Milan Show: Three new Honda 500s for 2013

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Three new Honda’s sharing much of the same basic bike have been revealed with the same 500cc parallel twin motor, chassis and running gear, and are squarely aimed at restricted licence holders hoping to take a step up from a 125cc machine, or new riders looking for a credible new bike.

The three models are topped by a fully-faired sportsbike-styled CBR500R which clothes the same chassis, engine, running gear and exhaust in racy bodywork which apes that of the bigger CBR600RR and CBR1000RR.

Alongside the CBR500R is the CB500X, which echoes the semi-adventure bike styling of the Honda VFR800X Crossrunner, and then there is the unfaired CB500F which looks like a small CB1000R.

All three bikes are aimed at offering an easy-to-ride feel for new and experienced riders alike, with the engine’s output of 46.9bhp creeping in just under the new A2 Licence power cap. Honda claim the bikes will be affordable, fun and highly fuel efficient, offering a claimed 76mpg.

The bikes use an all-new 471cc Honda double overhead cam, eight-valve, liquid-cooled, parallel twin engine, with a bore and stroke is set at 67mm x 66.8mm, crankshaft pins phased at 180 degrees and a primary couple-balancer sitting behind the cylinders, close to the bike’s centre of gravity.

To reduce inertia and allow the engine to spin more freely, the crank counterweight is specifically shaped for the couple-balance, which helps reduce vibration in the parallel twin, too.

The R and F’s fuel tanks hold 15.7 litres of petrol, which Honda claims is enough for 260 miles between fill-ups, which suggests a claimed fuel consumption of 76mpg!

Keeping development and manufacturing costs under control meant a steel tube rather than aluminium beam frame was developed for the CB500 range with Honda working to design in enough strength with flexibility to keep vibration down, the engine acting as a stressed member – reinforcing frame rigidity.

The suspension comprises a non-adjustable 41mm fork and a Pro-Link monoshock at the back, both of which are adjustable for preload.

The CBR500R may be aimed at the cheaper end of the middle bike market but it still has some lovely design touches such as the Y-spoked wheels, which carry tyres sizes catered for by all of the major manufacturers from all sorts of rubber from everyday road tyres through to race rubber with a front tyre of 120/70 R17 and a 160/60 R17 rear.

The X model, clearly influenced by the bigger 800cc Crossrunner, has some mechanical changes over the other two bikes to give some level of credence to the styling.

Longer travel suspension (by 20mm), wider and higher handlebars, a slightly longer wheelbase (by 11mm) and a 2.5litre larger fuel capacity give the CB500X genuinely long distance potential range of almost 300miles.

The naked CB500F is the cheapest of the range and has obviously been styled with the bigger CB1000R as inspiration, with a similar headlight cowl and tailpiece.

Mechanically it’s identical to the CBR500R but is aimed at urban riding and those less experienced riders who may feel intimidated by the bigger ‘feel’ of the CB500X and CBR500R even though the kerb weight, at 192kg, is only a tiny bit lower than the other bikes.