Honda's new sports middleweight twin!
Fast, frugal, affordable and fun, the CBR500R offers a great entry point to the world of sports motorcycles, with high a build quality plus pride of ownership that will last.
The CBR500R’s performance will give anyone looking for their first sports bike an exhilarating ride on a twisty, winding road – or even race track. It works equally well in urban environments and is a motorcycle designed to be ridden, and thoroughly enjoyed, by people of all shapes and sizes.
Its DOHC twin-cylinder fuel-injected engine produces 35kW (making it ideal for new 2013 A2 licence holders moving up) and returns an impressive 27km/l (76.3mpg) (WMTC figure). Honda’s engineers see it very much as an “accessible CBR engine,” and worthy of the name.
The steel diamond frame and high quality suspension – 41mm telescopic front forks matched to Pro-Link rear monoshock – provide confident, precise handling as do 17-inch cast aluminium wheels and wide 120 front, 160 rear radial tyres. Powerful wave-pattern disc brakes are assisted by standard-fitment ABS.
While it may feature the styling of the four-cylinder CBR1000RR, the CBR500R’s similarities to its big brother are more than skin deep, and it will be found on racetracks in 2013 as the motorcycle used in the European Junior Cup.
The CBR500R’s 35mm diameter steel diamond-tube mainframe is light and strong, and has a tuned degree of yield that gives plenty of feedback to the rider as road surfaces change. The shape and position of the engine mounts, and the frame’s rigidity balance, have also been carefully balanced to reduce vibration.
Wheelbase is 1410mm and rake and trail are set at 25.5°/102mm giving nimble, yet reassuring steering. Mass centralisation, with the engine in very close proximity to the swingarm pivot point, delivers turning agility and optimum front/rear weight distribution ensures stability. Kerb weight is 194kg. Seat height is low at 790mm, making the CBR500R very easy to manage and its sporty riding position will comfortably accommodate riders of varying heights thanks to a relatively high handlebar position.
Overall dimensions are 2075mm x 740mm x 1145mm, with 140mm ground clearance. The fuel tank holds 15.7L, including reserve, and combined with the engine’s excellent fuel economy gives great range of 420km (over 260 miles).
The 41mm telescopic front fork, with 120mm stroke, delivers a compliant yet controlled ride and gives a great connection to the front tyre. Pro-Link monoshock rear suspension features optimised leverage ratios and 9-stage preload adjustment for the rear shock. It works with a rigid swingarm, constructed from 70mm x 30mm box-section steel. Final drive is via 520 sealed chain.
Lightweight, 17-inch cast aluminium wheels employ hollow cross-section Y-shaped spokes. Front wheel width is 3.5inch with a 120/70-ZR17 tyre, the rear 4.5inch and 160/60-ZR17 tyre. A single front 320mm wavy disc and two-piston brake caliper is matched to a 240mm rear disc and single-piston caliper. ABS is fitted as standard.
The comprehensive dash features a digital speedometer, digital bar graph tachometer, odometer, dual trip meters, clock, plus digital fuel level gauge and fuel consumption. HISS (Honda Intelligent Security System) is built in to the ignition, and the headlights feature two 55W H7 Halogen bulbs and multi-reflectors. There is space under the seat to store a U-lock.
The CBR500R’s engine is a next generation power unit, looking to the future in both performance and environmental terms. The DOHC, 8-valve liquid-cooled parallel twin layout was chosen because of its light weight, all-round ability and flexible usability.
Bore and stroke is set at 67mm x 66.8mm; the crankshaft pins are phased at 180° and a primary couple-balancer sits behind the cylinders, close to the bike’s centre of gravity. The primary and balancer gears use scissor gears, reducing noise. The crank counterweight is specifically shaped for couple-balance and its light weight allows the engine to spin freely, with reduced inertia. PGM-FI fuel injection provides superb throttle response and peak power of 35kW arrives at 8,500rpm, with 43Nm torque delivered at 7,000rpm.
The ‘triangle’ proportion of crankshaft, main shaft and countershaft is very similar to that of Honda’s four-cylinder RR engines, making for a very compact unit. The six-speed gearbox also mirrors that of its RR cousins, allowing for a short engine and uses the same gear change arm structure and link mechanism. A deep sump reduces oil movement under hard cornering and braking; oil capacity is 3.2L. Flow analysis of the cooling system through CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) maximised efficiency and allowed use of a physically smaller, and lighter, water pump.
The DOHC cylinder head uses compact roller rocker arms; shim-type valve adjustment allows them to be light, which means lower valve-spring load and reduced friction. A silent (SV Chain) cam chain has the surface of its pins treated with Vanadium, reducing friction with increased protection against dust. Inlet valve diameter is 26.0mm, exhaust valve diameter 21.5mm. CFD (Computational Flow Dynamic) was used to maximise gas flow efficiency – the route from airbox to exhaust pipe was made as straight as possible, and a plate in the airbox separates the air flow to each cylinder.
Bore size of 67mm is identical to that of the CBR600RR. CAE was used to ensure the pistons had the optimum balance between weight, strength and rigidity. The shape of the piston itself was based upon those used in the CBR1000RR; as peak rpm was going to relatively high piston noise could have been a problem. Friction is reduced by the addition of striations on the piston skirt (a finish that increases surface area, introducing gaps in which oil can flow for better lubrication). As with the CBR600RR and CBR1000RR, an AB 1 salt bath process, used after isonite nitriding, forms a protective oxidisation membrane.
The crankcase uses centrifugally-cast thin-walled sleeves, and the same bore interval as the CBR600RR helps them be as compact and light as possible. Careful attention has been paid to their internal design to reduce the pumping losses that can occur with a 180° phased firing order. Using the same internal relief structure as that of the CBR1000RR, the oil pump features improved aeration performance, with reduced friction and allows use of a simple oil pan.
The engine itself acts as a stressed member, reinforcing the frame’s rigidity with four frame hangers on the cylinder head and the Matt Axis Grey Metallic finish on the crankcase and cylinders adds depth, complementing its taut overall styling.
A secondary air injection (AI) system is built into the cylinder heads, while an 02 sensor and catalyser inside the 2-1 exhaust ensures the CBR500R’s emissions are extremely low.