Honda CB500X Review
For years, the Indian market wanted a premium motorcycle from Honda and not just any other premium motorcycle – it wanted a bike that has more than one cylinder, churns out a healthy power and torque and most importantly – it should be comfortable and aspirational.
For years, the Indian market wanted a premium motorcycle from Honda and not just any other premium motorcycle – it wanted a bike that has more than one cylinder, churns out a healthy power and torque and most importantly – it should be comfortable and aspirational. For years Honda didn’t pay any heed to this demand as it was busy conquering the world of 110cc scooters, it finally decided to take a plunge and introduce one of the most awaited platforms – the 500cc parallel twin. And the CB500X was the first bike from that famous platform to come to India. This adventure tourer was launched to cater to the growing needs of Indian buyers who wanted more than just a single cylinder bike but also didn’t have the money to splurge on a large litre-class ADV.
The Honda CB500X is a decently built motorcycle. I used the word ‘decent’ because the overall quality levels aren’t as high as expected from a motorcycle this size. The plastics, paint, chassis welds and area around the cluster – the workmanship here is marginally better than the brand’s 200cc motorcycle. But there are a few things that exhibit top-class quality. The single long seat has a fine texture. The switchgear buttons offers robust built quality.
Now Honda’s CB range of motorcycles are all about city commutes and some long hours riding time. The CB500X follows the same theme but takes things to a better level. Firstly, the overall seating triangle is commuterish. You sit comfortably with hands not too stretched out and legs in angular position. The rider’s seat offers plenty of space to move around and that such a boon especially for long hours saddle time.
Also, the seat isn’t too soft, nor too hard. So the overall seating experience was more than acceptable. The presence of moderately sized windscreen offer decent wind protection, but at high speeds, it failed to performance efficiently. The pillion seat can be used by a large person as well and honestly, that was quite impressive.
The 471cc parallel-twin motor on the CB500X is a gem. It makes 47bhp and peak torque of 42Nm but that is not the talk of the town. It’s the way the power comes in. The delivery is super linear and that means, the performance doesn’t feel intimidating. The low and mid-range is strong and in a way quite addictive to use in city as well as on the highway. This engine is also extremely tractable which means you can be on sixth gear and can still be doing as low as 55kmpl.
Honda’s are known to have refined engine. The one on the CB500X is no different. In fact, this one is special because it has a unique character. The deep exhaust sound adds flavour to that character. The NVH is sorted as well. The only time vibes kick in is when the revs goes past 8000rpm. The combination of light clutch and slick gearshifts made life extremely easy and comfortable in city traffic. On the highways, the CB500X is a breeze to ride. It reaches triple digit speeds with ease and stays there all day.
The CB500X offers a great ride setup. It isn’t extremely plush, but it manages to offer a ride that reduces overall fatigue quite a bit that comes with long saddle time. The only issue we faced was the rear as it rebounded more than it should. There’s preload adjustability at both ends as standard. While with some adjustability at the front did enhance the overall ride especially on the corners, the rebound the back didn’t really changed much. The CB500X likes to be in the corners. It feels light and has lot of lean angle, but the bike doesn’t like to be pushed to the extreme, blame the rear suspension setup that makes things nervous at mid-corner bumps.
The brakes on this Honda works fairly well. The bite and progression is acceptable, but the rear felt as if it could do with more power. Also, dual channel ABS is standard and sadly, the rear ABS can’t be deactivated which makes things little unexciting in off-road. Having said that, the CB500X with its extremely good balance and ground clearance along with decent front suspension travel makes off-road and enduro riding approachable. The front wheel is 19-inch, yes, but the bike still does some moderate off-roading pretty well.
The CB500X gets a full digital instrumentation. The size of the cluster is a bit small, but it manages to show decent ride data. Other than the usual speeds, odometer and tripmeters, it also shows time and average fuel economy. The bike also gets full LED lights and interestingly, it also gets the emergency stop signal. This tech basically activates the hazard lamps post panic or emergency braking.
There’s also the ignition safety feature that is quite useful in a country like India. Dual channel ABS is standard on the CB500X. Now coming to the suspension setup, it’s the traditional forks at the front and monoshock at the back. But both can be adjusted for preload. The CB500X also gets slipper clutch.
The fuel tank on the CB500X is quite big at 17.7 litres. The bike returned 25.1kmpl during our city fuel run. So that’s around 400kms in a single tank up, which is quite decent for a bike this size. I think the riding range looks fairly good due to the size of the fuel tank.
The Honda CB500X checks a lot of boxes. The bike is comfortable. It offers good amount of performance. It can be easily used as a commuter as well as a tourer. In fact, it can be the only bike you can own these days. Plus, with the Honda refinement and smoothness, the overall experience is bound to be pleasant and stress free. And then there’s also the aspiration that is huge when you buy this Honda. But there are two big problems with the CB500X – price and the reach.
Honda is demanding a lot of money for this motorcycle. A whopping Rs 8.03 lakh on-road Mumbai and honestly, this bike is one of the worst priced motorcycles ever. The second problem with the CB500X is the reach. The bike can be purchased only through BigWing showrooms which is quite limited right now. In fact, it is easy to buy from such showrooms, but when it comes to servicing it is going to be a big pain in case you live in a different city. In short, buy the CB500X is you are a hardcore fan of this brand, the bike and you don’t like anything else in the segment.
Photography by Kapil Angane
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