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Honda CB500X: First Ride Review

28 March 2021, 10:00 AM Anuj Mishra

Introduction

Honda CB500X action

What we have here is Honda’s latest offering, the CB500X. It belongs to Honda’s 500cc family that also includes a naked model, a sportsbike and a cruiser. All these have been on sale in the international markets since a long time. Perhaps, India will also receive the naked and the sportsbike eventually. But why did the CB500X come first? One of the reasons for this is the fast-growing popularity of adventure tourers in India. 

Now, if you people have noticed, ever since Honda announced the launch of the CB500X, there has been a lot of ranting about its pricing on the internet. Of course, we too believe that the pricing of the bike is too steep. But, is there something in this bike that makes it worth so much money? And should you even consider buying it? Read the review to find out.

The Visuals

Honda CB500X Left Front Three Quarter

In flesh, the CB500X looks sleek, sporty and quite tall. The front gets a sharp, beak-like panel sitting under its geometric-looking headlamp. Signifying its touring intentions is a tall windscreen that can be adjusted manually. Move on to the side and there are angular and minimalistic panels which mix up with the sculpted fuel tank. Sitting under the single-piece seat is an exposed tubular frame and a stubby tail section. In a nutshell, it might not attract too much attention on the road but it's a well-proportioned and likeable looking motorcycle. 

Honda CB500X Fuel Tank

On the quality front, the CB500x doesn't leave a room for complaints. May it be the paint job, the fitment of panels, the switchgear, everything is put together pretty well. 

The Package

Honda CB500X Engine From Right

Propelling the CB500X is a 471.03cc, parallel-twin cylinder engine that produces 46.2bhp of power at 8,500rpm and 43.2Nm of peak torque at 6,500rpm. These figures aren’t extraordinary and are just slightly higher than what the KTM 390 Adventure produces. But out on the road, it’s an entirely different story. More on this later. Its six-speed gearbox is accompanied by an assist and slipper clutch.

Honda CB500X

Honda CB500X

  • Displacement471.03 cc
  • Max Power(bhp)46.93 bhp
  • Kerb Weight199 kg
  • ;

Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 6,87,502

Honda CB500X Front Wheel

The CB500X is based on tubular steel type frame. It rides on a 19-inch front wheel and a 17-inch rear wheel that are suspended by telescopic forks and a monoshock. Meanwhile, braking is handled by a 310mm disc at the front and a 240mm disc at the rear. 

This middle weight Honda gets a large negative LCD display that shows info like speedometer, tachometer, odometer, dual trip meters, fuel level, fuel consumption, a gear position indicator and a few other bits. Lastly, all the lights on the motorcycle are LEDs.

The Ride

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As I swung my leg over the CB500, I realised I could plant both my feet firmly on the ground, despite the fairly tall 830mm of seat height. The catch here is that the mid-section of the bike is slim enough to let you have your legs hanging lower. Then the overall ergonomics are also extremely comfy and suitable for munching miles. The handlebar is set tall and is easy to reach and the footpeg is just slightly front-set. Meanwhile, the scooped seat design and appropriate cushioning make it a great touring companion. 

Honda CB500X action

I jabbed the starter and the engine came to life with deep guttural idle that turned into a raspy and bassy scream as I rolled on the accelerator. 

As you get going, the CB500X doesn’t treat you with sudden explosion of power anywhere in the rev band. Instead, it starts pulling away cleanly from low revs and there's a linear but quick build-up of pace until it reaches its redline. The engine feels unstressed even at the speeds of 120kmph. In fact, it can stay there all day long and there's enough power in reserve to pull off overtakes effortlessly. Refinement is one of its strong facets, just like most other Honda’s. But when you keep pushing it beyond 6,000rpm, minor buzz can be felt around the fuel tank area. 

Honda CB500X action

On the other hand, its low-speed ride is also forgiving and you can do 40kmph in sixth gear. Other aspects that are admirable in the city are its super light clutch and the six-speed gearbox that is slick and smooth and nowhere did we experience false neutral.

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The cycle parts of the bike look pretty basic on paper but the overall setup works like a charm on the move. Weighing at 199kg, the CB500X is definitely not light. But all the weight of the bike disappears as you get going. Thanks to its low centre of gravity and good weight distribution, the CB500X feels stable, responsive and light on its feet. 

You can chuck it around in the city and lean into corners with confidence. But while going fast around tight bends, the rear feels a bit jiggly but not to the extent of being scary. Even while standing up and riding, the CB500X feels pretty flickable and obedient.

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The suspension setup is tuned on the softer side and minor surface imperfections are ironed out seamlessly. Even the large speed breakers and potholes are dealt with good pliancy if you go easy and slow. Large speed bumps tend to bounce the rear a bit too much if you take them on at high speeds.

The presence of alloy wheels and a ground clearance of 181mm mean it’s not an outright off roader. But you can still enjoy going through rough terrain at controlled speeds as the suspension setup goes on soaking up things neatly. Moreover, the block-pattern Dunlop tyres help its case further by providing good grip and feedback for the most part.

Honda CB500X action

As for the brakes, the front disc delivers a good balance of intial bite, progression and feel and even the ABS is not too instrusive. But the rear brake feels too soft and it certainly needs to have a better bite. 

Honda CB500X Instrument Cluster

Considering this is a premium motorcycle, the inclusion of a TFT console with Bluetooth connectivity would have surely added brownie points. But nevertheless, this LCD console gets the basic job done pretty well. All the info has been spread out in a clean layout and things are pretty legible on the go and even under bright sunlight. Also, it gets a 17.7 litre fuel tank which means your long rides won't be filled with frequent fuel stops. Moreover, the wide and long metal grab rails mean your luggage can be mounted securely.

Verdict

Honda CB500X Front View

To conclude it all, there are a number of things about the Honda CB500X that will truly win your heart. It's a very uncomplicated and friendly motorcycle. The performance, comfort, ride quality, handling, brakes, tyre grip, it's a satisfying machine in all these aspects. So you can tour on it, you can commute on it and occasionally take it to soft trails as well.

Right Rear Three Quarter

But the biggest chink in its armour is the amount of money Honda is demanding for it. It comes with a hefty price tag of Rs 6.87 lakh (ex-showroom). Whereas, its closest rival, the Benelli TRK 502, is nearly two lakh cheaper than this. And by paying just a small premium over the CB500’s pricing, you can buy the Kawasaki Versys 650 that is much more powerful and gets more premium cycle parts. 

But, if you’re ready to pay the exorbitant price, and want a reliable and versatile mid-size Honda adventure tourer, the CB500X is a phenomenal motorcycle. However, do remember, it is sold exclusively at Honda’s Big Wing dealerships that are available only in select cities as of now. 

Photography by Kapil Angane 

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