The Honda CB500X is the adventure-bike version of Honda’s popular series of 500 twins. Introduced in 2013, the CB500X aims to be a crossover machine, and based on the factory Pirelli Scorpion Trail tires, that crossover is 90% street and 10% dirt.
Adventure bikes are the SUVs of the motorcycle world with their go-anywhere image and as such offer a new rider an opportunity for a bit broader riding experience. Sharing the robust 471 cc parallel-twin engine with the CB500F and CBR500R, the CB500X gains 1.2 inches more fork travel in the front and a higher, wider handlebar, improving its handling, ground clearance, and long-distance comfort.
Follow along and I will explain why new riders may want to have a long look at the Honda CB500X.
Our Take: Why You Should Buy a CB500X
Adventure bikes can describe a very wide range of abilities, from an all-weather long-distance touring machine to a Baja-worthy river crossing warrior. The CB500X is aimed at the weekend touring mostly on pavement kind of rider. Taking trips on roads less known and not needing to turn around if you find gravel or dirt for part of the journey.
To that end, Honda added the CB500X as the third member of its very popular CB500 trio. Bikes sharing the same 471cc fuel-injected, DOHC parallel twin-engine, frame, running gear, and a wallet-friendly price point of $6000. The engine is able to pull smoothly from low in the RPM range and shows a nice linear progression of power topping out at 47 horsepower. With a 6-speed gearbox, new riders will find decent power for long highway trips.
Honda bumped the ground clearance a bit compared to the CB siblings and the CB500X’s upright ergonomics, wide handlebar, and accessories such as heated grips, handguards, and center stand give it the ADV feel. I like the look of the windscreen which adjusts two inches up or down and provides some protection for the upper body.
The front fork is a 41mm non-adjustable unit with 5.5 inches of travel, and the rear is a Pro-Link single shock, adjustable for spring preload with 4.7 inches of travel. Progressive improvements have increased these figures on the 2021 model to 5.9 inches and 5.3 inches of travel for the front and rear. Most riders will find the handling to be very capable and paired with strong brakes (ABS is optional) the on-road performance is well rounded. If you push the CB500X hard while loaded down, or go seeking rough off-road paths, the limitations of this basic suspension will show quickly.
Honda has saddlebags and top case available to turn the CB500X into an excellent solo weekend ride. The GVWR is 16lbs higher than the other CB models and accounts for the luggage ability and the ½ gallon of additional fuel capacity. Expect few stops at the gas bar, most riders seem to get 55+ mpg, or roughly 240 miles out of the 4.5-gallon tank.
Bottom line: The Honda CB500X is indeed a versatile multi-tool. Leave the bags in the garage, and around town, riding can be an easy everyday occurrence. When the weekend hits the CB500X can be loaded up and adventures found. Approachable, reliable, and capable are terms that fit the CB500X, giving new riders a great platform to experience a range of riding environments.
Reasons to buy the CB500X:
47 hp is good power for most new riders (you won’t outgrow it too fast, you won’t find it too much).
A 90/10 mix of on-road and off-road riding.
The 471cc parallel-twin engine delivers power in a strong linear fashion.
Great ergonomics and comfortable riding position
The brakes are better than average and ABS is optional.
Perfect for around-town riding or weekend trips, saddlebags are an optional accessory.
2019 or newer models see suspension and tire improvements to make it much more off-pavement worthy.
Reasons not to buy the CB500X:
Harder to find on the used market, people love them and keep them. I know not much of a negative.
If you want greater off-road capabilities the suspension just doesn’t have the clearance
No skid plate.
Production Run & Notable Model-Year Changes
Production Run & Model Generations
Honda introduced the CB500X in 2013 as part of a family of 471cc parallel-twin machines.
First Generation (2013-2018)
Introduced in 2013 as a three bike family, April: CBR500R, CB500F released; July: CB500X released
The 471 cc engine was designed to meet the restricted power requirement of the A2 European driving license limit.
Front suspension gains a preload adjuster in 2016.
Second Generation (2019-)
EURO 4 compliance with smaller exhaust.
New LED headlamp and new LCD instrumentation with additional features.
Change in rake from 26.5° to 27.5°
Ground clearance increases by 0.4 inches.
New 19” front wheel and change to knobby tires.
Significant suspension improvements to off-road capabilities.
Owner Reviews of the Honda CB500X
Press & Magazines
HONDA CB500X (2019 – on) Review
“ it’s a machine that oozes so much class in just about every situation, it’ll impress the experienced, too. Power feels so much bigger than its 47bhp would suggest and just like a big capacity adventure bike it’s spacious, agile, plush, characterful, and handles superbly both on [the] tarmac and dusty off-road trails.”
“Our CB500X came with 90/10 on-road/off-road Pirelli Scorpion Trail tires, but other than the bike’s styling that’s where the similarities to a true adventure bike end. Though it has a little more ground clearance than its siblings at about 6.5 inches, that’s without a skid plate in place like most ADV bikes with clearance in the 8-9-inch range.”
“Saddling up on the CB500X is not intimidating at all. Seat height is 32.7 inches, and with my 31-inch inseam, I was easily able to flat-foot the bike. The new tapered handlebar put me in a neutral, upright seating position that encouraged better posture than I have at my desk. I liked it already.”
The power – The CB500X has a smooth engine that delivers great power from down low in the RPM range.
Riding comfort – Honda gets the riding position just right. I find this to be a very comfortable bike.
Reliability – It’s a Honda, what else can I say? They just never seem to break.
Fuel efficiency & range – Getting over 55 mpg and having a 4.5-gallon tank means less time at the pump.
What Owners Complain About
Soft Suspension – Heavier riders find it a bit soft.
Needs a skid plate.
The 2013 – 2018 models are not really meant to adventure off-road without some changes.
The Bottom Line
The Honda CB500X is a popular machine that was good from the start but took a little time for Honda to make it great. Riders that seek more time away from the pavement will need to address the tires and rear shock if riding a 2013-2018 model. For those who know they will ride mainly on pavement then the CB500X will be a great partner as delivered.
Outside of the usual service needs, the CB series of Hondas are very reliable machines (and some of the best Hondas ever made) so the garage time will be more focused on those aftermarket tweaks. The aftermarket support is good and owners can enjoy adapting their CB500X as their riding needs grow and change.
Overall there is little to fault with the Honda CB500X, it offers very solid value. I think new riders of a wide range of sizes will find years of enjoyment from this purchase.