Handling-wise the CBR500R exceeds expectations. Around town or at commuter speeds its typical, easy, comfortable, smooth Honda: responsive, well mannered, light and manageable, glitch-free. Up to and including brisk travelling it’s all hunky-dory and never going to catch anyone out. Instead, the slight surprise is that, when pushed pretty hard, the CBR holds its chin up as a fairly credible sports bike.
There's enough pep in the CBR’s upper reaches to entertain and satisfy. There’s no real leap in power anywhere, but it does keep building and building. Low down, around town it’s grunty enough to be practical and easy and in the mid-range it’s impressively smooth (thanks to the 180-degree crank and balance shaft) and just gets on with it. And yet, above 7000rpm and up to the 8500 redline, the CB truly revels in having its neck rung.
Although the CBR500R is clearly built to a price it's still a Honda and as such reliability shouldn't be a problem.
Built to a price but high-quality and fun, the CBR boasts impressive economy. Honda is claiming an average 80.2mpg which translates into a tank range of over 260 miles. This is a cheap bike but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. Under £5k for an all-new middleweight Honda is impressive.
The 500R isn't lacking when it comes to equipment. While the levers don’t have span adjusters and the welding on the CBR’s clip-on bars is a tad conspicuous, I struggled to criticise anything else: There are quality touches such as the silencer end cap and decent grab rails; switchgear and instruments are both good, as are the mirrors. Honda offers a wide range of accessories (including heated grips, a taller screen and hard luggage) for the bike.