If there’s any question about Honda’s new market focus, it should be crystal clear now that Big Red has unveiled multiple new 2013 products. Joining the efficient and inexpensive CBR250R and paradigm-bending NC700X are a trio of budget-friendly, 500cc parallel-Twins: the CBR500R, CB500X and CB500F. This trio proves that Honda is committed to bringing in new riders and welcoming back those who have fallen off the motorcycling wagon. The jewel among the three is the CBR500R, a fully faired sportbike with a strong resemblance to the rest of the CBR family. Which is a good thing, because as American Honda’s Motorcycle Press Manager Bill Savino so accurately puts it, “Nobody wants a beginner bike that looks like a beginner bike.”
You have to flash back to the V-Four-powered VF500 Interceptor to find the last multi-cylinder Honda sportbike with a half-liter engine capacity. Although Honda produced a European 500cc parallel-Twin called the CBF500 until 2003, this new model has little in common with that naked standard.
An all-new liquid-cooled dohc engine is counter-balanced and features a 180-degree crank for reduced vibration and good torque production. Bore diameter is identical to the CBR600RR’s 67.0mm, but stroke is a much longer 66.8.mm. The cylinder head has four valves per barrel, actuated by twin cams with lightweight rocker arms. Fuel mixture is delivered via Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) with 34mm throttle bodies.
Excellent handling was at the top of the engineer’s list, so a lightweight but rigid steel-tube frame is used for sporty response. Pro-Link rear suspension with a preload-adjustable shock and a conventional 41mm fork are hung at each end. The braking system consists of 320mm wave-style disc with a twin-piston caliper up front and a 240mm disc and single-piston caliper out back. Optional ABS braking is available but Honda hasn’t released the price—if the CBR250R is any indication, we expect anti-lock will be a $500 premium. The 500R rolls on 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels in 120/70 and 160/60 sizes front and rear, respectively. Seat height is set at a smart 30.9 in.
Full-coverage aerodynamic bodywork is patterned after its CBR600RR and CBR1000RR siblings. Colors include red, black or Pearl White/blue/red. The ABS model is only available in red. The cockpit has a full array of instrumentation within its LCD display, including speedometer, tachometer, odometer, twin tripmeters, fuel gauge, clock, average fuel consumption and current fuel consumption. Pricing for the standard model is $5999.