RideApart Review: Honda CB500X

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The third member of Big Red’s new 500 family adds adventure style and a tall riding position. The Honda CB500X is the only member of that range with significant mechanical differentiation — longer forks.

What’s New
This diagram should help explain things. Starting with the same basic package as the CBR500R and CB500F — 471cc parallel-twin housed in a steel tube frame — Honda has bolted on 20mm longer forks. That creates more fork travel — up to 4.9 from 4.3 inches — obviously, but also has the effect of increasing rake by one degree to 26.5 degrees, trail grows from 4.05 inches to 4.29 and the wheelbase is increased by half an inch to 55.9 inches.

The ProLink shock remains the same as that used on the other bikes, with 4.7 inches of travel and preload adjustability. But, a taller seat and upright bars create a taller, more spacious riding position. The CB500X’s seat sits at 31.9 inches to the CBR500R and CB500F’s 30.9 inch height. Compared to those bikes, the fuel tank is larger too, increased from 4.1 to 4.5 gallons.

An adjustable windscreen and what appears to be the same headlight as fitted to the Honda NC700X rounds out the list of changes.

The rest remains identical to the other 500s. That liquid-cooled motor develops 47bhp at its 8,500rpm redline and 32lb/ft of torque at 7,000rpm. That motivates an all-up kerb weight of 430lbs. That’s measured with a full tank of fuel and is 5lbs up on the other 500s thanks to that extra capacity.

All three are designed to capture the hearts and minds of novice riders or someone more experienced just looking for something easy, fun and cheap.

None of them are outright performance bikes; instead of a laser-like focus on going fast (typically achieved at the expense of every other dynamic parameter), they’re broadly applicable, fun bikes that would be good to learn on, good to commute on, good to take trips on or good just to tool around on at the weekends. Motorcycles as exciting transportation, not ridiculous toys.

The Ride
Sean came over one night on our new Suzuki V-Strom 650 long termer and ended up riding home on the CB500X just to try it out. Before he hopped on the Honda, he asked if it was going to be exactly like the CB500F and CBR500R we rode to Laguna Seca last month. With the exception of the handlebars and seat, those bikes feel exactly the same, so he was understandably skeptical that the CB500X could actually be different.

In response to that question, I told him that it really doesn’t feel much like the other bikes. It feels larger and more grown up, like a much bigger motorcycle. 30 minutes or so went by, enough for him to make the evening rush hour ride from Hollywood to Long Beach and I texted him to see what he thought.

“Damnit, I hate it when you’re right,” came the response.

That more spacious riding position, the extra inch between seat and peg, the wide, upright bars and the longer travel, more plushly damped forks really do add up to a bike that simply feels more mature than its siblings.

Steering feels faster, thanks to those wide handlebars, but the CB500X is also more stable and more able to hold a line without wobbling around thanks to the longer wheelbase and more conservative geometry. Better damping control means the longer forks aren’t softer, leaving able to soak up bumps, but also deliver both excellent feel and control over what that 17-inch front tire is doing.

The taller riding position means you can see over most traffic. The dinky windscreen is surprisingly effective in the higher of its two positions, redirecting air off your torso and onto the top of your shoulders, leaving your helmet buffet free in clean air.

The next day, Sean and I were feeling restless, so took the V-Strom and CB500X up Angeles Crest Highway to grab lunch at Newcomb’s Ranch. I rode the CB500X on the way up there, he rode it back. It was just a jeans-and-jackets casual ride, but on the way up the mountain I did my usual thing, passing supposedly larger, faster bikes — this time an R1200GS and a guy in a really unfortunate leather onesie on KTM 990 Super Duke. The little Honda proved a willing companion for fast riding, its height and upright riding position affording a great view around corners and cars and its Pirelli Scorpion Trail tires delivering plenty of confidence even over the melted tar snakes on this very hot day. A lot like the other 500s, just with better forks and vision.

Then, on the way down, I hopped on the V-Strom and followed Sean. That mid-capacity Suzuki is one of our favorite all-round bikes. It’s light and manageable in the city, all-day comfortable on the highway and, most surprisingly, a blast on twisty roads like this one. But man, after that Honda, it felt positively portly. It felt heavy to push around, slow to steer and its more powerful engine was less willing to rev match downshifts and just wasn’t as able to play along with spirited riding than the smaller Honda. Wow.

For the first time ever, I actually had a hard time keeping up with our very own Captain Slow, as he just merrily scooted down the mountain, with no idea that I was trying hard, but still falling back.

Back in town, things got even worse. A bike that we’d previously considered a good companion for splitting heavy traffic suddenly felt large and cumbersome trying to keep up with the dinky Honda. The CB500X would just scoot through gaps that were simply too small for the V-Strom to fit through at all.

Don’t get us wrong, the larger Suzuki is going to be the more capable tourer, but in town or on a mountain road, the little Honda is the much more capable machine.

What’s Good
Little changes add up to a lot. The CB500X retains the agility, ease and willingness of its siblings, while gaining a more composed nature.

Longer travel forks are also better damped. So they increase control and comfort. There’s actually less dive under braking.

Another inch of leg room helps you spread out.

Despite their misleading name, the Pirelli Scorpion Trail tires are an excellent choice for real world street duty. They’re hugely confidence inspiring around town in sketchy conditions, but also willing and able to drag peg on a good road.

In an age where sportsbikes all seem to wear unnecessarily wide rubber, the Honda’s 160-section rear tire delivers light, neutral, quick steering. Riding narrow rubber is believing.

Even without adjusting the preload, the CB500X is totally at home carrying a passenger. The back seat is comfy and spacious, the pegs low and those grab handles are huge and well positioned.

We’re averaging 52mpg, giving us a 234-mile range from the 4.5 gallon tank.

A commanding riding position, wide bars and punchy engine combine with the light, fast handling delivered by the 17 inch wheels to create something of a supermoto-like feel around town. No, it’s not some race-tuned, snarling beast capable of 60 degrees of lean, but it is agile and responsive, even over bad pavement.

What’s Bad
You need a specially designed C-spanner to reach the preload adjuster on the shock, but it’s not included in the stock tool kit.

The little Honda didn’t engender much respect from Harley poseurs when I rode it into their party.

The Price
$6,000 base, add $500 for ABS. Same as the CBR500R; we’d buy the X. That’s $1,500 cheaper than the non-ABS/DCT NC700X. The difference between the two grows to a staggering TWO GRAND when you spec ABS on both and the CB500X doesn’t make you pay for an unnecessary transmission to get the good brakes. The NC700X is going to be a little better at carrying a passenger and its low center of gravity is awesome off-road, but I’ve gotta tell you, the difference is much less than that price differential suggests. We’d go for the 500X.

Outside Honda, the nearest competition comes from that V-Strom and the Kawasaki Versys. The CB500X is hands down better than both in town or on a good, winding road, but the Suzuki is the better choice if you’re mostly planning distance work. The Honda feels far lighter than the 30lbs advantage over the Versys makes it sound. This thing is just a killer deal.

The Verdict
Want an easy-to-ride, fun, affordable bike to commute around the city during the week, then head off on a trip during the weekend? Whether you’re a novice looking for your first new bike or an experienced rider looking to save some money, you just found it.

To all my friends who’ve been waiting to hear if they should buy one: yes you should.

RideApart Rating: 10/10

  • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

    Couldn’t agree with you more. I still hate it when you’re right.

    The 500X over the 700 or any of the other 500′s. The Suzuki if you want to do a lot of trips.

  • Dane[ger]

    Is this bike going to be at all capable on dirt roads/fire trails/off-road and so on similar to the NC700X?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      What makes the NC so good off-road is its extremely low center of gravity and tractor-like low-down torque. The CB has neither.

  • MichaelEhrgott

    This is a very interesting motorbike and a helluva deal at that price. I’m so happy to see Honda producing 500 twins and Yamaha producing 850 Triples. Japanese cookie-cutter I-4 bikes are quickly becoming a thing of the past.

    • Stuki

      The I4 is still one heck of a layout for a motorcycle. Compact, and about as wide as you can go without limiting lean, and crazy peak power to weight, achievable by sky high engine speeds. And fairly smooth even pre balancers. That engine layout didn’t become cookie cutter without good reasons. The biggest issue with them is that, i the displacements they got standardized on way back when, they are now more than most people really need most of the time. But a 250cc I4 spinning to 20,000…… Now, that wold be a plain cool sportbike engine for us mortals….

      • Kenneth

        “a 250cc, 4-cyl engine spinning to 20,000″ sacrifices power everywhere else and would be gutless on the street, where every red light and stop sign require starting out from idle speed.

        • Stuki

          250 is big enough that even the low end is plenty adequate for getting a jump on most cars. Heck, 50cc scooters serve many people well in stoplight to stoplight traffic. It’s only in comparison to warp speed bigger bikes that the 250 class seems slow.

          And, a beauty of small motors when going slow, is their back torque at low revs are as light as their forward torque, so they are very smooth when creeping along.

          The biggest downside to a massively oversquare, big valve, high revving 250 i4 for city use, is more likely to be excessive cost and fuel burn if all you want is city utility. Why pay for a 20000 redline, if all you ever use is the easy to achieve 8000 on the bottom (I guess one could ask most 600 and liter bike riders the same, ……..). But for a sportbike…..? Cbr250 docility in the city, SV650 power on track, highway and canyons, with 250 like weight and rotating masses, and supersport class frame and components…..

          • Piglet2010

            One of the reasons I got rid of my F4i was the power-band was only suited to faster racetracks – both my Bonnie and Dullsville have much more useable power for street riding.

  • Jonathan Berndt

    really, lets be realistic here, either you are a riding god or the KTM SD was broken, breaking down, or had an inept rider… probably one or both of the former.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      as is the case 99% of the time we talk about passing a “faster bike”

      • Jonathan Berndt

        well lets just say that getting passed by a CB500X not one of my worries when im out on my Superduke, when its running of course…

    • Stuki

      Well, it was a KTM, so of course it was either broken or breaking down……….

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Sure, and we include observations like that simply to drive home the point that riding is mostly skill, not bike to the idiots who think they “need” 1,000cc just to get around.

      • Piglet2010

        Just move a decimal and I will agree. I ride a 108cc Honda Elite 110, and it is just adequate for urban traffic (at least for this non-lightweight rider). Less than 100cc would not work for me.

  • Josh

    When can we expect the ABS version?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      They should both be on sale now.

      • Josh

        Pulled the trigger. Yeah, compared to my old CB750, it’s missing something. But turn that around and the CB is missing everything else. Very, very happy. Anybody looking for a nice ’78 CB750 in Brooklyn?

  • Sohl

    Just wish I wanted it… at all.

  • Tuscan Foodie

    if you take lane splitting off the equation (as this is not allowed where I live), would you still pick the Honda over the V-strom for city commuting?

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      yep. it’s still smaller and lighter and feels better making tighter maneuvers.

      • Stuki

        I know you guys aren’t exactly spec sheet freaks; but being a more urban, real world focused outlet; it would be cool if you would measure a bike’s turning radius/steering lock. It’s one of the things that makes dual sports so useful in really tight city riding.

    • Bruce Steever

      How big is your city? How big are you?

      • Tuscan Foodie

        Chicago. 5.11. I owned a V-strom in the past.

  • Conrad

    I test rode both this and the cb500F. I’m 6’2″ and 185lbs. Honestly, my first reaction to riding the “x” was “this is boring”. I felt immediately better and more confident on the F. I thought being a taller rider the X would be more up my alley, but that just wasn’t the case. I value your opinions so I might have to go back again and do another test ride just to make sure. I know I wasn’t hung over, so that couldn’t have been it.

    • Jase

      Agree. I’m also 6’2″ and the F has more butt room. The X pushes a taller guy too far forward.
      I happily bought the F.

    • Bruce Steever

      I’ve just picked up our X, and this matches my initial thoughts.

      The F is a bit more composed than the X. I’m sure the X will work better during the off-road section of our test loop, however.

      • Piglet2010

        Where do you get a test ride on a Honda in the US if you are not a dealer or journalist?

  • Ryan

    I will be picking a 500X up in the spring. It seems like it’s the perfect all around affordable bike. The only thing that it seems to be missing is that it isn’t all that special, it will never draw a crowd, but I’m okay with that, I’d rather be riding.

  • CruisingTroll

    Do you know if the ABS can be switched off for off pavement excursions? The mystery on that topic is the only thing holding me back once an ABS equipped bike hits my area’s dealers.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      There’s no ABS switch, but you can obviously pull the fuse. Or save yourself $500 and get the version without ABS.

      • Davidabl2

        It couldn’t be rocket science to wire in a switch to do a ground-interrupt to disable ABS, could it?

        • Bruce Steever

          Better to pull the fuse. The potential to cause many, many DTCs and potential electrical shorts to the ECU aren’t worth the risk.

    • Stuki

      The Abs may well work fine off pavement. The Super Tenere’s certainly works fine for most off pavement stuff. Much better than not having it, except on extreme low traction surfaces like the beach. But for mud, grass, semipacked dirt etc., a big bike like that is , at least for normal guys, more controllable with Abs almost everywhere it has any business being ridden (again, by normal guys.)

      From what I hear, the new Vstrom 650′s Abs is of similar quality and calibration.

  • Darrick Anderson

    I wonder how a 21 front – 18 rear spoke set-up would work. I’d really like to be done with KLRs forever.

    • Stuki

      That would be a cool customization. Based on Wes’ comment below, it sounds like the 700 would be a better platform for KLRification, though.

      • Darrick Anderson

        I’ve ridden the 700, no amount of KLRification will get that thing anywhere near off-road worthy, it’s a street bike.

    • DrLove

      Like so?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      This isn’t a KLR. If you want a truly dirt-capable ADV bike, the KTM 990 Adventure is the only game in town.

      • Bruce Steever

        What about the Tiger 800XC? Or the BMW F800GS/GSA? With the new KTM Adventure bike moving up to a very street-oriented 1195cc, the two 800s are the only game in town…until KTM releases a new middleweight twin, that is…

        And BTW, just rode the new KTM… it might be one of the best bikes i’ve ever ridden. Full stop.

      • Piglet2010

        How does the CB500X do on gravel? I live in a place where most of the farm-to-market roads are gravel – my TW200 handles them fine by is no good over 50 mph on paved roads, while my Dullsville feels like a crash waiting to happen on gravel.

      • Bill

        I will take a WR250R any day for dirt riding.

  • Eric

    I sat on one of these in a showroom, I’m 6’5″ and 250lbs. I found it fairly comfortable, not comfortable enough to sit on and say “We’re going to ride to Peru tomorrow!”, but for what it is… it’s good. This is a pretty good pick for someone tall, on a tighter budget and wants new instead of used. But I’m glad I bought the used Versys for half the price of a new CB500X.

  • Cody Blank

    I Wouldn’t be caught dead on anything inder 1,000cc, bro!!

  • Piglet2010

    If Honda really wanted to make this a bargain, they would make a version with panniers and a top box for less than $500 more (and not the silly prices due to 100% mark-up when sold separately).

    • Stuki

      I think Honda has taken a peek at BMWs financials, and realize there is crazy markup potential in accessories. Selling someone who previously could not afford a new bike a good, reliable one for a low price, and then releasing a plethora of high margin accessories one can buy slowly over time as one gets hold of a few more bucks, may end up being very lucrative for the MC makers.

      • Piglet2010

        Standard industry practice is about a 30-35% markup on motorcycles, and 100% on accessories, clothing, etc. Dealers stay in business by accessory sales and service, not by selling new bikes (as much of that 35% is eaten up by the costs of prep and financing the bikes until they are sold).

  • Piglet2010

    Is the RideApart Rating 9/10 (in the box) or 10/10 (after last line of article)?

  • Stephen Miller

    As a former Wee Strom owner I’m a bit surprised at how this compares with the DL650 and Versys. I mean, sure, the V-Strom is slower-steering, but you’d think the ZING of that sweet engine would make up for it both on corner exits and for general grins per mile. And the Versys is supposed to be very sweet-handling and grin-inducing also.

    You’re making me wonder if I didn’t just waste an extra $4K on the Tiger 800 I’m picking up today.

    Nah.

    • el_jefe

      Hey Steve, haven’t heard about this Tiger 800 yet:) Ill need a test ride since I’m sure it was me who convinced you to get the triple.
      - Jeff

      • Stephen Miller

        Come to the May “Friends of the VX” Rally and I’ll let you have a ride, Jeff. Since we’ll be switching bikes, though, PLEASE bring the DR-Z400SM.

  • Matt C

    “The little Honda didn’t engender much respect from Harley poseurs when I rode it into their party.”
    I view this as a positive!

    • Ayabe

      Par for the course, most of those guys won’t even wave when I’m on my F.

      • Erica Mathis

        I’ve been riding for 22 years, never owned a Harley and don’t like them, I’m not a cruiser kinda a guy, but through all my years riding standards, sport bikes, super sports, sport-touring and touring bikes and “Adventure” bikes I don’t think I’ve ever had a Harley rider not wave back. As far as waving first, the kind of bike one rides has nothing to do with it, some riders wave, some don’t, almost all of them wave back if you wave.

        P.S. Just realized I’m posting under my wife’s account, thought it was me who was signed in, oh well.

  • Jeremy Hobbs

    I love being validated. I’ll be picking one up in the spring. This will be my second street bike, coming off a ninja 250. I don’t think that I could have imagined a better bike for my needs. Huge props to Honda for addressing riders like me. I ride to ride, not to pose. And, living in NYC, I want to actually get out of 1st gear.

  • JP

    If money was no obstacle, would you recommend the Bonneville/Bonneville SE over this bike?

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      no way.

      • Piglet2010

        The Bonnie is much prettier, and as for the cost difference – well, you can’t take money with you when you die, eh?

        • Campisi

          I could see the weight difference between the two coming into play here. If Honda would give the CB500f the retro treatment they’ve proven they know how to do (CB1100, purpose-built frame aside), nobody would even be asking this question.

          • Piglet2010

            As for a practical bike, what I would want is for Honda to build is my Dullsville (NT700V) with a significant weight loss, a 6th gear for less vibration at highway speeds, the larger optional pannier covers and ABS as standard, and a $10K MSRP.

            Bonnie vs. CB1100: If Honda had built a new CB750F (the last and best looking of the air-cooled 750′s) with a weight in the 470-pound range, ~70HP at the rear wheel, and a MSRP of $9K, I might have bought one instead of a Bonnie.

    • Conrad

      J.P.,

      That’s so weird because I was literally down to the CB500F/X and the Bonneville after striking the Guzzi V7 off the list.

      I’m going to go with the Bonneville. Per Rideapart, there’s going to be some updates to the 2014 line of bonnies, so there’s a chance one can get a 2012/2013 new model for a decent discount over the winter.

      Also, please figure in the cost of the valve clearance check that is required at the 600 mile / 1000 k.m. for the 500′s. I’ve read that people pay anywhere from 400 – 600 at the dealer and that it voids the warranty of the bike if not completed. Think about that – close to or over 10% of the MSRP price of the bike only 600 miles in.

      http://www.motorcyclenews.com/MCN/News/newsresults/New-bikes/2013/July/jul0413-honda-cb500-valve-clearance-shock/Honda/CBR500R/_/R-EPI-141038?utm_source=widget&utm_medium=widget&utm_campaign=widget

      The CB500F (I prefer that one) is still such a freakin’ deal that I can see myself having a last second change of heart and going for that but for now I’m sticking with the bonneville and the eventual British Customs Predator pipes :D

      • Yellowjacket

        My 600 mile chance check including the oil change was $130 at my Honda dealer

        • Conrad

          That’s awesome and glad to hear that. I wonder why others may have paid thru the nose?

          I guess the best thing to do is ask the dealer from where one may buy what they would charge for that 600 mile service.

          Thanks for sharing your story on that. It was seriously a huge turn off for me thinking I would have to pay that much.

        • Michel Côté

          You should be concerned if they only did the oil change. This has been discussed greatly on cbr500riders.com. This is a new bike and some shops did not do the valve check which is the step that costs so much but it is required by Honda and many bikes have had their valves out of spec even at only 600 miles. My bike is one of them.

          • Yellowjacket

            They actually told me how the valves were fitting and I could tell the undid the bolts. My dealer charges for actual time if it comes under what the service book says. Most of the central Illinois Honda dealers are pretty great

        • Jeremy Alvarado

          lucky you.. i paid 377$

        • Sean McBee

          Just did my 600mi “checkup” and it came in under $200. That’s using a synthetic blend. Checked the bolts when I got home and the definitely did the valve clearance check. Couldn’t be happier with this bike. I originally went in wanting the cbr500r but when I found out the insurance was about 1/3 on the X, I couldn’t resist.

      • Piglet2010

        Head: Honda CB500F.
        Heart: Bonnie.

      • Von

        why did you scratch the v7 off you list?

    • appliance5000

      Look at the cb500f – naked street bike with very nice proportions – more comparable in that respect.

  • Stephen Mears

    Just the matte black for the states? That white/red at least adds a bit of excitement to the idea of having one of these as a commuter. Even the MT-09 looks to lack the cool color options of the EU models.

  • Lucas

    Bought one on Tuesday! I haven’t had a motorcycle since ’02, and so far I am absolutely digging this one. All of my other bikes were two-stroke street bikes (1976 Suzuki GT750 and 1981 Yamaha RD350LC) and while this one doesn’t smell as nice, it is very polite and comfortable!

  • 200 Fathoms

    Death to the beak.

  • Mark D

    How does the X ride on the highway? Can you speed along at 75-80 for ~150 miles at a time about 90% as comfortably as a VStrom?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      It’s buzzier than the V-Strom and its screen is obviously smaller, but it’s just fine for shorter trips like you describe. If I was riding cross country, I’d want the Strom.

  • John

    Ugh, still torn between that and the NC700x. I’ve ridden so long without ABS, I don’t care that much. I like the 500x for the price and weight. I like the 700x for the torque and design features and touring capability. BUT, the thing I’m missing is the bigger front wheel, even a 19″ and a *bit* more suspension. 5″ is pretty meager. I only care about the light weight because I want to go deep into the mountains on dirt roads with some serious sand in places. But if neither one are that useful for that, then the 700x seems like the better over all machine for the 2 hour occasional commuting trips for meetings or small jobs. Price no object, it would be a Tiger 800, but price, still an object in this economy. Which might make it have to be the 500x.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Don’t be fooled by the ADV marketing, none of the big bikes are any good off road with the exception of the KTM 990 Adventure. The rest are just nice touring bikes that’ll trickle down a trail with a bit of care.

      With that understood, the size of the front wheel is completely irrelevant. Just put on some good tires and you’re set. The lighter weight on the NC700X or this CB500X is going to help a lot when you drop it and, as with all ADV bikes, you will drop them, a fair bit. The NC’s low center of gravity helps there. The CB’s light weight will do the same. With any of the bikes, you need to fit some serious, serious aftermarket crash protection because, again, you will be crashing.

      Sorry, but with the exception of that KTM, the ADV reality does not match the ADV image. Which is why we like these cheap Hondas, they’ll get you there just as well as the pricey BMWs.

      • John

        Thanks Wes, I totally understand that. What I want is a mini TransAlp with the 500 engine in it. Or a regular TransAlp with the NC engine. Or a real Scrambler. Don’t need a pretend bike, but the 500 is light enough and has the right ergos at least and the price is low enough that crashing it won’t be the worst thing that ever happened, unlike getting a new $20K bike and doing an endo first day out.

        I would say though that physics does say that a 19″ or 21″ front wheel absolutely makes a difference. Also, the KTM is a ridiculous oversized pig, IMO. It’s at least 100lbs too heavy. And far too expensive to crash.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          So pick up a used XR650L and put a long range fuel tank on it.

          • John

            Not a horrible idea, but I’d rather have a more free revving twin as a DP bike with legs. Aside from this, large piston single cylinders don’t make much sense. I’d rather have a 450 single. It’s not that I’m THAT picky, it’s just that there seems to be no middle ground between light and heavy, race and reliable, no suspension and nosebleeds, made for street and made for dirt. Might just say screw and get a CR250L or KLX instead. Would rather have a little more engine, but in a world where 450s now rule offroad racing, is it too much to ask to have something between 250 and 650? A nice 500cc scrambler or trail bike that weighs 350lbs and doesn’t cost $10K like a FreeRide.

            • Stuki

              There’s the DRZ 400. I doubt it does much the WR250 doesn’t do, though.

              It does seem like finding and filling in undeserved niches is the new-new thing amongst manufaturers (as opposed to everyone slugging it out against each other in the exact same few categories), so it can’t be too long before Yammy has a WR, Zuk and updates DR, Kawa a Klx, and Honda a slighly larger CRFL. Or at least one of them does. It’s just too useful a niche to remain completely abandoned by every one of the makers for all future.

              • John

                Yeah, and it almost costs as much. Modern tech for $2000 less for $4500, Alex. Actually, a 500 twin engine as a CRF500L would be just about right. I think the few people who try to fill these niches don’t even make any serious effort. Kawasaki still sells the Super Sherpa. Sheesh.

              • runnermatt

                “It does seem like finding and filling in underserved niches is the new-new thing amongst manufacturers …”

                The book “The Long Tail – Why the future of business is selling less of more” by Chris Anderson addresses this idea. It is a good read, but I pretty much figured out his point halfway through and never finished the book. Here is the amazon.com link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Long-Tail-Business-Selling/dp/B001Q9E9F6

          • John

            Wes, please look up at the Thailand links and interview them and get as much technical details as possible! I would, but I’m not a “motorcycle journalist”.

        • Bruce Steever

          You can always import an XL700V Transalp from the UK…

          • John

            It would be cheaper to get the 500x and turn it into a Transalp killer. The Transalp is overpriced and obese. It weighs 50lbs more than the 500x and god knows what the price is. 2000 lbs + ridiculous suspension buys a nice donor suspension bike. I predicted manning up the 500x is going to be such a thing that Honda will have no choice but to come out with a real adventure version instead of the effeminate one here. Not that there’s anything that wrong with it. Actually, I think it wouldn’t be hard to make the 500x just about the best ADV bike in existence, certainly for less than some of these pigs cost, and 50-150lbs lighter.

            • Bruce Steever

              Having never ridden a new Transalp, i’ll reserve judgement. But it would take some serious engineering to make the 500 into a “proper” adventure bike. I’d figure you’d need new forks, triple clamp, swingarm and shock in addition to the usual crash bars and bashplate. I can’t imagine the end result would hold any significant advantages over a Tiger 800XC or Beemer 800GS…

              • John

                30bs, more manageable seat height.

                • Bruce Steever

                  Seat height might not be that different after the new suspension and increased ground clearance required for off-road use…

                • John

                  Possibly. It depends on how much more travel the bike can support without making it taller. But an extra inch and higher grade suspenders could make a huge difference, even without going nosebleed.

              • John

                Also, we’re talking $6000 in difference to spend on the wheels and suspension. Not chicken feed.

              • John

                Of course, a proper motorcycle magazine would take up this challenge, do the build out and find out who’s right.

                • Bruce Steever

                  That is an excellent point. Let me know when you find a motorcycle magazine with the budget to do this, and Honda is willing to let its bike get frankensteined.

                  I’m all for it, but this sort of thing is really hard to make happen in these post-2008-powersports-industry-crash sorts of days…

                • John

                  OR….you can call a few suspension/wheel suppliers, maybe an exhaust company and see if they want to take part in a grand marketing experiment that could yield hundreds and hundreds of customers.

                • John

                  And then raffle the bike to new or reupped magazine subscribers.

                  Do I need to actually build it for you too?

                • Bruce Steever

                  By all means, please do. We tried to do a nearly similar project with a Suzuki and got nowhere, but clearly you are better equipped and connected than the rest of us.

                  What’s your plan to cover the cost difference when you only get $2000 in raffle tickets?
                  Have you budgeted for bike transport when your raffle winner lives in East BF?
                  What about legal costs to write up the winner’s contract and transfer paperwork?

                  I’m purposefully playing the devil’s advocate because i really want to return to the halcyon days when long-term project bikes were the rule, not the exception. I feel it makes for better engagement with audiences and provides more real-world content. But OEMs and other major suppliers don’t feel it brings adequate ROI, apparently.

                • John

                  I grew up on the halcyon days and now we’re being force fed crap, mass market motorcycles because idiots buy more motorcycles than motorcyclists do.

                  But, yes, I might just do that. I just need to plan it so I don’t end up poor and with a big mistake on my hands.

                  Still, I think it’s worth a few phone calls. And, you can always just sell it, rather than raffle it, make back much of the money, or put it back like it was.

          • John
            • Stuki

              Neat enough, but if you wanted a “serious adventure bike” with 47hp and 500cc class torque; is a water cooled twin, purpose built for Euro license regulations and low cost, with little concern for “adventury” needs such as weight and crashability, really the optimum engine choice? If the 500s are such a success they become ubiquitous everywhere, I guess that would be a big plus over some exotic KTM engine. But otherwise, there are plenty of ways of achieving similar HP, tq, and nowadays even running smoothness, using engine designs that would strike me as more suited for a “real” adventure bike. Even, based on Wes’ writings and if a twin is preferred for smoothness, the laydown (facilitating higher ground clearance while keeping COG down if done right), “tractor like” 700s Honda already has in the stable………..

              • John

                Sure, but then you’re getting back up in weight and price.

                The thing about the 500x is not only that it is substantially lighter than the good ADV bikes, but is half the cost. It it were $2000 less, the idea of modifying one would be silly. The fact that it is $6000+ less makes it an interesting concept to modify. Horsepower is overrated these days. Lightness is not. Any twin can pretty much take you faster than you knobbies should let you, but this actually has the potential to be light enough and high tech enough with mods to utterly wipe out bigger bikes as soon as you run out of asphalt.

                One of the more interesting possibilities is to find a 450-650cc single off roader and swap the parts, and end up with a nice super moto and a kickass mini ADV bike for the same price as one less capable bike.

                I think Honda could and should re-engineer the TransAlp with the 700 engine, but also come out with a serious off road version of the 500x that costs more like $7500-$8000, but with the best suspension, lightest weight and best off road tires/rubber they can fit into that price. It could totally rock.

          • John
          • John

            At the very least, an interview would be highly interesting – https://www.facebook.com/thaihonda.crosschallenge

          • John

            Also, I talked to one of the men behind it and he said they will be sharing tech details soon on the bikes. So….journalism…..

          • John
  • John

    I’d love to see a test between the NC500S and the 20 year old Hawk GT. I imagine the 500 would win but it sure would be an interesting comparison, comparing this to a classic that was also considered to be underpowered even back then.

    • Piglet2010

      The Hawk GT motor is still around (with 4-valve heads and 680cc) and does a reasonable job of moving the porky Honda Dullsville with a porky rider on board.

  • stephen

    So for your money, the CB500x the the NC700x? to be used for getting around to work, for 300mile road trips with some fire roads etc. and a possible passenger?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      The 500.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      the 500

    • Bruce Steever

      The 500.

  • John

    Dear Triumph, please stop me from buying this machine. I know you can do it, but the magic bullet is a Tiger Cub 530 XC twin for $7000. You can do it, I know you can.

  • John
  • runnermatt

    I’m guessing that the White/red color combo will be available for 2014, instead of grey/grey being the only option.

    • runnermatt

      Checking the Honda website 3 months after I made this comment and I found I was right.

  • http://victorlombardi.com/ Victor

    Any commentary on the styling is conspicuous by its absence. I don’t expect a lot at this price point, but there was definitely a deliberate attempt to style this, but the gas tank higher than the tail and the raven mask-looking front just don’t look appealing to my eyes. I imagine a lot of people buy with style in mind. I’d rather have a used BMW.

  • Erica Mathis

    Re: V-Strom

    Obviously when you get off a smaller bike and get on a bigger one, the bigger bike is going to feel portly and have a slower response to rider input. I mean, if you hopped off a Ninja 250 onto the CB500X, the Honda’s going to feel heavy and slow turning. Just as if you hopped off a ST1300 and onto a V-Strom the Strom is going to feel light and nimble. It’s all relative.

  • Luis Andrés Natali

    I’m shopping for my first bike. Mainly use, 20′ commute to work 90% of that time on the freeway. Secondary use, have fun on the weekends.
    I was leaning to the CB500 F, which I think is a great option and like the styling better than the X.
    I’m a urban guy, so I don’t care for going off-road (or pretending) with the bike at all.
    On the other hand, the windscreen on the X will probably add some extra comfort on the freeway, but I have a hard time with the “adventure” styling.
    That being said, if I don’t think rationally, or economically, and I think of the bike I really like and I would ride for years, I would go with the new FZ-9, being extremely careful as it has way more power.
    I know most of you have been there shopping for your first bike. What do you guys think? Appreciate your thoughts.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Go for the CB500F and get the ABS. The idea with starting on a more learner-friendly bike is not to dumb down your experience, but because faster bikes like the FZ-09 will slow the speed at which you learn. Their big power and sharp brakes and whatnot make it more difficult to develop skills, where the CB500F is designed from the ground up to turn you into a skilled rider in the shortest time possible. Riding motorcycles is a sport; you need to practice, practice practice to get good at it and do so using bikes designed to help you learn.

      The CB500F is great on the highway. Sean Did like 1k miles on it over a long weekend this summer.

      • Luis Andrés Natali

        Thank you for your advice Wes! I’ll stick to the CB500F, you are totally right. Step by step.
        I actually took the MSF Basic Course, because I like to think I will be a safe and responsible rider. I read your reviews and Sean’s on the CB500F. Keep up the good work, you guys rule!

  • kirby123

    Just picked up my CB500x from the dealer yesterday. Let’s just say that I am in love with everything about it, from the great throttle and brake response, to the light weight (easy to turn in confined spaces without having to put a foot down), to the included tie down to secure your helmet with. The sepia-toned digital dash display is gentle on the eyes whether daylight or nighttime, without compromising readability (I wear glasses for severe myopia). The four-way hazards switch is a great thing to add as well. I just wish it included a center stand (I’m not yet ready to pay $130 +labor to get one installed, but maybe when I have the cash) and a gear position indicator.