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Gear Review: 55 Collection Hard Jacket

Product: 55 Collection Hard Jacket Made in: Barcelona Cost: €480 (US $510)
It’s likely you’ve never heard of 55 Collection; the Barcelona-based leather goods company is relatively small and has only been on the scene for a few years. So, allow me to introduce you to a company that’s making some of the best-looking and unique motorcycle jackets out there at the moment.

Adopting the “non serviam” nonconformist attitude that seems to run through a lot of Spain’s motorcycling culture (check out the crazy/beautiful custom works of El Solitario MC, for example), 55 Collection’s jackets may split opinion because of the company’s willingness to make jackets that are fashionable – that is to say, jackets that have a strong fashion element. The old dudes will decry hipsterism or some such thing. And indeed, I’ll admit that when company founder Aitor Gonzalez offered me a chance to try out one of his jackets I naturally defaulted to the most conservative of his offeri…

What I want: Honda CB500F (or X)

The more I think about it –– in price terms especially –– the more I feel it's likely I'll end up getting a 250cc bike. But I could be easily dissuaded. I am always applying for higher-paying jobs and if one of those Chinese lanterns (1) should happen to result in a greater income stream then a whole raft of models will come into the picture.

One of the motorcycles that is already there, that I would consider bending over backwards to get my hands on even in my current financial state, is the new 500cc offering from Honda. Technically, we're talking about three new offerings: the CBR500R, the CB500F and the yet-to-be-released CB500X. But according to all the press I've seen they are all the same bike with different faces.

The faces appealing to me most are the F and X versions. I'm not a huge fan of racer-styled bikes, especially when they don't really possess racer-styled engines. That feels just a little too much like the kid who shows up at a baseball game wearing his team's uniform. It's cute if a kid does it, but a grown man doing it is retarded. I am not a sport racer, nor do I have any ambition to be, so I don't see why I should be riding around on something that makes me look otherwise. I wouldn't drive a car that's been all decorated up to look like a NASCAR vehicle.

So, my heart gravitates toward the other models. A Honda CB500F, it seems, would be almost the perfect bike for me to start out on. Gentle enough that I can get over my jitters but with enough power that I can keep it around for a fair amount of time without getting bored. As one story I read noted: it is hard to get bored on a machine capable of 135 mph.

Indeed, all the reviews I've seen have been relatively positive. The only criticism I've spotted has been a tendency for it to not excite sport journalists who have wet dreams about gigantic sport bikes. Which is not really a criticism in my eyes. I think about the cars (2) I would prefer to drive –– a Honda Accord or a Volkswagen Golf –– and it seems to be the glory and power of a huge machine would be lost on me. I like utilitarian things. Reliable things. Durable things. Safe things.

And because of that I am also intrigued by the X model. See above what I said about playing dress-up; I can't imagine the CB500X would be a legitimate adventure bike, but it might possess a tad more ruggedness and the riding position I prefer. If it is anything on the consistently praised NC700X I'd be very happy.

All I need now is £5,000 (US $7,522). Anyone want to give that to me?


(1) I send out applications quite frequently; the utterly dismal nature of the British economy –– especially in Wales –– is such that they are just as frequently unsuccessful. I imagine the applications as being like Chinese lanterns: little beautiful things that I send out into the nothingness, from which I will never hear again.

(2) Note that I said cars. When I lived in the United States, however, I always drove a pick-up truck. I went through two Fords and a GMC but always wished to have the money for a new Toyota Tundra, because they are built in San Antonio, Texas.


  1. That's a sweet bike.

    I've been riding a 600 for 7 years, and have been entirely happy with the amount of power it makes. I think I would end up either frustrated* or dead on a liter bike**.

    *Frustrated because of the impossibility of tapping that kind of potential in day to day riding. For me, a big part of the fun is in pushing the bike hard. And if you're not pushing the machine, why deal with all of negatives that come with a great big motor?

    **I reserve the right to retract that statement should I ever be able to afford a 1000cc Ducati Superbike.

  2. When I had my Suzuki GSX750F Katana, it was great for the first few months but you find that there's not that much opportunity or great wish to actually use that power after a while, particularly in the UK with so many cars about. 150mph, great, but where would one really want to do that in Europe? Acceleration was brilliant which easily out-performed the V-twin equivalents but it was quite a heavy bike and soon you're thinking of how much the last fill-up cost you.

    The new Honda CBR500R, CB500F or CB500X? All great bikes too. Perhaps one needs to be think a bit about the feel and riding position of these bikes. The CBR500R to me is a 15-degree lean-over and sporty-looking bike without the sports performance (thus a bit silly in my opinion), the CB500X is totally upright, with no more ground clearance (for the adventure bike that it is) than the other two and one may feel that one's legs are being bent too far back while sitting upright while the CB500F has a slight forward lean of 10 degrees which is a good position when riding and feels right generally. It's the same riding position as the Suzuki Inazuma 250 and both bikes weigh about the same (183kg for the Inazuma and 190kg for the Honda).

    Phil West of MCN, in fact, chose the CB500F over the other two because it comes out at £300 cheaper (£4650 on the road including 24 months Honda warranty) while still ticking the same boxes. You won't be frightened riding it either as it will have the same predictable EU-restrained type of performance which all mid-range bikes have in Europe these days because of emission regulations.

    As you know, I went for the economy-conscious Suzuki Inazuma 250 last November but the CB500F is a really great bike (another £1000 admittedly) and a bike that I would choose over the NC700. They didn't have any back in November but I was considering them!

    You certainly wouldn't get bored on a CB500F and it's also quite nice looking in black!

  3. There's a review of the Honda CB500F on pages 10-12 of the April issue of Motorcycle Monthly newspaper which came out today - available in most biker shops, cafes, clubs and free online here:

    According to the article, Honda are claiming an 80mpg fuel consumption for the CB500F, which is NOT bad at all, if it's achieveable! No gear change indicator but a nice 15.7 litre tank for a 270 mile range. The stars for Performance seem to have been marked down a little in this review.

  4. "I dream big and achieve little."
    You didn't get this sense of humor from Texas, did you? :)

    I share your exact feelings (and financials) regarding the bikes and I too am lusting after the F (or X) version. But I'll almost certainly end up with a used 250cc (I gave up on Chinese lanterns a while ago)

  5. Traded in my 22 year yamaha xj900 which I loved and just bought a brand new honda cb500f in white which looks great been riding it for a couple of days now and I love it. Sweet engine, great handling, cool digital clocks and great looking bike. Go get one you won't regret it. Jason.

  6. It’s arduous to seek out knowledgeable people on this matter, but you sound like you already know what you’re talking about! Thanks
    sports bike

  7. I bought a 500F 6 days ago and can't keep myself off it. It's so much fun! Comfortable to ride, good fuel economy (currently 61+ mpg - but I've been exploring the upper range of rpms), good power out of the p-twin engine.

  8. I want a CB500X something fierce, I would even go for the F series, IF I could find one and get a feel for it. All the dealers in the NC area are saying the 'X' will not be out until End of July, Possibly mid-August, and the 'F' is hard to find, tried several dealers and they are getting 1 or 2 over the next month. They all seem to have the 500R in stock constantly. Ridiculous, it looks like a solid bike in general, shame that I may not have the patience to wait until August for a bike.

  9. Recommendation: buy one!

    Picked up my 500F last Friday and had a good ride around at the weekend. First motorway journey coming up this Sunday. I'm on the old-style restricted licence so I had to get it restricted. Kits aren't available yet so I went with a throttle stop and dyno test.

    First impressions? Love it. Even with the throttle restriction it has so much low end torque that I haven't hit it yet (around town). Quite civilised until around 3,000rpm then a bit throaty and fun after that.

    First and second gear driving needs some clutchwork to avoid kangeroo petrol over speed bumps etc, but that's not much of an issue. Riding position is very comfortable. I don't like the X and the R was too "riding on your hands" for no really good reason. I'm sure the faring will help at speed but essentially the bikes are all the same thing so why pay more to be carrying all that around with you?

    I managed to lift the front wheel at the lights on a spirited start when sat too upright...

    All in all, for the price I don't see how you can beat it unless you're going for a bigger bike. The acceleration won't kill you, but it *will* put a smile on your face.

  10. Well I went for it and couldn't be happier, got my 500F shortly after my June post, have put about 500 miles on it now and loving every minute of it. It is skating by at about 80MPH and sitting at 5k RPM, still getting 50MPG. Not bad at all in my opinion. I cranked the throttle back on a long stretch of country road the other night, and contrary to what I have read on some other reviews, It hit 120MPH nicely, even at my 6ft 225lb weight. Not something I will be doing often I don't think, but every once in awhile you need to let her open. My only issue, and its not THAT big a deal, is the wind at 70+MPH on the highway. I think I may end up getting an aftermarket bolt on windscreen. Leave it off for around town and latch it up for trips. The Puig has been getting good reviews.

    Definitely a bike worth getting, good price, powerful enough to have fun on, and a great commuter.

  11. Nice write up. I know I am late to the party and you have probably already bought something else by now but thought I would chime in anyways. The X is taller, has a larger fuel tank and those rugged looks are not just for show! You can even put a Rally Raid kit on it and take into places that most people go with their behemoth GS... the only difference is you'll be lighter, more agile and should you fall, you won't break your back picking the X up. Think of the X as the "pick-up truck" of the CB500 series... ;-)

  12. I bought this bike new about a month ago, 2015 CB500F, and have so far put about 800km on it. It is everything that I hoped it would be: first of all, it didn't break the bank; it has a decent amount of power and I like the kind of power that it delivers, meaning linear, smooth, with a good amount of torque across all RPM ranges. I live in Norway where we have lots of windy little mountain roads all over and for this very thing it is perfect. If I still lived in the USA and did most of my riding (as I did when I did) on big expressways with lots of other traffic, especially large trucks, maybe I'd opt for something a little heavier and stronger (or no motorcycle at all.) But here in Norway I go for hour-long joy rides, typically, a couple of hours max, and don't tour or commute. I have plenty of fun on this bike but I do not race, am not a motorcycle pro, nor do I intend to become one. I am not a kid who wants to be the center of attention, pop wheelies, turn heads... I am 40 yrs old and just want to feel the wind and have fun on a sunny day. My other bike is a 9-yr old Aprilia enduro bike of equal displacement, or actually slightly smaller, a 450, which has nearly 30% more HP. So let's say a little more fun WHEN it starts... but the Aprilia starts about every third or fourth time I try to take it out. Let's just say the bike that starts every single time right away has my vote any day as I would rather spend my time riding the bike than tinkering with it and getting the damn thing to start. Hondas are reliable. They don't make the sexiest vehicles but they make by far the most reliable vehicles anywhere. I had a Honda Civic for six years before and this was by far the most reliable car I ever had. That is what made me buy this Honda motorcycle. It sips very little gas, 70mpg or 29km per liter (unless I'm being a really bad boy with it) and holds the road very well, has a comfortable riding position, and even though it is 50% heavier than my Aprilia it just doesn't feel any heavier at all. Maybe that is because it sits lower, easier to manage with a lower center of gravity. Also, a bike that has 471ccs of displacement was a big bike in the 1960s or 1970s, now just average. I would say this to anyone who would call 471ccs a small bike: if you really manage to consistently pull all this baby is capable of out of her, especially hitting some curves and not simply going in a straight line, major kudos to you. At this point I don't think I'll ever be bored with it. And yes, look at the maintenance schedule too and you will conclude that ownership cost will be significantly lower compared to anything else especially a KTM or a Ducati or an Aprilia or one of those "sexy bikes." And in Norway a new one of these Hondas comes with a 5-yr warranty (two years on most other bikes.) I love it!


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