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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.