2023 Honda SCL500 Evaluation | First Trip 

2023 Honda SCL500
The fork gaiters and high-routed exhaust on the 2023 Honda SCL500 are carryovers from Honda’s early scrambler fashions.

Scramblers had their heyday through the ’60s, which was earlier than my time, however I’m a giant fan of their spirit and elegance. They embody a carefree angle and the liberty to go wherever, in addition to a simplicity not provided by many trendy, hyper-focused bikes. The most effective phrase to explain the brand new 2023 Honda SCL500 is “playful.” It blends cool retro fashion, a user-friendly engine and chassis, and a budget-friendly value. 

2023 Honda SCL500
The 2023 Honda SCL500 in Sweet Orange is certain to show heads.

Scramblers are excellent for Ventura, California, the coastal surf city that I name dwelling, and that’s precisely the place Honda hosted its press launch for the SCL500. A light-weight, no-frills bike is nice for bopping round metropolis streets, cruising up the coast, exploring backroads, and even getting a bit of frisky within the filth, although the one time we left the pavement throughout our check journey was to show round in filth pull-outs throughout picture stops. 

Inspiration for the SCL500 comes from Honda’s personal again catalog, specifically the 250cc CL72 from 1962-65 and the 305cc CL77 from 1965-67. Just like the SCL500, these early scramblers have been primarily based on streetbikes, and all three fashions share frequent styling components: fork gaiters, knee pads on the gasoline tank, bench seats, high-routed exhausts, and twin rear shocks. 


One other factor the SCL500 has in frequent with these early CLs is a parallel-Twin engine, although the older variations have been air-cooled whereas the trendy one has a radiator. The SCL’s 471cc Twin is a flexible mill that’s additionally discovered within the CBR500R sportbike, CB500F bare bike, CB500X journey bike, and Insurgent 500 cruiser. (The final time we put any of those bikes on the dyno was 2017. The CB500F made 46 hp and 31 lb-ft of torque on the rear wheel, and the Insurgent 500 made 41 hp and 30 lb-ft.) 

2023 Honda SCL500
The Dunlop Mixtour tires’ block-tread sample, mixed with their thinner width, made for enjoyable and assured cornering.

Associated: 2020 Honda Insurgent 500 ABS | Highway Check Evaluation 

As a lot as I recognize high-tech options on a lot of at present’s bikes, there’s one thing to be stated for a motorcycle with nothing to determine. Swing a leg over the SCL500, thumb the starter button, drop it into gear, after which simply journey. Throttle response is user-friendly, energy supply is linear, and the slip-assist clutch makes gear modifications easy. The engine is clean and doesn’t vibrate a lot, nor does it radiate extra warmth. Nevertheless it doesn’t exude a lot character both. 

2023 Honda SCL500
The SCL500 shares the parallel-Twin present in earlier Honda CLs however is blacked out and liquid-cooled as a substitute of air-cooled.

A sturdy tubular-steel trellis body holds every thing collectively, and the bike, which has a slim 3.2-gal. tank, is slender between the knees. The SCL500’s suspension, a nonadjustable 41mm fork and twin shocks with two-step preload adjustment, has 5.3/5.7 inches of entrance/rear journey, which is extra beneficiant than its adventure-ish CB500X stablemate (4.7/5.5 inches).

2023 Honda SCL500
The SCL500’s handlebar width and lightweight weight make it simple to throw into corners.

For a sub-$7,000 bike, the journey is surprisingly plush, although the suspension’s softness results in some fork dive throughout braking and seesawing over massive bumps. Extra rebound damping can be good, at the very least for a 200-lb galoot like me. 

2023 Honda SCL500
Scramblers are nice bikes for getting round cities like Ventura.

Associated: 2019 Honda CB500X | First Trip Evaluation 

The SCL500 rolls on 19-inch entrance and 17-inch rear forged wheels shared with the CB500X, and the SCL is shod with Dunlop Mixtour block-tread tires that present fairly good grip and dealing with. ABS is commonplace, and there are single-disc Nissin brakes entrance and rear, with a 2-pot caliper pinching a 310mm disc in entrance and a 1-pot caliper slowing a 240mm disc out again. The brakes don’t supply a lot energy or really feel, however they’re completely positive for riders who’re newer, lighter, or much less aggressive than I’m. 

2023 Honda SCL500
The excessive footpegs made issues a bit of tight for my body, however with the enjoyable I used to be having, they couldn’t have been a lot decrease.

The SCL500’s chassis geometry favors stability over agility, which additional provides to the bike’s approachability. However its lightness (simply 419 lb able to journey), the width of its handlebar, and the narrowness of its tires (110/80-19 entrance, 150/70-17 rear) imply that the SCL might be tossed round like a ragdoll. 

2023 Honda SCL500
2-piston Nissin calipers pinch a single 310mm disc up entrance and supply enough stopping energy relying on the kind of rider.

With my 34-inch inseam, I used to be a bit of folded up on the SCL500 with its low 31.1-inch seat top and excessive footpegs. The cleated footpegs have vibration-damping rubber inserts that may be eliminated so as to add a skosh extra legroom, however the higher possibility for me was the accent tall seat, which provides one other inch of froth for extra top and help. At $64.95, it’s fairly priced, although it solely is available in brown. 

2023 Honda SCL500


The SCL500 is the sort of bike that lends itself to customization. Along with the tall seat, different manufacturing facility equipment embody a headlight visor, a excessive entrance fender, handguards, a quantity plate-style rear facet cowl, rally footpegs, a middle tank pad, a 14-liter left-side smooth saddlebag, a rear provider, a 38-liter prime case, heated grips, and a 12V socket. Vance & Hines additionally gives a high-output slip-on exhaust that’s compliant in all 50 states. 

2023 Honda SCL500 Matte Laurel Green Metallic
The 2023 Honda SCL500 in Matte Laurel Inexperienced Metallic
2023 Honda SCL500
The SCL500 screams for personalisation, as seen on this factory-accessorized model.

Aside from restricted legroom for my body, my solely actual grievance in regards to the SCL500 is its instrumentation. It has a single spherical instrument panel that’s light-on-black LCD. Accessible options features a clock, a gear place indicator, a speedometer, a gasoline gauge, and multifunction show that may be scrolled by for various information (odometer, tripmeter A/B, common mpg A/B, on the spot mpg, and reserve gasoline tripmeter). The instrument panel lacks a tachometer, it’s troublesome learn in vivid daylight, and it’s all however ineffective when carrying polarized sun shades. For a retro bike like this, an analog speedometer with an inset multifunction show can be candy. 

2023 Honda SCL500
Just like the bike, the SCL500 instrumentation is straightforward but in addition exhausting to learn. I’d’ve most popular one thing extra retro.

After logging simply over 100 miles in and round Ventura, totally on backroads the place I did my greatest to wring the SCL’s neck, the bike’s gasoline economic system studying was 60.6 mpg. That interprets to 194 miles of vary, which might be even increased for a typical proprietor who cruises round or commutes in a much less caffeinated, type-A mind-set.  

2023 Honda SCL500
The SCL500 suspension gives higher journey than its CB500X stablemate, however greater riders may need for extra adjustment choices.

All in all, the Honda SCL500 is a helluva lot of enjoyable, and in Sweet Orange, it turns loads of heads (a extra subdued Matte Laurel Inexperienced Metallic shade possibility can also be obtainable). 

2023 Honda SCL500

2023 Honda SCL500 Specs 

  • Base Value: $6,799 
  • Web site: Powersports.Honda.com 
  • Guarantee: 1 yr., unltd. miles 
  • Engine Sort: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel-Twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. 
  • Displacement: 471cc 
  • Bore x Stroke: 67.0 x 66.8mm 
  • Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/help moist clutch 
  • Closing Drive: Chain 
  • Wheelbase: 58.4 in. 
  • Rake/Path: 27 levels/4.3 in. 
  • Seat Peak: 31.1 in. 
  • Moist Weight: 419 lb 
  • Gas Capability: 3.2 gal. 
  • Gas Consumption: 60.6 mpg (per bike’s devices) 
2023 Honda SCL500
A little bit of the previous blended properly with the brand new – each equally at dwelling in Southern California.

See all of Rider‘s Honda protection right here.