THE Honda CB500F sits in a line-up of three bikes that share the majority of their parts.
It’s the least attractive in terms of looks – that award goes to the sportbike-styled R model. It’s also the least rugged – that’ll be the X variant with the longer legs and adventurous attitude.
So why am I riding along with a huge smile on my face?
Fairly simple. This CB500F has impeccable road manners, is playful enough to maintain your attention – and is a Honda, which means it’s never going to let you down.
I don’t know about you, but those three attributes are fairly fundamental when it comes to choosing a bike.
Particularly for beginners, which is where most people first encounter CB500s. They’ve been the go-to bike for learner riders since way back.
A CB500 is a welcoming machine – unintimidating dimensions make it easy to throw a leg and keep control of.
That nature carries over when you fire up the A2 licence-friendly 499cc parallel twin motor. No nasty surprises lurk in the rev range, just smooth, tractable torque then power usable all the way to the redline.
Don’t assume it’s all about U-turns and wobbling round cones in a car park, there’s a playful side to the CB500F that is just as impressive. Knee-down cornering on pretty poorly surfaced roads on our test route showed how versatile it is.
Swapping between six gears was easy thanks to a two-finger light clutch, the ABS brakes performed just as well and the suspension swallowed everything I could throw at it.
The Fireblade and Africa Twin show how well Honda make bikes but it’s down this end of the range where their manufacturing quality shines brightest.
Sportbikes speak for themselves and adventure bikes sell on promise.
The CB500F doesn’t have those luxuries. It’s a no-nonsense machine with nearly 30 years’ evolution behind it.
All that age and experience could be regarded as priceless – but Honda will let you have it for £5,559. l John is editor of SuperBike and presents Bike World on YouTube.