Honda’s motorcycle lineup has been drastically changed (read: improved) this season. Their award-winning lineup has been added to by a series of new motorcycles. Recently I’ve had the chance to experience the CTX700s, a new line of entry-level cruisers powered by the NC700 drivetrain. The 2013 Honda CB500X, which shares the same basic setup as both the CB500F and the CBR500R, is an all-new adventure bike that Honda aims to target both new riders as well as existing Honda diehards.
Powered by a 471cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin, the CB500X is nowhere near what you would call “fast”; it develops 47 brake horsepower at its 8500 rpm redline. However, despite contrary belief as well as my own presumptions, it really doesn’t have any trouble keeping up with traffic. Unlike Honda’s automotive endeavours, the beauty of this CB500X actually has torque. At highway speeds, the engine revs pretty high, but for a 500cc, it’s not as bad as I initially thought. It’s been a long time since I’ve ridden anything with less than 500cc though; I found myself hunting for an additional gear when cruising in sixth multiple times. The clutch is absolutely brilliant though; almost reminiscent of the light uptake on Honda’s own Civic Si HFP that I recently tested.
One place where the CB500X excels for long-distance driving is its fuel range. The 17L tank returned a 360km range with my particularly spirited use of the throttle. The instrument cluster is capable of displaying both instantaneous and average fuel consumption; I noticed my numbers hovering in the high 3L/100km range. As well, the back seat is comfortable for a passenger; the pegs are positioned perfectly and the grab handles are in the right spot as well as feeling extremely sturdy.
The beauty of the 2013 CB500X as opposed to its siblings is that it’s far more versatile. Quite similar to the slightly more adventurous 2013 Suzuki V-Strom 650 I rode earlier this summer, the CB500X feels just as at home commuting on the city streets as it does when taking a highway trip, or even bounding down a gravel road. On a particular ride I took from The Forks of the Credit back down through Belfountain, a random road I decided to venture down suddenly went from pavement to gravel. Rather than turning around, I decided to explore the CB500X’s off-pavement capabilities.
Although I wouldn’t venture much further than a gravel or dirt road on this bike, the Honda did impress me. It felt more composed on the gravel than any other motorcycle I’ve ridden this year. I will be honest though; at highway speeds the CB500X feels a little bit floppy. It maintains speed well enough, but lane changes aren’t as seamless as I would like them to be. The high center of gravity from the 31.9” seat height (the CBR500R and the CB500F have a slightly lower seat, at 30.9 inches) means this motorcycle feels a bit more tippy than it should. Below 80-90 km/h though, this thing is incredibly stable.
I have made it no secret that I ride for leisure rather than transportation. I prefer to commute on four wheels solely due to the fact that other motorists on the streets of downtown Toronto are seemingly becoming more and more oblivious with every passing day. Also, the supersport-class motorcycles that I live by lack the low-speed maneuverability to survive my rush hour commute. Despite this, I decided to bite my tongue for the week and commute on the CB500X. I was pleasantly surprised. Its tall and upright riding position allowed me to see over the plethora of taxis and other vehicles on the road. Compared to the Suzuki V-Strom though, this Honda felt much more nimble and composed when weaving around slow-moving or stopped buses and other vehicles. For the first time ever, I felt as though I could commute downtown on a motorcycle without losing my mind.
Admittedly, after a week with the V-Strom 650, I was completely sold on it. Where that bike feels heavier and more comfortable for longer hauls, the CB500X wins back serious points for being lighter and more nimble. Its comfortable, modest ride matches its equally modest looks. This Honda is clearly form over function; while it’s not ugly it isn’t going to get “oohs” and “aahs” from the public. To add to the “function”, the CB500X has ABS to help in poor riding conditions. At $6,799, this motorcycle is priced identically to the CBR500RA (the CBR500R with ABS). For a leisure rider like me, the CBR model is a decent bet, but there is no way in hell I would want to ride one every day. The 2013 Honda CB500X is an incredibly livable bike for a daily motorcyclist; if that was my lifestyle, I would be proud to own one.
2013 Honda CB500X Gallery