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Honda CB500X (2022) road test review | Big updates for this middleweight adv!

Honda CB500X 2022 a2 adventure review

We test the latest updates to the popular middleweight adventure tourer from Honda, the 2022 CB500X - riding on none other than the Scottish North Coast 500.

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Adventure
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It’s a motorcycle continuing to gain huge popularity amongst adventurers, off-road riders, and those after sensible touring capabilities - all condensed into a 500cc package. The latest 2022 updates to the Honda CB500X promise substantial upgrades from the previous model, but how does it fare on a tour of the famous North Coast 500?

Despite the CB500 formula being shared across 3 A2 friendly models (the CB500F, CBR500R - and 4 if you include the CMX 500 Rebel) each CB variant has distinct features which delineate one from the other. Adventurers and tourers will be satisfied with the CB500X offering, and it’s a good step for those upgrading towards future Africa Twin ownership, or perhaps those stepping down/across from larger capacity sports tourers.

In short, the CB 500 range aims for broad rider appeal, focusing on frugal fun, practical functionality, and accessible style. 

What’s new for 2022 on the Honda CB500X

Naturally, the new 2022 model features updated graphics and colours - and the new ‘Pearl Organic Green’ we were riding was particularly eye-catching - but there are substantial upgrades here as you delve deeper than the superficial. New Showa separate function big piston forks, new twin discs up front, larger 19” front wheel, refined fuel injection settings and more await a budding adventurist. 

Originally launched in 2013 following the ‘X’ series in 2011 (with the VFR800X Crossrunner & N700X), the modern CB500X blends adventure styling with versatile everyday use. The previous 2021 model wasn’t crying out for an update, but has benefitted hugely from a 2022 trip through the Honda parts factory. In particular the tweaked fuel injection, new twin discs and new forks (from the CB650R), ironing out any of the few creases that you’d be hard-pressed to find in the ride quality.

Price, availability & style

Price is yet to be confirmed, but the current 2021 model sits at around £6,249 and we’re told to expect the 2022 model with a few hundred pounds markup. We’ll come back and update once we hear confirmed prices. With that, availability isn't possible to confirm - but your local Honda dealer will no doubt be happy to chat until then.

Styling is marginally nicer here, we’ve lost the red subframe but gained a lovely green colourway to suit the adventure style. Updated forks and brakes bolster the front, and I see NC750 at a squint, a hint of a beak - I love a beak. Nice.

Factor in the CB500X owners reports too, it seems as ultra-reliable a purchase as any. If the price stays around the same, to me it’s a no-brainer to opt for the 2022 model over any previous model year. The suspension, brakes and tweaked fuel injection alone sell it for me, but this really feels like a refinement of epic proportions.

Engine

Let’s start with the engine. The same liquid-cooled parallel-twin 471cc block with 8 valves is present here, giving you 47 bhp @ 8600 revs, and 43 Nm (31 ft-lbs) @ 6500 revs from its 10.7:1 compression ratio. 

Engineers wouldn't want to bolt-on more horsepower as it'll take it away from A2 compliance out of the crate, so instead updates to the fuel injection give a smoother and stronger low to mid-range response. Throttle response is equally as smooth (where the 2021 could be a little jerky at low speed), and the consistent torque delivery felt vehemently capable for riding the NC500 route - which at times can get a bit demanding, yet spectacular. 

The accessible power will appease new riders and experienced riders alike, with a confidence-inspiring and easy-going ride - ask it for some go and it’ll sound into life with a nice little burble form the exhaust.

Work the 6-speed gearbox (with slipper clutch) right and you’ll be roaring up to triple digits, but it’s just as happy frugally sitting at 60-70mph giving an indicated 75-85 mpg.

Remember it’s a 500cc equivalent. It floats somewhere between the sensible businessman in a bar, and one donning their tie around their head and singing from atop the table, a few twists of the throttle being the difference maker.

Special mention to the feather-light clutch & gearing here, too, practically no effort is required when rattling through gears thanks in part to that assist & slipper clutch. Overall, top fun to ride.

Suspension and brakes

There’s entirely new front-end here. New 41mm Showa separate-function Big-Piston USD forks up front (left piston is pressure damper, right piston is return spring), with larger 19” front wheel and new twin discs. Add in the revised rear shock settings with 5 step preload adjust and lighter swingarm with more lateral flex, it all comes together to feel planted and more responsive on the road.

Mid-corner performance is upped with the new forks with 135mm axle travel & 150mm cushion stroke, and 27mm more travel than the F and R models. It’s a serious improvement from the telescopic forks on the 2021 model. 

Elsewhere, the front axle is offset slightly forwards, said to also contribute to better front end feel and stability, yet the wheelbase remains the same on the specs list at 1445mm. Throw in the grippy Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour rubber we tested in all possible weather, and with a touch more weight bias towards the front, Honda are onto a winner.

Lastly, braking power. New twin 296mm front discs (previously 310mm single disc) are paired with axially mounted twin pot Nissin calipers. Given the softer suspension with longer travel, the progressive feel of an axially mounted caliper is a happy combination. There’s no pogo suspension action on initial bite, good news for off-road riding. Dual-channel ABS didn’t ruin any parties either, unless you’re stamping on the rear lever.

Ride

It’s a comfortable place to be, 830mm saddle height with tall, wide bars give superb rider comfort for tours (like the NC500!) especially for taller riders like yours truly at 6’3”. 

Factor in weight savings around the bike from the lighter swingarm, smaller radiator and slimmed wheels, chucking this around is good fun with a dominant riding position. 

Looking at the specs sheet, the total weight is an indicated 199kg - 2021 was indicated at 197kg - and in truth, it doesn’t feel much different on the road weight-wise.

Features

Jump in the saddle and you’ll find a simplistic LCD dash, adjustable screen (if you’ve got tools handy) and a 17.5-litre tank with enough range for around 300 miles before red lights flash. There’s a new LED light set up on this model, with the indicators acting as bonus lights for extra visibility. 

Depending on your propensity for features and gadgets, you’ll either be disappointed or pleased by the lack of extras. We were riding models with 12-volt socket, centre stand, and tank bag which you’ll find on the accessories catalogue, but it’d be nice to find bits like cruise control, heated grips, knuckle guards, and a snazzier screen with phone integration for the money. 

Other sensible bits: switchgear is well built, the mirrors provide top visibility, the LCD dash (despite its simplicity) is clear in its layout and display, with adjustable shift indicator and gear indicator. There’s no rider modes or rear ABS switch, mind.

It’s horses for courses, some people prefer the simple - and there’s always the bar to mount a sat-nav/phone, but you’ll need to add the 12V socket. Under the display the centre of the dash still has the plastic square that I want to push out, like those 3D hobby-plane parts sheets. 

What we like and don’t like

I really like the new front end, it feels refined and capable on the road. Clear positive is that it’s so frugal, and we were really pushing these on the often vacated NC500 tour - it was incredibly surprising to see that MPG figure in the 80s, genuinely had to check with Honda that they weren’t fiddling with the digits (they weren’t). 2022 style is nice too, with the LED lights providing great visibility.

I’d like more features on the bike, rather than being reserved for the accessories brochure. I can’t comment on price versus value here, but an increase on the 2021 £6249 price would land it high amongst competitors, though you’d be comforted by the big red wing reliability. The 199kg weight could be considered a bit hefty for shorter riders, but our very own Toad got on with it absolute fine - and he’s a midget.

Verdict

The Honda CB500X does everything well, it’s great fun to ride and it’s frugal. Genuinely fulfilling everything that Honda has set out to achieve with this CB500 range, of which there is little direct competition. It’s accessible and adaptable, and should be relatively affordable for what you get.

Some may ask for more features for the price, but the 2022 updates really solidify the CB500X’s position on the market as an adept adventure tourer. Stick some panniers and a top box on this, and set off for a tour (maybe even of the NC500, I can certainly recommend it!). 

If you’re after a versatile do-it-all bike, this could be it. If you’re after a winter hack, or a backup option that can be used for the no-thrills commuter trips, this’ll do. It has the adventure appeal, it won’t blow your socks off with power - but remember that it’s a 500cc bike, and a lot of fun is to be had at full pin and (relatively) full tuck!

Cheers again to Honda for the NC500 tour, what a fantastic few days. Find out more on the Honda site - and we'll get back to you on price!

Now that you've read the Honda CB500X review, watch it here: 

New Honda CBR500R, Honda CB500X & Honda CB500F Review 2022 | Honda CB500 Launch Ride Test 2022