The Honda badge means a lot of different things. For some, it signifies a top-of-line adventure tourer capable of crossing continents, while for others, it’s just a fun bit of monkey business. But what about Honda’s latest model in our country? The CB500X is a ‘middleweight’ ADV, which is imported to India via CKD (Completely Knocked Down) route, for now, and as a result, costs Rs 6.87 lakh (ex-showroom). However, let’s gloss over that for a second and tell you what’s under that sharp-looking exterior!
Let’s start right from the front. The CB500X gets 41mm telescopic front forks and a ‘Pro-Link’ mono-shock rear suspension. The front wheels are 19-inch units while the rear ones are 17-inch ones; both with alloy wheels and tubeless tyres. The sleek front headlamps, indicators and rear lights are LED, while the instrument cluster is a negative LCD screen, making for easier reading in almost any condition. The front handlebar is wide and comfortable to use, while the 830mm seat height is just about right for average-height riders. The sharp lines, adjustable front wind deflector and ample cladding all around make the CB500X quite handsome and rugged. Overall, Honda has outdone itself in the design department. Although the CB500X doesn’t look imposing, it doesn’t look like a slouch either.
Out on the road, the CB500X impresses deeply with its riding characteristics. The handling is neutral but quite precise. The suspension setup is soft, making the ride over bad roads or just the odd speed breaker a lesson in comfort. The switchgear is basic but solid, as is the case with any Honda motorcycle. Surprisingly, I found myself taking corners with more aggression than I had first intended, which is a testament to the easy-going nature of this ADV. Even in a straight line, the CB500X holds its own really well, never leaving one lacking for feel or feedback. After riding it around for half a day, I was left wanting for more, given the comfortable ride and ample power on tap. Speaking of which…
As important as all of that is, the most crucial detail here is this 471cc, parallel-twin motor. You see, this doesn’t just perform its duty here but comes in a range of other motorcycles as well. Namely, the CB500F, CB500R and the Rebel 500. For an enthusiast like you and me, that is more than just an interesting proposition. Let’s save that for later, though. For now, let’s try to answer the simple question – does it deserve a spot in your garage?
In short, yes. But, you have to be willing to look past that price tag, which can be a tall order. Rs 6.87 lakh isn’t a small amount, and there is more than a worthy competitor out there, with more power and displacement. However, that’s for another day. The engine itself feels silky smooth all across the rev range, with a hint of torque nudging you along nicely. In my personal opinion, the CB500X feels more at home on the road, covering long distances without much hassle.
We briefly rode it off-road as well, but that wasn’t a significant amount of time, for me to comment freely. Overall, the 471cc, eight-valve, liquid-cooled, parallel twin-cylinder engine which produces 47 bhp and 43.2 Nm of torque is more than up to the task, no matter what you throw at it. The six-speed transmission with an assist and a slipper clutch mechanism is also a breeze to operate, adding to the relaxed dynamics of the CB500X.
The CB500X does a lot of things right, just like Honda, I suppose. But for that price, there’s a much more powerful bike out there, which also happens to be Japanese – Namely, the Kawasaki Versys 650. To sum up, the Honda CB500X is a genuinely good product for those looking for a reliable and easy-going motorcycle, but as we said before, that price can be a hard pill to swallow. Personally, I’m just glad that Honda has brought such a motorcycle to our market, but the CB500X could have been so much more, had it taken a more localised approach. Lessons for the future, perhaps?