If other manufacturers struggle to produce affordable products, Honda practically makes them its specialty. Very small 50 cc scooters, 125 cc toys for adults and 300 cc beginner’s motorcycles even make up a large portion of the Japanese giant’s motorcycle catalog. The new SCL500 nevertheless stands out from these models thanks to a displacement of 471 cc which can still be considered low, but whose performance is much more interesting. These performances are not only suitable for motorcyclists who already have minimal experience, but can also bring a smile to the face of the more advanced motorcyclist who appreciates the simplicity and lightness inherent in small volumes.

Although it is a very interesting new product, the 2023 SCL500 was not created from a blank page. Honda instead used here and there in its catalog to design the base of the model. The steel frame, for example, is very similar to that of the Rebel 500, a small custom-class entry-level motorcycle, while the 471 cc parallel twin is found on four other Hondas of completely different styles. Attached to this platform are components specific to the SCL500, including suspensions offering relatively generous travel and an exhaust system with a high silencer essential to the classic scrambler silhouette.

Despite its disparate origins, the SCL500 makes a rather good impression. Let’s agree, with a bill of just over $8,000, we can’t expect miracles, but despite the low price, we have to admit that Honda has succeeded in the scrambler style, while the finish is not bad at all. The accordion tubes protecting the fork, the high silencer, the retro-style tank, the flat seat, the 17-inch rear and 19-inch front wheels, the dynamically designed tires and the flat motocross-style handlebars represent so many elements which give the SCL a silhouette that is ultimately quite attractive.

The lightness and especially the impressive thinness of the SCL500 are the first characteristics you notice once in the saddle. The latter is also rather low, but turns out to be hard. Thanks to the open driving position which bends the legs moderately, leaves the back straight and places the hands naturally on the wide handlebars, you instantly feel confident, an impression increased by the excellent handling demonstrated by the little Honda itself. in the tightest situations. Weaving around town is so easy on the controls that it’s a joy, while the strong sense of control proves very enjoyable for drivers of all skill levels.

The small twin’s 45 horsepower provides ultimately modest performance. However, it uses this limited power surprisingly well, so that you end up happily adapting to it. Frequent gear changes are necessary, but made easier by a light clutch and very smooth transmission. The good torque at low revs allows you to drive around town without feeling like you’re lacking power, and if greater acceleration is necessary, such as entering the highway or quickly overtaking a vehicle, the twin-cylinder has the capacity, but requires high revs to do so, the only circumstance where it vibrates a little unpleasantly, in fact.

A scrambler style motorcycle normally offers some off-road capability. In the case of the SCL500, this capacity exists, but in moderation. Thanks to the good travel of the suspensions and their rather flexible adjustment, it accepts driving on a gravel road without the slightest problem and even embarking on a path with little damage, at least as long as you maintain a reasonable pace. But be careful not to overdo it, otherwise the exhaust completely exposed under the motorcycle will quickly be damaged. Furthermore, the flexibility of the suspensions becomes a major asset in the city, where you can get around without being too stressed by the state of the road: a luxury.

Given its very reasonable price tag of just over $8,000, we definitely don’t find much to criticize about the nice little SCL500. No one will deny it, her performances are not dazzling, but she knows how to make up for it thanks to intelligently used horses and delicious agility. Its size logically targets novice or progressing customers, but the SCL500 has the potential to appeal to a completely different type of motorcyclist. Perhaps you have to have ridden the most powerful, heaviest and most complex motorcycles to appreciate such simplicity and ease of riding?