The Honda CB500X doesn’t get any fancy tech or power figures that will blow your mind. But it offers pure enjoyment unlike any other mid-sized motorcycle in the world.
When Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India launched the CBR250R in India in 2012, it was the first time that the Japanese manufacturer was introducing an affordable enthusiast product in the country. It took them another five years to launch the CB650F and just this year they launched the CB350 in India. Honda obviously have taken their time to introduce more affordable premium products into India, but it now looks as if though the company believes that the Indian market is ready for their mid-sized premium bikes. The newest entrant in the Indian market from the Japanese bike maker is the CB500X. The CB500X is Honda’s entry-level premium ADV, and after spending an entire day with this bike, I have fallen in love with it.
The CB500X design takes inspiration from the Africa Twin. It looks sporty and aggressive and has a great stance on the road. At the same time, its design is simple and clean with nothing outlandish plastered on it. The bike is built around a steel diamond-tube frame and gets normal 41mm telescopic forks and a rear monoshock. The 19-inch alloy front wheel gets a single disc brake and the 17-inch rear also gets a single disc. There is a sharply sculpted fuel tank with a small fairing on either side to give the bike some muscle. There is also full LED lighting and a fully digital display for that modern touch. The bike looks compact and has a seat height of 830mm. It definitely looks like a capable ADV but, it doesn’t look intimidating.
The CB500X gets a modest 471cc, parallel-twin motor that has a humble power output of 47bhp and 43Nm of torque. These figures might not stand out on any spec-sheet, but the engine is perhaps the best thing about the CB500X. It’s a masterpiece of Honda’s engineering prowess as it’s one of the smoothest and most refined sub-650cc engines I have ever felt. The power delivery is instantaneous, and although the acceleration isn’t neck-breaking quick, its smooth and linear power surge does enough to excite you. It’s the perfect amount of power for Indian road conditions for sure. You get all the power from extremely low revs, and even as you pull away and keep the throttle twisted the power keeps kicking in all the way to the redline. The engine is mated to a 6-speed transmission and even that works very well. The gearing ratios are perfect for any riding style. The power curve is so wide and impressive that I felt the engine had more to offer than the claimed power figures on paper.
Ride & Handling
The CB500X is also the lightest bike in the mid-sized ADV segment at just 199kgs. This makes the bike easy to manage and handle. While the engine blew me away, what also impressed me was the suspension setup. The front forks are non-adjustable but they offer plenty of travel, which is perfect for Indian roads. They also manage to provide great feedback. The rear monoshock on the other hand is a little bit on the stiff side, but it’s remarkable how this combo works out. The bike certainly irons out any bad road you may encounter as the front absorbs everything and offers you a smooth ride. Even when riding on some of the most beaten-up city roads in Gurugram, the CB500X was able to fly over them.
The chassis is very agile and the weight distribution around the bike is perfect. The CB500X makes you feel confident when attacking corners. You can dip right into a fast corner and easily switch direction, or power out at the apex. The assist-slipper clutch also helps when riding hard, and the CB500X really feels like a sporty little machine that you can throw around. Riding in traffic is also easily manageable. The front-end is light and the seating position is perfect for any situation. Riding on the highway is also very comfortable as the upright seating makes it easier on your arms and back.
There are no fancy tech features and there are no riding modes. There is no traction control either. The only rider aid is dual-channel ABS. This makes the CB500X a simple and pure motorcycle – just two wheels and an engine with the rider at the helm. This might not be appealing to some, but I love the dismissal of fancy tech.
Honda has said that the CB500X is a light off-roader. I did manage to take the CB500X on some pretty good trails to see what it could do and once again it really shined. The bike felt at home on the dirt. Because it’s a light machine and the front suspension offers a lot of travel, you can easily ride this motorcycle confidently. It’s not intimidating to take it on the rough stuff. The only problem for taller riders like myself is that it’s not comfortable to stand up and ride because of the bike’s compact design. Still, though, it’s great fun and even though it doesn't get spoked wheels or a sump guard, the riding dynamics of the bike when off the road are very impressive.
The CB500X is very expensive but, it has won my heart. The pureness of the engine and the ease and comfort of riding it really makes it stand out. It’s the perfect package and the perfect premium motorcycle for India. It’s fun enough to throw around corners, easy enough to ride on an everyday basis and comfortable and powerful enough for long-distance touring. With a Honda badge, you also are assured of quality, reliability and efficiency. As for the high price tag of Rs 6.8 lakh (ex-showroom). Well, owning a premium Honda bike is much more affordable than any other premium bike in the country. Parts, spares, accessories and servicing are all much cheaper. I still think Honda could have kept the price down significantly though. It may even affect sales of the bike. Still, that doesn’t take anything away from just how amazing the CB500X really is.
- Honda CB500X
Engine: 471.03 cc / Parallel-Twin
Transmission: 6-Speed, with Slipper/Assist Clutch
Power: 46.9bhp @ 8,500rpm
Torque: 43.2Nm @ 6,500rpm
Price: ₹6.87 Lakh (Ex-Showroom)
X-Factor: The perfect ADV for India – light, comfortable, agile and a flawless engine.
• Overall performance
• Compact design