The majority of Honda motorcycles could well be categorized as "adventure bikes," obviously some more than others. The Honda CB500X however, is capable of fulfilling more than one role.
It is ready to serve in the capacity of commuting and urban errand running, while being equally ready to carve some challenging canyon roads. Think of the Honda CB500X as part sport bike and part cruiser.
The CB500X features a convenient -- but manually adjustable -- windscreen, a substantial fuel tank, and a comfortable level of suspension travel with a longer wheelbase and greater ground clearance. All of these features blend to result in a more pleasurable riding adventure -- on pavement or off.
The Honda CB500X may be perceived as an ideal entry-level bike, but may also be considered as a completely pleasurable steed for more experienced riders. In other words, it delivers totally adequate power for a variety of riding scenarios without being overpowering to the point of intimidation for novice riders.
The power comes from a new 471cc DOHC, eight-valve, liquid-cooled parallel twin motor with PGM-FI with 34mm throttle bodies and two-into-one right-side exhaust. The motor's energy is geared through a six-speed sequential manual transmission to the rear wheel via an O-ring sealed-chain final drive. Honda traditionally does not make horsepower or torque ratings available, but the motor's wide powerband provides a healthy dose of torque across the entire range.
The lightweight steel tube-frame chassis is new, too, and provides a classic upright riding position, and even though the CB500X is not truly a dual-sport motorcycle, its styling definitely smacks of adventure bike posture. The 4.5-gallon fuel tank has a 0.7-gallon reserve and the unique design allows for tucking in one's knees, offering the ability to become more one with the bike, and to shift body weight effectively.
Suspension components consist of 41mm forks with 5.5 inches of travel up front and a Pro-Link single shock with nine-position spring-loaded adjustability and 4.7 inches of travel in the rear. The Honda CB500X rolls on Pirelli Scorpion Trial 120/70-17 front, and 160/60-17 rear tires, mounted on six "Y"-spoke alloy wheels.
My test Honda CB500X was equipped with anti-lock brakes and hand guards, and sported a matte charcoal finish with yellow graphics. The base sticker read $6,299, while the ABS and dealer prep and handling charges bumped the final price tag to $7,119. A host of additional accessories is available from Honda, including air deflector, center stand, carbon-style front fender, hand guards, heated grips, lightbar, one key cylinder, radiator shroud, and rear carrier.
Riding the Honda CB500X is a delight: At first glance, it looks as though it might be too small for a 6'4" rider, but the mid-foot controls, wide handlebars, and one-piece, well-padded seat make for a very comfortable ride, indeed. The one-piece seat is extended for two-up duty with folding passenger foot pegs and molded hand grips (also good for securing light cargo). The sculpted fuel tank affords the rider flexible body positioning.
Instrumentation includes a bar graph fuel gauge, non-self-canceling turn signal indicators, and digital tachometer, speedometer, and clock. It is not equipped with a gear indicator (only neutral), which would make for a nice addition, as would self-canceling turn signals.
The motor issues a pleasing, steady thrum of power and cruising through the gears in either direction is an exceptionally smooth process. The CB500X is extremely well balanced and easy to get used to, even in tight, slow maneuvers.
In the final analysis, Honda's CB500X is a very good-looking, affordable, and efficient-to-operate bike that would definitely prove to be an excellent choice, if one could have only one motorcycle (perish the thought).
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