Debuting in 2013 with a 471cc engine, the CB500F motorcycle has won the hearts of many motomaniacs, including those who use it for daily commuting and fiery street racing. If you are interested in purchasing this motorcycle, it is important that you are aware of the common failures of the Honda CB500F so that you can anticipate any problems that may cause you.
Thanks to Honda’s reliable liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine design, the CB500F rarely goes the extra mile for outstanding performance and longevity.
Common failures of the Honda CB500F
Although it is a great performance motorcycle, it is not a perfect bike, like all mechanical products, the 500F has a few problems, which we will cover below:
1. Starter relay switch failure
This section explicitly involves the two-year-old first 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 that the bike won’t start.
Symptoms of a Bad Starter Relay Switch
5 Symptoms of a Failing Starter Relay Switch on a CB500F:
- A CB with a bad starter may cough for a few tries and not start.
- Turning the key has no effect, no light, no gauge indication, nothing.
- You check the battery and discover that it is well placed.
- The main fuse has blown where it approaches the solenoid starter relay.
- The solenoid cover is blown.
The first is the first; How does the starter relay of a motorcycle work?
When you turn on the ignition of your CB500F, the key turns on the starter relay, which energizes the starter solenoid and the starter motor. The solenoid draws ample current directly from the CB’s battery, causing the solenoid to send electricity to the starter to turn the flywheel.
In short, the starter relay of your CB500F is responsible for transmitting electricity to the solenoid, which uses the starter motor and turns the flywheel to start your bike. Without it, there is no future journey.
Honda made an official recall notice regarding the 2014 and 2015 Honda CB 500F on July 1, 2015.
Honda described the problem as an error during the assembly of the starter relay switch.
According to Honda testimony, the factory mistakenly applied sealant to the starter relay switch on all affected 2013-2016 CB500Fs.
The sealant could increase the resistance of the main fuse, interrupting the voltage to the motorcycle’s battery. If the sealant was applied incorrectly on your CB500F, it is likely that the wiring system was affected.
The recall notice urged 500F riders to check their VIN/HIN to establish whether their particular motorcycle may have been impacted, as electrical issues are generally a significant safety risk.
Interruption in the electrical system of a Honda CB500FF can prevent the motorcycle’s engine from starting or force the motorcycle to stop during operation. In severe circumstances, the abundance of resistance in the main fuse could cause the starter relay switch to catch fire.
Honda has announced that all 500F owners can, and are even required, to bring their bikes to a regional Honda motorcycle dealer for a free service.
- Honda technicians can check the starter relay switch assembly to see if the manufacturer misapplied the sealant.
- If so, Honda will replace the switch and any other damaged parts with new upgrades and reseal everything in the house.
- If your CB500F was built within the first two years, take it to Honda, especially if you bought it second hand, as the seller may not have been aware of the recalls until the part failed.
It’s also possible that the previous owner was dodgy and left the bike unattended in the garage instead of bothering to take it to Honda for any necessary service.
If this is the case, don’t worry; Take it to Honda for the free upgrade ASAP before the failing relay switch blows the fuses.
2. Dangerous levels of visibility at night
Honda solved this problem in 2021 with a recall of numerous motorcycle models; unfortunately, this includes the Honda CB500F. The recall was inspired by multiple objections to the bike’s lighting system: riders claimed that dim lighting and reflectors created low levels of visibility, especially from the rear of the bike. The problem was exacerbated exponentially at night.
The announcement of the recall of the motorcycle by Honda considered that the poor visibility of the motorcycle was due to a deteriorated or insufficient lens in the rear reflector of the motorcycle.
- The rear reflector lens on a good portion of the 2020 and 2021 Honda CB500Fs did not reflect enough to make the bike visible at night.
Not only is this dangerous during nighttime use, but CB500F owners were also disheartened to find that their reflectors were too dim to pass inspection, even straight from the dealer.
The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (FMVSS) has developed a list of federally agreed requirements that a motor vehicle, even a midsize motorcycle like the 500F, must meet in order to be legally sold in the United States. Each state is charged with enforcing the standard by generating a unique list of criteria a motorcycle must meet to pass inspection.
FMVSS 108, in particular, says that a car must maintain a specified number of “Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment” to be considered legal. Defective reflectors on some 2020-2021 Honda CB500Fs did not meet that expectation.
As proactive as ever, Honda issued an official recall notice to Honda dealers in all regions. The mission was to upgrade the rear reflector on every Honda CB500F for free.
If you’re the proud racer of an otherwise reliable 2020 or 2021 Honda CB500F, stop by your regional Honda technician and check your VIN to see if your reflector is from the bad batch. If so, you will receive a new reflector installed by Honda free of charge.
3. Shaky rocker arm bolts
Honda recalled 6,954 bikes in 2014, the CB500F’s first year of existence, and the 500F was back on the list. This time Honda the problem was not only in the United States, but in Australia and Japan. What was the problem this time?
The CB500F was recalled once again in 2014 due to the possibility of an oil leak in the bike’s engine.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported the incident, determining that Honda never treated the retaining bolts on the rocker arm shafts of some 2013 Honda CB 500Fs to prevent corrosion.
- Honda planned to apply the anti-corrosion treatment during the manufacturing process.
- Unfortunately, more than one motorcycle was overlooked.
- Let’s just 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 problem, accommodating all post-2013 500Fs with bolts that they made sure to treat against corrosion. Unfortunately, however, in 2013, that was not the situation.
That year, Honda coated many rocker arm bolts on multiple bikes, including the CB500F, with an unapproved application. This faulty treatment was not insensitive to wear in the way that both the rider and the bike require, allowing the bolts to loosen during standard motorcycle operation.
Once the hold down bolts were loosened, oil would leak around the bolts, manifesting itself as a slow but steady trickle. In some of the more extreme claims we found, riders reported bolts loosening enough to jump off the cylinder head entirely.
This displaces the rocker arm, decreasing the power of the 500F’s engine. In many cases, the result of this is that the engine stalls.
- American Honda discovered the problem in July 2013, but only after being notified by dealers that multiple individual customers were complaining about the same oil leak.
- Honda is one of the best motorcycle brands when it comes to being proactive in resolving warranty issues.
- The Honda branch in Thailand was the first to deduce that the wrong anti-corrosion coating was applied to the bike’s rocker arm mounting bolts as the culprit.
From September 2013 through January 2014, Honda reviewed its internal records and its third-party bolt manufacturers’ documents for bolts that had not been properly addressed.
Fortunately, these faulty bolts never led to an injury report. That being said, Honda prides itself on reliability; the company advised dealers around the world to upgrade the 500F with new hold-down bolts, and added two washers and a 45mm o-ring to the set for added security.
4. Fault in the fuel level sensor
In 2015, Honda issued a recall for 14,575 motorcycles, including the 500F.
The fault was in the float arm of the bike’s fuel level sensor. When the float arm was exposed to inclement weather or road debris during normal bike operation, it would begin to warp and stop working properly.
- In the worst case, the arm would break off and come into contact with the positive and negative terminals on the bottom of the fuel pump, causing a short circuit and blowing a fuse.
- At the very least, a broken float arm produces an inaccurate fuel reading.
The first four signs that the fuel level sensor on your CB500F has a broken float arm are:
- Incorrect fuel level indication.
- Electronic short circuits.
- Fuses are bent or blown.
- Your 500F stalls for no reason, often.
If you come across any of these signs of a warped float arm on the fuel level sensor on your Honda CB500F, especially if it was produced between 2013 and 2015, your local Honda technicians will replace it.
The good and the bad of the Honda CB500F
After reading about the common faults of the Honda CB500F, it is good that you also know about the benefits of this bike. Here are some pros and cons of the Honda CB500F.
- Its powerful 471cc engine makes the CB500F the most mid-range option in Honda’s line of naked bikes.
- The CB500F is an excellent step up in terms of strength compared to the lower models, making it suitable for the road.
- That said, the 500F’s mid-frame makes it more accessible and slimmer than the CB650F.
- The CB500F has a torque rating of 32 lb-ft at 7000 RPM.
- Its fuel-injected parallel-twin moves like a butterbike from low revs all the way to the end of the range.
- A smooth linear progression of power peaks at 47 horsepower.
- The CB500F is a fun whip for ripping technical country roads, while maintaining the versatility and efficiency needed to crush the city, thanks to its slick 6-speed gearbox.
- Starter relay switch failure
- Dangerous visibility levels at night
- Rocker arm bolts unstable
- Fuel level sensor failure
What do the reviews say?
Honda engineers have crafted a strong chassis design, using a steel diamond frame with a telescopic 41mm front shock and a preload-adjustable Prolink single shock that controls the square-tube steel swingarm at the rear. . The CB500F is agile in most riding situations, while heavy riders may find it a bit soft, the overall handling is controlled and confidence inspiring.
Overall, the CB500F is a very accessible and comfortable bike that feels good from the saddle, allowing new riders to focus on improving their riding skills. Riding around town is simply a smile on the CB500F and while it’s powerful enough to maintain highway speed, getting back into mid-speed corners and traffic fun is where this bike shines.
Bottom line: The Honda CB500F is an excellent choice for new riders who want a naked bike. The 471cc twin has great torque, great sound, and goes many miles between fuel stops. Compared to the competition, the look and feel of this Honda is more high end and less bargain plastic. It lives up to the Honda stereotypes of quality and reliability mixed with sporty goodness.