Sportier frame for new CBR
It doesn’t require a psychology degree to know that the form of a vehicle affects the mood of the person about to operate it.
Take the latest Mazda MX-5 – it looks hornier than a brass band, and you therefore tend to approach it with higher expectations because of those up-for-it visuals. The result is that the engine performance feels quite flat and uninspiring when at the wheel of the 1.5-litre model.
Honda risked a similar deflation of riding expectations when redesigning the affordable CBR500R twin-cylinder sportsbike tested here. Has the new CBR-RR-inspired bodywork redesign made performance promises that the 471cc parallel-twin engine will be unable to keep?
The answer really depends upon how new the rider of the CBR500R is to the joys of motorcycles. What is without doubt is that the sharper, sportier sense of style displayed by the bike has had a dramatic effect on the sales of the model.
Across the Tasman, the CBR500R is now the best-selling ‘sportsbike’ on the Australian market, something the MY2015 version could only achieve in its dreams. Obviously, that is the Aussie market responding to the spunkier looks of the bike, and the new LED headlights and revised graphics really give it a lot of presence for what is really a LAMS-approved learner/commuter ride.
One could almost consider it an aspirational model now that the design has taken more of its cues from the CBR1000RR Fireblade than from the VFR800F sports-tourer. There’s bolder, moreaggressive angles everywhere, and a more confident stance thanks to the new rear sub-frame and tailpiece, and these increase the anticipation of going for a ride.
There’s also more attention given to the details. The 16-litre fuel tank offers a litre more capacity, the riders’s footpegs are shorter to increase available cornering clearance, the front brake lever is now span-adjustable, and there are now spring preload adjusters added to the front forks to match the similar adjustment available at the rear monoshock.
Overall, the quality of the bike is noticeably improved.
New bodywork, racier-looking exhaust and a new rear subframe threaten to add an extra ‘R’ to the CBR500R.