The Honda GB500

1 / 3
The Honda GB 500.
2 / 3
2010 Royal Enfield C5 Bullet
3 / 3
1978-1981 Yamaha SR500

Honda GB500
Years produced:
1989-1990 (U.S. version)
Claimed power: 33hp @ 6,500rpm (measured, rear wheel)
Top speed: 108mph (period test)
Engine type: 498cc air-cooled SOHC 4-valve single
Transmission: 5-speed
Weight: 390lb (wet)
MPG: 45-60mpg
Price then/now: $4,198/$4,000-$6,500

Rarely does the bamboo curtain part just enough for us to glimpse the domestic Japanese motorcycle scene. Gray market imports of the Honda VFR250R and Suzuki RG250 race replica offer clues. But in 1989, Honda listed two of its home market bikes for sale in the US: the 13,000rpm inline four, gear-cam drive 400cc Honda CB1; and the “Great British” Honda GB500 thumper. Neither was a big seller at the time, but both are fast becoming collectible classic Honda motorcycles.

Though sold as a 400 in Japan, the GB500 was given a full 500cc engine for the U.S. market, using a sleeved-down version of the SOHC radial four-valve (RFVC) engine from the XL600 dirt bike. But it was the GB’s old school styling that made the biggest impression.

Though not intending to reprise any specific British single from the golden era, Honda managed to capture the essence of the Norton Manx, the BSA Gold Star and the rest through subtle styling cues and period-replica components.

Motorcycle Classics Magazine
Motorcycle Classics Magazine
Motorcycle Classics Magazine Featuring the most brilliant, unusual and popular motorcycles ever made!