2021 Honda CB500X Test Ride Review
Detailed test ride review of the first adventure-tourer from Honda in India, the CB500X
Bike Tested: Honda CB500X; Road Test No. 1314; Test Location: Delhi
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 8,36,376/-
The Honda CB500X is the first and only parallel-twin motorcycle available in India by the brand
The news of Honda launching the CB500X started getting around as they launched the first set of CB motorcycles, the H’ness CB350 and then came the CB350 RS. Along which Honda said that they have another CB motorcycle in the line-up which gave away all the clues. Within some time we got to ride the 2021 Honda CB500X, the first-ever adventure-tourer motorcycle from the brand in India. For this, Honda had a ride planned in Gurgaon but not just that, it was an epic location to be at as well. That said, let’s see if this Honda is set to impress?
MotorQuest: Honda had the “medium-sized standard motorcycle” CB500 from 1993 to 2003 after which the CB500 came back again in 2013 with a complete line-up. They launched the CB500F (naked), CB500R (faired) and the CB500X (adventure) for different categories but with the same heart. Since then, these motorcycles have been on sale worldwide. But for the first time, HMSI launched a parallel-twin adventure-tourer in India with the 2021 Honda CB500X.
Styling – This is the first time we are seeing a middle-weight adventure motorcycle from Honda and it looks quite impressive. It has all the design traits of an adventure bike like a beaked nose, off-size wheels, long-travel suspension and a purposeful visor. The all-LED headlamp draws some inspiration from the Honda CBR650F. The front predominantly sets a bold impression with its exposed forks and huge visor. While from the sides, the bikini fairing joins the aggressive tank and the exposed parallel-twin engine with chrome pipes looks artistic. But, the absence of an engine bash plate is questionable. Nonetheless, the upswept dual-port exhaust is highlighted by the matte chrome garnishing which looks very premium.
The chrome exhaust pipes look straight out of a concept motorcycle and look very valuable
Further, the tail section looks very minimalist as it doesn’t stick out as much and does a good job to reduce the visual bulk. Lastly, the LED taillight seems to be inspired by the Suzuki GSX-S750 but it looks good anyway. However, Honda offers only two colour choices – Grand Prix Red with black decals and Matte Black Metallic with red decals. One interesting quirk is that the bike doesn’t get any “CB” branding at all, it only gets a “500X” branding on the bikini fairing. All in all, the CB500X does stand out and it looks purpose-built.
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear – The instrument cluster on the CB500X is a negative LCD unit that packs all the essential information like a tachometer, fuel gauge, twin trip meters, etc. it also displays the average mileage, live mileage, fuel consumed, reserve fuel data, and an engine temperature gauge. There are two buttons, labelled as “sel” and “set” to browse through the various information, and reset your desired option respectively. Otherwise, this cluster feels rather basic as there is no Bluetooth connectivity which is a raging necessity these days. Moreover, at this price point, a coloured TFT display was naturally expected.
Although the cluster is fairly basic, it is very well laid out and the font size is easy to read
The switchgear on the CB500X is basic. On left, you get a high-low beam switch finished in piano treatment and just like all modern Honda’s, this one too has the confusing placement of horn and indicator switch. And on the right, there is an engine kill switch which is also finished in piano treatment and below that is the hazard light button and an engine starter switch. The quality of the switchgear is top-notch and the buttons offer satisfying tactile feedback. In conclusion, we believe that the Honda could have easily equipped the CB500X with a smarter, Bluetooth enabled system with a joystick setup as seen on the H’ness Dlx Pro.
Ergonomics – Like every adventure bike, the CB isn’t built to fit everyone and the ergonomics say that too. The seat height is 830 mm which is a bit too much for shorter riders as they would find themselves tip-toeing for the most part. However, the seat is wide and well-cushioned too. But, the space for the pillion is a bit less although, the rider has ample space to move around. The slightly rear-set footpegs combined with a tall and easy to reach handlebar results in a very upright posture. Further, the mirrors offer a good view of what’s behind. And to make up for the accessibility factor, the brake lever is adjustable. However, we would have preferred to have toothed pegs instead of rubber pegs. In comparison with other ADVs, the ergonomics of the CB hold up decently well.
Performance – Propelling the CB500X is a 471cc parallel-twin, liquid-cooled motor that churns out 47.5 PS of power at 8500 RPM and 43.2 Nm of torque at 6500 RPM. Yes, the power figures don’t impress on paper but, once you are on the saddle this bike is really enjoyable! This motor is extremely tractable and doesn’t hesitate to pull at lower RPMs in a higher gear. Power delivery feels decent in the low-end but, it’s more biased towards the midrange where this motor really shines, and towards the top, it doesn’t feel as lively. The gearbox is a slick-shifting 6-speed unit and the gearing is quite tall. The CB500X sprints from 0 to 100 in 5.3 seconds while it peaks out at 185 km/hr. It is just a tad quicker than the KTM 390 family in comparison.
The exhaust note of the CB500X treats you with occasional pops and burbles that always leave you wanting for more
This parallel-twin engine is one of the smoothest twin-cylinder engines from Honda. The vibrations are very well contained, so much so that you do not feel any of them until the top where it feels a bit stressed and buzzy, as a result, a lot of vibrations are felt at all the contact points. The liquid-cooling system is very efficient and reliant and cools the engine in no time. During our ride with the CB500X, the fuel economy was averaging between 22 km/l to 24 km/l and with a 17.7-litre fuel tank, the touring range lies at 400 kms which is pretty decent.
Riding Dynamics – The CB500X gets adjustable telescopic forks at the front and a mono-shock at the rear. We expected USD forks at this price point but nonetheless, these telescopic forks fare pretty well. However, the rear suspension has a painful bounce-back and we suggest you adjust the preload first accordingly. Although, the suspension does a decent job of handling bad and broken roads but doesn’t like to be thrashed around too much. One interesting thing about the CB is that it doesn’t let the rider feel its size and weight! It zips past city traffic like a commuter bike would and feels extremely light and nimble. While cornering, the bike holds its line pretty well however, the tubular diamond frame chassis likes to take it a bit easy. At 199 kg, this bike isn’t light by any means but the way it rides is very desirable.
The balance between the versatile riding dynamics of this bike is praiseworthy
The Dunlop TrailMax tyres are more suitable for riding over broken roads than handling tricky off-roading conditions as they do not offer the desired control and feedback. However, the 181 mm of ground clearance does help while clearing obstacles and the bike manages to crawl over almost anything without scraping anywhere. The braking department is handled by a 310 mm disc at the front and a 240 mm disc at the rear powered by Nissin callipers and aided by dual-channel ABS. However, the lack of features like switchable ABS and traction control system doesn’t suit a high-aiming adventure tourer. All in all, the CB500X is a sensible choice for light off-roading and long-distance touring.
Verdict – At Rs. 8,63,376/- (on-road, Mumbai) the Honda CB500X is utterly overpriced! It is an indirect competitor to the KTM Adventure Duke 390 which gets better hardware and electronics at a much cheaper price. Clearly, the CB500X doesn’t justify its value and we would say that it is a niche product that would only fetch a few buyers. However, if Honda could have priced this motorcycle reasonably, it would be a very good package indeed. If we ignore the price for a moment, what we have here is an extremely well-built machine with exceptional fit-finish quality that is definitely worth considering. On the greener side, if Honda revises the prices correctly, the CB500X would be an irresistible offer that you should definitely consider buying.
* Parallel-twin motor is very refined
* Comfortable ergonomics for the rider as well as pillion
* Excellent riding range with a decent fuel tank and good touring capabilities
What’s Not So Cool
* Pricing is absurdly high
* Very basic and small instrument cluster
* Lacks features like switchable ABS and traction control system
* Engine: 471.03cc, Twin-Cylinder, Liquid-Cooled
* Power: 46.93 BHP @ 8500 RPM
* Torque: 43.2 Nm @ 6500 RPM
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Fuel Consumption: 22-24 km/l
* Frame: Tubular Diamond Frame chassis
* Gearbox: 6-Speed
* Tyres: 110/80/19 (Front), 160/60/17 (Rear)
* Suspension: Telescopic Forks (Front), Honda ProLINK Monoshock(Rear)
* Brakes: 310 mm Disc (Front), 240 mm Disc (Rear); Dual-Channel ABS
* Length x Width x Height: 2156 mm x 828 mm x 1412 mm
* Wheelbase: 1443 mm
* Seat Height: 830 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 17.7-litres
* Kerb weight: 199 Kgs