When is a CB500X not a CB500X?

When it’s a Hengjian HJ500-3

When is a CB500X not a CB500X?

Take a quick glance at the bike pictured here and you might think it was a Honda CB500X. Take a longer look and you could be forgiven for keeping the same opinion. But in fact there’s no Honda here at all; this is a Hengjian HJ500-3.

It’s the latest in a growing number of Chinese bikes that are moving away from the small-capacity, single-cylinder, air-cooled stuff that normally emerges from the country and instead aims to challenge more established, larger-capacity machines. No prizes for guessing what mainstream model this one is aiming at.

While other Chinese bikes often take their styling cues from Japanese models, the HJ500-3 – made by Chongqing Zhongwo, which markets bikes under the Hengjian name – also uses an engine that looks identical to the one in the Honda CB500X. In fact it’s a motor built by fellow Chinese firm Loncin, which debuted it in its own machine earlier this year. It’s also used in the Motrac MG500 adventure bike.

The sole, low-resolution photo of the Hengjian HJ500-3 doesn’t quite do justice to its similarity to the CB500X. We get a better look from design patents that show how it mirrors the Honda’s headlight, screen, beak, bellypan and tail. Even the wheels, seen in the only photo of the bike, look identical to the Honda’s.

There are differences, though. The side panels are a new shape and the Chinese bike appears to have a cast aluminium swingarm instead of the basic, rectangular-section steel arm of the Honda.

Spec-wise, the Hengjiang has a 1450mm wheelbase (Honda 1420mm), a 180kg kerb weight (Honda 196kg) and 42.2hp from its 471cc twin (Honda 46.9hp, also 471cc).

The fact that this bike is named “HJ500-3” suggests there are at least two other variants out there as well. What’s the betting they turn out to be rather like the CB500F and CBR500R?