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Honda CL500 - Finally A Japanese Scrambler

In somewhat of a surprise, Honda also pulled the covers off a new 500 model in the form of the CL500 Scrambler at this year's EICMA show in Milan. Based on Honda’s 46.6hp 471cc parallel-twin engine, the CL500 looks like the love child of the CB500X and the Rebel 500.

In fact, it would appear that the frame, tank and dash have been plucked straight from the Rebel, and the wheels - a 19-inch front and 17-inch rear alloy combo - equally come from the CB500X.

Honda is even saying the CL500 has light off-road cred, going as far as saying “It’s born ready for the rigours of urban travel as much as it is light off-road.”

Those rims have proven to be relatively well suited for light off-roading on the CB500X, so Honda might actually be onto something. After all, the LAMS-approved scrambler market is heating up with the addition of Moto Morini’s 6 ½ SCR and STR just arriving in NZ.

Ground clearance is noted as 155mm while suspension travel 150mm from the 41mm telescopic forks and 145mm from the twin 5-step spring preload-adjustable rear shocks.

Seat height isn’t a stretch at 790mm. Honda says the seat – alongside a slim mid-section – offers easy ground reach and ample legroom. It’s also designed with sides that cover the frame rails for standing up and low rear section for easy pillion access.

While the CL500 features 2-channel ABS, Honda doesn’t go as far as saying it is switchable for light off-roading. Rather, the ABS is optimised for use on dirt tracks as well as asphalt.

Currently, we haven't heard if Blue Wing Honda, New Zealand's Honda motorcycle distributor, plans to bring the CL500 to NZ. We wouldn't bet against it though as the CL500 ticks so many boxes. It's LAMS-approved, it blends both road and off-road manners, and it occupies a unique place in the market where other Japanese brands are yet to tread.

Watch this space.


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