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The Honda CB500X is finally here. The highly recommended and much awaited motorcycle was recently launched in India and it is now time for us to find out how good it is on the highways, how it handles the twisties and most importantly for the ADV crowd, how good it is, off the road.
The Honda CB500X was first launched in 2013 in international markets and it almost immediately impressed everyone with its design, rideability and practicality. Honda then updated the motorcycle in 2016 and it received some major updates in 2019. Now, the Honda CB500X has finally been launched in India.
Design and Style
The Honda CB500X features angular bodywork with a layered design. It boasts of sharp design lines coupled with flowing panels, much like the bigger CRF 1100 Africa Twin. Up front is an LED headlamp with LED DRLs and right above it is a tall, adjustable windscreen.
It comes with extended radiator shrouds/fuel tank extensions, and a voluptuous fuel tank. The rear-end carries a simple, no fuss design. The engine block too plays a major role in the design and styling, while the exhaust downpipes have been crafted like a piece of art.
The Honda CB500X follows Honda's current design language. It sports a friendly face thanks to the LED headlamp being designed in typical Honda fashion. The motorcycle has been made available in two colour options — Matt Gunpowder Black Metallic, and Grand Prix Red. Grand Prix Red certainly looks good, with its contrasting tank extensions and the typical Honda Red glossy paint job.
However, Matt Gunpowder Black Metallic stands out with its matt Black paint job, grey tank extensions, dark red graphics on the fuel tank, etc. The silver components, and chrome bits on the exhaust make the motorcycle look attractive. The petal discs at the front and rear also add to the design and styling aspect.
The Honda CB500X comes with a few important features like dual-channel ABS, Honda Ignition Security System (HISS) with immobiliser, full LED lighting, analogue-digital instrumentation, etc. It comes with an analogue tachometer for engine speed and a negative backlit LCD screen displays all necessary ride information like the speedometer, odometer, trip meters, clock, gear position indicator, etc.
Towards the bottom right of the LCD screen is a digital rev-counter as well. The Honda CB500X comes with a dedicated hazard lights switch with the emergency stop signal function. When the rider brakes really hard, the motorcycle senses that it is in an emergency braking situation and turns on the hazard lights. Quite a handy feature then.
Engine and Performance
The Honda CB500X is powered by a liquid-cooled, 471cc parallel-twin engine that puts out 46.93 bhp at 8,500rpm and 43.2Nm at 6,500rpm. A six speed gearbox drives the rear wheel via a slip and assist clutch. On paper, it does feel like the power output might not be sufficient, but on tarmac, it is a different story altogether.
Upon thumbing the starter button, one is greeted with a deep, bassy rumble which isn't very loud. When the throttle is twisted though, the soundtrack changes from the low, bassy, rumble to a raspy growl. As it nears the redline, the sound turns into a screech. Acceleration is linear and effortless until the motorcycle reaches well above cruising speeds. At no point, does the engine feel stressed.
As mentioned earlier, the figures don't look all too great on paper. However, while astride the motorcycle, things are quite different. The engine doesn't mind being revved. In-fact, it is quite happy being revved. However, the best that this engine has to offer comes when one rides the torque wave that starts at around 2,500rpm and goes all the way up to 6,500rpm.
Roll-on accelerations are handled with aplomb. Accelerating from 70-100km/h in 6th gear takes just over five seconds while the 70-120km/h run in top gear is done in just over 6 seconds. We couldn't do a top-speed run on the Honda CB500X, but we do expect it to easily touch 170km/h.
Ride and Handling
The primary requirement from an ADV Tourer is comfort over long distances, and the Honda CB500X checks this box right away. The seat is soft and supple, and the suspension handles almost all roads with aplomb.
As mentioned earlier, cruising at triple digit speeds is this motorcycle's forte and at this speed, the suspension soaks up all bumps and potholes like they were non-existent. Out on the highway then, this motorcycle is a star. What about the twisties, you may ask. The motorcycle isn't exactly a corner carver but it does provide the rider with lots of confidence even in the corners.
On twisty roads, when ridden above 4,500rpm, the Honda CB500X is sure to put a smile on the rider's face. The suspension is more off-road biased and hence there is quite a bit of nose-dive upon braking hard and mid-corner corrections aren't really easy to make. While accelerating hard, the front end does tend to become lighter. In-fact, a tug on the handlebar while accelerating hard can result in a portrait-worthy wheelie.
One of the most popular questions that will be asked about the Honda CB500X will be about its performance while off the road. It is not a hardcore offroad motorcycle but is more of a soft-roader. Broken stretches of road are handled with ease, and the Honda CB500X keeps the rider and pillion comfortable even when the road ends.
When taken off the beaten path, the Honda CB500X doesn't hesitate one bit. It rides on Dunlop Trailmax tyres. These are dual-purpose tyres and are quite grippy on the road as well as off it. On the soft sand that we rode on, the wheel spun quite a lot. When shown some harder ground, it grips hard.
It rides on a conventional telescopic fork up front and a 9-step adjustable monoshock at the rear. The adjustable rear suspension does allow for more flexibility. The 19-inch front and 17-inch rear wheel setup makes sure the motorcycle handles well off the road.
Braking duties are handled by a 310mm petal disc up front and a 240mm disc at the rear. The brakes offer decent bite and provide lots of feedback to the rider. They aren't the sharpest brakes out there, but are among the most powerful and the motorcycle slows down without a fuss. The Honda CB500X features a rather upright riding position and the footpegs are positioned to provide a comfortable stand-up riding position.
At 830mm, the seat height is on par with other adventure touring motorcycles in its segment. With a height of around 5' 8", I could rest both legs on the ground without any struggle. Weighing in at around 199 kilograms, the Honda CB500X is lighter than its competition by a large margin. Sliding the motorcycle around on loose ground was fun, and we could do it all day long.
Variants, Colours & Pricing
There is just one variant of the Honda CB500X on sale in India at the moment. It is available in two colours - Matt Gunpowder Black Metallic, and Grand Prix Red. The Honda CB500X has been priced at Rs 6,87,386 (Ex-showroom, Bangalore).
It was a brilliant day, riding the Honda CB500X. It is a lovely motorcycle and is extremely comfortable over long distances. It has a gem of an engine, which makes life on the bike easier, no matter what the conditions around are. It does lack a few premium features which should have been provided at this price point.
With an ex-showroom price tag of Rs 6.87 lakh, the Honda CB500X slots directly in between the Benelli TRK 502 and the Suzuki V-Strom 650. Is it worth the price though, is a question that you will be asked multiple times. The answer to that is, yes. Despite its lack of top-spec features, the Honda CB500X will be value-for-money to the right buyer thanks to its brilliant engine and riding dynamics.
It remains to be seen how many of these right buyers are currently there in the Indian market. Honda will eventually launch the CB500F and CBR500R in India and this might lead to a higher localisation percentage, in turn leading to lower prices, someday. Until then, we can safely say that Honda has brought in a brilliant product.