Honda’s 500cc range has been a huge success in recent years. Designed and engineered specially to meet the 47bhp A2 licence laws, the 500s have built a reputation for being easy to ride and cheap to run while still having enough performance to put a smile on the face of young and old riders alike.
A large part of the success has been the diversity of models. For years the range was built around a trio of models: the naked CB500F, the taller adventure touring styled CB500X and the sporty CBR500R sharing the same 471cc parallel-twin motor. These were joined by the CMX500 Rebel cruiser last year, and it’s no surprise to see a fifth model join for 2023 – the scrambler styled CL500.
Taking its styling cues from Honda’s first street scrambler, the CL72 of 1962, the CL500 jumps on the current trend for retro scramblers and is fully A2 licence compliant, making it accessible for riders as young as 19.
Rather than being a simple reskin of the CB500F roadster or CMX500 Rebel custom, the CL gets its own tubular steel frame with longer travel suspension and a larger 19” front wheel. As with the other models in Honda’s 500 range, the scrambler gets its own ECU tune to give a slightly different engine character to the CL, while the different exhaust and shorter gearing (a 41 tooth rear sprocket compared to 40T on the Rebel) should give it lively acceleration around town.
And it looks great with lots of neat little retro details, such as the high level twin exit exhaust pipe, curvaceous petrol tank, rubber knee pads and fork gaiters. Block pattern Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour tyres adorn the cast wheels, suggesting some light off-road capabilities, however the CL500 is far more likely to be taking on the urban jungle than it is dirt tracks.
Honda are unashamedly targeting young and fashion conscious riders with the CL500. The combination of the gentle 47bhp motor and a 790mm seat height should make for a very accessible motorcycle. It also weighs in at a very reasonable 192kg with the 12 litre fuel tank brimmed and, although a price has yet to be announced,