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2013 Honda CBR500R: The First Ride

CBR500R Beauty ShotDreams can come true. Some time around last November, I read that Honda was about to build the bike of my dreams. And since I'm quickly reaching the age where the "Sunny Acres Trailer Park" in Retirementville, Florida, is looking more appealing every day, I figured this may be my last motorcycle. So I wanted to go all out and do it right.

On January 16th, 2013, for my birthday (Which I surprisingly share with Top Gear's James May), I put a deposit down on a red, white, and blue CBR500R, like the one pictured here. I knew the bike would not go on sale until sometime in April, which was fine with me. Turns out we had a longer winter than normal, and I was not going to be able to ride it anyway. Plus, waiting for the bike gave me something to look forward to as the dreary winter day pages fell off of the calendar.

I had about three months before the bike was to arrive, so internet shopping, here we come. First, a new all-white helmet was in order. Sounds easy enough, but that was harder to find than first imagined... most of today's helmets look like a custom shop has spent hours airbrushing each one of them. New boots and a riding suit to match the bike soon came in the mail as well.

105I checked on the bike on Friday, March 22nd, and they said they expected it in about two weeks. Good... we were getting close. Plenty of time to clear out the shed for new bike parking space and hope for warmer weather... and we had snow flurries to look forward to that weekend.

Delivery day came on Wednesday, April 3rd. I really didn't want to ride this bike off of the dealer lot, as I was expecting a wobble or two since I had not been on it yet. Plus, they are located in a fairly busy area of town, and I also didn't want the distraction of avoiding all the people in their SUVs who were likely on their phones and probably not looking for a motorcycle.

They knew I was on the way, so Richard at Honda of Cool Springs had the bike nicely presented right inside the front door on the showroom floor. The paperwork was done, I drove home, and an hour or two later, a truck and trailer pulled into the yard with the bike. I think I got a great deal on the bike... and the dealer delivered it for free as a bonus.

And now, submitted for your amusement:

CBR Bikes then and now

Some of us here may remember my post on the first bike I ever had, a 1972 Harley Davidson 125cc Rapido. Well, here we are some 42 years later, still on the same spot of Earth. And darn, don't those new digital cameras and a loose hoodie add a few pounds.

Bike check? Passed. Fuel tank? About half full. Safety equipment on? Check. So off we go on a brand new motorcycle that I'm not 100% familiar with as of yet. But that would change soon.

I had planned this first ride of the bike for several weeks. In addition to a proper destination, I wanted a good road course to put the bike through its paces... lots of smooth pavement, first some gentle turns, then later some tighter curves as I got to know the bike. Luckily, I knew just the way.

027Old Hillsboro Road in Middle Tennessee is a very scenic drive. It goes through Leiper's Fork, a community that is becoming an ultra-quaint faux Mayberry, witnessed by their recreation of Sheriff Andy Taylor's police car.

So I entered Leiper's Fork, observing their 30-mph speed limit, of course. Many people, especially tourists, cross the road in that little settlement, and I wanted them to have their space. I noticed "100% Gasoline" on the pumps at a small grocery store, knew I should fill up, so I pulled over.

Most folks know that ethanol is lethal to small engines... my chain saw is a victim. The dealer recommended 100% High-Test Gasoline, and at $4.25 a gallon, it was the same price as the fuel I'd been buying, minus a dollar an ounce (Per gallon) for fuel additive. So, $4.25 vs $5.25? I'll be back here soon.

Just after Leiper's Fork, Old Hillsboro Road becomes Leiper's Creek Road, and covers the old roadbed of what was once the Middle Tennessee Railroad. This is a nice drive, as the gentle curves and straightaways that were built for trains is a superb ride for any vehicle.

This ride brought back many motorcycle memories, not the least of which are thermoclines. That's an area where the air temperature can either climb or drop fairly rapidly. And another memory quickly resurfaced... bugs hitting the face shield. In fact, there's an old saying... "How do you tell a happy motorcycle rider? Why, by the bugs on his teeth, of course."

023 020I made a right onto Natchez Trace Road, which soon passes under the Natchez Trace Parkway. Natchez Trace Road has the tighter corners that I was looking for, and my destination was just a few miles ahead.

The bike was performing perfectly. At 40 mph and in 6th gear, I could not even hear it run. There was some wind noise coming into the helmet, and that was about it. Then I thought, "40 miles per hour and I'm in top gear. Man, this bike is geared low." But as we've discussed in commentaries here at Car Lust, the Japanese love high-revving engines. This bike redlines at about 8500 rpm, and it's turning about 3800 rpm at 40 mph.

014The trip odometer showed 18.9 miles from home to Taylor's Chapel, next to Lynn Cemetery, where my folks are resting. My father passed in 1992, and Mom left us in December, 2011.

I parked on the sturdy blacktop and walked to the gravesites. The grounds were very well maintained, even though the Spring grass was just starting to grow. And after some time of reflection, I broke away and began to get ready for the ride back.

There was more than one way back, so I took Bending Chestnut Road to Pinewood Road. I passed over Highway 840 and later under the Natchez Trace Parkway entrance at Leiper's Fork, and almost took the Parkway to Highway 96. But I'll save that ride and story for later.

CBR Headlights 034Gripes about the bike? Only two. First, for whatever reason(s), Honda has swapped the turn signal and horn switch locations. That means decades of mental programming are down the drain. For example, when I tried to signal to turn into the gas station, I blew the horn at somebody. Then I waved like I meant to do that. Second, only half of the headlights come on when you're on low beam. That means folks may come up to me to say I have a headlight burned out, unless I leave the high beams on.

But overall, the CBR500R may be a modern masterpiece. Fit and finish are flawless, power is immediate and smooth, and it's priced like some used bikes.

So hopefully this bike will last as long as I care to ride. And maybe they'll allow motorcycles at the "Sunny Acres Trailer Park" in Retirementville, Florida... at least as long as I promise not to do any wheelies.

--Chuck

024Image Credits: The first (modified) CBR500R halo image is from Powersports.Honda.com. I took the rest of the pictures.

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I can't wait for this white stuff to disappear. 15ish inches projected for the next 24 hours. *Sigh* I did fire up my Goldwing last week in the garage to just listen to it purrr.

congrats on the new bike! and a nice writeup. I just moved away from middle TN so it's nice to hear about these local spots again.

Thanks Seth. I live just west of Franklin, and I'm sure you've heard of those "Leapin' Forkers" LOL.

Congrats on the bike Seth. I'm about 35 days away from getting my cbr500r. It was nice to hear some first hand feed back about the bike. -Floridian

Nice ! I just purchased my cbr500r 2013 bike like a month ago from a dude in Indiana. I have been loving it so far driving it around the NW Chicago area.

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