Disclaimer: This piece of writing will witness the overuse of a particular word – ‘simple’ but readers are duly advised that the word isn’t going to be used in a demeaning way or in a judgmental manner, for that matter. By the time you would reach the bottom end of this review, you would know exactly what makes ‘Simple’ amazing!
Honda recently launched the CB500X in India, hence, commemorating the arrival of its 500cc lineup. The CB500X makes absolute sense in our conditions, as compared to the other 500cc motorcycles the Japanese marque has in its lineup. ADVs are all the rage nowadays and probably, that’s another reason why Honda decided to bring in the CB500X ahead of its siblings. As soon as the ADV was launched, the social media was abuzz and everyone had an opinion regarding its pricing. Everyone. If you have spent the last few days away from the world, the CB500X is priced at INR 6.87 Lakh ex-showroom. Bomb pricing and not in a good way.
But the pricing shouldn’t cloud your judgement regarding the CB500X because it is so much more than that. It is a typical Honda. It is built like a tank, has a simple construction and as the widespread belief conveys, it should be more affordable to maintain as compared to its rivals. Let us get down to the business, shall we?
The star of the show
The CB500X’s engine is an absolute gem. My heart is pleading me to end this part of the review here only because that’s that. But my job obliges me to write something more about it. The CB500X is powered by a 471cc, eight-valve, liquid-cooled, parallel twin-cylinder engine that produces 47bhp at 8,500rpm and 43.2Nm at 6,500rpm. The motor is linked to a six-speed gearbox that benefits from an assist and a slipper clutch mechanism. Honda is lauded across the globe for its smooth engines and unsurprisingly, the CB500X carries forward that legacy pretty well! This is the thing about big capacity engines which aren’t that stressed out, they are absolutely gorgeous when it comes to the overall experience. The numbers might not seem like a lot on paper. Hell, even the KTM 390 Adventure which costs way less than the CB500X, makes just 3.5 HP less. But this is where numbers stop making sense because the CB500X is not just about the numbers.
It is about the feel and the feel of the engine is just divine. The 500cc mill feel endless because the torque is spread in such a linear manner, you NEVER feel out of grunt. It pulls from 20 kmph in third gear like a freaking commuter! Talking about some more numbers, it can munch miles for breakfast while clocking 130 km/h on the speedo and it feels absolutely delightful while doing that. Being a Honda and that too a twin-cylinder one, vibrations are nowhere to be seen. Like we mentioned earlier, the CB500X is a simple motorcycle and its engine is simple as well but in this case, Honda has showcased that why Simple transforms to amazing.
There aren’t any. This might be a downer for some but Honda hasn’t thrown any frills at this ADV, despite it costing a bomb. There is no electronics wizardry such as traction control, ride modes or a quickshifter for that matter. But when you swing a leg over and get going, you wouldn’t miss any of it because the whole experience feels so surreal. The only gripe that we have in this department is the lack of switchable ABS. The rear ABS cannot be switched off, even when you want to do it while bashing some trails around.
Ride and handling
For 2021, it has moved to a 19-/17-inch alloy wheel setup, which is the norm on modern-day tarmac-oriented ADVs. It continues to be suspended by a telescopic fork and preload-adjustable monoshock. Petal rotors and dual-channel ABS is standard. The frame is suspended on 41mm telescopic forks at the front with 150mm of travel and a nine-position preload adjustable mono-shock at the rear with a travel of 135mm.
The suspension on the Honda CB5000X has been tuned to be soft. It irons out imperfections minor undulations, bumps and speed breakers when riding easy. However, as speeds increase, the rear tends to be too soft and bounces off on bumps. As for braking, the CB500X’s hardware delivers good initial bite and feel. With a seat height of 830mm, the CB500X is a fairly tall motorcycle. Although thanks to the shape of the seat and fuel tank, it is easy to plant both feet on the ground. It also has a credible ground clearance of 181mm.
The feature list on the motorcycle comprises of a semi-fairing design, a tall windscreen, full-LED lighting, a negative LCD instrument cluster, single piece saddle, and alloy wheels. The electronic rider aids include dual-channel ABS, emergency stop signal, and Honda Ignition Security System.
While we finally have the CB500X in India, we still think that Honda could have priced the CB500X more aggressively, since it is being brought to our shores via the CKD route. To give you an idea, the Kawasaki Versys 650 is just INR 7,000 more expensive than the CB500X and makes more power and torque.
The Honda CB500X is one cracker of a motorcycle and goes on to show that if you get the basics nailed, you will have a very potent motorcycle at your disposal. If in future Honda decides to bring the prices down, the CB500X will turn out to be even more desirable.