The Honda CB500T is Seventies twin with character: throwback flavor, classic styling, retro engine
Bad to the Bone it wasn’t: Honda aimed the CB500T at a refined crowd that presumably would appreciate a bike with throwback — some would say outdated — engineering.
Years produced: 1975-76
Total production: N/A
Claimed power: 34bhp @ 8,500rpm
Top speed: 101mph
Engine type: Parallel twin
Weight (dry): 193kg (425lb)
Price then: $1,545
Price now: $800-$1,800
OK, let’s get one thing clear right off the bat: Yes, we do know the difference between the Honda CB500T and the Honda GB500.
The GB500, Honda’s single-cylinder retro-classic of the late Eighties, is already an acknowledged classic. And yes, we do consider the CB500T an Under the Radar classic.
Could the CB500T, a Seventies twin, hold a candle to the GB500 from a performance standpoint? No. Did it generate as many words of praise as the GB? Not even close. If you set the two beside each other, would you pick the CB over its updated offspring? Probably not, unless you’d also choose Janet Reno over Janet Jackson.
So why are we spotlighting the old twin, a bike that drew comparisons to the bland-as-paste Ford Granada?
We like bikes with character, that’s why, and the CB500T has it. A Granada? Let’s just say you won’t find one on anybody’s list of classic cars.
Born in 1975 as an upgraded version of the CB450, which was getting long in the tooth from a technological standpoint, the T offered classic styling and a uniquely retro engine.
Its main calling card was a brown seat with a grab strap between the rider and passenger. Some would call the seat the bike’s only calling card — which is basically what Cycle World did in a 1975 test.
"Unusual in that it is brown in color, it is long enough to carry a briefcase or passenger without crowding the rider. And the padding is soft enough for comfort. Believe us, without this seat you couldn’t ride a 500T very far and get off smiling," the magazine said.
That was a reference to the 500T’s vibration, which was universally described as miserable and unnecessary considering that the multi-cylinder bikes of the era — including Honda’s own four-cylinder CB550F — offered infinitely smoother rides.
Vibration wasn’t the only area where the motorcycling press jumped on the T with both feet buzzing. Writers panned its cornering clearance, brakes and overall power.
"The 500 is a cosmetic masterpiece; the T-bike is lovingly painted, plated, styled, trimmed and striped," Cycle said. "Its appearance is its message; once you plunk your buns on the saddle and fire up the engine, it’s all downhill."
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