With over 3,000 miles put on it in four months, the 2013 Honda CB500X is currently the highest-mileage bike in the RideApart garage. It’s also the second smallest. Why are we choosing a 471cc “learner bike” for nearly everything, in preference over larger, more specialized machines? Find out in this Honda CB500X Long-Term Update.
Joining the Honda CB500F and Honda CBR500R in the 500 trio, the CB500X is differentiated by longer forks, a larger fuel tank and an ADV-style fairing. Sit on it and you’ll immediately notice the taller, more spacious riding position. Riding it, the X benefits from a touch more stability and its higher-spec Pirelli Scorpion Trail tires. That tiny, little screen actually does a great job of keeping wind off your torso, directing it onto and over the shoulders (I’m 6’ 2”) while leaving the helmet buffet-free in clean air. The X also gains a plusher, one-piece seat unit, making it better for carrying passengers.
Like the other 500s, it’s designed to comply with the new European “A2” license tier for new riders, which dictates both a maximum power (47 bhp, which is what the bike makes), as well as a power-to-weight ratio. The X’s purpose isn’t to be the fastest or best at any particular thing, but to deliver an excellent all-round motorcycle that’s accessible, economical and affordable. At $6,000 without ABS or $6,500 with, it does just that.
How’s this for an example: the week before Thanksgiving was pretty ridiculous. While on the Honda Fourtrax Foreman 4×4 launch up in Paso Robles (a 3.5-hour ride from my home in Los Angeles), I got the call to come ride a top secret race bike up at Thunderhill that weekend. I had all the road riding gear necessary, but the gear bag bungeed to the back of the CB500X had dirt stuff, not track stuff in it. So, I rode home Friday afternoon, packed up my leathers and set out first thing Saturday for the 500-mile ride to the Northern California track. I arrived after dark, in freezing temps.
The next morning, I walked out of the hotel to discover the CB500X covered in frost. I scraped it off the clocks and seat and rode seven miles to the track in sub-freezing temperatures. There, I threw down three sessions on track, caught up with some old friends, then did 500 miles back to Los Angeles. By the time I’d gotten to The Grapevine, I was again riding in below freezing temps and in high winds. All with a Kriega US-20 strapped to the tank and my Maxpedition Fliegerduffel bungeed to the rear.
The previous weekend, I’d promised my girlfriend a motorcycle ride and I needed to test those Aerostich Darien Light Pants, so we took the CB500X up to Crystal Lake Café in the Angeles National Forest. It was a chilly 68 degrees in Hollywood, but a frigid 42 degrees and raining by the time we’d gotten to the 5,200-foot high snack bar. Lara is as tall as I am, so that’s a lot of human for a “small” bike, but the 500 handled it admirably. The final climb up the mountain in the freezing rain was pretty treacherous, so we took it very slow, but the excellent Pirelli Scorpion Trail tires held on admirably and the Anti-Lock brakes provided surefooted confidence. Boy, did Café proprietor Adam’s hot cocoa taste good by the time we got there.
Total maintenance and costs in four months of riding similar to that described above? Well, I’ve checked the chain tension and tire pressures a couple times. Oh, and I stretched out a bungee cord, so total cost: $1.25.