connectable TFTs now emerging on KTM’s A2-compliant 390 range.

The switchgear is also fairly mundane, but it’s refreshingly simple compared to other modern machines and the chunky buttons feel like they’ll stand the test of time and plenty of year-round usage. A span-adjustable brake lever is a nice touch though and the mirrors offer fabulous visibility – also helped by the Cadbury-smooth two-cylinder engine.  

For greater visibility, the latest 500F now gets more powerful LED headlights, which are brighter and gain an extra bulb. The indicators now also emit a continuous beam of Jaffa orange light to give you greater presence on the tarmac. Although untested at night, both elements were clearly visible from one bike to the next in the mirrors.

Those wanting to make their CB500F a little more their own can choose from a range of official accessories, including a 35-litre top box, tank bag and seat bag. Our particular test bike had both the accessory screen and heated grips fitted and both were excellent – shrouding the rider from even the heaviest wind blast and heating your palms to an almost uncomfortably warm level. I would recommend both.

Honda CB500F turning right

Specs

Engine size 471cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8v parallel-twin
Frame type Steel diamond
Fuel capacity 17.1 litres
Seat height 785mm
Bike weight 189kg
Front suspension 41mm non-adjustable Showa SFBP USD forks
Rear suspension Mono shock, pre-load adjustable
Front brake 2 x 296mm discs with radial four-piston calipers. ABS
Rear brake Single 240mm disc with single piston caliper. ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 160/60 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax £69
Annual service cost -
New price £5,849
Used price -
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 47 bhp
Max torque 31.7 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 301 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2013: Honda launch the original parallel twin-cylinder CB500F to take advantage of new 47bhp A2 licence regulations. It’s a user-friendly upright naked, perfect as a first big bike, or second machine for experienced riders.
  • 2016: Styling, suspension and airflow all tweaked. There’s also wider bars, a larger fuel tank, hinged fuel cap, and an adjustable front brake level. Honda also redesigned the seat, added LED lights, and bolted in some pre-load adjustable suspension.
  • 2019: Updating the competent 2016 package was sharper styling, a claimed 4% more grunt, a new slipper clutch to make downshifts easier, revised fork internals and a new rear shock. Elsewhere, there were refined ABS settings, a new LCD dash and exhaust can – complete with charming burbling soundtrack.
  • 2020: Honda update entire A2 500 range for Euro5 compliance.
  • 2022: Honda go further and add new 41mm Showa Separate Function Big Piston forks, and dual front brake discs with radial calipers to replace the old bike’s single disc set-up. It’s a similar update to the CBR500R, with more weight now over the front, a new lighter swingarm, updated shock settings, more powerful LED lights, repositioned front indicators and more.

Other versions

There is only one version of the Honda CB500F, but the Japanese firm offer four parallel-twin options for the UK A2-licence market. The sportiest of the bunch is the fully faired CBR500R, which uses the same engine and chassis components wrapped inside a Fireblade-inspired set of plastics.

Then comes the naked CB500F, and adventure styled CB500X, which again shares the same Steel Diamond cradle. Finally, there’s a laidback cruiser CMX500 Rebel, which uses a different frame and lightly tweaked 471cc motor for more low-down torque.

MCN Long term test reports

Bike of the Day: Honda CB500F

Bike of the Day: Honda CB500F

This 64 plate is basically a brand new bike, not even run in yet (336 miles), and lowered - making it ideal for a new/short rider. The CB500 was reintroduced in 2013 as an A2-licence friendly novice bike and everything about it works. The ergonomics are sound, the engine strong without been overwhel

Read the latest report

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