2023 Honda CL500 First Look [15 Fast Facts]

2023 Honda CL500 First Look: Specs

The scrambler craze continues unabated with the new 2023 Honda CL500, at least in Europe for the time being. Traditionally, upright standard motorcycles were converted into scramblers. Honda had a different idea for the CL500, as it is based on the Rebel 500 platform—yes, it’s a cruiser converted into a motorcycle that offers casual off-pavement capabilities. With that unusual starting point, let’s consider what the new scrambler is all about.

  1. The 2023 Honda CL500 name harkens back to the 1960s. The original Honda scramblers had the CL designation. The closest model from that era to the new CL500 was the CL450, which ran from 1967 to 1974. The CL450 was a DOHC twin, which was unusual at the time. The 2023 CL500 continues that tradition, using the same DOHC parallel-twin motor architecture, albeit now liquid-cooled and fuel-injected rather than air-cooled and carbureted. Interestingly, the old 444cc CL450 put out 43 horsepower at 9650 rpm, while the new 471cc CL500 produces 46 horsepower at 8500 rpm—remarkably similar outputs.

  1. Honda has geared the CL500 down from the Rebel for a touch more pull. The rear sprocket goes up a tooth to 41 teeth. The gearing change increases fuel consumption to 65 mpg, compared to the Rebel’s 67 mpg estimate. The six-speed transmission is unchanged, as is the assist and slipper clutch.

  1. The 2023 Honda CL500 gets larger-diameter wheels and longer-travel suspension than the Rebel, befitting an off-road motorcycle. Gone are the Rebel’s 16-inch wheels. The CL500 has a 19-/17-inch wheel combination, which is standard issue for contemporary street-aimed adventure motorcycles. Honda mounts Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour tires, a growing ADV staple in Europe. The non-adjustable fork has nearly six inches of travel, and the spring-preload adjustable twin shocks—how authentically ’60s—offer 5.7 inches of rear wheel travel with gaiters to protect the fork tubes from your friend’s roost. Honda described the mission of the CL500 as “ready for the rigors of urban travel as much as it is light off-road.”

  1. The longer-travel suspension raises the CL500’s seat height considerably compared to the Rebel. The CL500’s seat is almost four inches higher than the Rebel’s. Still, at 31.1 inches above the pavement, it’s not intimidatingly tall.

  1. Honda put a higher, wider handlebar on the CL500. This gives the rider the leverage and room needed to negotiate off-road terrain. There is no crossbar, however, and it’s not a tapered aluminum bar.

  1. The seat is designed for sitting and standing. A narrow mid-section makes it easier to put the soles of your boots on the ground at stops.

  1. The footpegs have rubber inserts for street riding. Take them off, and you have off-road-ready toothed footpegs.

  1. Era-appropriate knee pads adorn the 3.2-gallon fuel tank. You can go exploring on the CL500, as the rated range is over 200 miles between fill-ups.

  1. The 2023 Honda CL500’s exhaust isn’t true to the scrambler genre. Instead of up-pipes to give the CL500 more ground clearance to prevent exhaust system damage, the CL500’s exhaust runs under the frame, then back up at the rear, where there’s a dual-outlet muffler with a stainless steel heat guard. You will want to limit the CL500’s off-road exposure to rocks, logs, or other pipe-smashing obstacles—or pay the price. Also, Honda tuned the CL500’s exhaust to have a throatier sound than the Rebel.

  1. Compared to the Rebel, the CL500 has the rake tucked in a degree to 27 degrees, and the CL500 weighs nine pounds more than the ABS version of the Rebel 500. The weight gain is not surprising, considering the larger wheels and longer-travel suspension. Honda gave the CL500 its own set of triple clamps for off-roadability.

  1. Speaking of ABS, Honda adjusted its sensitivity with off-pavement use in mind. The 310mm front disc is 14mm larger in diameter than the Rebel 500’s.

  1. Honda offers three Packs of accessories for different motivations:

Adventure Pack

    • Handguards
    • Rally footpegs
    • High front fender
    • Shock covers

Travel Pack

    • Soft saddlebags
    • Heated grips
    • Adjustable brake lever
    • AC socket
    • Tank bag

Style Pack

    • High seat
    • Headlight cowl
    • Cowl stripe
    • Wheel stripes
    • Striped rear side covers

  1. The available colors remind us of the color names popular with Honda 50+ years ago: 

    • Candy Caribbean Blue Sea
    • Candy Energy Orange
    • Mat Gunpowder Black Metallic
    • Mat Laurel Green Metallic

  1. There’s plenty of round on the CL500. That would include the headlight, turn indicators, mirrors, and LCD dash. Curiously, the oval taillight refuses to go along. All lighting is LED.

  1. We don’t have a price for the 2023 Honda CL500. While we would like to be able to tell you when the new scrambler will be on American Honda showroom floors, the model is Euro-only, at least for the time being.

2023 Honda CL500 Specs

ENGINE

  • Type: Parallel twin
  • Bore x stroke: 67.0 x 66.8mm
  • Displacement: 471cc
  • Maximum power: 46 horsepower @ 8500 rpm
  • Maximum torque: 32 ft-lbs @ 6250 rpm
  • Compression ratio: 10.7:1
  • Valvetrain: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
  • Fueling: EFI w/ 34mm throttle bodies
  • Transmission: Six-speed
  • Clutch: Wet multiplate w/ assist and slip functions
  • Final drive: Chain

CHASSIS

  • Frame: Steel-tube trellis
  • Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable 41mm fork; 5.9 inches
  • Rear suspension; travel: Spring-preload adjustable shocks; 5.7 inches
  • Wheels: Cast aluminum
  • Tires: Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour
  • Front tire: 110/80 x 19
  • Rear tire: 150/70 x 17
  • Front brake: 310mm disc w/ Nissin 2-piston caliper
  • Rear brake: 240mm disc w/ Nissin single-piston caliper
  • ABS: 2-channel

DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES

  • Wheelbase: 58.5 inches
  • Rake: 27.0 degrees
  • Trail: 4.3 inches
  • Ground clearance: 6.1 inches
  • Seat height: 31.1 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 3.2 gallons
  • Estimated fuel consumption: 65 mpg
  • Curb weight: 423 pounds

COLORS

  • Candy Caribbean Blue Sea
  • Candy Energy Orange
  • Mat Gunpowder Black Metallic
  • Mat Laurel Green Metallic

2023 Honda CL500 Price: £TBA MSRP

2023 Honda CL500 Photo Gallery