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 Continue reading

Travel test: BMW F 900 XR

When BMW announced the brand-new F 900 XR at the end of last year – at the same time as the updated S 1000 XR – several questions immediately popped up for me. Will the 900 be an adrenaline bomb like the 1000? Or will it be a kind of entry-level variant? Or a watered-down version?

The previous S 1000 XR was my favourite test motorcycle of the year in 2015. I loved that combination of performance and comfort. I have not tried the new 1000 yet and it is still at the top of my test wish list, but I did get the opportunity to try out the 900 in the meantime.

The original plan was to take it on a road trip to the Alps, but corona forced us to change our plans. We stayed home and toured around Belgium for a week, with little outings to the Eifel and northern France. Not always, but often with luggage on the back. We clocked some 2,500 km; that should suffice for an informed opinion.

Visually, the BMW F 900 XR has a lot in common with its big brother. The close family ties are clearly recognisable, so much so that the untrained eye might even mistake them for two identical bikes. The biggest give-away is possibly the rear end, which is cut off kind of clumsily right behind the seat. On the 1000 XR, the rear end has a more solid look, which is more pleasing to the eye. My test motorcycle, however, was equipped with a luggage rack, which turned out to be Continue reading

Review: Cardo Packtalk Bold

This one’s a guest contribution from Shih. Because when one of your biker buddies happens to be a techie and gadget freak, and you’ve both spent a long time riding together with an intercom system, you just ask him to write a review on that, right? Here we go.

Last year I went on a tour in the Pyrenees with Jean. A full week on the road with tent, sleeping bag and a bunch of luggage. Since it was my first bike trip ever… needless to say I had a bunch of questions.

One of which was: how the heck would we communicate while riding? Was I supposed to perform a drive-by, start signaling or waving my arms? I had a better idea: how about a bluetooth intercom system?

My helmet already had one installed, so if Jean would get one too, we’d be good to go. But my BMW Motorrad Communication System wasn’t up to par. Sure, it’s a great system when you ride alone and want to listen to music or answer phone calls. You can even have a talk with your pillion, if he or she sports the same system of course. But chat with the rider in front or behind you, let alone a whole group of riders? Forget it.

Which brought us to the Cardo Packtalk Bold. On paper one of the top systems for rider-to-rider communication, partly because of its DMC technology Continue reading

Off to the Alps

Corona is forcing us to stay home, so what else can you do than finish those plans for when we can go ride again? Together with biker buddy Shih, I’m prepping a trip to the Alps. Based on the Route des Grandes Alpes we plotted a week’s trip, that currently looks like this:

(Click here to check it in detail on Google Maps)

On a Saturday – we’re hoping for June – we’ll take the highway from Belgium to just below Lake Geneva. The fun part starts on Sunday. The next Saturday around noon, we’ll say goodbye to the Alps, then ride up to Basel where we’ll spend the night, and ride back home on Sunday.

If you think we’re missing essential roads or you know great campings, good restaurants or must-see spots, drop a line in the comments below or reply to our Facebook post.

Photo special: Mostra Scambio Vespa 2020

Yesterday, C-Mine Genk welcomed the fifth edition of Mostra Scambio Vespa. What originally started as a Vespa show, has grown to an event where custom builders like Deep Creek Cycleworks and Schepers Motor Design can display their work too. This year The Old Garage’s striking Ducati drag racer (nickname: The Dwarf) caught our attention, and it’ll certainly turn heads at this year’s Glemseck too.

Enjoy photographer Michele Micoli‘s photo series:

Continue reading

2019: Jean’s year in review

28.186 km ridden (14.724 km with my BMW F 800 GS, 13.462 km with test bikes)

84 days of moto-commuting

8 motorcycles tested: BMW R 1250 R, BMW R 1250 RT, Ducati Diavel 1260, Harley-Davidson Iron 1200, Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Adventure Sports, Moto Guzzi V85 TT, Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE and Yamaha Tracer 700 GT

3 falls with no harm done (2 times during a pitbike afternoon, 1 time during an enduro ride)

2 trips done (Pyrenees and Black Forest)

2 organized ride-outs done (Magic 12 Belgium Rally 2019 and an enduro day)

2 motorcycle shows attended (Brussels Motor Show 2019 and Matchlight Motorcycle Show 2019)

2 maintenances done (90.000 and 100.000 km, both at Peter Motor Works)

1 motorcycle training attended (at Grondpadman)

1 afternoon on a pitbike

0 tire changes (but it’s almost time to put the Pirelli Michelin combo six feet under)

0 track days 😦

0 accidents 🙂