New 2013 Honda motorcycles combine affordability, fun, and safety

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The 2013 Honda motorcycle line-up sees the addition of several 500cc bikes that should appeal to novices and experienced riders looking for affordable, lightweight bikes. Higher up in the range is a retro-styled CB1100 standard that reminds of past Hondas.

Honda has numerous updates throughout its line, but as new-bike season unfolds, what caught our attention is the emphasis on the approachable 500cc bikes.

A natural progression from the CBR250R that our staff riders find so entertaining, the CBR500R provides a more powerful sport bike, still priced under $6,000. It uses a fuel-injected DOHC engine that promises power and efficiency, and this attainable sport bike is wrapped in full fairing inspired by the CBR1000RR sport bike. Antilock brakes are an affordable upgrade, adding $500 to the base price. A wise investment, especially for newer riders, ABS has been shown to reduce fatal crashes by 37 percent. The CBR500R goes on sale in April 2013.

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Another step-up choice is the new CB500F, a "naked" sport bike. Built for agility, the CB500F takes a pass on the dramatic fairing of the CBR500R, granting it a different visual attitude. Starting at $5,499, the CB500F likewise goes on sale next April. ABS is offered solely with a black variation for $5,999. (There is a certain irony that the safety-minded model doesn't come in a more visible color.)

Given a different twist, there is also the CB500X adventure bike (photo right). It may look similar to the other 500s, but it has a number of enhancements, such as longer suspension travel (4.9 inches) and wider handle bars, to suit it for the expanding adventure class. Pricing hasn't been announced, but it is reasonable to assume it is in the ballpark of the other 500s. And again, ABS will be offered.

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With the CB1100, Honda has a fresh take on its classic 1969 CB750K0—think traditional, old-school Honda motorcycle design. Drawing from the same engine architecture, the new CB1100 boasts an 1140cc air-cooled DOHC four-cylinder with fuel injection. The bike rides on 18-inch wheels, with twin rear shocks. Seat height is 31.3 inches. Modern disc brakes can be augmented with ABS. Pricing for this reborn red-only traditional bike starts at $9,999, and it goes on sale in March.

As other motorcycle makers announce their new 2013 bikes, we'll be on the lookout for other notable rides, especially those that combine affordability and safety.

See our motorcycle and scooter buying guide.

Related:
2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 gives novice motorcycle riders another choice with ABS
Honda CBR250R ABS motorcycle proves fun, well-suited to new riders
Tips to make the roads safer for cars and motorcycles



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