2016 Honda CBR500R First Impressions

The new CBR500R is our latest project bike and we wanted to give our first impression based on the first few miles.  Some of the things that stand out are:

  • The bike looks awesome for a "budget bike".  Between the new LED headlights and the updated tail section, the CBR500R looks more like a full-on sportbike than it ever has.  The pearl white model in particular is quite the looker.
  • Ergonomics are still excellent and very comfortable with high bars, low seat and above average mirrors.
  • The fit and finish is excellent and Honda has gotten very good at their "carbon look" patterns on the plastic trim
  • The gauge cluster is the nice clear digital display used on lots on new Honda models including the Grom.  However the lack of a gear indicator and water temp gauge are a bummer and are missed.
  • The single front disk is surprisingly strong once bedded in and the adjustable lever makes for a solid brake setup.
  • Gearing is well spread but in general too short across the board, you will be searching for the illusive 7th gear on the freeway due to a motor that's happier in the mid range and no gear indicator.
  • The motor fueling is perfect and the 500cc parallel twin makes good power and is a noticeable bump from the 300cc class bikes but it is not as smooth as I had hoped and does have a bit of vibration at a few points in the rev range.  Better make sure your fender eliminator has bumpers to keep the plate from buzzing (ours does... hint, hint).
In our opinion, the new CBR500R doesn't represent a huge jump in performance from the 300cc bikes (CBR300, YZF-R3, RC390, Ninja300 etc.) and the extra weight is definitely there.  Is does, however, make for an excellent alternative to those lightweights if you want better highway performance without revving the motor out all the time.  Plus the comfortable ergos and low seat makes this an excellent first bike or solid commuter.  Plus it just looks better than most bikes out there.