Honda is playing a canny game with its new 2016 model year motorcycles. Without robbing a bank or laying its entire product line to waste, Big Red has worked to sharpen a number of its products in an effort to kick-start sales. Will these styling updates—allied to a few minor mechanical changes like LED lighting—do enough? This is the big question that emerges as I look at the spread of Honda’s efforts for 2016.
First with the CB500F, one of our favorite small naked bikes going. It’s the right size, the right price, and has good performance. With the revisions for 2016, Honda has put a little more starch into the CB’s styling. It’s a little brighter and glossier, with highlighted trim and contrasting engine cases. (We had an all-black CB500F around as a project bike and its monochrome appearance made it all but disappear in our garage. “Hey, who took the CB500F? Oh, wait…there it is.” True story.) The 2016’s bike’s sharper nose with LED headlights counterbalances the CB’s suddenly angular exhaust pipe. New sidecovers mean the profile view is less a display of fine plastic molding and more a view of the mechanicals.
In truth, there’s more to the CB-F remake than visuals. “Transmission updates” are there to improve shift quality. Fuel capacity is up to 4.4 gallons from 4.1 and the gas cap is now hinged, not the “oh, crap, where do I put it while I fill up?’ version we have come to loathe around here. Spring preload is now adjustable up front, as it was in the rear before, but there are still no damping adjustment. Honda does not say that the suspension has been otherwise changed, so we can expect the same very soft calibration.
Updates to the CB-F join similar styling changes to the NC700X, CB500X, and CBR500R.
Hey, just in: the CBR650F is getting a snazzy new Matte Black Metallic/Candy Red paint job, though Honda says no mechanical changes with the same price of $8,499 (add $500 for ABS), which puts it above its normal classmates like the Yamaha FZ-07.
This wraps up the news from Honda for 2016.
We already know about the much-anticipated Africa Twin (see First Look here) coming to the US, as well as the VFR1200X (Crosstourer elsewhere), the already sold-out RCV213V-S that will appear as 2016 models. With its EICMA news, Honda confirmed that the following bikes are returning unchanged: CB1000R (in black/red) for $11,760; CTX700 (in blue metallic) $7,499 to $8,099; CTX700N (in light silver metallic) for $6,999 to $7,599; CRF250L (in red) for $4,999; Forza scooter (in pearl red) for $5,599 to $6,099; and Ruckus (in black or red/white) for $2,649. Honda’s Gold Wing variants are also unchanged for 2016, as is its cruiser lineup, 13 models strong. Neither the CB1100 nor the Interceptor are listed as 2016 models.