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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all,

I'm new to the forum, and have been simply lurking for a few weeks, and reading past threads in the hopes of not being that guy and asking a question that's been answered 1,536,862 times already. :rolleyes:

Current ride is a 14 Honda CTX700, no ABS or DCT. I'm planning to sell my 01 MZ Baghira SM and replace it with, so far, a CB500F. I have Honda bags on the CTX, and Givi bags for the MZ (and also my wife's Kawi Vulcan S). I have done long hauls on the CTX (stock seat) including two 3,000+ mile trips, multiple 500+ mile days, and fourteen Colorado mountain passes (I live in Wisconsin, so that meant 2,000 r/t miles across the Great Plains). I want the CB to do similar.

I'm 5'8", and 170 Covid-enhanced pounds, and a veteran 58-year-old rider who has owned 15-18 other bikes.

Other candidates are Kawasaki's Z650 (also a p-twin), Yamaha's MT-07 (p-twin), and Suzuki's venerable SV650 (v-twin). I don't need a speed demon, and the CB has a wee bit more HP than the CTX, and a good bit less torque. I LOVE getting 70+ MPG!!

So any thoughts or sage advice from current CB-F owners (not interested in the CBR)? Wish it had more torque? Is there still NOS availability? My local shops said this past year everything got bought up, new and used. I favor the 2018 Blue paint, but could do red. My CTX is white so not interested in white. Any model year cautionary tales? Any years where the model tweaks make it a smart choice to buy that year or newer?

Thanks for any info!

Nataraj ("Not-a-razh")
 

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These bikes get a major revision every three years (2013, 2016, 2019…) so unless restricted by the cost I would recommend a 2019 model. It added a little more power, a slipper clutch, and a better headlamp. None of which makes the older models bad bikes (I have a 2016) that should not be considered, but if you had the choice between them then the 2019+ revision is better. But I am not aware of any year having problems.

I think the only change in 2020 was to the colour schemes, and it was not offered in all markets. And the only change to the 2021 model is in Europe to make it compatible with new emission standards. In the U.S. the change was to make A.B.S. a standard feature (i.e. Honda just stopped selling the non-A.B.S. model, which was only offered in the U.S. anyway.)

I have no experience to compare with the other bikes, but I am mostly happy with my CB500F. The stock seat is awful though and 100 miles can feel like too much. But with an air cushion I have been able to do 400 mile days.
 

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The other 650s have more acceleration if you wish/need that. CB500F is just fine for longer trips, just needs a decent windscreen. 2019 had a refresh, 2020 model never imported to USA but it was basically the same design. 2021 is a slight refresh compared with 2019. It's hard to get new 2019 models here in USA (with ABS especially) so a 2021 might be the only option now, unless you find used ones, 2017 and earlier could be easily found, as it's a 'starter bike' even if moving to a liter-engine does not make sense for most bikers.

I tested an MT-07, didn't like the brakes (pretty lame, me thinks), the Kawasaki Z650 is preppy, Suzuki is OK but it's still even after refresh old tech. Honda makes reliable engines. I wanted one that was closest to a BMW 650 I had years ago for longer California roadtrips, the cb500F is somewhat lighter but behaves the same. Also got tired of the service costs with BMW, this Honda's service and spare parts are close to half of what I used to pay to BMW USA.

So far I only have done a 1500 mile trip here in California --same behavior as F650, the bike will go on and on, it's up to the driver. A big surprise is the gas mileage, 62 miles / gallon easily. The slipper clutch is really, really nice (came with 2019)!

If you compare it to the CTX700, it will be much lighter and smaller, I assume more agile, too (never been on a CTX700). I looked at a cb500X as well, the newer ones have the bigger front wheel so they are decent off-road bikes even if the image of cb500X being an all-round ADV bike is somewhat overhyped. I had enough dirt roads in Finland so I rather drive twisty smaller paved roads, and wanted to configure the bike exactly to my liking anyway.
 

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The cb650 is also very nice, but the price point for that one is also much higher than any other 650s ('the Honda premium'). Triump just announced a new Trident model with a lot of cool tech in the 650 naked-bike market. Now it's their first year of this model so the 2021 models might have initial issues. Triumph Tiger 850 Sport was also announced, that's a really cool bike but it's closer to 10k as well.

*) Update, the Tiger 850 Sport is 12.5k starting price in US.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The cb650 is also very nice, but the price point for that one is also much higher than any other 650s ('the Honda premium'). Triump just announced a new Trident model with a lot of cool tech in the 650 naked-bike market. Now it's their first year of this model so the 2021 models might have initial issues. Triumph Tiger 850 Sport was also announced, that's a really cool bike but it's closer to 10k as well.
After 38 years of riding, I have figured out that I'll never own an inline four again. Just don't like them. I noted the Trident, but was starting with the presumption that I was buying used, so maybe in five years. ;) The BMW 850 is a sweet bike, no doubt about it. However, my local BMW dealer is closing (he's also a Harley dealer, and I understand the closing has to do with new Harley requirements).

If you compare it to the CTX700, it will be much lighter and smaller, I assume more agile,
I am actually - still - routinely surprised at how agile the CTX is. The rake and trail are both much less cruiser than you might think. Also, with 45 HP, you can roll on the gas as hard as you want and not break traction. I did a long, multi-day ride with a friend on a Triumph Tiger 1050, and in the tight stuff he was always surprised to see me right there in his mirror (definitely not the case on a straight, lol). I have considered the NC750x, but don't want to deal with the seat height. I note they reduced the seat height to 31.5" for the 2021 model, but again, wasn't planning to buy new.

Winter is just around the corner here in WI, so all of this is academic until March. Today will hit low 60's though, so I'm'a gonna RIDE!

Thanks for the thoughtful replies. I intend to read here, watch YouTube vids, and see if I can reach a point where I grok the CB-F.
 

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I suspect the biggest surprises if you try out a CB500F is:
  • wow the wheel base is short
  • oh, this is a very agile bike, is it unstable, no it's not, just light
  • I could handle the wind buffering without a windscreen with highway speeds, unless I drive behind huge trucks on desert highways
  • But all the wind buffeting enters the helmet, even with earplugs it's noticeable and not fun
If you want to put soft panniers on this bike, same apply as with other naked sports, needs frames otherwise the wheel will hit the panniers.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I suspect the biggest surprises if you try out a CB500F is:
  • wow the wheel base is short
  • oh, this is a very agile bike, is it unstable, no it's not, just light
  • I could handle the wind buffering without a windscreen with highway speeds, unless I drive behind huge trucks on desert highways
  • But all the wind buffeting enters the helmet, even with earplugs it's noticeable and not fun
If you want to put soft paniers on this bike, same apply as with other naked sports, needs frames otherwise the wheel will hit the paniers.
Thanks! I'd most likely add some sort of small windscreen. My intention is to put Givi racks on as I have 2 sets of bags.
 

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If you want to put soft panniers on this bike, same apply as with other naked sports, needs frames otherwise the wheel will hit the panniers.
That will depend on how deep your panniers are. I used Richi soft ones before fitting Givi hard ones, and they were never any problem. I am not sure how well they would work now with the Givi frames because of the way the lock part will stick into them. So long as there is nothing had against the back they will just dig in, but in doing so I would be worried they would eventually wear through and leave holes.
 
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