Honda Honda CB500X first impressions

Honda CB500X (2019)

We’ve taken collection of Honda’s smallest capacity adventure touring machine for a round of road and off-road tests.

IF there was one bike I was gutted to miss in 2020, it was Honda’s diminutive adventure touring machine, the CB500X. I fell a little bit in love with CBR500R when I rode that for a couple of weeks last year, and with the adventure-minded X sharing the same powerplant, I figured it was a no brainer to bag a go on the machine.

There are no updates for 2020, so the bike is the same machine that Harry rode on the press launch in Tenerife last year. We have a Euro5 compliant, A2 friendly twin-cylinder engine. 41mm long-travel forks with adjustable pre-load and Pro-Link rear shock, again, with spring preload adjustability. The dash is the same as the rest of the CB500 and CB650 range, meaning it’s a slick-looking reverse LCD with all the usual data on display.

Honda CB500X first impression video review

The styling of the X makes it easy to spot the CB500 family tree, with the bike carrying the same headlight shape and pointy face as its naked sibling, the CB500F. From there, the bike is all about adventure, with all the boxes ticked that you’d expect with an adventure bike. And it’s not small either, having a full-sized feeling out on the road and an imposing silhouette.

Honda CB500X first impressions

After picking the CB500X up from Honda’s HQ in Corby, I had two options; slog it out on the A14 and M6 back to Coventry, or hit the longer and much more enjoyable route through Market Harborough. Never one to shun a twisty road on a sunny day I opted for the latter and was immediately impressed by the road manners of the bike. Long travel and fairly soft the suspension it may have, but it’s far from ungainly out on the road and seems to genuinely thrive in the corners.

Flicking the bike from side to side, I’m surprised by how quick steering the bike is, even with its semi-knobbly Dunlop Trailmax tyres occasionally squealing their displeasure. Squeals aside, the Honda is showing itself to be a very capable road bike, before we’ve even got to the machine’s pièce de résistance, it’s off-road ability.

On a couple of stretches of dual carriageway back into Coventry, I get to see how the Honda handles some motorway-speed cruising and the results are mixed. While it can cruise at 75mph happily and will return phenomenal economy while doing it – 75mpg indicated! – the bars do get very buzzy. So much so that the vibration is enough to unscrew the action camera I’m using to film my first ride. The rest of the bike is fine, no vibes through the seat or through the thick rubber damped pegs, it’s just that the whole front end fairing and handlebars give off a white-finger inducing hum at 65mph or above. It was enough that after about half an hour of motorway riding, I got off the bike and could feel light pins and needles in my fingertips.

Another thing I noticed, and this is neither the bike’s nor Honda’s fault, it does get picked up by crosswinds quite easily. It’s down to the machine's full-size side profile but its much less than full-size kerb weight. At under 200kg, the tall CB500X is affected by crosswinds more than a larger machine is. It’s not a complaint at all, I’m sure the bike’s lightweight will pay dividends in my next test, I’m just letting you know.

What’s next for the Honda CB500X?

It’d be a shame to have one of the easiest to ride and most accessible adventure bikes on the market and not go off-road on it. So that’s exactly what we plan to do. First off, we’ll tackle some light green lanes, just to gauge the level of the machine. Then we’ll take it to Visordown’s top-secret, off-road testing facility, just off the M69. Once we’ve given the machine a full and thorough review, we’ll be getting a report up on Visordown’s YouTube tube channel and on, so stay tuned!