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It looks big, fast, and clean, then you get closer.
The seat is not as high as it looks (775 mm), and is very comfortable, all day riding is quite possible. Its not as wide as it looks, and can be fitted through a 2 foot wide door (Don't try this at home, or on your own bike.....).
It looks fast, and it is, it will out run most cars, especially when you get into traffic and can start filtering, it can out accelerate most cars from traffic lights, and does seriously illegal speeds, (up to 120 mph on motorways).
Cleaning is easy, not much plastic, and everything is easy to get to, in theory. In practice if your as lazy as i am, (and cant be bothered with the fiddly cleaning bit) its quicker to just take it to a jet-wash at the local petrol station, and clean it after filling the tank.
The tank holds 18 liters (between 180 to 200 miles) of unleaded petrol, get the standard cheaper one, don't waste money on the high performance stuff, including a 2.5 liter reserve (about 20 miles). I get between 35 to 40 miles per gallon of petrol, although that depends on riding style, if you thrash the engine, you get less miles per gallon etc. unlike a car it does not have a petrol gauge or funny flashing lights to tell you if the tank needs filling, just keep an eye on the odometer, and reset it every time you fill up.
Okay, so heres some facts:
It is water cooled (Check coolant level ? just like a car!) Its got a chain drive, wobble it with your toe every few hundred miles and see how much it flexes, anything over an inch, it needs adjusting. It?s 499cc Honda say it does 140 mph, other owners ive talked to say 120 is closer. It?s a parallel twin, (two cylinders, side by side), with the cylinder heads hidden under the petrol tank, changing spark plugs is fiddly, but ok when you know how. It takes standard 10w30 engine oil, semi synthetic, change it when a) it gets white, b) when it gets runny, c) during its service d) when you feel like it, The oil change is as easy as a car one, warm the engine up, undo the drain screw, let the bike drain, then refill, change the oil filter if the mileage warrants it, otherwise don't bother. Oil checking is easy, just warm up the engine, place the bike on the center stand, unscrew the dipstick, wipe it clean, insert the dipstick, remove and check the level, just like on a car. Brakes are good, hydraulic disk brakes on the front and rear, (early models had drum brakes on the back)
Ok, why should you buy
this bike, well if you want lots of speed, lots of excitement, exceptional handling, and great brakeing, look else where, if you want the ford fiesta of the bike world, congratulations, you've found it, The styling is retro/classic, big headlight, and very little plastic to hide the engine, its got a very nice riding position, its remarkable stable, quite fast, decent braking, you can loose your license on speeding points, but you have to work at it, it runs all day, then all night, then all the following day, it has no real problem with winter riding (allow greater braking distance - same as in a car), the finish gets grubby in the rain but so does everything else, and the build quality is very good, the bike is reliable and excellent as a commuter / first big bike with some light touring thrown in on the holiday season (get throwover paniers, cheap and they fit most other models, you need to fit a holder for hard case paniers, leave that till you get a bigger bike).
The only real problem i had with it was the alarm, fitted as standard on most new models, if you dont use the bike for a week or so, you need to top off the battery, or you get starting difficulty, you can get a optimate trickle charger cheap that will do the job. Other stuff you may want, or will need include, engine protectors (about 60 quid) a scott oiler system for the chain (about 40 - 60 quid) and some kind of cargo net about a fiver, or bungie straps, about a pound each. A tank bag is usefull, and can be transfered between other bikes.
A meter long length of clean plastic tubing, and disposable latex gloves also come in handy if you often need to share petrol with other bikers, and also get some disposable hand wipes / swafega wipes just in case, (you will get oil on your hands). All this can be kept under the seat
Second-hand prices range from £900 (1994 unfaired high-miler) to £2500 (2002 low-miler). the faired 'S' versions fetch a couple of hundred more.
Insurance band: 9 (Norwich Union), the alarm should get you a discount
Service intervals: 4000 miles (minor service), 8000 miles (major service)
Service: £160 minor £250 major approx
DIY service: Oil filter £8, air filter £17, plugs £13, brake pads £14, you need the haynes manual, get one off ebay for between 7 to 30 quid.
Genuine parts: Expensive (it's a Honda!) eg. foot pegs go for 60 quid each for the full peg, get a generic one, that fits, a lot cheaper, or just go to your local breaker yard, or biker club.
Parts are easy to get hold of, most large towns have a honda dealer, and scrap yards always have stuff knocking around. http://www.hondapart.co.uk/ are supposed to be good also ebay has stuff even cheaper.
Dimensions and weights Wheelbase: 1430mm (naked models) 1435mm (half-faired 'sport' models) Seat height: 775mm Max height: 1050mm (naked models) 1160mm (half-faired 'sport' models) Max width: 720mm (but you can squeeze through a standard two-foot doorway! - push dont ride) Max length: 2090mm Dry weight: 173kg naked bike, 179kg (half-faired cb500S ) Max total payload: 197kg Max cargo load: 19kg
The bike has a nice cargo area under the seat, big enough for waterproof over pants, a small tool kit, or 3 cans of Pepsi and a few mars bars. (which stay cool despite being near the engine)
Like all bikes your mpg will fall during summer, and the ride home seems quicker, no idea why, but it tends to put a smile on my face.
Was the bike worth it? well yes. I did want a cx500, but the one the shop had in was sold the day or so before, so i went to a different shop and got the cb500 on finance, (an impulse buy) i regret that part, but its a lovley bike, and when i pay off the finance, i will keep it on as a summer bike, and still get the cx i always wanted.
Finance was taken out as a personal unsecured loan with blackhorse finance, the original sale price (2nd hand, 3 years old, 8000 miles on the clock) was 2750 pounds, list price was slightly higher, total repayment was 3333 over 3 years, including insurance, tax, and various charges.
This make and model of bike tends to hold its value well, and while it is not as fast as a pocket rocket, its cheaper to buy and insure, and at 120 mph plenty fast enough for the uk. (although it does get boring on the motorway)
As it was first registered in november 01, its due for its first mot in early november, and about the same time its first major service, which at that time of year will probably include new tires, brake pads, and winterproofing the thing, tax for this class of bike is 45 pounds, and is due to expire at the end of june.
Average running cost so far (used since last december) have been aprox 40 pound a month on petrol, and 60 quid to replace a broken footpeg (hit a gate post - replaced with a genuine honda part) and after a small accident involving my lack of ability to judge the speed of an oncoming landrover, a free footpeg from a local biker, and a dent in the exhaust pipe. Running costs over the past 6 months have basicaly just been the petrol, and using the jetwash at the local garage.
Running costs will increase in the next few months as the service / mot / tax disk, and my new insurance details, will come into effect. I will update later when i get a better idea on prices.
After 2 years of happy ownership, im contemplating trading it in on a shaft driven bike.
Now, some figures.
Tyres, i fitted bridgeton 45's both front and rear, it costs aprox 65 pound a tire (I did them at different times, you can get a better deal changing them at the same time), including fitting, (this can be done at home, but dont bother, your local bike dealer can do it quicker, safer, and possably cheaper)
Ive added a x-ring chain and new sprockets to the bike, total cost 85 quid, fitting free, as i got a biker friend to show me how to fit them myself, (gave him beer money for teaching me, its a easy job, when you know how its done)
Air and oil changes have been easy, and trivial, just undo 3 nuts and remove the air box cover, remove and replace the paper filter, then replace the cover. oil change is the same as a car, just drain the oil, replace the filter if needed, and refill.
My first year insurance from carol nash, came to 400 quid for third party fire and theft, 1 years ncd, my 2nd year insurance came from footman james, at 245 quid third part fire and theft, no ncd as i had an accident., for the same basic services.
A mot costs 45 pounds for the test, the bike got through just fine as i serviced it before hand. (mot test is quicker and easyer than for a car, basicaly its the same checks your supposed to do each time you ride the bike, and a emmisions test) the test itself takes less than half an hour, and this is refected in the price.
The bike is only 500cc so i can only tax it for 12 months, this costs 45 quid, a larger bike can be taxed for 6 months or 12 months, just like a car can.
The servicing costs i quoted in the first review, were for service at a proper dealers, i do the home servicing option, for cost of components, or get the local bike training school owner to help me, for the cost of parts and beer tokens. much cheaper option.
If you do buy a bike, as a learner or otherwise, keep friendly with your local bike training school, as they tend to have all kinds of knowledge, goodies, and if your lucky, they will let you order parts from their supplier, and you just pay the item cost, not the delivery, as the school pays it anyway for their own stuff.
Im currently looking at trading in/swaping my cb for a shaft bike, with a larger engine, and panniers/fairing, maybe the bmw r100 or k100 range. Ill review that when i get one, or I may just keep this one, and fit a proper hard pannier set, (i will review that as well)
Nice first review, Clear and full of information. Welcome to ciao
torr 24.05.2004 10:44
Welcome to Ciao. Thorough, informative first review. Duncan
Connoisseur_Haggler1 24.05.2004 10:14
Hey! No doubt some of these bikes do 120 (where legal or illegal!) I see them over take me and drive off into the horizon! This opinion was very useful and contained lots of genuine practical advice on costs and maintenance which is very helpful, so thanks! One question: you paid 3333 over 3 years -is that including interest? or was that interest-free? and is your bike new or Used, if Used how old? Excellent useful first opinion -CH (Motors Category Asst.)