MCN Fleet: First 200 miles with Honda's CB500F

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With Honda’s CB500F joining MCN’s test fleet last week, I thought it’d be rude to begin Ride to Work week without doing just that. Leaving my house in Lincoln at 7:45am, I arrived at our Peterborough office wet through an hour and 15 later. It hadn’t stopped raining for my entire 68 mile journey.

Despite the increasingly poor visibility, a jacket as waterproof as a sponge and the fact the CB500F is as much at home on the sodden A1 as a camel would be in the Amazon rainforest, I enjoyed it.

Having spent quite a bit of time with Honda’s CB500 range, I sort of knew what to expect from the CB500F – a bullet-proof, sturdy motor slightly lacking in power, a basic but comfortable ride and light and agile handling.  What I wasn’t quite prepared for was the lack of wind protection. My commute involves 50 miles of travelling up (or down) the A1 – something the 500F’s sibling, the adventure-style CB500X managed with ease. The F however, felt like a fish out of water. As you’d expect from a naked bike, it has no wind protection whatsoever and with just 47bhp, anything above 75mph feels like you’re going flat out as you fight the oncoming wind.  

But that’s not the point of the F, there’s the CB500X for that – where the F excels is once you’re off that dual carriage way. It might be underpowered, but it’s got plenty of punch to pull overtakes as and when you need and once I turned on to some of Lincolnshire’s finest B-roads, I almost forgot the bike’s power deficit completely as I was reminded what riding is all about.

This is where the 500F is at home. For an inexperienced rider, it’s more than enough for an enjoyable Saturday afternoon ride. It’s lightweight and agile nature makes cornering a treat, even confidence-inspiring with the front end planted and even with just 47bhp you still get that feeling as you haul it upright and get on the gas. Each time I came up to a junction that’d take me home, I turned the other way. 

Oli Rushby

By Oli Rushby

Former sports reporter covering British Superbikes, World Superbikes and road racing