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Honda CB500X A Comprehensive Review of the Honda CB500X: The Ultimate Adventure Bike

A Comprehensive Review of the Honda CB500X: The Ultimate Adventure Bike


Are you an adventure enthusiast looking for a versatile and reliable motorcycle? Look no further than the Honda CB500X. In this blog post, we will dive deep into the features, performance, and overall experience of this incredible adventure bike. From its design to its engine power, we will cover every aspect to help you make an informed decision. So, let’s get started!

Honda pitches its CB500X as an adventure bike that can still cut it in the city commute. Does it live up to the spiel?

After blasting around the bush on a bunch of big, heavy adventure bikes I was quietly looking forward to a ride on Honda’s compact CB500X. Don’t get me wrong – I love a blat through the bush on a big-bore adventure weapon, but I can also appreciate the advantages of having something a bit lighter when riding on loose, uneven surfaces, as well as for weaving through pesky city traffic.

Honda presents the CB500X as an adventure bike that can also handle city commuting. Does it live up to this claim?

After riding big, heavy adventure bikes in the bush, I was excited to try out Honda’s compact CB500X. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy riding powerful adventure motorcycles in off-road conditions, but I also understand the benefits of having a lighter bike for maneuvering through city traffic and on uneven surfaces.

And the CB500X is indeed light and compact, weighing just 198kg when ready to ride. Mounting the bike is easy, and while the seat isn’t particularly low at 834mm, its narrow shape at the tank allows shorter riders like myself to easily touch the ground with both feet.

The CB500X is not top-heavy, thanks to its low weight distribution in the frame. This makes it easy to handle at low speeds, which is advantageous in urban environments. The bike’s upright riding position, wide handlebar, neutral rider’s triangle, vibration-free mirrors, fuel efficiency, decent engine performance, light and smooth clutch, and low first gear all contribute to its excellent suitability as a commuter bike.

But the CB500X is much more than just a city commuter. According to Honda, it is “ready for adventure.” So, how does it perform outside of urban areas?

Before embarking on an adventure ride, you’ll want to pack and secure your luggage. The CB500X’s pillion seat provides a great platform for this, and the grab rails underneath have small protrusions that hold straps in place. For those needing to carry more luggage, Honda offers various optional accessories such as panniers ($1026.36), a 36L topbox ($809.59) and base ($88.36), a rear-seat bag ($234.86), a tankbag ($198.85), and a rear carrier rack ($584.95). Even without these extras, I was able to secure my gear with ease, although I had to run the rear straps down to the footpeg mounts for the tank bag since the bike’s plastics do not provide access to the frame.

Once loaded up and ready to go, I cruised along the highway at 100 km/h with the tachometer showing slightly over 5000rpm. The bike doesn’t have explosive acceleration, but it has enough power for moderate acceleration. The engine may feel sluggish at lower revs, but the midrange offers decent response that improves as the revs climb towards the 8500rpm redline. This power curve makes the CB500X ideal for novice riders and serves as a good entry-level bike for those new to adventure riding.

Of course, if you’re in a hurry and need to keep up with friends on more powerful adventure bikes, the CB500X can comfortably cruise at 120 km/h or even reach speeds around 150 km/h. However, if you regularly ride at such speeds, you may have chosen the wrong bike.

At highway speeds, the windscreen effectively deflects air over the helmet without causing any buffeting around the peak. This was with the screen set in its lower position, but keep in mind that I’m only 167cm tall. Adjusting the screen height is a complicated process that involves undoing multiple bolts, removing the screen, repositioning it, and then tightening all the bolts again. It’s best to set it once and leave it; I did not try it in its taller position.

The six-speed gearbox shifts smoothly up and down the ratios, and the slipper-assist clutch prevents rear-wheel lockup when downshifting, which is particularly handy on slippery surfaces, such as when it’s wet or on gravel roads.

The Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour rubber looks well-suited to light off-road duties but felt a bit sketchy on some of the more slippery off-road sections I encountered. I almost lost control of the CB500X while braking into one muddy corner early in the day, and I took great care not to repeat the act, relying on the rear brake a lot more than the front when tracks looked particularly slippery.

The CB500X has a relatively basic specification, and other than ABS, there are no other electronic rider aids, no rider-selectable modes, and no quickshifter. With its modest output and relatively benign power delivery, the lack of traction control isn’t an issue much of the time. Even when riding on gravel, you can crack the throttle open without fear that the rear will unexpectedly lose traction and throw you off into the scrub. The only time traction control might have come in handy during the test was when trying to perform tight turns on slippery, narrow, and uneven grass-covered tracks where the rear Dunlop struggled to gain traction. But it was in such moments that I was glad to be riding such a light bike with a relatively low seat height—I reckon I would have struggled on a “full-size” adventure bike—and I was riding well outside the CB500X’s design brief. In rough conditions, it exceeded my expectations.

While non-adjustable, the Showa 41mm Separate Function Fork Big Piston (SFF-BP) works well, providing good control on the road and excellent damping.

The rear shock has preload adjustment, but it can be a bit tricky squeezing the C-spanner in between the frame and the chain guard, so I left it as it was and found the standard setting was good for my 76kg and modest luggage load. The suspension offers a generous 135mm of travel at both ends, which is well-suited to soaking up city potholes as well as touring on crappy backroads or gravel roads. However, it’s not entirely adequate for serious off-road tracks like the ones photographer Watto asked me to ride up. Nevertheless, the CB500X’s 19-inch front wheel managed to crawl over fallen tree branches and through deeply rutted sections of track without too much difficulty, although the front end bottomed out on several occasions while doing so. Speaking of crawling over obstacles, the CB500X runs alloy rims, so care should be taken not to hit obstacles too hard to avoid damage.

The handlebar is a little low for a comfortable stand-up riding position, and the footpegs could be a bit wider and offer more grip. However, the tank is narrow where it meets the seat, which makes it easy to grip with your knees. Those expecting to do a lot of dirt miles should consider an aftermarket handlebar and footpegs as an easy and affordable upgrade.

Oddly, the front brake lever has span adjustment while the clutch lever does not. The brakes themselves consist of a pair of fancy-looking 296mm petal discs up front gripped by dual-piston calipers, and a single petal disc at the rear gripped by a single-piston caliper. The front brake offers decent feel and power, but the rear brake lever was positioned a bit low in the stroke for my liking, and I really had to think about foot placement when using it. If it were my bike, I would adjust the lever position.

Although non-switchable, the ABS calibration works well on gravel, allowing surprising brake force before it activates to prevent wheel lock. Emergency braking is accompanied by a flashing of the hazard lights to alert following traffic that you’re stopping in a hurry.

Those who don’t like pulling over for fuel will love the range of the CB500X; during the test, it sipped fuel at a teetotaling 3.5L/100km, so with its sizeable 17.5L fuel tank, you’ll get almost 500 kilometers between refills! However, you’ll want to stretch your legs well before that; the seat is quite firm and narrow towards the front, so numb bum can become an issue after a few hundred kilometers.

There’s a sturdy bar behind the windscreen that you could mount a GPS or phone to, while there’s also plenty of space on the handlebar for a phone mount or similar accessories. A small LCD dash displays all the information you’ll ever really need, with a large digital speedo readout, tachometer, and fuel gauge always on display.

You need to scroll to display secondary information like odometer, tripmeters, clock, fuel consumption, etc., and it’s all a bit small and hard to read on the move. The bright shift light is easy to see when illuminated though.

Below the LCD, there is a blank space where there should be a 12V outlet. As you would expect, all of the switchgear and controls are pretty straightforward; since there are no traction control or ride modes, there are no complicated switches, buttons, or scroll wheels. The left switchblock houses buttons for indicators, lights, passing button, and horn, while the right side has the start button, kill switch, and hazard lights… and that’s it.

For those who like to travel with a friend, the pillion seat is reasonably spacious, and there are large grab handles. As you would expect from a Honda, the build quality is up there with the best, and the CB500X has high-quality plastics and a good fit and finish. I think it’s a good-looking adventure machine too, with a small beak beneath the headlight and lots of sharp angles that clearly convey ‘adventure,’ but it also has an inviting stature that won’t intimidate those who are new to the adventure scene.

The CB500X really is a bike that can do it all, whether it’s commuting, touring, or light off-roading. It costs $10,199 plus on-road costs, which is around $11,200 ride away depending on where you live.

The closest competitor in terms of specifications is the $10,690 ride-away Benelli TRK 502 X (AMCN Vol 71 No 08), which slightly undercuts the Honda on price, but the CB500X is lighter and has a lower seat height.

A city commuter that can still handle off-road? In this case, the Honda CB500X truly lives up to the marketing claims.


Introduction to the Honda CB500X

The Honda CB500X is a mid-sized adventure motorcycle that offers a perfect balance between performance and comfort. It is equipped with a 471cc parallel-twin engine that provides enough power for both on-road and off-road adventures. This bike is designed for riders who seek a versatile machine capable of handling various terrains while providing comfort and ease of use.

Design and Ergonomics

The design of the Honda CB500X is sleek and modern, featuring a sharp front fascia with LED lighting and a tall windscreen that provides excellent wind protection. The bike has a high ground clearance, allowing it to handle rough terrains with ease. The ergonomics of the CB500X are well-thought-out, with a comfortable upright riding position and wide handlebars that provide optimal control in any situation.

Engine Performance

Powered by a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 471cc parallel-twin engine, the CB500X delivers smooth and responsive performance. With 47 horsepower and 31 lb-ft of torque, the bike has enough power to tackle both city streets and off-road trails. The engine’s power delivery is linear and predictable, making it suitable for riders of all skill levels.

Handling and Suspension

One of the standout features of the Honda CB500X is its exceptional handling. The bike’s lightweight chassis combined with a long-travel suspension provides excellent stability and maneuverability. Whether you’re navigating tight city corners or tackling rough off-road terrain, the CB500X offers precise handling and a smooth ride. The suspension system is adjustable, allowing riders to customize the settings based on their preferences.

Features and Technology

The Honda CB500X comes equipped with several advanced features and technologies. It has a comprehensive digital instrument cluster that provides essential information at a glance, including speed, RPM, fuel level, and gear position. The bike also features Honda’s Selectable Torque Control (HSTC), which offers three levels of traction control to suit different riding conditions. Additionally, the CB500X has an optional quick-shifter that enables seamless gear changes without using the clutch.

Comfort and Practicality

Long rides are made comfortable on the Honda CB500X, thanks to its well-padded seat and upright riding position. The tall windscreen effectively deflects wind and reduces fatigue during extended rides. The bike also offers ample storage space with its spacious under-seat compartment, making it practical for daily commuting or weekend getaways.

Fuel Efficiency

For adventure riders who value fuel efficiency, the Honda CB500X won’t disappoint. With its efficient engine design and advanced fuel injection system, the bike delivers impressive mileage. Whether you’re embarking on long-distance journeys or commuting in the city, the CB500X’s fuel efficiency helps you save money at the pump.

Safety Features

Safety is a top priority for Honda, and the CB500X reflects that commitment. The bike is equipped with dual-channel ABS, ensuring optimal braking performance in various road conditions. The LED headlights provide excellent visibility during nighttime rides, enhancing safety on the road.

Pricing and Availability

The Honda CB500X offers excellent value for money in the adventure motorcycle segment. With its competitive price tag compared to its rivals, it provides an affordable entry point for riders seeking an adventure-ready bike. The CB500X is readily available at Honda dealerships worldwide, making it accessible to riders in different regions.


In conclusion, the Honda CB500X is an exceptional adventure motorcycle that offers an ideal balance of performance, comfort, and versatility. From its sleek design to its powerful engine, this bike is built to tackle any adventure. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a beginner looking to explore new horizons, the CB500X is a worthy companion. Its combination of reliability, affordability, and advanced features make it one of the best choices in its class. So, gear up and embark on your next adventure with the Honda CB500X!

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