HONDA CBR500R (2022 - on) Review
- Fireblade-inspired fairing design with winglets
- Light changes of direction and novice-friendly power
- Charming burbling exhaust note, if lost above 60mph
At a glance
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The Honda CBR500R arrived back in 2013 as part of a new wave of exciting low capacity funsters, ready to capitalise on the burgeoning A2 licence bracket.
Part of a trio of twin-pot 500s sharing the same basic engine and chassis parts, the fully faired CBR has proved popular with young sportsbike enthusiasts since its inception – with 60% of all buyers aged under 34, and 37% new to riding.
In an attempt to attract more would-be riders to the mid-capacity race rep, Honda have bolted on an aspirational set of Showa Separate Function Big Piston forks, dual four-piston radial calipers, a new swingarm, revised the shock settings and added more LEDs to the front of the winglet-equipped bodywork.
The result is a welcoming little pocket rocket that combines exotic superbike styling with everyday usability to create the ideal introduction to sportsbikes for the novice rider.
A light clutch, low seat height and progressive new braking set-up make town work a cinch and there’s oodles of comfort from the cushioning seat and gently-placed bars to tackle big miles without fatigue – made better on our test bike by the optional black tall screen.
The gentle twin pot motor will happily burble its way across town without fuss, and requires a good thrashing to get the best out of it – all whilst returning claimed mpg figures of well into the mid-70s.
It’s charming, credible, and well made, but could be criticised for the lack of soundtrack on faster roads, and fairly basic standard trim – lacking the TFT dash of the rival KTM RC390. You’ll want to get off and stretch your legs after a few hours in the saddle, too.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
Out go the old CBR’s bland-looking 41mm preload adjustable conventional forks in favour of some more attention-grabbing golden Showa Separate Function Big Piston alternatives, lifted directly from the four-cylinder CB650R and CBR650R.
They’re non-adjustable but the standard settings tackle bumps in the British tarmac without fuss – remaining composed with a big handful of front brake and working with the quality Michelin Road 5 tyres beneath to provide plenty of feedback in the wet or dry.
They also look fantastic – complimenting the already heavily Fireblade-influenced styling to create a true poster bike for aspiring sportsbike enthusiast teens. Honda have also given the 500R its own unique headstock and the fork tops bear the Showa logo for an added premium touch.
The same fork set up can also be found in the naked CB500F too, however that gets 64mm taller, 1018mm flat bars for a more relaxed roadster appeal.
Protruding from these shiny new legs are dual four-piston radial brake calipers, which bite onto 296mm discs. They replace the old R’s single twin-piston caliper and 320mm rotor to provide a predictably progressive performance during regular applications and plenty of confidence inspiring feel when making progress out of town.
There’s never any intrusion from the ABS – working with the composed new front forks to give minimal unwanted dive during harsh grabs of the six-stage span adjustable lever.
Moving away from the fancy stoppers, further attempts to improve the 2022 CBR’s handling package include a new swingarm, which is now more than a kilo lighter, at 5.9kg.
What’s more, it’s said to provide 18% more lateral flex and torsional stiffness and whilst that’s hard to quantify, the rear does feel composed at speed – never wallowing when pushed or squatting with a handful of throttle. Further to this, the five-stage preload-adjustable shock settings have also been tweaked to work with the new fork design.
Completing the changes are a set of lighter five spoke aluminium rims. A strut fewer than before, they shave a claimed 49g off the front and a further 455g at the back – helping to offset the new additional brake.
Although not compared like for like with the old one, the 192kg CBR feels very light on its feet, slicing up traffic like scissors through wrapping paper and dancing from one corner to the next with joyful precision. It’s no hard-edged superbike, but it’s ample handling performance for spirited runs along your favourite backroad.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The 471cc parallel-twin engine remains largely unchanged for 2022 – and why shouldn’t it? Afterall, it was already Euro5 compliant and produced the A2 class power cap of 47bhp.
What Honda have done though is fiddle with the fuel injection settings for a claimed boost in low down torque and install a slightly smaller radiator, which shaves a further 92g off the total weight.
Despite the internal revisions, the CBR responds best to plenty of revs and feels much the same as before. Sure, you can be lazy with the gears around town, or on a slow day, but quick overtakes and brisk acceleration off corners are only possible when you work the gearbox hard.
Producing a gravelly burble and spitting back at you with each blip of the throttle, the über smooth unit is nicely fuelled, and snicking through the cogs is a pleasure, thanks to the light lever action and slipper clutch.
It won’t pull your arms off as a new rider and there’s enough shove to eclipse the magic tonne on a private road, if you get nicely tucked in. Even the most ham-fisted riding fails to get the onboard MPG reader to dip below 65, too.
For all its thrashable fun though, the CBR is slightly lacking in the thrills department. The 471cc unit is wonderfully refined and sounds brill at low speed, but above 65mph there’s no noise at all and only a slight vibration through the pegs tells you it’s still running. This is nothing a boisterous end can couldn’t sort out though.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
It’s always difficult to judge a new bike’s build quality and reliability early on, however because much of the 2022 CBR500R is carried over from the 2019 update, MCN owners' reviews can give us a fairly good indication.
Here, the old bike scores a full 5/5 stars, with some finding no faults after years of use. This latest model feels well-made and showed no reason to suggest it would suffer a different fate during our three-day, 500-mile test.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
For an A2 licenced rider looking to climb onto their first big bike, the Honda CBR500R ticks a lot of boxes. Prices are still to be confirmed at the time of launch, but Honda tell us it should be a slight increase from the current £6299 ticket.
Not only does it look like a mini Fireblade SP for just over a quarter of the price, Honda claim over 300 miles between fill-ups, a two-year warranty and one of the strongest UK dealer networks available.
- Related: Best A2 motorbikes
Whilst that factory fuel claim is unlikely in normal riding conditions, we did see 75mpg on multiple occasions on our test, which is enough for a theoretical 282 miles range. That’s seriously good.
But what about the competition? Arriving just two weeks earlier than the CBR was KTM’s long-overdue 2022 RC390. With a huge range of adjustability at the front and rear, cornering sensitive electronics, a TFT dash, Supermoto mode, and MotoGP-mimicking winglets, the striking KTM should have the Honda beaten on the track.
However, outside of world and national racing paddocks, the chances of either machine being used as a regular trackday mule in the UK are slim to none, so we can gloss over that... This is where the Honda fights back.
With its roomy ergonomics, smooth, tractable twin cylinder motor and frugal nature, it’s likely to be the better road bike of the two for daily duties, but the thrapping KTM could come up trumps for weekend thrills. We’ll need a group test to find out for sure.
With USD forks, an LCD dash and R1 lookalike plastics, it’s a very similar proposition to the CBR, however needs to be worked harder to get the most out of it and it’s physically smaller, which could deter bigger riders.
For greater visibility on the go, Honda have added claimed brighter LED headlights from the CBR650R sportster. Although untested at night, they give the bike more of a presence on the road – always visible in the rider’s mirrors on our launch test.
Oddly, unlike the naked CB500F and adventure CB500X, also updated for 2022, the sporty R doesn’t get new LED side lights - with the other two machines now emitting a constant Jaffa orange beam from the front indicators for added visibility to other motorists. If you’re already doing it for the other two, why not go the whole hog and treat the CBR as well? It doesn’t really make sense...
What’s more, outside of the new upside down forks, new LEDs, and sportier 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 basic, but that’s okay because 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.
That said, there is a distractingly far reach to the mirrors to adjust them on the fly and much of the view is filled by your own knuckles, arms, and shoulders.
To make the CBR your own, optional extras include heated grips, a tall screen, magnetic tank bag, a top box and more. Our test bike was fitted with the heated grips and taller screen, and both are worthy of your cash – the grips standing out as especially good.
We also had the tank bag installed, but it’s too small for anything more than the essentials and requires an external wrap-around rain coat to keep the contents dry.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 8v, parallel-twin|
|Frame type||Steel diamond|
|Fuel capacity||17.1 litres|
|Front suspension||41mm Showa USD forks, non-adjustable|
|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||80.8 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£69|
|Annual service cost||-|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||47 bhp|
|Max torque||31.7 ft-lb|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||301 miles|
Model history & versions
- 2013: Honda launch the original parallel twin-cylinder CBR500R to meet the newly introduced 47bhp A2 licence regulations.
- 2016: Styling, suspension and airflow tweaks arrive, plus a hinged fuel cap, adjustable brake lever and new exhaust can.
- 2019: The first major update to the CBR500R. It got Fireblade superbike styling including MotoGP style wings, a claimed 4% more grunt, and was 3kg lighter. It also had a sportier riding position, refined suspension, new slipper clutch, a fresh dash, and LED headlights.
- 2020: Entire Honda 500 range updated to meet Euro5 compliance.
- 2022: Honda update the CBR500R with new Showa 41mm Separate Function Big Piston forks, dual brake discs and new radial calipers. There’s a lighter swingarm and new shock settings. LED headlights get a power boost, too.
Watch MCN's 2019 Honda CBR500R video review here
There is only one version of the Honda CBR500R, however Honda have four bikes in their A2-compliant 471cc parallel-twin range. These are the sporty 500R, a naked CB500F, adventure styled CB500X and laidback cruiser CMX500 Rebel.
Owners' reviews for the HONDA CBR500R (2022 - on)
No owners have yet reviewed the HONDA CBR500R (2022 - on).