• Honda CB500X First Ride Review

There’s definitely more to the CB500X than meets the eye

I have a confession. I have an affinity towards adventure tourers. That said, I have never owned one primarily due to my fickle requirements. According to me, the ideal adventure tourer should be lightweight, should come with loads of bottom-end grunt without compromising on the top-end power and should be difficult to grow out of. The Kawasaki KLX 650 is a prime example but unfortunately, it isn’t sold in India. When Honda launched the CB500X, I thought my wait would finally be over. However, the stupendous price tag of Rs 6.87 lakh already makes it seem overpriced. More so when you consider that it offers almost the same power as the KTM 390 Adventure with more than twice the asking price. However, if spec sheets could’ve revealed the true nature of motorcycles, every Tom, Dick and Harry would have been an automobile journalist. There’s definitely more to the CB500X than meets the eye! 

 

It is perfectly proportioned

Honda CB500X First Ride Review

The CB500X is large enough to satisfy those looking for their first mid-weight ADV, yet it is compact enough for you to easily swing a leg over its narrow and fairly low (830mm) seat. The slim 17.7-litre fuel tank, tall windscreen, radiator shroud and narrow headlamp give it a rally-raid ready look. I really liked the squarish mirrors that offer a far better field of vision than other shapes. There are a couple of issues though. While the windscreen does have 40mm of travel, it does require an Allen key to adjust it. Then there are the pipe-cut grab rails that look ungainly with those crude welds. We are not sure why Honda chose this over the sleeker flush-fitting grab rails on the CB500X sold abroad. It’s the only part that feels out of place on an otherwise high-quality motorcycle.

Honda CB500X First Ride Review

The CB500X gets a basic, negative lit digital cluster and not a TFT unit. It’s a large display showing important readouts but could have done with brighter illumination. Like on all Hondas, the switchgear is well finished and the horn and indicator switches are interchanged. There’s no ride-by-wire, no traction control and even the ABS is not switchable. However, the CB500X offers a lot more than just features.

 

Gem of a motor

Honda CB500X First Ride Review

The 471cc parallel-twin motor’s performance belies its spec sheet numbers. The 48PS power output might feel modest but it makes 43Nm of usable and accessible torque. As a result, you have loads of grunt throughout the rev range. Power delivery is linear and the motor is highly tractable making it easy to ride in the city as well. The clutch is a slip and assist type with a light pull which makes commuting easy. The shorter gearing helps in getting out of tricky off-road situations while also allowing you to get the front wheel in the air fairly easily. It even sounds like a slightly muted version of the Honda Africa Twin replete with pops and burbles at high-rev shifts. Refinement is quite good and it is only close to the redline that you feel a buzz from the handlebars. The motor, while being novice-friendly, is powerful enough to keep the experienced rider engaged for a longer time. 

 

It is well-balanced

Honda CB500X First Ride Review

The suspension is a simple affair. It gets conventional forks and a linked monoshock with preload adjustability at both ends. The ride is composed over uneven surfaces and it does a fantastic job of soaking up the bumps. That said, the rebound at the rear could’ve been better as the CB500X keeps bouncing off deep ruts. Brakes are impressive too, offering a strong and progressive feel. The dual-channel ABS setup while being non-intrusive most of the time, is not switchable. And that’s a big miss! 

Honda CB500X First Ride Review

Most of the CB500X’s weight is concentrated at the centre so there is no top-heavy feel associated with most ADVs. In fact, the motorcycle feels light on its feet. The handling feels neutral and after the initial hesitation due to the large 19-inch front wheel, the front dips into corners with gusto. In fact, it’s so easy to dip it into corners that I ended up correcting my lines most of the time. While you can ride it hard on a twisty road, the Dunlop Trailmax tyres do protest, reminding you that they are not completely road-biased. That said, they offer decent grip in most road situations and get better when taken off the road. The 181mm ground clearance while allowing you to clear most obstacles with ease, does have its limitations. For one, there is no bashplate to protect the engine underside from debris. Then there is the 150mm front and 135mm suspension travel that’s more suited for the road than off it. That said, you can surely ride it to Ladakh and back.

 

Expensive but desirable

Honda CB500X First Ride Review

With an on-road price tag of around Rs 8 lakh, there is no escaping the fact that the CB500X is overtly expensive. However, at this price point, there aren’t many twin-powered ADVs available out there. The Benelli TRK 502X is significantly more affordable but it isn’t as lightweight or exciting as the CB500X. The similarly priced Kawasaki Versys 650 is not as versatile owing to road-biased nature and a heavy weight chassis. You could even consider a used Triumph Tiger 800 but when it comes to living with a big bike, the CB500X should ideally be more frugal, reliable and significantly more affordable to service. Keeping the sticker aside, the CB500X is a very likeable motorcycle. We hope that Honda starts manufacturing the CB500X locally instead of bringing it to India as a CKD. Until then, the Honda CB500X will continue to tug at our heartstrings.

 

Technical Specifications

Honda CB500X 

Engine: 471cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin

Power: 48PS @ 8,500rpm 

Torque: 43.2Nm @ 6,500rpm

 Weight: 199kg 

0-100kmph: NA 

Price: Rs 6.87 lakh ex-showroom, India

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