Honda have just announced their 2021 500 models overnight, so I thought I’d take a look at what’s new for 2021, with the CB500F, CBR500R and CB500X all receiving a pretty decent overhaul in 2019, and that’s reflected in no significant changes for the new year model.
The big piece of news is that the 2021 models will be Euro5 compliant, a much stricter emissions requirement, but luckily we’re not seeing performance suffer as a result, with the Honda 500s continuing to offer 35 kW, or 47 hp, and 43 Nm of torque, peaking in the same areas in the rev range.
That does suggest Honda have kept these bikes tuned for the A2 or LAMS restricted markets, where they could probably have boosted performance further if this wasn’t a limitation. But it is good to see that the 2019 update to performance hasn’t been stepped back by the new regulation.
An interesting point Honda did mention is that their 500 models are approaching the 100,000 units sold mark, since being released in 2013, with 92,000 already going out dealer doors. If sales stay steady they’ll break the 100,000 mark sometime in the next year.
Another interesting snippet out of Honda, at least for Europe is that 46 per cent of CB500F buyers have been new riders, with 29 per cent for the sportier CBR500R. In comparison the CB500X adventure machine is overwhelmingly bought by experienced riders – 90 per cent in fact, which speaks to the ongoing popularity of adventure segment, but also the abilities of the CB500X.
The CB500F is the biggest seller of the trio in Europe too, at almost 50 per cent, followed by the CB500X at 33 per cent and the CBR500R at just 18 per cent. I always thought the racey CBR was the looker in the bunch myself, but nakedbikes and adventure machines are certainly on the rise generally speaking.
Now Honda mentioned new colours, but this is specific to the CB500F, with the Grand Prix Red and Matt Gunpowder Black Metallic options being joined by a Candy Caribbean Blue Sea option as well as Candy Moon Glow Yellow.
As a quick run down, the CB500F is the nakedbike option as I mentioned, so a roadster, with no fairings. It also features more futurist and angular styling, unlike the other CB options like the 300R, 650R and 1000R, which are neo-retro.
Performance on the parallel twin is unchanged according to Honda, and the benefit of the 500 is more torque overall, available lower than the 400 competition and a less revvy overall nature. A slip and assist clutch was also added in 2019 and that continues in the newest models.
A low seat height of 785 mm is also inviting to new riders, with a kerb weight, fuelled and ready to go of 189 kilograms, with a 17 litre fuel capacity. 41 mm forks are preload adjustable, with a preload adjustable monoshock, and 17 inch cast aluminium wheels are found at each end.
A single wave disc brake is fitted to each end, with a 320 mm on the front with two piston caliper, and a 240 mm rear with single-piston caliper, and dual channel ABS is also found on the CB500F.
Naturally with no fairings wind protection is limited, but you do get an LCD dash with a gear position indicator and shift light, while all lighting is LED, including the indicators. Traditionally the CB500F is also the least expensive of the trio, which probably assists with it’s popularity.
In comparison the CBR500R is race styled, with full fairings and clip-on handlebars, which offer a more aggressive seating position and overall ergonomic on this bike, and there’s no new colours for 2021.
Weight is up to 192 kilograms, with riders usually paying a slight premium for the fairings – which is about $400 dollars here in Australia, on the MLP anyway.
The CB500X on the other hand offers some more significant differences, naturally being more adventure orientated, with that starting with a larger 19 inch front wheel running a 110/80-19 tyre, with dual purpose tyres fitted as standard, plus a slightly larger 17.5 L fuel tank.
Caster angle is up to 27.5 degrees, while trail is also up to 108 mm, with a kerb weight of 197 kg, with seat height significantly higher at 830 mm. You do get 180 mm of ground clearance, 50 mm up on the CBR500R and 35 up on the 500F.
Honda also boast longer travel suspension for the X, which is up to 136 mm on the front and 135 mm on the rear compared to the more road orientated R and F models. Wheels do remain cast units, and the CB500X does demand a slight premium over the 500F, placing it closer to the CBR500R in price.
So unless you’re incredibly environmentally conscious the big change for 2021 is the new colours available for the CB500F, with everything remaining pretty similar otherwise. Unlike Europe some markets aren’t pushing straight for Euro5, with Euro4 still being the standard, so this may also impact who gets what internationally.