Quick test: Honda CB500X

Photographer Michele Micoli (who rides a Kawasaki Versys 650 himself ) already treated us to photo galleries a couple of times. A while ago he surprised me with a text message: “Hi Jean, I’ve tested the CB500X and made a review.” As it turns out, he’s not only in his comfort zone behind the lens or handlebars, but also behind a writing desk. Check out his write-up:

The CB500X is Honda’s most unpretentious offering in the adventure category. Will 500cc do the trick to get some kicks? I took it out for a day of riding.

Real adventure bike, or just long-legged?

The offering in the lightweight and middleweight adventure class has grown immensely over the last few years. Honda’s CB500X is a prime example of this segment. Not only does it provide us with a complete package and all necessary features, but the front and back LED-lighting give it a very modern look while retaining the typical ‘trail bike’ appearance. Clever design by the Hamamatsu company, and with 47 hp, a 19-inch front wheel and longer suspension travel in the front, it’s set to go off on an adventure.

I’ve always had a thing for lightweight two-cilinder engines, mainly due to the fact that I can push them to the edge without scaring myself senseless in the process. They offer tons of fun without breaking any speed limits, even when you’re on a sporty ride with the tach needle bouncing off the rev limiter. The CB500X is no exception to that, even though my first impressions focused more on the riding comfort.

The seat height is much lower than expected. Standing 173 cm tall, I can easily touch the ground with both feet due to the very narrow seat and the neutral riding position. The wide handlebars offer plenty of leverage and within the first few wheelspins I’m already feeling very at ease. This bike is confidence inspiring to say the least and an effortless assist/slipperclutch goes along nicely with that – it’s the same type you can find on the new Fireblade, FYI.

The parallel twin engine, identical to the one we see in the CB500F and CB500R, purrs along nicely and really comes to life around the 4K mark. The power in the lower rev range might be rather modest, but again it is very undemanding to operate without giving a hint of fits and starts. The linear engine character is topped off with a nice punch in the higher rev’s.

The CB500X is a versatile bike that comes in handy in busy city traffic, offers all the comfort you need while touring, but its natural habitat lies on twisty B-roads. It’s got the very light steering front end to thank for that, even though we didn’t see this coming with the large 19-inch front wheel. It takes a little getting used to, but once you’re adapted to the quickly flicking front end, you’ll find that it’s more at ease and very stabile under some lean angle. Just pick your line and let the bike do what it does best. Its forgiving chassis won’t punish small errors and when push comes to shove, there’s always a finely dosable set of brakes at hand to keep you out of trouble.

Built to explore

Don’t waste your time dwelling on engine mappings or traction control settings, because there aren’t any. This is a ‘twist the throttle, go anywhere’ type of motorcycle that really inspires exploring. Gravel trails are no longer off limits thanks to the long suspension travel and big front wheel. Don’t get too greedy though: the carter protection plate is optional and our little CB will never be an Africa Twin. It is however very easy to operate while standing upright thanks to the wide handlebars.

You need an allen key to change the windscreen height and on the inside of that windscreen we see a very practical mounting bar to offer room for a GPS and/or smartphone holder. The LCD-screen shows a speedometer, clock, gear change indicator, fuel meter, trip meters, and besides that, it’s good-looking, uncomplicated and clear to read. I would only prefer the tachometer to be a little bigger.

User friendly

The Honda CB500X was conceived with newbies, commuters and born-again bikers in mind, and there’s nothing wrong with that. This segment is popular nowadays for a multitude of reasons: they’re practical, lightweight and stil offer plenty of fun.

12,000 km maintenance intervals are a nice extra next to a +400 km (!) action radius thanks to the very low 3.4 l/100 km fuel consumption. Those numbers are impressive, so you better get to planning those holiday trips!

Our model didn’t have many optional feautures – there was only a 12V socket – but you can get a centre stand, heated grips, luggage rack, crashbars, hand protection and side panniers factory fit.

Conclusion

It’s not very common to get excited about a small, middleweight motorcycle, but I have to say the Honda CB500X got to me with its hands-on usability. You get a lot of motorcycle for the money and even in the looks department this isn’t “just a little 500” but a mature adventure tourer. The 47 hp twin offers all the spice you need on the twisties and during our test, it never left me wanting more power. This combo of comfort and sportiness can certainly please a wide array of riders, and it won’t let down more experience motorcyclists either. I could see myself going places all over Europe on this thing, even if it’s just to prove that you can do big things on little bikes.

Photography: Michele Micoli

Pros

+ Lovely engine
+ Big bike appearance
+ Pricing

Cons

– Hex key needed to adjust windscreen height
– Tachometer could be a little bigger

Tech specs

Dimensions and Weights

Battery Capacity (Vah): 12v 7.4Ah
Caster Angle: 27.5°
Dimensions (L×W×H): 2,155mmX825mmX1,410mm
Frame type: Steel diamond
Fuel Tank Capacity: 17.7 L
Ground Clearance: 180mm
Headlights: LED
Kerb Weight: 197kg
Seat Height: 830mm
Trail: 108mm
Wheelbase: 1,445mm

Engine

Bore × Stroke: 67mm x 66.8mm
Carburation: PGM-FI electronic fuel injection
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Engine Displacement: 471cc
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke DOHC parallel twin
Max. Power Output: 35kW (47 hp) / 8600rpm
Max. Torque: 43Nm / 6500 rpm
Starter: Electric
Throttle Bore: 34
C02 Emissions (g/km): 80

Transmission

Clutch: Wet multiplate, A.S.clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Gearbox: 6-speed

Wheels

ABS System: 2 channel
Brakes Front: 310 mm x 5 mm disc with two piston caliper
Brakes Rear: 240 mm x 5 mm disc with single piston caliper
Suspension Front: Conventional Telescopic, 41mm, pre-load adjustable
Suspension Rear: Prolink mono with 5 stage Pre-load adjuster, steel square pipe swingarm
Tyres Front: On-Off Pattern
Tyre Size Front: 110/80R19M/C
Tyre Size Rear: 160/60ZR-17M/C
Tyres Rear: On-Off Pattern
Wheels Front: Multi-Spoke Cast Aluminium
Wheels Rear: Multi-Spoke Cast Aluminium

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