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2019 Honda CB500X: MD First Ride

The adventure touring category, to the extent there is one, has grown rapidly in terms of both sales and importance over the past decade. It covers a relatively broad spectrum of bikes that seem to share only one characteristic, i.e., bolt upright, almost dirt-bike style ergonomics. Beyond this, motorcycles in this category range from those with genuine off-road capabilities (Honda’s own Africa Twin comes to mind) to those that are pure street machines (still popular for their comfortable ergos) such as Kawasaki’s new Versys 1000 SE LT +. The former have 21″ front and 18″ rear wheels (built up with strong rims and high-count steel spokes — just like a motocross bike), while the latter make due with street wheel sizes, i.e., 17s.

The last time we tested a Honda CB500X, it was a 2016 model. We liked the bike and gave it a favorable review, but noted that its 17″ front wheel took away from its off-road usability. Essentially, we viewed the bike as a slightly modified member of the CB500 family with longer suspension travel and upright ergos. Not a bad thing, but still essentially a street bike.

Apparently, Honda didn’t fully realize the potential the CB500X had as a platform for a more versatile do-it-all adventure bike. The smooth, torquey 471cc parallel twin engine, reasonably light and compact design, together with fantastic fuel economy (a genuine 65 mpg) and a large fuel tank (4.6 gallons) were some of the reasons the aftermarket (most notably Rally-Raid products in the UK) developed parts and kits to make the bike more dirt-worthy.

For the 2019 model year, Honda made many changes and improvements to the CB500X, and dramatically increased its off-road chops. The most obvious change is the new 19″ front wheel (a popular Rally-Raid modification) that gives the bike an inherent advantage when rolling over larger bumps and obstacles. Suspension travel was also increased, yet again. It is now 5.3″ in front and 5.9″ in the rear. The rear shock is a new, higher quality unit with larger-diameter internals and improved damping characteristics. Spring preload is the only adjustment available.

Several other changes for 2019 improve the CB500X overall. First and foremost, the engine and transmission see significant updates. Honda claims a 4% increase in torque and horsepower over a broad rpm range due to revised valve timing, new fuel injector bodies and a crank-sensor system that is 2-1/2 times quicker at reading (and reporting) position. The exhaust is also new, including a higher volume muffler with twin exits, which helps expel the additional volume of gases brought through a more efficient air intake system.

A new slipper/assist clutch design reportedly reduces clutch-pull effort by 45%, while simultaneously improving clutch plate engagement force. The six-speed transmission has revisions to smooth shifting, including an increase from six to nine dogs and carefully revised tooth shape on the gears.

The ergonomics include the same upright, comfortable rider positioning with a couple of tweaks. The tapered handlebar places the grips 8mm higher and 3mm closer to the rider, who sits on a slimmer seat behind a taller windscreen that is adjustable for two positions. Despite 10mm more ground clearance (thanks to the increase in suspension travel), the narrow seat preserves an easy reach to the ground for most riders.

The CB500X has a new front fairing and side covers, as well as a new fuel tank shape (same 4.6 gallon volume). A larger instrument display has adjustable back light brightness and a prominent gear position indicator, although it does not utilize the latest, high contrast TFT technology. Lighting is LED all around.

Brakes include a 310 mm single, floating disc squeezed by a two-piston caliper, with a single piston caliper operating on a 240 mm disc in the rear. ABS is optional, which adds 4 pounds to the claimed curb weight (434 pounds fully fueled).

Honda made the somewhat unusual decision to mount non-OEM rubber on the press bikes at the launch. Rather than the stock Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour tires, sized 110/80-19 front and 160/60-17 rear, we rode on Bridgestone Battlax Adventurecross AX41 tires with a greater dirt bias. These tires proved extremely impressive, both on-road and off (read on).

Pulling away from a stop on the CB500X for the first time confirms the reduction in clutch pull effort — it is ridiculously light. Engagement is predictable and smooth, and the engine responds well from just above idle. Power builds smoothly and steadily, and generally feels more refined in its delivery.

We can’t verify the minor increase in power claimed by Honda without a dyno, but the new CB500X power-train, including both the engine and transmission, feels like it has gone through a careful evolution. The bike feels slightly more responsive to the throttle everywhere, and cruising at elevated speeds on the highway (80 mph+) feels easier, and more relaxed than on the prior model. The old transmission was fine, but the changes made by Honda to both the transmission gears and the clutch just take things up a notch or two in terms of functionality.

Once again, this is a very comfortable motorcycle. The seat is soft, but offers good support, and increased wind protection from the new screen is noticeable and welcome. The height adjustability available this year could make a difference in terms of tuning out wind buffeting at the helmet level.

The six gear ratios are well-spaced, and the right gear seemed available whether trundling along at low speeds off-road or cruising at elevated highway speeds (where vibration levels remained reasonable — whether passing through the rubber-mounted handlebars or footpegs).

We started the ride on paved roads, where the new suspension settings seemed to soak up small, choppy bumps much better than the prior model (this would be aided, as well, by the larger 19″ front wheel). The ride is smooth but not sloppy.

The semi-knobby design of the Bridgestone tires could be felt as a slight rumble on smooth tarmac, and feedback from the contact patches was not great, but the grip offered was outstanding considering their dual purpose nature.

Whether leaned over in a corner, or aggressively applying the brakes, the Bridgestone AX41s did their job seemingly as well as a dedicated street tire. Quite impressive.

If the 19″ front wheel makes the CB500X better in the dirt (and it does) it also seems to make it a better street bike. Together with the slightly longer suspension travel, the 19″ front wheel completely removed the choppiness we recall when the older model was tracking through bumpy surfaces, either on-road or off. Slight changes to the steering geometry this year also seem to calm down the handling of the CB500X without making the steering heavy in any sense. The bike changes directions on the road easily and confidently.

The real revelation came when we took the CB500X off-road, primarily on fire roads, but also through more technical sections. Suspension action seems vastly improved off-road. The shock, in particular, helped the bike hook-up exiting corners on soft, silty trails, and allowed the rider to remain seated over washboard bumps. Sliding the back-end (quite frequently) and the front (occasionally) resulted in very little drama.

We pushed the pace a bit in the first off-road section as we followed Honda fast guy Jason Abbott, and created a sizable gap between us and a very competent group of chasing journalists. This is no Africa Twin off-road, and the stock suspension surely has its limitations, which are more apparent the rougher, and more technical the terrain, but it is a bike that has taken a huge step forward from the old model in terms of its ability to deal with the dirt.

Later in the day, back on the street, we were further impressed by the balance and handling offered by the CB500X as we pushed it relatively hard through both tight, and sweeping corners. The bike held its line well, adjusted its line when asked, and the Bridgestones held like glue.

The brakes on the CB500X are adequate, nothing more. They worked very well off-road where a soft initial bite is welcome, and the rider can avoid unintentionally locking the wheels. On-road, the brakes generally do their job with competence and adequate power, however brake feel, particularly through the semi-knobby tires is a bit wooden. Street-focused rubber would improve the feel and power of the brakes significantly on the road.

Overall we were very impressed by the 2019 Honda CB500X. Honda has taken a competent, fun, budget bike, retained its core goodness and substantially improved its weaknesses. A comfortable and versatile mount with fuel range exceeding 250 miles, and a starting price of $6,699 ($6,999 with ABS), we expect the new CB500X will expand further on the core of enthusiasts already enjoying older versions.

Honda has introduced a number of accessories for the new CB500X, including heated grips, hand guards, saddlebags, center-stand, and 12V accessory socket, among others described on its web site (an accessorized CB500X is pictured below).


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95 Comments

  1. The engine actually produces 37kW, but is restricted in Europe for the A2 35KW limit. As far as I’ve read from the introduction earlier this year, this 2 KW reduction is done via the throttle body, so it might be mechanical rather than in the ECU. This review is very well written but the engine stats are wrong. The 2019 engine dropped its peak torque from 7000 rpm to 6500 rpm and its peak HP went from 8500 up to 8600 – so the “fun range” expanded 600 rpms. I believe the U.S models put out the full 37kW which is 49.6 hp. Many older reviews from the U.S will state the full 49.6 whereas EU reviews always mention the 46.9 hp.

  2. Matt W says:

    One of the few things I would prefer on this bike(all bikes ?) would be the storage compartment like the Honda NC700 has. I have the NC700X DCT and have been spoiled by having a place to put jackets, supplies, groceries, cellphone etc. without strapping them down or wearing a backpack. The DCT transmission would be a nice option also on the CBX500X. Also to comment about older engines not being compliant with the EPA standards I still have a 1989 Honda NX650 which has basically the same engine used(but with possible updates) in the current Honda XR650L.
    Thank you for this great website, I have been enjoying it for years.

  3. Matt Wizeman says:

    One of the few things I wish this bike(all bikes?) had was the storage compartment that the NC700 has. I have the NC700X DCT and I have been spoiled by having a place to put jackets, supplies, groceries, cell phone etc without strapping them down or wearing a backpack. The DCT would be a nice option also on the CBX500X. Also to comment about older engines not being compliant with the pollution standards I still have a 1989 Honda NX650 which is basically the same engine used in the current Honda XR650L
    Thank you for this website, I have been enjoying it for many years.

  4. gpokluda says:

    Three of these CBs for sale on Craigslist. All under 1K miles. People sure love ’em

  5. Spike Spikerson says:

    Is the Yamaha T7 any closer to production here in the states? It’s listed as a 2021 on Yamaha’s US website. No one knows the price yet, so speculation is pointless. The MT07 is $7599 and the XSR700 is $8499. I would anticipate the T7 to be around $9999 to $10,499.

  6. SeTh says:

    Accessorized CB500x doesn’t include bash plate or hand guards?

    • Auphliam says:

      1) Honda does not (yet) offer a bash plate for this bike
      2) The accessorized bike pictured has hand guards on it

  7. SeTh says:

    Accesorized CB500X doesn’t include a bash plate or bark-busters?

  8. Stromfan says:

    Dirck, I often hear folks state that Hondas are too bland, and do not offer enough character. Was this bike engaging to you? Also, what is your honest assessment of its highway capacity? Did you feel like it has enough “juice” to run highway speeds (70+)? I am looking for a mid-size all-around and am comparing the CB500X to the BMW F700GS. Feel free to weigh in on a comparison of the two. Thanks ahead of time –

    • Dirck Edge says:

      I think a Kawasaki Ninja 400 has enough juice for relatively relaxed highway speeds, and this Honda is even more comfortable at those speeds. I’ve ridden all types of bikes, however, so I don’t have unrealistic expectations about a 471cc twin. As far as character goes, it isn’t a Moto Guzzi or a Triumph triple that will draw you in with a special engine feel, it is a bike that will endear itself to its owner in different ways, but IMO no less compelling. The CB500X is a bike that, if I had 4 bikes in the garage to choose from, I would always take a close look at the CB because it is so easy/relaxing to ride. The seat height is low, its light and easy to move out of the garage, the clutch pull is easy, the ergos are relaxed and comfortable, and it probably will have plenty of gas to go where I want to go. If I leave a press launch and still think about my ride on the bike a day or two later (as I did with this bike) that means it had enough character for me.

  9. Ralph W. says:

    I’m not much interested in the big adventure bikes. IMO the only reason for buying them is if you ride two-up with luggage. Otherwise the bikes with 800cc or less do it better. Adventure riding is all about going places including places where other bikes (and other vehicles) would struggle. There is no need for big hp to do that, but less weight is a big advantage. One of the best features of this bike is its price, and if that means more people can afford to ride, it is a very good thing.

    • bmbktmracer says:

      We’re not necessarily a practical species.

    • paul says:

      I agree with Ralph W, unnecessary weight/power is actually a drawback in the world of on-off-road adventurer. Better a steady and easy to handle “pack-mule” of a bike than an elephant.

      • guu says:

        Unnecessary weight is a drawback in any vehicle. Power is only drawback if its not controllable. For example see modern motocross bikes that are much more powerful than the old 500 two-strokes, and very easy to ride.

        The issue with adventure bikes is the price. Buyers of 500 cc bikes are not willing to pay the price that would get you quality suspension. Suspension on modern bike is very complicated mechanical construction and not cheap. Buyers of 1000 cc bikes have much bigger budgets and get better suspended bikes. That (and front wheel size) is the reason for the Africa Twins off-road superiority over the CB500X despite the weight and “excess power”.

        • Ralph W. says:

          The Africa Twin is a purpose built adventure bike, and the CB500X is a modified road bike, so direct comparisons are not totally relevant. You would expect the AT to be more capable off-road, but not because of its extra power. If Honda built a 500-700cc version of the AT which was a lot lighter it would be more capable off-road than the 1000/1100cc bike. Nobody thinks the AT has “excess power”. It is not a high powered adventure bike like other 1200/1300cc bikes available. But extra weight is a real handicap in difficult conditions. If you haven’t experienced that you must only be riding in easy conditions. There is a reason why dirt bikes rarely exceed 500cc. Light weight is more important than big power where they go.

  10. Moat says:

    Hmm… interesting that Honda has reverted back to a more traditional disc-on-carrier for the front brake, vs. the previous CB500X’s seemingly simpler/superior disc-bolted-directly-to-wheel setup. Makes one wonder what issues they may have discovered with the former…

    Otherwise, I view this CB-X as simply a modern UJM, slotting in at a wonderful “Goldilocks” size/price/displacement/performance/economy point. A real gem, I’m sure – and have not heard a significant bad word uttered towards the overall CB500 platform… i.e.; a (typical) very nice Honda motorcycle. And there ain’t a thing wrong with that, IMO.

  11. Rhinestone Kawboy says:

    Not sure if anyone has addressed this issue, but I always wonder why manufacturers install low to the front wheel fenders on an “adventure bike”. They must never ride in sticky mud, because if they did, they would find out that mud, especially with gravel or small rocks, will jamb up a front tire to the point it won’t turn. Maybe they never ride in the East, and only in the deserts of the West?

    • Ralph W. says:

      Agree with you that high fenders are better. When low front fenders clog up with mud and the wheel stops turning they are almost impossible to clean out. Try poking it out with a screwdriver and you just move the mud around. So you take the fender off, clean it out, replace it and then ride about a hundred feet before it clogs up again. If you leave the fender off, the radiator gets clogged with mud and the engine will overheat. But high fenders restrict airflow to the radiator. They can solve this by fitting a wide radiator or dual radiators like on a dirt bike. But this bike has been adapted from a road bike, not purpose built as an adventure bike. I’ve even had front wheels stop turning on bikes with high fenders because the mud builds up between the wheel and the forks, and in the muddy conditions there isn’t enough traction to keep the wheel turning, but that is easy to clean out.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s as though we are in the presence of a deity, albeit one with a little “g”.

      • Dave says:

        Or, just don’t ride a street bike in mud, because that’s stupid.

        Recognize this bike (and most “adventure” bikes” for what it is- a street bike with tires and suspension capable of unpaved & rougher road riding.

        • Jeremy says:

          Or just get a high fender and knobby tires and ride it in mud, because that’s fun.

          Most adventure bikes may indeed be street bikes at heart, but to imply that “rougher road riding” is all they are capable of is just false. Most of them have enough suspension and ground clearance to go just about anywhere with the right tires. It may be a slower and far more challenging a task compared to a true dual-sport, but that is also part of the fun.

          • Dave says:

            All depends on the boundaries you place on the word “capable”. I’ve seen video of people “adventure riding” on near stock KZ750’s and 1000’s, Honda VFR’s, all kinds of inappropriate bikes. They survived and finished the rides, but I wouldn’t call their bikes “capable” because of it.

        • Ralph W. says:

          “Or, just don’t ride a street bike in mud, because that’s stupid.”

          Agree with you, Dave, that people need to recognize the limitations of these bikes. If they are labelled as an adventure bike people suddenly think they are go-anywhere bikes.

          But sometimes you head out on a sunny day, the weather changes and you get caught in a heavy downpour. Then a high front fender could be very helpful.

          If you want to get seriously adventurous buy a DR650. There is none better. It needs to be fitted with a big tank and bashplate, and maybe luggage and a better seat, but none of those are difficult to do. Being air-cooled is also an advantage because there is no risk of being stranded with a punctured radiator or hose.

    • guu says:

      High fenders have their issues also. Try riding fast in wet conditions and you’ll find out that the water from the tire will fling forward over the tire, catch the oncoming air, and land in your face. Off-road the water will also carry dirt with it. The whole adventure bike class is all about compromises.

      • Ralph W. says:

        In all of the years I’ve ridden dirt bikes, trail bikes and single cylinder adventure bikes with high fenders, I’ve never had that problem. Maybe it depends on the shape of the fender.

  12. Steve says:

    Nice enough bike but I wish mgfr’s would include center stands as standard equipment. How would you attach a bash plate without bottom frame tubes? I’m hoping Kawasaki replaces the KLR 650 with a 650 Ninja engine model like the Yamaha 700 Tenere!

    • Jeremy says:

      I’ve seen some running around here with bash plates, so obviously it is possible.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think it’s because so-called journalists in the 80s whined about scraping the stands both on public roads and racetracks and advocated that owner’s remove them. People can be sheeple and so they followed suit and bitched and moaned until gradually…No more centerstands. Stupid people and cheapass manufacturers. Especailly on a chain driven bike.

      I agree with your thoughts on the KLR650 replacement. Hopefully it will still have a 6.1 gallon tank but run tubeless and triple disc brakes, ABS, F.I., etc. Well said Steve!

  13. Dman says:

    Somehow I must have missed the announcement of this bike with a few updates and the 19” front wheel. It looks like Honda has finally seen the Versys 300X and one-upped it, right past the talked-about, but not announced Versys 400x. I sold my VStrom 650 last year to concentrate on my lighter, more fun, but less comfortable DR 650 which I’ve fitted with a 19” front. This bike would fit my needs/wants just right. I haven’t owned a Honda for 30 years … maybe it’s time!

    • Martin B says:

      I owned a Suzuki Freewind (a DR650 with front fairing, 19″ front wheel and wider, MUCH more comfortable seat) for a year or two, and just loved the on-road handling. I never did get the chance for more challenging rides, ill health intervened. But the soft suspension reminded me very much of the old GR650, the 650 twin from the early 80s, loaned to me by racer Robert Holden (a real gentleman) when working at Wellington Motorcycles. That bike was the first with Suzuki’s Full Floater rear suspension, which, combined with the thick seat, made for a blissfully comfortable ride on the road. This CB500X makes a perfect replacement for that kind of do-it-all, everyman’s everyday motorcycle, that literally becomes part of a person and performs every transportation task to near perfection. Then the only need is for leisure time and money for gas! (NB whatever happened to thick, comfortable seats? When did we vote for slabs of hard plastic?)

  14. Kevin says:

    This is a great bike for what it is. A relatively lighter weight adventure touring bike at a budget price. And Honda has been making cheaper bikes look classy and refined lately. All adventure bikes involve compromises and decisions that should reflect the priorities of the buyer in terms of how and where it will be used. To my eye, this is essentially in the V-Strom 650 class albeit a Honda and 150cc less displacement, similar range, slightly less power and weight, and both have 19” front wheels. The Strom costs about $1500 more but is often deeply discounted and often have factory incentives making price pretty close. This is not a Tenere 700 or KTM 790 class bike, nor is it priced like them. But many people have asked for a lighter middleweight from Honda, and this fits between the CRF250L Rally and the the AT, but more road oriented than either. This “Goldilocks size” bike is suitable for inseam challenged and is yet roomy enough for a tall person wanting a lower center of gravity. It appears to have hits a sweet spot in the market.

    Before judging these cheaper middle-weight ADV offerings, people should take a ride. After-all, it’s often more fun to ride a small bike fast than to ride a fast bike slow.

  15. Mitch says:

    At first glance I thought the riders feet were on the passenger pegs.

  16. Mike Radford says:

    I really like this.

  17. CrazyJoe says:

    I’d like to compare this to the 500 Rebel. Great beginners bikes with a good engine that could hustle you up to 70 but with cheap brakes and suspension. Adding shocks and fork springs you could easily turn a 6000 dollar bike into a 8000 one. I’m pretty sure customizing is what makes them attractive. Maybe the bicycle experts can weigh in. They’re always changing stuff.

    I tried out the 700 adv but it was to top heavy for me but of all the bikes bestowed with the 500 engine I’m a big fan of the Rebel. It would be fun to customize one. That’s what the dyna’s were all about. The brakes would be the big negative for me but it looks cool.

    • Dave says:

      Without the privilege of Honda’s research results, I would be willing to bet that they learned that the take rate on this bike at $2k more with premium suspension & features would be very low. It’ll have to be the aftermarket for those who have more serious aspirations for this bike, which is probably ok. I hope they sell lots of the bikes in this family so the price-segment will continue to see investment.

      I believe this is the same engine as Honda uses in the Rebel and the CB versions, too.

    • todd says:

      I have read of people paying ten grand for the CB500X by the time they get it out the door. Tax, license, warranty, destination fee, setup fee, maybe a locking trunk…

  18. gpokluda says:

    It’s really nice to see bikes like these coming to market. It certainly seems that this bike gets a glowing review. I’ve only owned a few Hondas and my experience is that they are so refined that they are void of any character. While this works for some, I prefer to have more feedback from a motorcycle. Looks like a great bike. I’ll most likely will never own one.

  19. Reginald Van Blunt says:

    Bring back the original Honda 89 TransAlp and one would have a high pipe, correct leg bend with good aero.

    • Provologna says:

      Honda can bring it back, but they can’t legally sell any bike with a 20 year old motor, which would fail emissions tests no matter what Honda did to improve it.

      If your suggestion worked, the ideal bike to return, IMO, is BMW’s R80/GS PD.

      • Reginald Van Blunt says:

        Funny you mentioned the matching bike. My riding buddy in that time period bought a R80/GS shortly after my purchase of the 89 TransAlp. We covered a lot of Southern California, street and dirt together.
        Comparisons are in order. The front end on the TA would wash out in a turn in dirt, the BM made huge rooster tails of dirt everywhere with its displacement advantage, TA was faster on a long street uphill, and most every where else, but cruised at 5k+ rpm anytime on the freeway ( the reason I sold it ). We had magnificent FUN everywhere.
        The first R80s had disappointing assembly quality ( seized shifter from the factory ) and my TA spark plug was not torqued at all on one cylinder brand new. No bells and whistles, just a pair of motorcycles, and 35 plus years old.

      • Jeremy says:

        I respectfully disagree with your assessment of 20 year-old engines.

        — Your friendly neighbor DR650

      • gpokluda says:

        I get a kick out R80GS riders (as well as most air head riders)when they get all nostalgic and misty eyed about their R80GS/PD. Like the time they had to hike 10 miles to find a guy who repaired TVs to figure out why the diode board crapped itself. Or like when they had hitch a ride to the nearest town to have a guy fashion a valve spring from some heap in the back pasture when the beloved GS broke one. Or when the got hypnotized by the speedo needle oscillating from 10-80mph. Yep good times. Nothing like wanting to bring back something like that from the dead when every other bike on the planet had those problems licked 10 years earlier.

        • Provologna says:

          I am not disagreeing with anything you posted, just contributing my own 2nd hand anecdotal story: my then-coworker commuted from Bolinas to San Francisco on his lovely classic black/white pin stripe R80/7 roadster, similar vintage to an R80GS, w/I presume identical or almost identical motor. He purchased his R80/7 new, cared well for it, and had close to 100k trouble free miles.

          That said, I also recall brands rated by non-scheduled service problems in Motorcycle Consumer News (USA) print rag, circa mid-late 90s, 15-20 years post R80 series: BMW had the most or almost the most service problems, and IIRC Honda had the least.

          I presume all the R80 problems you listed can be fixed for long term reliable service. Some might say such required remedies are forgivable for a shaft drive 800cc bike weighing 20 lbs less than a 39 year newer 500 chain drive.

          It would be enlightening to compare the torque and HP curves of both motors, and top gear 60-80mph roll on times. The only bike I ever rode that MIGHT have had more roll on power than my stock R90/6 was a 1977 Suzuki GS1000 w/Wiseco 1100 forged piston kit (yeah, I’m old).

          Did I mention the CB500 has chain final drive while all R80s have a drive shaft?

          I am a barely passable dirt rider, and for this reason would lean toward the 49# lighter Kawasaki Versys X-300ABS over this Honda. Is a Versys 400 coming?

          • todd says:

            I’ve had four BMW R75/5s, one as a long-termer. I bought that one with about 36,000 miles on it and then traded it for a Ducati when it was well over 100,000 miles. The only thing I ever had to do on that bike was change tires and adjust points occasionally. I never even bothered to change the oil…

            Those old BMWs are plenty reliable, they just ride like crap.

      • gpokluda says:

        I always get a kick out of Beemer riders who get nostalgic and misty eyed about the R80GS/PD. They light up when they talk about the time they had to walk 10 miles to find some guy who repaired TVs to fix the diode board that crapped itself. Or when they had to have someone cobble together a valve spring from an ancient Pontiac in the north forty. Or when they got hypnotized by their speedometer needle jumping back and forth from 40 to 80mph even though you were only going 30. Yep. Good times. Let’s not bring back the R80. Please.

  20. Kagato says:

    Wow, I really like this bike. Just skimmed through the writeup. Honda website says seat height is 32.7. I think I can stop at a light comfortably enough with that. Any take on vibration from the twin mill?

  21. John Bryan says:

    Could it be that Honda saw an opportunity with Kawasaki ending KLR650 production? The 500X probably isn’t quite the off-road bike the KLR is but I’ll bet it’s as good at doing what most KLR riders do. Color me intrigued – Rally Raid modified 500 is a favorite internet search for me…

    But, really Honda, you couldn’t include the center stand as standard equipment?

    • ApriliaRST says:

      > The 500X probably isn’t quite the off-road bike the KLR is but I’ll bet it’s as good at doing what most KLR riders do.

      I’m looking hard at the Honda. I wonder what the diameter of the fork tubes is? The KLR’s are 41mm as I measure them… Fork tube diameter makes a difference on-road or off. And this Honda has simple damper-rod forks, right? The article says no adjustment. Rear shock spring pre-load is it.

  22. LIM says:

    Dirck,

    On the rider’s triangle, the upper half looks ok, but the angle at your knee appears quite acute, more than 90 degree. Any discomfort in the knees? Is the foot pegs set a bit high and back?

    Thanks.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      I rode the previous one for almost 2000km in Europe last year, and the knee room is a bit tight for long distance. I’m 6 feet. The ATwin and NC750 and Vstroms are all roomier. This one has a bit of a “Euro” peg placement: A bit further rearset than what is typical for Japanese brands. Which further loads the knees, compared to more forward, VStrom like, pegs.

      For someone my size, its niche is that it is much, much smaller than the other “adv” bikes. Even compared to the BMW 310GS, it parks, in crazy tight Barcelona scooter lots, more like a 300 class maxi scooter than an Adv bike. The ATwin takes twice the width of a low scooter when parked, hence almost never fits when it is crowded. This thing does not. It’s the same story in tight traffic: It fits where 300 class maxis do, yet is a real motorcycle once out on (especially twisty and bumpy) roads. And, per Dirck, now even on dirt roads….

    • Dave says:

      Take note of Dirck’s foot position. He’s WAY back on the pegs, several inches away from being able to reach the shifter. This has come up in other reviews.

      • Dirck Edge says:

        I’m frequently photographed with the balls of my feet over the center of the pegs. Makes the leg room look a bit tighter than it is.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      I’m about 5’11”. Leg room was adequate for me. Action photos frequently show me on the balls of my feet, which will make leg room look a bit tighter.

      • LIM says:

        Yes, I noticed Dirck’s foot position, but even if he’s on mid-foot, it still looks tight.

        Perhaps it’s because the 500X shares the same chassis with the CBR500R and the CB500F, both with sportier seating position. And when Honda made the 500X, the pegs were not repositioned lower and forward to suite a more upright sitting position. Safe cost measure I guess.

        Noticed similar issue with the MT09 and Tracer 900.

  23. todd says:

    This reminds me a lot of the F or G 650s from BMW. I wonder how they compare. I would think the singles are a tad lighter/more manageable off road.

    • Jeremy says:

      I kind of regard this as the replacement to the defunct G650 as well as it seems to be a pretty balanced mini adventure bike. Weight-wise, there is nothing between the CB500X and the G650GS save for the extra gas the Honda holds. Similar weight, similar power… Does one “feel” lighter than the other off-road? It would certainly make for an interesting back-to-back comparison. I’m not sure it could replace my Terra considering how I use the bike, but I’d sure like to try it out.

  24. Grover says:

    Would be nice if Honda went whole hog and offered a “Dakar” package that includes a spoked 21/18 wheel combo and other options for those that do a bit more serious off-road riding. I’m in the market for a new Dualsport or a bike that can be modified for Dualsport duty and find this Honda is about 80% there. Also, while that plastic luggage looks pretty, the first time you drop it on it’s side off-road you’ll be duct taping it back together….so don’t forget to bring the duct tape.

  25. mickey says:

    I have one of those in my garage right now that belongs to an out of state nephew (my2014). He leaves it here for when he comes in town and I “excercise” it for him every few weeks. For a 500 it is an amazingly capable little bike. Very smooth and willing motor, good transmission, good brakes. Reminds me of riding a 2 stroke sorta, needs plenty of revs for power and if you back off the throttle for a corner, you better downshift, twice, in order to pull out of the corner with any authority. Gets phenomenal gas mileage. Don’t care for the bar graph tach much. Perfect back roads bike capable of light freeway work as well.

    The colors on the one you tested are very attractive Imo. A guy looking for a nice running small bike could definitely do worse.

    • ApriliaRST says:

      > Reminds me of riding a 2 stroke sorta, needs plenty of revs for power and if you back off the throttle for a corner, you better downshift, twice, in order to pull out of the corner with any authority.

      Or unlike a KLR that you might as well forget downshifting because it just vibrates more. You might as well stay in the gear you’re in rather than interrupt power while you shift. It’s quicker that way.

  26. Kent says:

    Love that it has a 19″ front. That gives so many options for tire choice. For that reason alone it becomes much more dirt friendly.

  27. Anonymous says:

    So then, Dirck. This “MD First Ride” begs the question – This 2019 Honda CB500X set up with bags and windshield or a 2018/19 Moto Guzzi V7 set up with cast wheels, bags and windshield? Which would YOU prefer and recommend? I suspect the Guzzi is capable of delivering similar MPG but has in its favor shaft drive and a slightly larger fuel tank.

    Not just inquiring minds but also ADULT minds want to know what you THINK about how these two more than capable motorcycles stack up against one another. I suspect they are both excellent real world choices but if you have your druthers, by all means let us in on them.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      Hmmm … really like both bikes. I’m a sucker for Guzzi character, but for most purposes the Honda might be my preference. The Honda, with the press launch tires, is significantly better off road.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you, good sir! I too am a Guzzi fan but have yet to own one but the desire is there as is the money. Perhaps the V7 outfitted as I described will be my first goose.

        This Honda is nice but in Honda’s case I am leaning toward the DCT equipped NC750. Like the Aprilia Mana, the Frunk makes good sense.

        And it’s kinda bitchin’. Again, thanks!

    • gpokluda says:

      Go with the Guzzi. The Honda will bore you to tears within the first 3 months. The V7 will fill your senses every time you get on it and go for a ride. I switched from a Vstrom 650 to a T120 last summer and never looked back. I still ride the forest roads I used to ride, just a bit slower. I can still carve the back country roads like I used to. Nothing beats a good standard. Period.

      • mickey says:

        Character is over rated in my book. I’ve had character bikes in the past and always used to explain they had character just to justify their shortcomings.

        Someone once said what the Italians consider character, the Japanese consider design flaws and the Germans deny to their graves.Pretty much sums it up for me.

        I appreciate a bike that functions as it should, doesn’t leak oil, doesn’t vibrate, doesn’t have electrical issues, and doesn’t leave me stranded on the side of the road waiting for a trailer.

        I agree with you about nothing beating a good standard though.

      • Selecter says:

        Hmm… my V7 Classic (2015) was the most poorly-suspended, worst-handling motorcycle I’ve ever ridden, not just owned. I’d take any of the Honda 500 CBs over one, any day of the week. My second Guzzi, and most definitely my last.

        The engine, trans, and seating position worked well for what it was, but was completely breathless above 70MPH, when it was well past peak torque. But the steering feel was somewhere south of “vague,” and transitions were, put politely, “dump-truck-like.” Roadholding was nonexistent on any surface containing anything more complex than a flat plane; the suspension was absolutely unable to control bounce and rebound. Bought it new, put 2700 miles on it over about 4 months, and sold it as quickly as I could. Sold it to an older gentleman who bought it to turn into a sidecar hack… a move which could have only served to improve its handling! In fact, he has it up for sale on Craigslist as we speak.

        Take the 500X, and toss some bags and a few tweaks to suit taste here and there, and I think one would have a stellar tourer and everyday rider which will absolutely smash the Guzzi’s 50-52MPG on top of being more comfortable, better-suspended, quicker-handling, and more powerful at freeway speeds.

        • Provologna says:

          Owned a late 90s MG 1100i Sport and IIRC 2000 Quota in gorgeous “aquamarine”/silver.

          Sport clutch blew, my fault, I was used to Japanese hydraulic actuation, I ignored the required cable slack adjuster, plus I’m a Clydesdale and not a clutch-friendly rider. The main computer required replacement, thank God under warranty (thanks Monroe Motors), apparently because of a loose battery terminal (big fat twins vibrate; check fasteners often). A clutch lever cost over $100 late 90s/early 00s, and no lower cost replacements were found, and believe me, I’m cheap and I searched.

          Quota blew a rod for unknown reason <20k miles.

          I'd stay far away, except for maybe a nice old Le Mans. MAYBE if you live close to a great dealer like Monroe Motors, if they are still a dealer.

          • Anonymous says:

            lol ahh yes, there’s that “character” shining through.

          • mickey says:

            lol ahh yes, there’s that “character” shining through.

          • Provologna says:

            Well…my fly yellow 1100i Sport was a heck of a looker. And that “aquamarine” Quota color was nice, but OMG that Quota was a pig off road. If you think an R1150GS is a hand full off road, ride a Quota!

          • mickey says:

            actually we’ve had 2 Moto Guzzi’s in the family, and really didn’t have a lot of trouble with them. my father rode a 125 Stornello single when he got old (my age lol), and my younger brother bought a new a 73 Eldorado. The Eldorado was actually a very nice and capable bike for the most part. Drowned in the rain on us in Ga (dist cap got wet) and blew a couple universal joints but my brother rode it like an idiot most of the time (he was in his 20’s..you ought to see an Eldorado wheelie lol) and the Eldorado seat was all day comfortable.

            I have test ridden a Breva 750 and a Griso, but I am just not a Guzzi man apparently.

        • Martin B says:

          The MkIII V7 Guzzi has completely revised steering geometry, which may fix som of the issues you mention big fan, but never ridden/owned one, just like to read about them). You can always rely on a Honda to get you to wherever there is.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you for the excellent input, sir! And I do mean that.

  28. Todd says:

    I would not expect it to make any more horsepower than a 1987 ex500.

    • Provologna says:

      If emissions laws remained the same since 1987, this CB would make more HP than a 1987 EX500. An EX500 motor would likely fail every current emissions regulation.

      For two stock motors, which one makes more power @ 6000 feet, the carbureted EX or the injected CB? Adventure bikes are often ridden at higher elevation. Which motor rides better, at any elevation? IIRC the EX motor lacks torque.

      • Dave says:

        It is likely that this bike’s engine makes the hp it does because there is an 50hp cap for A2 licensing in Europe (DP points this out below) and they haven’t made a US specific variant of the engine. It’s also likely that if they tuned this engine for higher peak hp, they would have to sacrifice low/mid range and mileage.

        Worth noting, the NC700X makes a couple hp less with 200cc more displacement, but gets over 70mpg for it. The whole market would do well to divorce the expectation of power from displacement. There’s lots of larger, lower hp engines that are great to ride in real world conditions.

        • Jeremy says:

          I’d say it is more than likely… I read in an article years ago when the 500s first debuted that the power output was chosen to comply with regulations in global markets.

        • Provologna says:

          Very interesting info, thanks!

          Are the EU regs to which you refer possibly an example of regs that caused GB’s “Brexit” movement?

          Not to get too far OT, but there is good evidence that Google plans to observe the EU’s penchant to pass laws limiting free speech, and to enforce such censorship world wide, including in the USA with 1st Amendment protections that don’t exist elsewhere. This is bad news for lovers of free speech, very bad news. Your note reminded me because it’s a similar philosophy: making world wide a worst case regulation from one geographic area.

  29. DP says:

    I own 2015 model with 17″ wheel in front. It does not cause any problem to me since I do not intentionally ride off road. It is still quite balanced and keeps track on poor surface, if it happen to be in my way.The bike had 28k km and I am quite happy with it. The only thing I wish was better is to pinch some weight but on the other hand it is very stable as is.

  30. ApriliaRST says:

    Looks to me like a very good value as well as a competent bike. I did not see a claimed horsepower rating. Did I miss it?

    • Dirck Edge says:

      The Honda UK web site claims 47hp. Honda US doesn’t make horsepower claims.

      • ApriliaRST says:

        Thanks to both of you. That’s 10 hp more than the KLR it would replace. It’s perhaps 30 hp less than the Yamaha T7 I’m sick and tired of waiting for since the FZ-07 was released and still is a year away from release in the US and who knows how long before the supply meets demand. I will NOT pay a dealer more than MSRP for the Yamaha if I decide to wait for it.

    • DP says:

      I believe it is still 47hp at crank/ 45hp at rear wheel. They are bound not to exceed 50hp to fit into popular A2 European category.

      • ApriliaRST says:

        I forgot to mention it’s half the expected price of the T7.

        • Neal says:

          Is the T7 really expected to be $14k? That seems absurdly high. The MT07 its based on is under $8k and the V Strom and Versys its competing with are under $10k.