If you've already tried and tested 300cc motorcycles and are ready for something with a little more grunt, a 500cc motorcycle might be just what you need. With manageable handling and enough power to have some fun with, 500cc motorcycles offer the perfect balance of performance and usability.
As to which motorcycle to choose, you'll certainly have no shortage of options to choose between. With 500cc widely considered to be the perfect middle-displacement, almost every manufacturer has tried to grab a little slice of the market for themselves.
As to which ones are the best, everyone has their own opinion. If you want ours, these are the 10 best 500cc motorcycles money can buy.
10. Kawasaki ER-5
If you're looking for a bike that balances performance with utility, the Kawasaki ER-5 makes a fine choice. Its frame has been stripped back to the bare basics, improving its aptitude for city riding.
The liquid-cooled four-stroke DOHC 498 cc engine is powerful enough to serve a purpose, but not so large as to intimidate novices. If you're looking for a big, brutish beast of a machine, you're going to be disappointed. If you're looking for a lean, efficient motorcycle that'll handle the daily commute with ease, it's ideal.
9. Honda CB500X
Honda has several different bikes with a 500cc displacement. If you're into cruisers, you'll find plenty of options. If you're not, the CB500X is a sound choice. Designed to handle just about any terrain you care to ride, it has all the capabilities you'd expect of an off-roader wrapped up a compact, easy-to-handle package that's as suited to the daily commute as it is to trail riding.
The 471cc twin-cylinder engine is a responsive, accessible dream, delivering enough power to suit almost any rider. The upright riding position, long-travel suspension, and lightweight frame ensure a comfortable ride.
8. Royal Enfield Bullet Trials 500
If you're in the market for a 500cc adventure bike with off-road capabilities, the Royal Enfield Bullet Trials 500 makes a great option. The engine is the same 499cc single-cylinder that powers the Bullet 500, which itself (as we'll see shortly) is an excellent bike.
Raised handlebars, an upswept exhaust, mudguards, and crossbar reinforcement deliver superb performance long after the tarmac ends. It's not the biggest or gutsiest machine around, but if you want a 500cc that performs as well on the road as on the trail, you'll not be disappointed.
7. Kawasaki Vulcan 500LTD
Kawasaki has a great little selection of bikes in the 500cc and under category, with the Kawasaki Vulcan 500LTD being one of the best examples. Its liquid-cooled, 4-stroke engine packs a powerful punch, delivering 4..8kgf-m/32.616-ft of torque at 7300rpm.
The aesthetic is lean and aggressive, with enough bells and whistles to accommodate most tastes. Suitable for newer riders and experienced riders alike, it's a great option with a very attractive price.
6. Suzuki GS500
If you want an entry-level motorcycle that delivers efficient performance and comes with an affordable price point, look no further than the Suzuki GS500. The lean, spare aesthetic is complement by superb performance.
With 40 HP at the rear wheel, it may not deliver enough power to keep experienced riders in kicks and giggles, but it's more than adequate for newer riders looking for a step up from 250cc and 300cc displacement bikes. As entry-level bikes with a bit of oomph to them go, it's hard to beat.
5. Honda CB500R
If you want an efficient, capable sportbike that'll run rings around the competition, the Honda CB500R might be for you. Sure, it can't handle rough terrain, but then again, it's not intended to. This is a bike that's built for speed. It's not necessarily the most advanced superbike on the market, but it is lovely.
The 471cc parallel-twin engine we saw previously on the CB500X is back again, but this time, it's been fine-tuned for sports riding. Accompanying it is an outstanding suspension, a set of top-notch brakes, and a lightweight steel tube frame. Refined, well balanced, and with a performance to write home about, it's unquestionably one of the best bikes in the category.
4. Kawasaki Ninja 500R
If you're ready to progress from entry-level bikes to something more serious, the Kawasaki Ninja 500 makes a fine choice. As adventureseeker.orgnotes, its aggressive rider position, Ninja styling, and willing performance are perfect for the motorcyclist looking for a sportier ride.
With its friendly, easy to access power delivery and excellent stability, it's still a perfectly manageable machine. An affordable price point and excellent fuel economy complete the package.
3. Honda Rebel 500
The Honda Rebel 500 is a great bike at a great price. If you've already tried the Rebel 300, you'll already know what to expect in terms of fuel efficiency, handling, and agility. What you might not be expecting is just how much extra grunt you get from the 471cc parallel-twin engine.
Despite the extra power, it's still manageable and user-friendly enough to appeal to new riders. The head-turning styling, excellent suspension, and customizable options will please just about anyone.
2. Harley-Davidson Street 500
As Hot Cars points out, if you dream of riding a classic America cruiser, the Harley-Davidson Street 500 is your perfect choice. The low-slung design is comfortably handled by anyone, even complete novices. Its seating position, comfort level, and performance are hard to fault.
This makes it as suitable for weekend riding as for the daily commute. If you want to get into the Harley-Davidson brand in the most manageable (and quite possibly, most economical) way, this is the motorcycle to do it on.
1. Royal Enfield Bullet 500
Recommended by Wind Burned Eyes as one of the best 500cc motorcycles around, the Royal Enfield Bullet 500 is an outstanding example of the genre. It might not be the fastest 500cc you'll ever see.
However, its overall performance still leaves most of its competitors coughing in its dust. It combines classic styling with Royal Enfield's ethos of simple design and resilient build. The Bullet is a joy of a bike that fully justifies its price tag. It more than explains its legacy as the oldest continuous production motorcycle in the world.
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Written by Benjamin Smith
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