Straight from Japan
Updated: Aug 7
'La Moto', a French motorcycle magazine, was one of the first to test the 'new' Honda 500 Four in July 1971 in Japan.
Below some excerpts from the article.
'A small sister with long teeth.'
'It is the Japanese brand that has just caused the most ink to flow over the past two years. But, it is no longer by the sporting exploits of its six cylinders that these machines keep motorcyclists spellbound; this time, their domain remains much more prosaic, since it is only touring motorcycles. Touring machines certainly, but what machines! After arousing the greatest enthusiasm there is with their 750 cc four-cylinder, is it not that the Honda engineers are calling everything into question with a new 500 cc four-cylinder. The most beautiful tomorrows are assured for this motorcycle which, if it has not yet caused a lot of ink to flow, will soon pour entire inkwells under the carried away pen of the specialists of the very beautiful motorcycle of touring. The 750 Honda had its heyday, let the trumpets of success ring out for its younger 500cc sibling.'
'First observation in the 500/750 comparison, the engine of the 500 is mounted vertically, while on the 750, the four imposing cylinders are slightly inclined towards the road. Moreover, in general line, it would be much closer to the 450 of the brand than to its big sister of 750 cc. The exhausts are also different from anything found on Japanese factory beasts so far, aside from the 125cc mono. This resemblance may be due to the fact that each cylinder of the 500 has the same unit displacement as the 125 cc. Apart from these few differences, we find on this new 500 the same suspensions, the same front fork, the same disc brake, the same instruments, except some small additional gadgets lights, and (for the Japanse market only) a warning light which lights up as soon as you exceed the 80 km/h. Of course, you have to think that if everything is visually identical, certain equipment is reduced to adequate dimensions for this new production of the Honda factories. On the other hand, the first handling of the machine, without the engine running, will prove to be much easier compared to the efforts that one must deploy with the 750 cc. The weight is important since the 500 is nearly 40 kg lighter than its big sister. This weight difference suggests easier handling at low speeds even before putting your buttocks on the comfortable two-seater saddle. motorcycle.'
'The conclusion is clear: A high-class motorcycle, it will undoubtedly find great success with the world motorcycling public. Honda now presents a light machine, maneuverable, pleasant, with interesting performances and at a price lower than its big brother of 750 cc. They did not seek with this last production to create a motorcycle with breathtaking possibilities. Their goal is much more specific, that of making a great class tourer that poses no problem for its users, and that gives them maximum contentment and satisfaction. A high-class 500 was missing from Honda, it's now here.'
La Moto, July 1971.