1996 Honda CB500 from Germany
A good beginner bike that can be good fun at higher skill levels too if you improve the shocks
Several parts got vibrated loose from the twin-engine, such as aftermarket-indicators and the gasket of the exhaust, making it exhale directly.
Nothing that could not be fixed by tightening a screw, except the headlights, those broke due to vibration, once.
Battery died, 10 years old, normal.
I had the fork leak - well it is an old motorcycle already.
I had the bearing of the fork fail, resulting in worse handling - both necessitate taking off the fork. I cannot say that this is something I'd really blame the motorcycle for; 40 000 or so was when that happened, and 1996... it is an old motorcycle already. Happens I guess.
Aside from that, I did have some tiny problems, but nothing I can blame on the motorcycle, but that happened after someone knocked it over while parked. I forgot to empty the carburetor over winter… and the power limitation to 34 HP I had to endure for a couple 1000km also probably didn't do any good and gummed up things in there.
It handles really well.
Bought it rather cheap too.
With Bridgestone BT45, it always rode well; now there are many other options.
Fuel consumption was generally 5-6l, when ridden fast sometimes 6.2. Going autobahn at strictly 150-170 - 6.2-6.5 l per 100km.
Top speed was around 180kmh per the tacho, though with patience it slowly crawls to 190. Always felt stable at speed, going straight.
I can recommend it as a beginner motorcycle. If you are rather chill in riding, it might completely do all you need even. The only thing that I'd consider if I can pay for more, is that modern motorcycles get 0.5-1l better fuel efficiency per 100km, and stronger 100hp bikes ain't even worse than it either.
It did always handle well. The brakes were sufficient. I have ridden a street Triple R and KTM 950 Supermoto since then, it clearly is not those, it doesn't give a ton of feedback and for emergency braking, you better get ready to squeeze with your entire hand, while on those 2, one finger is enough. That said it never felt unsafe. While the feedback really is like you got a gummibear wedged in between the levers, I still trained emergency braking and felt quite confident about it and never lost front tyre grip doing so.
The engine is fine for its 58 hp and the 200kg the motorcycle weighs. The somewhat under 6 seconds 0-100 does feel fun and satisfying, though sure it's not as outrageous as a bigger motorcycle. The seating position is rather relaxed, but allows for very good control. The only thing that is uncomfortable are the foot pegs; they basically prepare you for a future with a sportsbike, they are just as tight. At the same time it is rather small and low, therefore the lean angle cannot get too big, but you will be pretty fast on twisty roads until the foot pegs scratch down on the ground regardless. I am 180cm tall. The bike's height is probably perfect for 160-170cm people.
You won't touch the ground with your foot pegs with the standard suspension anyway though... not often... or sometimes in a bad way. Once you try to get fast in curves, you will soon notice that the rear-shocks are just too damn soft and the whole thing gets shaky in an alarming way. The fork is also too soft, but that is less dramatic.
You might reach its limits after a couple months going into the twisties every weekend.
In my case it was b48 Wellbachtal in Germany, Johanniskreuz -- you'll find many crazy people on YouTube breaking the law there.
After I put in better rear shocks that I bought used (I literally squeezed them in there), it rode much better and I could have really a lot of fun with it. The soft fork just needed a different style of riding, but it was OK. Better fork springs at a later point also helped. In very fast long corners it still didn't feel super stable, but OK.
Even with 34hp I could have some fun in the tighter Wellbachtal - a mountain valley road -- but less so in Elmsteiner Tal. Once I got it to 58hp, I can say it was enough to attack most corners at the speed I wanted; some at more speed you want, and you can accelerate out of corners too.
Power is basically beginner-ideal -- fun, exciting but not extreme.
So the engine is the least thing I wish to be better in a sportier motorcycle!!! That is OK with me. You could have more fun with a bit more power, accelerate out of corners a bit harder and go fast on the straights, but yeah it is enough.
For cruising around at low RPM it sounds a bit bubbly, really nice. To get its power in curves etc, you really gotta twist it and that is a bit of work, else you don't get much. I always kept it between 5-9000.
You can be faster or as fast as many more powerful bikes on curvy roads, losing a bit in curves.
Shifting was always rather smooth and easy.
Once the foot pegs touch the ground (after you grind off the nipples), give up!!! The exhaust and frame touching the ground ain't fun. It happened. It felt hard and close to a crash.
At the end, a comparison. I did a 20 minute test ride with a Honda CB1000r, the naked bike, at a Honda dealer. It filtered out more bumps while at the same time being stiffer. My stock 1996 bike was actually louder and sounded better.
Seating position was exactly the same! Felt at home. So the CB1000R is a big but good step up.
I also rode the CBF1000F, the touring model, and it scratched foot pegs at the same time...
Good. No fuel gauge, but you got a counter you set back, then it is easy.
Lots of hooks for helmet and luggage.
Quite a big compartment under the seat that many newer ones don't have; I used to squeeze a 1.5l bottle water or soda in there, that I took a sip of, alongside a first aid kit and some basic tools. I did usually freeze the drink though, it gets hot in here.
Tank and knees lock well. Definitely preferable to the way too wide driving school bike, the Suzuki GSR 600.
Bike grows on you -- of course it's no beauty queen, but it's not ugly at all.
With some flexible hook ropes, you can get loads of luggage on the rear even with a passenger. I also fit a big tank rucksack on the tank.
I once did an over 100km long sporty ride with a 50kg passenger, but with the upgraded springs in the rear!!! And after adjusting the rear ride height, it rode just like normal.
Both seats are rather comfortable.
I had a crashbar installed. On long straight cruises at 100kmh, I often put my feet on there helping the tight knee angle a bit.
If you are over 1.86 or so tall (I'm 1.80m) forget it. My 1.92m cousin literally had to take his legs and lift them up on the foot pegs.
All in all. If you are faced with a low budget and need a beginner and commute motorcycle, go for it. If you commute a lot… the fuel costs may add up and you may want to spend more to save 0.5-1l fuel per 100km with a more modern bike.
Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 4th May, 2020