Sportier frame for new CBR

Matamata Chronicle - - Out & About - MO­TOR­ING, PAUL OWEN

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.

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