Debuting in 2013 with a 471cc motor, the CB500F naked bike has won the hearts of many moto-maniacs, including those who use it for daily commutes and fiery streetfighters.
Thanks to Honda’s reliably liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine design, the CB500F rarely breaks a sweat to achieve exceptional performance and longevity.
However, like all mechanical products, the 500F has a few problems, which we cover in this article.
Table of Contents
1. Starter Relay Switch Failure (Solved Via Recall)
This section explicitly involves the first two-year model Honda CB500Fs; to be fair, it applies to most Honda bikes that came out in 2014 and 2015. The main sign of a failing starter switch on a 500F is the bike won’t start.
5 Symptoms of a Failing Starter Relay Switch on a CB500F:
- A CB with a faulty starter may cough for a few tries and fail to start.
- Turning the key has no effect—no light, no gauge display, nada.
- Check the battery and find it’s sitting pretty.
- The main fuse melted where it nears the solenoid relay starter.
- The solenoid cap is melted.
First things first; how does a motorcycle starter relay work?
When you crank on your CB500F ignition, your key starts the starter relay, which transmits power to the starter solenoid and the starter motor. The solenoid pulls an ample current directly from the CB’s battery, triggering the solenoid to dispatch electricity to the starter motor to spin the flywheel.
In short, your CB500F’s starter relay is tasked with transmitting electricity to the solenoid, which employs the starter and spins the flywheel to start your bike. Without it, there’s no ride in your future.
Honda made their official recall notice concerning 2014 and 2015 Honda CB 500Fs on July 1st, 2015.
Honda outlined the problem as a mistake during the starter relay switch assemblage.
Per Honda’s testimony, the factory wrongly applied the sealant to the starter relay switch on all affected 2013-2016 CB500Fs.
The sealant could raise the main fuse’s resistance, disrupting the motorcycle’s battery voltage. If the bond was misapplied on your CB500F, its wiring system was likely affected.
The recall notice urged 500F riders to run their VIN/HINs to establish if their particular bike may have been impacted, as electrical issues are generally a significant safety risk.
Sealant-relay disruption with the electrical system of a Honda CB500FF can stop the bike’s motor from starting or force the bike to stall out while operating.
In severe circumstances, an abundance of resistance at the main fuse could provoke the starter relay switch to catch on fire.
Honda announced that all 500F owners were permitted and even prompted to take their bikes to the regional Honda Motorcycle dealership for a free examination.
- Honda techs can check the starter relay switch assembly to see if the manufactory misapplied the sealant.
- If so, Honda will substitute your switch and any other damaged parts for new upgrades and reseal everything on the house.
- If your CB500F was produced during the first two years, take it into Honda, mainly if you bought it used, as the seller may not have been aware of recalls until the part fails.
An unreliable prior owner may have escaped the inconvenience and let their bike sit in their garage unattended rather than be bothered to take it into Honda.
If this is the case, no worries; take it to Honda for the free upgrade asap before the failing relay switch fries your fuses!
2. Dangerous Visibility Levels at Night (Solved Via Recall)
Honda solved this problem back in 2021 with a recall sweep of numerous bike models; unfortunately, this includes the Honda CB500F. The recall was inspired by multiple objections to the bike’s lighting system—riders claimed the dim reflectors and lighting created low visibility levels, particularly from the bike’s rear. The problem was said to be exponentially worse at night.
Honda’s recall announcement deemed the bike’s poor visibility to result from an impaired or insufficient lens on the bike’s rear reflector.
- The rear reflector lens on a fair share of 2020 and 2021 Honda CB500Fs wasn’t reflecting brilliantly enough to make the bike visible at night.
Not only is this hazardous during evening use, but CB500F owners were also disheartened to discover their reflectors were too dim to pass inspection, even straight off the dealership floor.
The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) has put together a list of federally agreed-upon requirements a motor vehicle, even a mid-sized naked bike like the 500F, must meet to be sold legally here in the States.
Each state is left to enforce the standard by generating a unique list of criteria a motorcycle needs to pass inspection.
FMVSS 108, in particular, reads that an automobile has to maintain a specific amount of “Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment” to be deemed lawful. The defective reflectors on some 2020-2021 Honda CB500Fs weren’t meeting that expectation.
As proactive as ever, Honda published an official recall notice to Honda dealers in every region.
The mission was to upgrade the rear reflector on every Honda CB500F for free.
If you’re the proud rider of an otherwise reliable 2020 or 2021 Honda CB500F, stop by your regional Honda technician’s garage and run your VIN to see if your reflector is from the bad batch. If so, you’ll get a new reflector installed by Honda on the house.
3. Unstable Rocker Arm Bolts (Solved Via Recall)
Honda recalled 6,954 bikes back in 2014, year one of the CB500F’s existence, and, you guessed it; the 500F was once again on the list.
This time Honda got popped messing up not just in the U.S., but in Australia and Japan.
What was the problem this time?
The CB500F got recalled once again in 2014 due to the potential of an oil leak in the bike’s motor.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported the incident, determining that Honda never treated the retaining bolts in the rocker arm shaft of certain 2013 Honda CB 500F for anti-corrosion.
- Honda planned to apply the anti-corrosion treatment during the manufacturing process.
- Unfortunately, more than a few bikes got skipped.
- Let’s make a quick note: this section only applies to specific first-year models, all sold in 2013.
As soon as it was reported, Honda corrected the issue, accommodating all the 500Fs post-2013 with bolts they were sure to treat for anti-corrosion.
Unfortunately, though, back in 2013, that wasn’t the situation.
That year, Honda coated many rocker arm shaft bolts on multiple bikes, including the CB500F, with a non-approved application. This defective treatment wasn’t unsusceptible to wear the way both rider and bike safety requires it to be, permitting bolts to vibrate loose during standard motorcycle function.
Once the retaining bolts were loose, oil would leak out around the bolts, manifesting as a light, slow but steady drip.
In some of the more extreme claims we encountered, riders reported that the bolts would loosen enough to jump out of the cylinder head completely.
This would dislodge the rocker arm, diminishing the 500F’s engine power. In many instances, the result is the engine stalling out.
- American Honda caught the issue in July 2013, but only after dealers notified them of multiple individual customers complaining of the same oil leak.
- Honda is one of the better motorcycle brands regarding warranty problem-solving proactivity.
- Honda’s Thailand branch was the first to deduce the culprit was applying the wrong anti-corrosion coating to the fastening bolts in the bike’s rocker arm.
From September 2013 to January 2014, Honda reviewed its in-house logs and the documents of their third-party bolt manufacturers to chase down the bolts that weren’t treated correctly.
Luckily, these faulty bolts never resulted in an injury report. That said, Honda prides itself on its trustworthiness; the company advised dealerships worldwide to upgrade the 500F with new retaining bolts and added two washers and a 45mm o-ring to the assembly for extra enforcement.
4. Failed Fuel Level Sensor (Solved Via Recall)
In 2015, Honda issued a recall on 14,575 bikes, including the 500F.
The issue was with the float arm of the bike’s fuel level sensor. As the float arm was exposed to harsh weather or road debris during standard bike operation, it would start to deform, ceasing to function correctly.
- In worst-case scenarios, the arm would break off and contact the positive and negative terminals at the bottom of the fuel pump, shorting out and blowing a fuse.
- At a minimum, a broken float arm yields an inaccurate fuel reading.
The first four signs your CB500F’s fuel level sensor has a broken float arm are:
- Incorrect fuel level display.
- Electronic short-outs.
- Fuses are bowing or melting.
- Your 500F stalls out for no reason, often.
If you’re encountering any of these indications of a deformed float arm on the fuel level sensor of your Honda CB500F, primarily if it was produced between 2013 and 2015, your local Honda techs will replace it on the house.
General Pros and Cons of Honda CB500F
Here’re pros and cons of the Honda CB500F:
- Its power-packed 471cc motor makes the CB500F the most mid-range option from Honda’s naked bike lineup.
- The CB500F is an excellent step up in force from the lower models, making it highway-ready.
- That said, the 500F’s middle-of-the-road build makes it more approachable and leaner than the CB650F.
- The CB500F pushes 32 lb-ft of torque at 7000 RPM.
- Its fuel-injected parallel-twin pulls like moto-butter from low RPMs all the way up the range.
- A smooth linear power progression of power tops out at 47 horsepower.
- The CB500F is a fun whip to carve up technical country roads while maintaining the versatility and efficiency needed to crush as a city-ripper, thanks to its slick 6-speed gearbox.
- Starter Relay Switch Failure (Solved via Recall)
- Dangerous Visibility Levels at Night(Solved Via Recall)
- Unstable Rocker Arm Bolts (Solved Via Recall)
- Failed Fuel Level Sensor (Solved Via Recall)
What Do the Reviews Say?
Honda engineers put together a solid chassis design, using a diamond-shaped steel frame with a telescoping 41mm front shock and a preload-adjustable Prolink single shock controlling steel square pipe double-sided swingarm in the rear. The CB500F is composed and agile in the majority of riding situations, while heavy riders may find it a bit soft the overall ride is controlled and confidence-inspiring.
Overall the CB500F is a very approachable, comfortable bike that just feels right from the saddle, traits that allow new riders to keep their focus on improving riding skills instead of oddball behavior from the bike. Ripping around the city is just smile-inducing on the CB500F and though powerful enough to maintain highway speeds, getting back into medium speed corners and point and zip traffic fun is where this bike shines.
Bottom line: The Honda CB500F is a killer choice for new riders wanting a Naked-bike bike. The 471 cc twin engine makes great torque, great sounds, and goes a lot of miles between fuel stops. Compared to the competition, the look and feel of this Honda is more high-end and less bargain bin plastic. It lives up to the Honda stereotypes of quality and dependability mixed up with sporty goodness.https://www.bestbeginnermotorcycles.com/honda-cb500f-review/
What’s the Resale Value of a Honda CB 500F?
ⓘ The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.