Honda has recently launch their 500cc trio, follow by the introduction of NC700 series and others budget models, it is no doubt an evidence of Honda down-to-earth attitude. The 500 trio are all manufactured in Thailand, which is first of Honda for such large capacity, that is why the price can be very competitive compare with their rival.
What I get in hand was a CBR500R the sport model of the three. Basically three of the bikes share the same chassis design with a little different tweak to compensate the riding position. The engines all are same, with a 471cc parallel twin double overhead cam opposed to the NC700 single cam which basically a Jazz engine cut into half. The engine has a power output of 47bhp, Honda maximized the engine for inexperience rider, in other words, new comer to the over 250cc category.
The engine is very civilized and smooth, right when you hit the ignition key. Ironically, my ER6n is more like a Japanese version of Ducati in comparison. Unlike others twin engine rivals, vibration is minimal from the handle bar to foot peg. I almost forget I am in a parallel twin machine, it feels like an in-line 4 in anyway. Engine respond is surprisingly smooth; pulling at first to third gear is like rolling on a 4, there is lack of kick when accelerating, compare with what I experience on other twin bikes. Honda engineer has done a really well and good job on balancing and minimize vibration.
Throughout the rev range, I hardly spot any vibration unlike ER6 which had a slightly vibration feel between 3800 to 4000 rpm. Besides so much good comment on the engine, the fuel economy is stunning, a 25km/l is confirm where 27km/l as what Honda recommend can also be archived if you are careful enough on the throttle. If to choose any flaw on the engine, the only problem is with the power plant which can be a little low if the bike is fully loaded and also finding neutral need a little effort despite gear changing on the bike is top notch. But with a bike possible to do 180+ KM/H, it is more than enough for those new to a sub 500cc bike.
Everything on this bike is made for a purpose of making riding experience joyful and safe. The engine respond is smooth and instant, the engine is easy to control, the bike is light, etc. Honda CB500 series focus more on practicality and aim to deliver the best riding experience to most riders. Do not be fool by this low power bike; it is a wolf in a sheep skin. I have no problem riding up Genting Highland, only laid back is a more throttle squeeze is needed when you going to climb some of the steepest part of the road. Riding down has nothing much to do with engine power but tyre grip, stock tyre is not really griping especially when the road is a little wet. With barely 200KG curb weight, it is very easy to bent into corners, the nimbleness compensate to the lack of power, I often find myself accelerate pass some high cc bikes especially at corners.
Besides doing challenging ride at hill side, I also find riding at congested traffic is easy. Light weight and low seat height makes me a small fish in the ocean, I often find myself staying in one gear and pulling all the way to clear the traffic, this is something that you can do on an engine with more than 2 pistons.
Parts used on the CB series not great but acceptable. Not to forget these are budgeted models, cost cutting at a marginal level is for sure. Besides being budgeted, the plastic parts do not look cheap, in the other hand, tolerance is tight and no plastic rattling sound can be observed. As for some of the parts use, finishing might looks a little not on pile with the rivals but consider the price tag, as long as it can function fully without flaw, I do not see any problem on that. Electrical cords are hidden nicely and finishing on the fairing is very well. It is to say that even some more expensive bikes hardly archive this standard.
Honda does a good job on reducing waste when manufacturing this bike, the rear disc brake is actually cut out from the front unit and it means that only single piece of metal to be used on the disc brake. Despite being cost down for most of the parts, the bike does has something very impressive, in fact out shine others. It is the single Nissin disc brake which works like charm with only a single finger movement.
Overall I will say this is a hell of a bike, not in term of power, fashion or design but functionality and practicality. The main point is Honda did provide a very complete package and the package cover every single section of the category for what a new rider needs. It is built in a typical Honda belief and culture and starting at RM28,288. The trio are really value for money, spare parts availability should be no problem seems Boon Siew Honda has a very wide dealer network in Malayisa. I will indeed give a stunning comment on this CB500 series.