2023 Honda CL500 Scrambler (bike review)

Honda’s latest learner approved offering comes in the form of the CL500 Scrambler. It’s an urban take on their already popular 500 range, which includes the CB500X adventure and CMX500 cruiser.

With a user friendly nature and retro inspired styling, it could well be the pick of the bunch. Available in a range of funky and more traditional colours, it looks like it’s plenty of fun. That’s especially so in Candy Caribbean Blue, like our tester.

Not everyone will love its look or the scrambler exhaust, but for us, it’s a pretty thing, resplendent in fork rubber gaiters, tank knee pads and a flat seat. With a personality all of its own, there are nice touches of class to lift its presence, including an LED headlight.

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Ergonomics get a big tick too, with yours truly being of the larger variety of the human species. The Scrambler gave the impression from the rider’s seat that it was a full-size bike. That’s impressive given its learner legal status. Seat height is 790mm.

Offering simplicity that just works, the CL500 Scrambler works in unison with the rider to make for an effortless experience, which is perfect for learners. A retro-styled LCD display is set out with a decent amount of rider information. It’s well positioned on the bike too.

2023 Honda CL500 Scrambler
2023 Honda CL500 Scrambler

That screen though, brings us to our one major gripe. The backlighting is terrible, making it hard to glance at, and to process the content, without staring at it. That takes your attention away from the road.

This issue won’t cause concern for seasoned riders, but for a learner, it’s an unnecessary distraction. Powered by a 471cc parallel twin, the CL500 Scrambler produces 34.3kW of power and 53Nm of torque.

It’s a sweet unit, that’s matched to a 6-speed gearbox, which works with a minimum of fuss. Fuel range is good, with an average of 250km out of the 12-litre tank. It’s also the same engine and chassis you’ll find in the CMX500.

Delivering good power and torque through the mid-range, it cruises well at freeway speeds. Different from its sibling though is a new swingarm, which allows for 150mm of suspension travel on the rear. Up front is a Showa 41mm telescopic fork, with 134mm of travel.

Another nice touch on the CL500 Scrambler is the addition of twin disc brakes and ABS on the front. There is also a single disc rear to ensure stopping power is up to task. A natural in the urban jungle, its narrowness makes lane filtering a breeze.

2023 Honda CL500 Scrambler
2023 Honda CL500 Scrambler

Throw it through some corners outside the city limits and the CL500 Scrambler is quite fun. Granted it doesn’t have the performance specifications of some of its more fancy sports bike competitors in this space, but it offers a tonne of flexibility.

You can even head off road and explore some dirt tracks if you want to. Honda’s CL500 Scrambler is a legitimate user friendly ride, whether it’s being utilised as a commuter, bar hopper or weekend freedom machine.

It’s also the perfect learner bike on which to begin your motorcycle journey. Backed by a 3-year warranty, it can also be had in Matte Laurel Green Metallic, Candy Energy Orange and Matte Gunpowder Black Metallic.

Part of the bike maker’s Street range, it’s priced from $8,990 plus on-roads. You can find out more by visiting the Honda Motorcycles Australia website, or hitting up your local dealership.

Our test bike was supplied by Honda Motorcycles Australia for review purposes.

2023 Honda CL500 Scrambler
2023 Honda CL500 Scrambler

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Riding experience
7.5
style and comfort
8
Braking and handling
7.75
Overall bike performance
8
Value for money
8

SUMMARY

Pros – versatility; user friendliness; ergonomics; fuel economy.
Cons – LCD display; Scrambler exhaust won't be to everyone's taste.
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin is the ride editor at Exhaust Notes Australia, founding editor of Two Wheel Addicts, a contributor at Bike Review and panel judge for Harley Davidson's Breakout Boss competition. Andrew has a love for anything on two wheels whether that be sports, naked or adventure bikes, with a guilty pleasure for cruisers.

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<strong>Pros –</strong> versatility; user friendliness; ergonomics; fuel economy.<br> <strong>Cons –</strong> LCD display; Scrambler exhaust won't be to everyone's taste.2023 Honda CL500 Scrambler (bike review)