First Ride

Honda Honda CB500X (2019) review

Visordown rode a trio of new 500cc Hondas earlier in the week – here’s the adventure style CB500X

 

Details
Manufacturer:
Honda
Category:
Adventure
Price:
£ 6069
Overall
4.5
Average: 4.5 (1 vote)
Upright natural seating position
Rear brake lacks bite

Honda CB500X (2019) video review

Style

No extreme bodywork changes on the new 2019 CB500X apart from slightly more angular fairings. In fact, the biggest change is the seven spoke nineteen-inch, off-road-spec front wheel, which places the light-middleweight X firmly into the ‘crossover’ adventure category. Other less blatant changes include a taller adjustable front screen and extended radiator shrouds.

Price

CB500X: OTR £6,069

If you don’t like the look of this number, then I’m sure you can haggle a local dear to get it underneath the magical six grand. Although this isn’t super cheap, I think you’re getting a lot of bike for the money, especially considering how well it handles on and off the road. There isn’t a new middleweight adventure style bike in the market to compare it too and this puts the X in a bit of a league of its own.

Engine

It has a pokey 8 valve 471cc liquid-cooled parallel twin motor, which is shared with the CBR500R and CB500F. Max power of 35kW (46.9bhp) arrives at 8600rpm and makes for a fully A2 compliant machine. With some internal modifications Honda managed to extract 4% more power out the motor compared to last year’s model. The max torque of 43Nm (31ft-lb) comes at 7,000rpm but you can keep revving the motor right up to 9,500rpm, where it hits a gentle limiter. The sweet spot on the bike for me was around 5,500rpm where the motor comes alive, especially in second and third gear. The rest of the gears are smooth as you like, comfortably pulling you to national speed limits (and a bit beyond).

As you pick up speed the standard twin port exhaust sounds great, it’s certainly an improvement on lasts years model. Perhaps a little more noise would be nice but if you’re doing long distances an aftermarket can might get a bit jarring at motorway speeds – am I getting old?

The all-new super light slipper clutch fitted to the 2019 models helps keep the bike composed under breaking and heavy downshifts, shifting up is just as delightful as the gearbox has some RR components. These components result in no wobbliness from the shifter and all shifts are direct with no false neutrals, pretty handy when you're pinging along a loose gravel road looking down at the clouds.

Frame and Suspension

The engine sits in the same tubular steel diamond as previous models, I suppose if it ain't broke don't fix it. Nonetheless in keeping with the new adventure focus Honda increased the front suspension stroke by 10mm, up to 150mm, as well as swapping out the rear dual piston shock for a 17mm longer single piston one. These changes though seem small when compared to the addition of a 19” front wheel, which has helped to create a fun, balanced, and responsive machine both on and off-road.   

Handling

On the road the handling characteristics of the CB500X really surprised me, it feels extremely balanced and the thicker tapered handlebars help to flick the bike from side to side with ease. You can thread it through the bends with pinpoint accuracy requiring little effort on the pilot’s part, it makes it an extremely rewarding machine to ride. It has a calm urgency about it and as Honda would love me to proclaim, it gets along a road or trail with absolutely ‘no fuss’. When TT, NW200 and GP racer Steve Plater says it’s a bloody good motorbike, it’s hard to deny the integrity of the product. I just wanted to ride this thing till the wheels fell off, it was awesome fun!

So, what about the handling off-road then? Well, I must come clean I’m a bit of a noob off-road, but after taking the machine down some pretty sketchy gravel roads (with huge drops) it performed remarkably well. Within a couple of peg-standing miles I felt like a bit of a hero, also managing to keep it shiny side up. Whilst I would love to claim my supreme off-road skills enabled this feat, instead, I think it was down to the grippy Dunlop TrailMax tyres and longer 150mm suspension stroke new to this year’s model. Plus, as the CB500X is significantly less intimidating than bigger adventure bikes it goads you into riding with a bit of purpose and haste, which counterintuitively keeps you from chucking it down a rock face as you carry your momentum through bends.

the review continues on page two >>>

Upright natural seating position
Rear brake lacks bite

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