Picked up an F after work today at a local dealer. Left a DR350 behind at the the dealer to pick up tomorrow so I could ride this baby into the sunset.
The basics we're as expected. Brakes good. Clutch good. Idle good. Everything works (obviously it freakin' new). My right turn out of the dealership was followed by a quick U-turn, and I noticed that the clutch is ridiculously easy to feather, which is great for new riders. And from there I let her rip.
Power range was about what was expected. Great response down low. First gear is a tiny bit short but totally acceptable at the same time. Second and Third are clearly what get this bike going. And also as expected, I found myself looking for seventh from time to time on the way home. Sprocket changes are easy. No big deal. I havenít looked to see if any companies make them yet, but itís a simple design. Iíll make it if I have to. So I arrived home, took a picture and put her in the garage. Got inside, sat down, realized how stupid I was for getting off the bike so quick and went out to tear her up for 50 miles.
First up and my main concern about buying an F, freeway capability. So I decided to take my work route which is a quick 10 mile jaunt on all freeway. Whoa. Way to waste time and my own personal brain energy being concerned about something so trivial. Riding the F on the freeway is no different than blasting a dirt bike through the desert. Or a standard for christ's sake. Cruising along at 70mph on this thing is PEACHY. And lovely. Plenty of power left on the throttle for a pass if you need it. At 75 comes some noticeable drag, 80 it increases, and then, at 85, I felt this nice clean-ish airflow. It was like everything bundled together and went around me. I didn't stay there for long and I didn't need to. There's no much power left after 85 anyway. I took her up somewhere in the 90's at one point (didn't look down) when I had my own lane with barriers on each side in the carpool. She held steady forward. Decelerated nicely. But as these speeds is when you can truly tell the bike has limitations on it. And that itís insanely light. I felt a decent presence in traffic, although this was at night therefore a white bike and brighter relative lighting will have an effect. All in all, the F handled, and will continue to handle the freeway without a wimper. Do NOT let yourself be held back by this fear.
After I arrived at work (industrial area) I decided to ďbreak in the tiresĒ as per the dealerís suggestions. Ha! Thereís some nice, long, open, urban yet desolate roads by my work, so I took the opportunity to really get used to the weight of the bike. MAN does this thing get thrown around easily when you want it to. I only weigh about 165lbs, so I canít imagine what someone in the 200 range could do to it. But all I remember thinking was, ďWow!, This is fun.Ē Went up and down a long road doing tons of bob and weaves (as I call Ďem). Plenty of clearance to take the bike down low and once youíre done itíll come right back up again.
One thing I did notice in this particular test was that the bike was that the weight distribution of the bike was fairly right-biased. Iím assuming that is because of the ginormous exhaust sitting over there, but every time I would try riding no-handed, it tilted, quickly. A few times I even gave my body a slight lean to the left, bike still tilted right. Iím sure a new exhaust will help. And Iíll be assessing it further as time goes on. Lastly, I used this time to do some 1st to 4th pulls. The full powerband is really great. Iím pretty light compared to most, so this thing was a dream to me. No supersport, but right what I expected. Fun. As. ****.
So after work I decided to take it to the city streets and get familiar with her around-the-town abilities. The first thing I want to say is this bike does not like being under 4k RPM. There were several occasions where I was cruising at 3k, or even 3.5k and wanted to make a pass, went to gun it, and she glug glug glugged. Glugginí along. Keep it above 4k guys when your riding around town, itís much happier there. Donít worry, youíll still get good gas mileage. Bikes are not cars. The difference in gas usage on a 471cc engine between 2k and 5k rpms is VASTLY different then the same conditions applied to a vehicle. You DONíT need to be at 2k to get good gas mileage. Keeping yourself in the power range is a heavy advantage when riding in traffic.
While I was riding (and reviewing), I also remembered someone saying they had trouble clutchless shifting. And I want all to remember before getting into it, clutchless shifting, although fine on a motorcycle transmission, is not necessary AND NOT AS SAFE FOR THE TRANSMISSION, unless you are gunning it. If you are leisurly shifting from 4th to 5th, or 5th to 6th, there is absoultely NO need to clutchless shift. But if youíre gunning it out of a dangerous situation at high speed and need to shift but donít want to let go of the your grip? Clutchless shift. Anytime you're moving along quickly and want to clutchless shift you should feel free to do so. And the conclusion is this thing clutchless shifts all day. But practice this people before you use it in dangerous situations. It's very easy but you need to really know how your bike responds and how you should respond with the throttle.
For those who want to know how, itís simple. So you gunning it full steam ahead. RPMís are high. Time to shift. Release your throttle about halflway, shift (no clutch) continue back on throttle swiftly. Itís all one motion, people. If youíre concerned about it, try it your first few times using a bit less clutch. Then less and less until you realize you donít actually need it at all. Boom. The Honda 500 loves doing it clutchless. Just be reasonable about it.
The more I rode around town the more I would find myself checking for 7th gear. So I found a method for checking. This wonít work for all of you, but cruising speed is about 50 around here with flowing traffic. So I noticed something, and I call it the 4-5-6. What I noticed was that the RPMís sit at about 4k exactly when at 50mph in 6th. It took me a second, but then I thought, 4-5-6! And for the rest of the ride, I never looked for seventh. Again, wonít work for all, but maybe itíll help some.
Lastly, after a little over an hour of riding, my neck was starting to feel the slightly bit stiff. But thatís just something that takes time breaking in. If I was still road biking like I had been last year, I bet that never would have arose.
Alas, I returned home and put her in the garage for a short slumber before my ride today. Canyon carving is the plan. I think sheíll do nicely. So in short, whether youíre looking for an urban weave machine, a freeway jaunt killer, or a little of both, youíll be happy. I am.
You made an awesome review better than most have on motovlogs. Reviewing the bike while riding it. Now I am prepared back with the knowledge of your review and my MSF Safety Course training. I'm ready for you my 500R!