The CB500X – originally launched in 2013 alongside the naked CB500F and fully-faired CBR500R – brings crossover adventure style to Honda’s fun-focussed twin-cylinder ‘light middleweight’ trio. It is a motorcycle that, without fanfare, quietly gets on with the job of being supremely competent and adaptable in use for a wide variety of owners.
The CB500X’s usefulness is down to a straightforward equation – a perky, well-regarded twin-cylinder engine which produces real torque and drive from low rpm, and revs hard up top – plus a chassis that gives a supremely comfortable ride both around town and out on the open highway.
It slips between the role of short-hop commuter to weekend tourer effortlessly. Long travel suspension irons out irregular road surfaces, wide handlebars provide leverage and the upright riding position offers both comfort and a wide field of view for the rider. In other words, the CB500X has proved an all-rounder in every sense of the term.
In 2016, a first upgrade saw the CB500X receive a larger fuel tank, more wind protection and a taller screen. It also gained LED lighting, spring preload-adjustable front forks and an adjustable brake lever.
Its 2019 evolution delivered more sophisticated adventure style, more engine performance and a number of chassis upgrades, ensuring that while the CB500X remained confident in its wide-ranging abilities, its ‘X’ factor was amplified a good deal louder.
From urban commuter to weekend explorer, the CB500X is ready for anything. Its styling has a sharp adventure edge, and is complemented by long travel suspension, high-specification single-tube shock absorber, comfortable rider ergonomics and a 19-inch front wheel.
The CB500X’s 35kW engine is A2 licence-compatible and benefits from the 2019 upgrades to the inlet, exhaust and valve timing, which added 4% more power and torque between 3-7,000rpm compared to the previous model, and were accompanied by an enhanced exhaust note and a new assist/slipper clutch.
LCD instruments include a Shift Up and Gear Position indicator, and all the lighting is LED.
Styling & Chassis
- Strong, tough adventure styling
- Tapered handlebars and wide steering lock
- Long travel suspension and 19-inch front wheel
- LCD instrument display with Gear Position and Shift Up Indicators
- Full LED lighting
For its 2019 evolution, the CB500X was reborn with a much more aggressive, ‘ready for the wild’ adventure style. Honda’s development engineers extended the radiator shrouds and fairing, with substantive new angles giving a strong three-dimensional texture and feel; new side covers interlocked with the fuel tank, cohesively linking the front and rear of the machine.
But the 2019 redesign was about much more than looks. Thanks to improved aerodynamic performance, the high-pressure air flowing around the fairing and screen was reduced, improving wind protection for the rider at highway speeds. The seat profile, too, was slimmed by shaving the shoulders at the front, allowing for easy movement around the machine, and aiding the already comfortable ground reach. To help the CB500X’s manoeuvrability the steering angle was increased 3° to 38° from centred to full lock, and the addition of a gunmetal grey tapered steel handlebar elevated control still further.
LCD instruments – set in a multi-surfaced and textured surround, echoing the overall design theme – feature a Gear Position and Shift Up indicator; this is set to a default 8,750rpm but can be adjusted in 250rpm increments between 5-8,750rpm. The tubular screen stay can also mount a GPS above the instruments.
The 35mm diameter steel diamond-tube mainframe is light and strong, with a tuned degree of yield that gives plenty of feedback to the rider as road surfaces change. The shape and position of the engine mounts, plus the frame’s rigidity balance, reduce vibration.
Wheelbase is 1445mm and rake and trail are set at 27.5 degrees and 108mm giving nimble, yet confidence-inspiring steering. Mass centralisation, with the engine in close proximity to the swingarm pivot point, delivers turning agility and optimum front/rear weight distribution ensures stability. Kerb weight is197kg.
Seat height is 830mm; overall dimensions are 2155mm x 825mm x 1410mm, with 180mm ground clearance. The fuel tank holds 17.5L including reserve, and, combined with the engine’s excellent fuel economy of 27.8km/l (WMTC mode), gives a range of 480km (over 300 miles).
The 41mm preload-adjustable telescopic front fork features 150mm of travel, with rear wheel travel of 135mm. A single-tube rear shock absorber (as found on larger capacity sports bikes) with its large-diameter piston ensures excellent suspension response and temperature management.
The CB500X has 9-stage spring preload adjustment working through a rigid box-section steel swingarm, which features pressed steel chain adjustment end-pieces. Final drive is via sealed 520 chain.
The 19-inch front wheel – along with the long travel suspension – ensures confident, supremely stable handling on rough surfaces. The lightweight aluminium rim wears a 110/80-R19 trail-pattern tyre, the 17-inch rear a 160/60-R17 tyre. A single front 310mm wave-pattern disc and two-piston brake caliper is matched to a 240mm rear disc and single-piston caliper. ABS is fitted as standard.
The 21YM CB500X will be available in three new colour and graphic schemes, each featuring a striking red rear sub frame, in tribute to the CRF1100L Africa Twin: Grand Prix Red, Matt Gunpowder Black Metallic and Pearl Metalloid White.
- Lively twin-cylinder power plant’s internal architecture mirrors that of the 2019 CBR1000RR Fireblade
·Usable power and torque across the range
- Sportier sound from the dual-exit muffler
- Assist/slipper clutch eases upshifts and manages downshifts
- Homologated for EURO5
The CB500X’s A2-licence friendly, 8-valve liquid-cooled parallel twin-cylinder layout offers a well-proportioned balance of physical size and willing, enjoyable power output, with an energetic, high-revving character and zappy top end.
Already strong off the bottom, the 2019 engine upgrades saw faster acceleration through a boost in low-to-mid-range power and torque in the 3-7,000rpm range; with a 4% improvement coming via altered valve timing – with ‘close’ timing accelerated by 5° – and lift increased by 0.3mm to 7.8mm.
Feeding the PGM-FI fuel injection is a more-or-less straight shot of airflow through the airbox and throttle bodies – the 2019 upgrade saw the battery re-positioned further away from the rear of the airbox intake duct to allow greater airflow. The exhaust muffler features dual exit pipes, giving a sporty sounding edge to each pulse. Peak power of 35kW arrives at 8,500rpm, with 43Nm torque delivered at 7,000rpm.
Bore and stroke is set at 67mm x 66.8mm and compression ratio is 10.7:1; the crankshaft pins are phased at 180° and a primary couple-balancer sits behind the cylinders, close to the bike’s centre of gravity. The primary and balancer gears use scissor gears, reducing noise. The crank counterweight is specifically shaped for couple-balance and its light weight allows the engine to spin freely, with reduced inertia.
Acting as a stressed member, the engine complements the frame’s rigidity with four frame hangers on the cylinder head. Internally the cylinder head uses roller rocker arms; shim-type valve adjustment keeps weight down, for lower valve-spring load and reduced friction.
A silent (SV Chain) cam chain has the surface of its pins treated with Vanadium, reducing friction with increased protection against wear. Inlet valve diameter is 26.0mm with exhaust valve diameter of 21.5mm.
The piston shape is based upon those used in the 2019 CBR1000RR Fireblade to reduce piston ‘noise’ at high rpm. Friction is reduced by striations on the piston skirt (a finish that increases surface area, introducing gaps in which oil can flow for better lubrication). As with the CBR1000RR, an AB 1 salt bath process, used after isonite nitriding, forms a protective oxidisation membrane.
The ‘triangle’ proportion of crankshaft, main shaft and countershaft is very similar to that of Honda’s four-cylinder RR engines and much of the internal structure and engineering is taken directly from the 2019 CBR1000RR.
The crankcase uses centrifugally cast thin-walled sleeves; their internal design reduces the ‘pumping’ losses that can occur with a 180° phased firing order. The oil pump features improved aeration performance, with reduced friction; a deep sump reduces oil movement under hard cornering and braking. Oil capacity is 3.2L.
The CB500X’s six-speed gearbox is very close to that of its RR cousin and uses the same gear change arm structure and link mechanism. Introduced in 2019, an assist/slipper clutch enables lighter upshifts and smooths out any hard downshifts.
The 21YM CB500X, like its 500cc stablemates, is homologated for EURO5, which from January 1st 2020 introduced significantly stricter engine emissions standards compared to EURO4. These requirements include substantial reductions in permitted carbon monoxide emissions, an over 40% decrease in total hydrocarbon emissions, tougher misfire detection and the introduction of a particulate matter limit.
A range of Genuine Honda Accessories is available for the CB500X. They include: Centre stand, Side wind deflectors, Knuckle guards, Heated grips, 35L top box, Rear carrier, Pannier mounts, Pannier cases, Tubular fairing protector frames, Fog lights, Tank bag, Seat bag, ACC charging socket, Smoked screen, Wheel stripe and Tank Pad.
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