Big updates for Honda’s 500 twins includes all new suspension, brake upgrades and engine tweaks
The Honda CB500 range is a big hitter for the firm – the naked mini-streetfighter CB500F, CBR500R sportster and CB500X light-ADV tourer are all solid sellers. Launched in 2013, the 471cc parallel twin-powered machines are great choices for A2 licence holders, with their bespoke 47bhp output – but also a big hit with more experienced riders looking for something light, frugal and easy to handle.
They’re packed with Honda’s good stuff too: reliable, well-designed, and with massive dealer backup. And now the whole range is getting even more love for 2022, with a big upgrade on the chassis front across all three models, plus engine tweaks and equipment improvements.
Starting with the CB500X, it gets a new upside-down front fork from Showa, and it’s a big step up from the current bike. Honda’s gone big here, and fitted 41mm Showa Separate Function Fork Big Piston (SFF-BP) units with preload adjustment. These forks separate out the spring and damping functions, so one leg is the spring and one is the damper. That allows better optimisation of both jobs, and Honda claims that reaction and ride quality are both improved.
That’s not all on the front end though: there’s a new dual-disc brake setup replacing the old single disc. You now get two 296mm wave-type rotors, with a pair of Nissin twin-piston sliding calipers biting on them. Honda reckons this not only gives better braking power, but gives minimal weight gains and a lighter feel at the lever too. A new 19-inch cast aluminium wheel design and refreshed mudguard design rounds off the updated front end.
Out back, a new swingarm design has slightly more ‘tuned’ lateral flex for improved handling, and is also lighter than before. The monoshock suspension unit has also been fettled to better match the new front fork.
Away from the chassis, the CB500X motor has a new lighter water cooling radiator, and there are updated PGM-FI fuel injection settings that give improved ‘torque feel’, apparently… A new LED headlight with more powerful light output, and, of course, bold new graphics and colourways, rounds off the 2022 updates.
Away from the ADV sector, the streetfighter CB500F and sporty CBR500R get similar upgrades to the X, with a new front end, the upgraded rear swingarm lighter radiator and updated fuel injection. Both F and R have new Showa SFF-BPF forks and dual 296mm front discs, but they get sportier calipers – Nissin radial-mount jobs, rather than the conventional sliding two-piston units on the CB500X. Honda says these Nissin calipers are a twin-piston design, but they do look very like conventional four-piston designs.
There are also new five-spoke wheels on the F and R, plus a new front mudguard design borrowed from the CB650R and new aluminium footpegs. Both of these sportier models have a revised weight distribution as well, with more weight over the front end. That should give better grip and stability, plus more positive steering.
Impressively, both the 2022 CB500F and CBR500R are no heavier than the current models with the new front end, still weighing in at 189kg (CB500F) and 192kg (CBR500R) ready to ride. The CB500X has gained just a couple of kilos – now weighing 199kg wet.
Finally, Honda’s also updated the accessories listings for all three models, with new options including a top box and rear carrier, soft luggage, a high smoke windscreen, heated grips, 12V/USB Type-C sockets and a neat single-seat Cowl.
There are new colour options too: a classy dark green on the CB500X, metallic black on the CBR and the CB500F gets three new schemes: metallic grey, matt grey and pearl yellow. No word on prices or availability as yet: we often get all that detail around the NEC Motorcycle Live show time in December.
CBR500R spec highlights (CB500X differences)
Engine: DOHC twin cam 8v, parallel twin, water-cooled, 471cc
Bore x stroke: 67×66.8mm
Compression ratio: 10.7:1
Carburation: PGM-FI fuel injection
Max power (claimed) 47hp@8,60rpm
Max torque (claimed) 32ft lb@6,500rpm
Transmission: six speed gearbox, wet slipper clutch
Frame: steel diamond
Front suspension: 41mm Showa SFF-BPF, preload-adjust forks
Rear suspension: steel swingarm, five-way preload-adjustable monoshock
Brakes: twin 296mm discs, two-piston calipers (front), 240mm disc, single-piston caliper (rear), ABS.
Wheels/tyres: cast aluminium/Michelin, 120/70 17 (110/80 19) front, 160/60 17 rear
Rake/trail: 25.5°/102mm (27.5mm/108mm)
Wheelbase: 1,410mm (1445mm)
Kerb weight : 192kg (199kg)
Fuel capacity: 17.1 litres (17.5 litres)