HONDA CBR500R (2019 - on) Review
- Sportsbike for A2 licence holders
- Engaging handling and peppy engine
- Build like a Honda should be
At a glance
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The Honda CBR500R is refined, well balanced, beautifully built and peppy.
A2 licence holders should be feeling pretty chuffed when they discover just how dazzling 47bhp can be.
- Related: See this bike in our Best A2 motorcycles feature
- Related: MCN's Honda CBR family overview
- Related: 2021 Honda CBR500R becomes Euro5 compliant
It’s easier to ride than ever, but it’ll dig hard into corners when asked and will bring a smile to the more experienced, too, especially at the price.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
A new Showa rear shock and fork internals, featuring progressive springs (hard in the middle, soft at the top and bottom) keeps the Honda composed when you're jamming it into corners like Marquez, or maintaining Lorenzo-like momentum. It’s stable and plush with an unquenchable appetite for corner speed.
After all, it’s more exciting carving through a 60mph corner on a fizzing CBR500R, than doing the same on a Honda Fireblade SP, as it yawns back at you. A single wavy 320mm disc and twin piston Nissin caliper set-up has decent power, but is best supplemented by the rear to really get the Honda stopped.
Bars are now fitted beneath the top yoke, canting you eight degrees further forward, but the new riding position doesn’t hammer wrists and the seat is all-day cosy.
EngineNext up: Reliability
With its new valve timing, bigger airbox and straighter inlet tracts the CBR500R now has a surprising amount of grunt, so there’s no need to chase gears and revs on a rainy commute, but it’s properly fast when you poke it with a stick and well…abuse it. Breaking the ton and beyond, is a piece of cake, which isn’t surprising when you realise it has the same power as the beloved Yamaha RD350LC.
We never thought that was slow, did we? Unlike that smelly two-stroke, the Honda has a wide spread of perfectly delivered power and its throttle, new assist and slipper clutch and new gearbox are buttery and precise.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
CBR500Rs are pretty much bomb proof and our online reader reviews give nothing but glowing comments. It’s also a machine used at the Honda Ron Haslam School, thrashed for thousands of miles around Donington Park with zero mechanical problems.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
Six grand is very little for a machine that offers so much. Service intervals are every 8000 miles and you can expect over 70mpg with a careful right hand. You also get a Datatag, two years unlimited mileage warranty and European breakdown cover.
Group test: Honda CBR500R vs Yamaha R3
With their comfortable, roadbiased stance and frugal twin-cylinder engines, it’s all too easy to cast A2-compliant sportsbikes off as little more than a styling exercise, with none of the traditional thrill power or cornering prowess that we seek when choosing a bike.
However, 500 miles on the Yamaha R3 and Honda CBR500R have smashed that preconception to pieces, with both offering bags of cornering ability and enough poke to keep up with and stay ahead of the traffic – all wrapped up in a set of sleek, superbikeinspired plastics. Both would make the perfect poster bike for the aspiring sportsbike enthusiast, but top honours have to go to the CBR. Although £800 more expensive, there’s more road presence, a better soundtrack and plusher suspension. Capable, frugal and comfortable, it’s the perfect do-it-all performance bike, regardless of your skillset.
LED headlights, blue anodised fork tops, MotoGP winglets and carbon effect fairing infil panels all sum up the attention to detail lavished on this 47bhp 500.
Paint and finish wouldn’t look out of place on a 20-grand superbike and a new LCD dash now has a gear position indicator. Its Blade-style screen is low, but manages to offer decent wind protection even for a taller rider.
|Engine type||liquid-cooled parallel twin|
|Frame type||Tubular steel diamond|
|Fuel capacity||17.1 litres|
|Front suspension||41mm Showa forks, adjustable for preload|
|Rear suspension||Showa shock, adjustable for preload|
|Front brake||320mm petal disc with twin-piston calipers. ABS|
|Rear brake||240mm rear petal 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||£67|
|Annual service cost||-|
|Used price||£3,900 - £5,500|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||47 bhp|
|Max torque||32 ft-lb|
|Top speed||112 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
Model history & versions
2013: Original parallel twin-cylinder CBR500R launched to take advantage of new 47bhp A2 licence regulations.
2016: Styling, suspension and airflow tweaks, hinged fuel cap, adjustable brake lever and new exhaust can.
2019: Fireblade styling including MotoGP style wings, 4% more grunt, 3kg lighter, sportier riding position, refined suspension, new slip and assist clutch, new dash, LED headlights.
Owners' reviews for the HONDA CBR500R (2019 - on)
No owners have yet reviewed the HONDA CBR500R (2019 - on).