HONDA CBR500R (2019 - 2021) Review

Highlights

  • Sportsbike for A2 licence holders
  • Engaging handling and peppy engine
  • Build like a Honda should be

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.9 out of 5 (4.9/5)
Annual servicing cost: £150
Power: 47 bhp
Seat height: Medium (30.9 in / 785 mm)
Weight: Medium (423 lbs / 192 kg)

Prices

New N/A
Used £4,000 - £6,400

Overall rating

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

The latest Honda CBR500R is refined, well balanced, beautifully built and peppy. First introduced in 2014, it's a stalwart of the A2 genre and is now in its third iteration.

It offers credible performance alongside aspirational styling, complete with MotoGP-inspired wings. Finished in a delicious glossy red and black and complete with a chunky 17.1-litre fuel tank between your legs, it offers a ‘big-bike’ feel.

You can’t help but steal glances at yourself in shop windows as you cruise through town and could easily mistake it for a  Fireblade. It feels far more special than a simple stepping-stone between licences and at a fraction over six grand, is stonking value for money.

This is complemented by the LED headlights and all-new LCD dash, which features a similar layout to the larger capacity, four-cylinder CBR650R. An adjustable brake lever, blue anodised fork tops and well-finished, logically-placed switchgear seal the deal, with the only major gripe being the mirrors, which are largely consumed by your gloves and forearms.

A2 licence holders should be feeling pretty chuffed when they discover just how dazzling 47bhp can be. 

Listen to the Honda CBR500R exhaust sound in our video review!

Ride quality & brakes

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

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.

Engine

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

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.

Wound out fully, you can expect a Honda CBR500R top speed of 112mph. 

Reliability & build quality

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

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.

We don't have any Honda CBR500R owners' reviews at this point. You can leave one here.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
5 out of 5 (5/5)

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

First published in MCN on 26 June 2019 by Dan Sutherland

Honda CBR500R vs Yamaha R3

MCN road tester Dan Sutherland had a whale of a time testing two junior sportsbikes - the Honda CBR500R and the ever-impressive Yamaha R3. Here's his verdict: 

"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."

Riding the Honda CBR500R alongside the Yamaha R3

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

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.

The LCD screen on the Honda CBR500R

The 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.

Specs

Engine size 471cc
Engine type liquid-cooled parallel twin
Frame type Tubular steel diamond
Fuel capacity 17.1 litres
Seat height 785mm
Bike weight 192kg
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 £73
Annual service cost £150
New price -
Used price £4,000 - £6,400
Insurance group -
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 -
Tank range -

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 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.

Other versions

Owners' reviews for the HONDA CBR500R (2019 - 2021)

7 owners have reviewed their HONDA CBR500R (2019 - 2021) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your HONDA CBR500R (2019 - 2021)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.9 out of 5 (4.9/5)
Engine: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.9 out of 5 (4.9/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Equipment: 4.4 out of 5 (4.4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £150
5 out of 5 Cheapest bike to run that I’ve ever owned
03 October 2022 by AllyballyB

Version: RA

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £150

If you want a reliable motorcycle that you can extract every one of its horses, then you should consider the CBR500R. 47 BHP doesn’t sound much in the bragging stakes, but believe me, it’s no slouch. I added a scotoiler and heated grips and with it’s amazingly frugal fuel consumption it is my commuting weapon of choice. Comfort…no worries there in my opinion. I do a 150 odd mile commute 4 days a week. Filled up, I still have 3 of the 6 fuel bars on the led dash lit and I’m not holding back on the road. Works out in the current fuel price as 10p/mile.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

For what it is…a budget conscience bike, you can’t fault the handling. I find the suspension quite able but it does “float” a bit on undulating road surfaces at speed. Nothing worrying, and it’s doesn’t slow me down, but it’s just a recognition that the suspension is not up with the best. I have the front pre-load at Max which stops the bike pitching down hard on the brakes and you really can move at pace. In fact, the way to really exploit the CBR500R is to carry as much speed through the turns as you can as that nullifies the lack of grunt on the engine.

Engine 5 out of 5

Zippy wee thing. Never going to excite like a big cc bike in the surge stakes but accept it for what it is and it never disappoints. It handles better than I anticipated and can flip flop through the turns with precision. I run Michelin road 6s front and rear and they really suit the bike and are absolutely dependable in all weather conditions. Engine is bullet proof ( Haslem race school used them, so that should tell you something about the handling and reliability), just need oil and filter changed at 8k, plugs and air filter at 15k and valve clearance check.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Only issue I had was a starting issue for a few days but that was down to water getting into switch gear. Not surprising as I ride year round in some awful weather. That’s it though, so very impressed. It’s been a truly reliable bike that I totally trust to get me to work and back each day.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Cheapest bike to run I’ve ever had. Tyres last ages. Just need to add fuel which is minimal, and then oil and filter at 8k and air filter and spark plugs and valve clearance check at 16k. There’s a bit more to it than those items but nothing to concern you as it’s just checks.

Equipment 5 out of 5

At this price, the dash is fantastic. Reliable fuel gauge and full LED display. I added a scotoiler to make chain lubrication automatic. Heated grips are a great addition and I highly recommend the Oxford ones as they get really hot which is great on super cold days. I have a black widow end can and it pops on the overrun and has a nice fruity tone on the throttle. Sounds proper big bike. Tail tidy as I hate the the things that come as standard. Overall, I have made the ideal commuter. Cheap to run but an awful lot of fun and I can honestly say that there is very little if anything that would be quicker on my daily commute.

Buying experience: Private. No issues. 2019 £3300 as the chap needed to sell as he couldn’t ride it anymore.

5 out of 5 Comfy small super sports
06 June 2022 by Steve B

Version: Grand Prix Red 2021

Year: 2021

Annual servicing cost: £200

Superbly capable bike for all riding abilities. Comfortable and the Suspension soaks up all the bumps very well. Feels nimble through town and traffic and the super light clutch is a joy to use. Looks the part and has a quality feel about the bike. Long journey’s are not a problem either.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

With comfy suspension, twisty country road are easily dealt with and the seat is very comfortable for me. Long journeys are no problem. I can ride this all day and not have any aches. Excellent range from the fuel tank. I don’t carry pillions so can’t comment on that. It’s possible to do but maybe just shorter runs.

Engine 5 out of 5

Definitely the best feature of the Honda 500 line up. Peppy performance is enough to easily accelerate away from the lights and keep up with faster moving traffic with enough poke to safely overtake when needed. Cruising at motorway speeds is a piece of cake and the way the torque is delivered is impressive. You’d swear you were riding something more powerful. Fun on the country lanes working the gearbox. I’ve had plenty of powerful bikes and can confirm the 500R and X are still fun to ride. You can use every single one of its 47 horses.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

It’s a Honda and a well built one too. Keep it clean and well serviced and it will last for many years. Good service intervals. For me it is once a year anyway based on my annual mileage. Nothing has gone wrong yet and I don’t expect it to.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Expect a first service to cost around 100-150 and annual services around 200-240. A bigger 16k mile service will likely cost more. The fuel economy on these Honda 500 twins is insane. Ive had over 98mpg on a steady run and even more spirited riding sees over 87mpg for me. Of course that my differ with other riders but even so these are very frugal bikes to run.

Equipment 4 out of 5

It has everything you need to feel safe but no more than that. That’s ideal for me. My MT09 has the other faff for faster speeds. Exhaust is ok at lower speeds but it is quiet anyway. Pop an end can on it for better sound and pops! Dunlop Sportmax tyres are ok for me. Fine in the dry and wet. You can always upgrade the tyres when they wear out. Overall look of the bike is lovely. It maybe only a 500 but it’s looks add to its appeal. Even my non riding neighbour thinks it is gorgeous.

Buying experience: Bought a 106 mile ex demo from Lings Ipswich. Good experience and they offered me a decent enough px for my other bike. Got the balance of Honda warranty (12 months) for peace of mind. Bike arrived in good condition as advertised. Paid £5440 but I also saved money as they did the 1st service too being 1 year old.

4 out of 5
30 November 2021 by K5

Year: 2021

Great beginners bike with cool looks, decent pace and easy handling.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Surprisingly good. Brakes are fine, ride is very smooth even at speed and handling is very easy and positive. Will keep up with far faster bikes.

Engine 4 out of 5

I have owned many really fast bikes and have bought this to keep me on the road now I have hit 65! The engine is bland and the performance is adequate. It will get you were you want, cruise at motorway speed and do over 80 to a gallon. It will not excite you but do not let that put you off. I am thoroughly enjoying riding it due to its high comfort level. My days of Hayabusas etc are over.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Excellent build quality.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Always do my own servicing. First service cost £45 for oil and £15 for a genuine filter with a removal tool. Next service due in 16000 miles! I will service it thoroughly every 2 years ( I have several bikes and this will only do around 1500 miles per year)

Equipment 5 out of 5

Has all you need. I would appreciate a main stand for chain adjustment and maintenance.

Buying experience: Bought privately with only 36 miles on the clock due to ill health of seller. Paid £4800.

4 out of 5 Punches above it's weight!
15 November 2021 by NickC

Year: 2020

Annual servicing cost: £100

Quality and balanced componentry are it's best feature. It looks good, goes well and is economical at 85+ mpg for normal running. I would recommend it to a friend. Mirrors are the worst feature.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Ride and handling is fine for the performance. Brakes are enough without being exciting. All round it is very sound and integrated in its performance - no individual parts are much better or much worse than the overall quality. Rider seat is comfortable for 2 hours or so. Seat is low enough that I can paddle it to put it in the garage so the weight ( at 194kg a bit heavier than I would like) is actually not an issue.

Engine 5 out of 5

The engine is smooth with good response and sufficient linear power. It pulls from little over 2000 revs and is easy in town. But it's fast enough when you use the revs. And the exhaust has a lovely burble on the overrun.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Typical Honda build quality

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Not really sure of service cost yet. First service was free as part of the buying deal and I have only done 1500 miles. But intervals are long so should be reasonable.

Equipment 4 out of 5

The fairing looks good and with the screen, works well to make the ride comfortable. Bars are just right for me, angled but not too low. OE Dunlop tyres seem fine so far and don't white-line. Mirrors don't blur but need much fiddling to avoid just seeing your shoulders. it needs a radiator guard and hugger but that is common enough. Tank will take a Givi tanklock fixing and there are straps under the passenger seat for luggage.

Buying experience: I bought from Grafton Honda, a dealer in Milton Keynes. Great salesman Sam made the experience enjoyable. It was new but pre-reg so instead of list price of about £6200 I paid only £5200.

5 out of 5 Amazing bike!
10 November 2021 by Philip Noon

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £150

Brilliant bike especially as a first bike. Just passed my full bike licence and wanted something not too big to start with.So easy to ride. Weight is perfect. Such a fun bike. Only gripe i have is the mirrors never seem to be right. Always shows more of my elbows than whats behind.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Brakes very well. Smooth ride .Very comfortable on long runs

Engine 5 out of 5

Very nippy bike. No issues keeping up with traffic on motorway

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Bullet proof engine. Quality faultless honda

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Very cheap to service . Amazing mpg too.

Equipment 5 out of 5

Buying experience: Bought mine from CMC in clay cross. Very good service and wasn't pushy atall.

4 out of 5 My First Bigger Bike (mature new rider)
23 July 2021 by Wigwam777

Version: 2016-2018 model RA-J

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £150

Good step up bike from 125 or just a good first bike which importantly is affordable and cheap to run. Few new riders will push this bike to its limits.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Some have commented about brakes and upgrading, that’s not my view they are fine. Ride to the bike and not beyond

Engine 4 out of 5

You need to quickly move between the first three gears to get a move on from stand still. But equally will move through urban traffic and toll in 3rd Gear

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Only done 700 miles on the bike in my ownership so can’t say too much about reliability but everything about the bike is quality at an affordable price

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Required a new spare key, all done and programmed for less than £75, as a car owner amazing value

Equipment 3 out of 5

Equipment is limited built to a price point, gear indicator would have been nice similar to later models which leads you to fitting an aftermarket indicator. Needs a tail tidy if planning to keep the bike for any length of time

Buying experience: Purchased private, September 2020 with under 400 miles on the clock paid £3,800 owner asking £3,950

5 out of 5 2021 Cbr500r
29 June 2021 by Graham Middleton

Year: 2021

Great value for money motorcycle with typical honda engineering and finish.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

New suspension much better than previous models soft suspension.

Engine 5 out of 5

Lighter clutch and new gearbox are excellent.Lovely burble from exhaust on the overrun.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Had 2016 model before this one with no problems after 3 years use.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Just usual oil and filter changes etc.

Equipment 5 out of 5

Had a double bubble on previous model but not really needed on this one.

Buying experience: Bought from Miles kingsport in Hull. Excellent service from their sales team. Fourth bike I have bought from them.

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