Not Really Faster Than Last Year, Just Quicker

Honda gives its CB500F the ’BNL-plus’ treatment ahead of MY2019 with a number of aesthetic improvements and a four-percent boost in power over the previous gen. Naked as ever, the “F” brings its usual sense of style and practicality to the table to serve as a lower-midrange “all-rounder,” as the factory succinctly puts it. Today I’d like to take a deeper look at this model and see how it stacks up against an equally-raw domestic competitor.

  • 2019 Honda CB500F
  • Year:
    2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Parallel-Twin
  • Displacement:
    471 cc
  • Top Speed:
    116 (est) mph
  • Price:
    6199
  • Price:

2019 Honda CB500F Design

2019 Honda CB500F
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The refinements in the bodywork are rather subtle individually, but their combined effect is quite notable overall.

So, the refinements in the bodywork are rather subtle individually, but their combined effect is quite notable overall. The front fender looks to be the same one the "F" ran last year, but the Spartan LED headlight housing lost some of its angularity to present a slightly softer visage to the world, and I do mean slightly; it still maintains the same aggressive attitude as ever.

Blackout fork sliders, rims and tripletree make a connection to the custom culture and tie the machine together — front to rear — with that common achromatic thread. New, smaller turn signals join the revamped single headlight to kind of clean up the front end a bit, and there’s a tiny flyscreen up top that more-or-less acts as a housing for the digital color LCD instrument cluster. The display has easy-to-read info that features a round representation for the revs and a digital-numeral readout for the speed with a large gear-position indicator, fuel gauge and engine temperature indicator. Idiot lights finish off the instrumentation within the confines of the display housing, so you can get all the pertinent info with a quick glance and get your eyes where they belong, back on the road ahead.

The 4.5-gallon fuel tank rocks some new graphics this year with a new look to the cheek fairings, and it’s this pair of features that really sets the look apart from its predecessor. Tank, saddle and frame come together in a narrow intersection that makes for an easy reach to the ground from the 30.9 inch high seat— shorter inseams will appreciate this— and of course, the rider’s triangle is set up nicely for race-style English if you’re into that sort of thing. Just do us a favor and wear something better than flip-flops, jeans and a tank top to go with your full-face head protection...

There’s a bit of rise to the subframe, and that lofts the pillion to create a tall vertical break between pilot and passenger. Yeah, it makes a handy butt-stop too. Flip-out, subframe-mount passenger footpegs and tapered J.C. handles finish the passenger’s amenities, and the LED taillight comes recessed under the tip of the pointed tail for an ultra-clean finish. Tag and turn signals mount the the mudguard that runs with a weight-saving cutout this year, and just like last year, I think it’d look much better with a hugger.

2019 Honda CB500F Chassis

2019 Honda CB500F
- image 812861
Comfortable seating and eager in the corners.

The “Diamond-tube” mainframe is a direct carryover from last year with its 35 mm steel tubes and nimble geometry. Rake measures in with 25.5 degrees from the vertical and 4 inches of trail to give the "F" its eagerness in the corners, and of course, the mass-centralization helps with that as well.

Symmetrical, 17-inch rims round out the rolling chassis with spokes that run a Y-shaped cross-section that’s hollow to reduce the unsprung weight as well as the gyroscopic forces that act on the wheels when they’re in motion. Standard, 41 mm forks float the front end with a Pro-link monoshock out back and adjustable preload all around, and since it’s meant to stay on relatively civilized roads, the 4.3- and 4.7-inch travel numbers are sufficient for the task.

Since the "F" weighs in with a 415-pound curb weight — partly due to the stressed-engine chassis — the single, 320 mm disc and twin-pot anchor are also sufficient for the task. A single-piston caliper bites a 240 mm disc out back, and the factory gives you a choice between an ABS model and a non-ABS variant.

Front Suspension: 41mm fork; 4.3 inches travel
Rear Suspension: Pro-Link® single shock with nine-position spring preload adjustability; 4.7 inches travel
Rake: 25.5°
Trail: 4.0 inches (102 mm)
Front Brake: Twin-piston caliper with single 320mm disc (ABS model w/ ABS)
Rear Brake: Single-caliper 240mm disc (ABS model w/ ABS)
Front Tire: 120/70R-17 radial
Rear Tire: 160/60-17 radial

2019 Honda CB500F Drivetrain

2019 Honda CB500F
- image 812860
The factory borrowed from its “RR” program for the six-speed transmixxer and the new-for-2019 slipper clutch.

The factory boosted power by four-percent this year for a total of 47 ponies at 8,500 rpm. The torque well is deeper too with a boost in the 3,000 to 7,000 rpm range and a max of 32 pound-feet at seven grand. Most of this comes from the increased intake-valve lift and poppet timing that’s advanced by five degrees. The valvetrain itself is a shim-and-bucket arrangement with roller-rockers that are sure to last longer, and work more quietly, than the old bushings. A low-resistance intake tract also contributes to the power boost, as does the dual-port muffler that’s new for this year.

The factory borrowed from its “RR” program for the six-speed transmixxer and the new-for-2019 slipper clutch that delivers a lighter clutch pull and smoother shifts along with some backtorque protection. Dual, 34 mm throttle bodies and PGM-FI delivers the juice to the parallel-twin plant that’s nearly square with 67 mm bores and a 66.8 mm stroke to give it a total of 471 cc and a compression ratio of 10.7-to-1. Dual over-head cams time the four-valve heads via the Vanadium-treated chain drive to wrap up the hardware.

The mill meets EPA and CARB standards, but otherwise is void of any higher electronics or fandanglery. That’s not surprising; it’s meant to be a reliable commuter and not a rolling marvel. What does that get ya’? Well, in a whole heap o’ trouble if you open it up on public roads with its approximate top speed of 116 mph, so it’s not really faster than last year’s engine, just quicker.

Engine: 471 cc Liquid-Cooled Parallel-Twin
Bore & Stroke: 67.0 mm x 66.8 mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Induction: PGM-FI with 34mm throttle bodies
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital transistorized with electronic advance
Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive: O-ring-sealed chain

2019 Honda CB500F Pricing

2019 Honda CB500F
- image 810187
MSRP is $6.2k for the non-ABS model and $6.4k with ABS.

The base CB500F rolls for $6,199, and if you want that ABS protection you’ll have to cough up an additional three bills. No matter which you choose, you’ll have it in Grand Prix Red, or not at all. It comes with an unlimited-mileage, one-year warranty, but the factory has protection plans that extend that coverage.

Model ID: CB500F (ABS model: CB500FA)
Warranty: One Year Included, Transferable, unlimited-mileage, limited warranty (optional extended coverage available with a HondaCare Protection Plan®
Colors: Grand Prix Red
Price: $6,199 (ABS model: $6,499)

2019 Honda CB500F Competitors

2019 Honda CB500F
- image 812864
2019 Kawasaki Z400
- image 810168
Both rides are similarly stripped with nothing of the higher electronic gadgets or control subsystems; just honest feedback and performance.

Like I said at the start, I want to find a domestic competitor for the CB500F, and the Kawasaki Z400 seems like it would appeal to the same sort of rider, so here we go. Kawi’s “Z” family is every bit as naked as Honda’s “F,” but it is edgier with a slightly more severe look about it. Everything from the headlight housing to the angular tail just exudes a certain Kawi-ness, and you’ll have to decide if that’s a good thing or not for yourself.

The Z’s chassis is similarly simple with a tubular Trellis that uses the engine as a stressed member to complete the structure. Kawi loses some points with its vanilla suspension though, as it has nothing but fixed values up front and only the obligatory spring preload tweak out back. The 399 cc engine churns out 28 pound-feet of torque at eight grand for a predictable shortfall against the larger Honda mill, but the price difference for that extra four pound-feet of torque may not be worth it at $4,799 for the Z400 ABS versus the $6k-plus Honda. Both rides are similarly stripped with nothing of the higher electronic gadgets or control subsystems; just honest feedback and performance.

He Said

“Meh, what can I say? The CB500F looks like a good beginner bike, or maybe a first upgrade. The lack of fandanglery may hurt it with so many gadgets available, but to be honest, too much of that kind of stuff is wasted on newer riders— like pearls before swine— and of course, there’s the price to think of. Honda means for this to serve as an “all-around” bike, and it seems like that just what they have in the F, however remarkable it is in its un-remarkableness.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “Lots of new stuff on the outside, including all LED headlights, fully LCD instrument cluster, tapered handlbar, and twin-outlet exhaust pipe. After the tweaks and updates in the engine department, there’s more power in the mid-range and new this year is the slipper clutch; all together giving you a ride that’s even more fun. It’s very smooth in the low range which makes it good through city traffic or nice as a learner bike. This is a nice streetfighter style that’s approachable for new riders and still has a lot to offer experienced riders looking for a commuter or just weekend fun bike.”

2019 Honda CB500F Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 471 cc Liquid-Cooled Parallel-Twin
Bore & Stroke: 67.0 mm x 66.8 mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Induction: PGM-FI with 34mm throttle bodies
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital transistorized with electronic advance
Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive: O-ring-sealed chain
Chassis:
Front Suspension: 41mm fork; 4.3 inches travel
Rear Suspension: Pro-Link® single shock with nine-position spring preload adjustability; 4.7 inches travel
Rake: 25.5°
Trail: 4.0 inches (102 mm)
Front Brake: Twin-piston caliper with single 320mm disc (ABS model w/ ABS)
Rear Brake: Single-caliper 240mm disc (ABS model w/ ABS)
Front Tire: 120/70R-17 radial
Rear Tire: 160/60-17 radial
Dimensions & Capacities:
Wheelbase: 55.5 inches
Seat Height: 30.9 inches
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gallons
Curb Weight: 415 pounds (ABS model: 420 pounds)
Top Speed: 116 mph (est)
Details:
Model ID: CB500F (ABS model: CB500FA)
Warranty: One Year Included, Transferable, unlimited-mileage, limited warranty (optional extended coverage available with a HondaCare Protection Plan®
Colors: Grand Prix Red
Price: $6,199 (ABS model: $6,499)

Further Reading

Kawasaki Z400

Kawasaki Unveils New Models at 2018 EICMA
- image 804360

See our review of the Honda Z400.

Honda

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Read more Honda news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: honda.com, kawasaki.com

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