If there is one manufacturer that is making a lot of noise these days in the premium bike segment, well, it has to be Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI). In the last six months, the company has launched three products in the 350cc to 500cc space with the latest one being the CB500X. The middleweight ADV primarily rubs shoulders against the likes of Benelli TRK 502, Kawasaki Versys 650 and Suzuki V-Strom 650. However, with its Rs 7 lakh price tag, the Honda CB500X might put you into a ‘Heart vs Mind’ situation. Why do we say that? Read till the end to find out!
Possibly the first thing that you will notice about the design of the Honda CB500X is that it doesn’t scream loudness & brawniness and doesn’t have an imposing stance and hence, this might spark a debate keeping in mind its price point. So, if you are looking for a bad-boy, menacing-looking ADV, well, clearly this isn’t going to please your eyes. Upfront, you get a triangular-shaped all-LED headlamp with LED pilot lamps and in fact, the entire lighting system is all-LED too. Moreover, you get a tall, adjustable windscreen that does a decent job of protecting you from wind blasts at high speeds. The bike gets sharp creases and clean lines across the body that makes it look angular and sporty. The quality of the plastic on the panels is reasonably good and being a Honda, you won’t see a compromise anywhere on the bike in terms of the fit and finish and the overall build quality.
The Honda CB500X looks bigger than most of the entry-level ADVs and considerably smaller than the litre-class brutes and hence fits perfectly into the middleweight mould. The overall design looks proportionate and some of you might actually see it as a semi-faired bike that looks ready for mild off-roading. Talking of the instrument cluster, this one is a negative LCD display that offers good readability in almost all conditions. The sun was playing hide and seek on the day we tested the CB500X and still the information was easily readable throughout the day.
The all-digital unit cluster packs in a gear position indicator, engine temperature display, clock, fuel consumption per 100 km, tachometer along with the usual bits. One interesting feature on the Honda CB500X is the smart ESS (Emergency Stop Signal) technology that detects sudden braking after which it automatically activates the hazard lights to warn nearby vehicles.
Powering the Honda CB500X is a 471cc, parallel-twin liquid-cooled engine that develops 47 hp of power and 43 Nm of torque. Transmission is a six-speed unit with a slip and assist clutch. Being a typical Honda, the first thing that you will notice is the high level of refinement that the engine has on offer. The parallel-twin motor comes to life with a quick press of the starter after which the engine settles to a rather subtle note. As you rev up the throttle, the exhaust starts to produce a growling sound that intensifies into a sophisticated scream while you are pushing the engine towards its redline.
The engine is quite tractable and hence, riding the bike at as low as 45-50 kmph isn’t going to be a trouble in the top gear. That said, the CB500X won’t trouble you much in the city by asking for frequent gearshifts. Post 3,000 rpm lies the region that you would want to be in as the engine feels quite eager. At 4,000 rpm, the CB500X feels the most lively and this is the spot at which you can maintain a constant 110-115 kmph during those long highway rides and the bike won’t break a sweat.
It is only after 130 kmph that you will start feeling the vibrations on the footpegs and the handlebar. The low end packs a solid punch and hence, if you are someone who likes those quick sprints off the line, well, this is one bike that you are surely going to love. The mid-range is reasonably good too that facilitates quick overtakes in the city and highways. Talking of the overall performance, the parallel-twin motor offers the best of both worlds and hence, feels equally engaging while you riding the bike over tarmac and off roads.
The seat height on the Honda CB500X is 830mm but the narrower seat design towards the front makes the bike quite manageable and even riders having a height of close to 5”5′ shouldn’t be having a problem in terms of maneuverability. The handlebar is set quite higher and thanks to this, you not only sit quite upright and comfortable on the bike but standing up on the footpegs and riding feels convenient too. The suspension is set on a softer side and actually feels a bit bouncy after you go through some consecutive bumps. The upside to this is that the bike just glides along the broken roads with ease and it is only the impact of seriously broken surfaces that reaches the rider.
The manageability and friendliness of the Honda CB500X can also be attributed to the fact that at 199 kg kerb weight, this is the lightest bike in its class. The tyres offer an impressive grip so much so that you can rely on them even while cornering at high speeds. However, it is the soft suspension set-up that makes you feel at times that the rear is going a bit out when you are going full throttle on those serpentine roads.
Watch video | Our Honda CB500X review:
The overall ride quality is brilliant and if your commutes involve a major amount of tarmac and a few kilometres of broken patches, then the CB500X looks very very sensible for you. It has to be noted that the CB500X is not a hardcore off-roader with bits like alloy wheels and no engine bash plate and hence, might not be able to do some of the things that such machines can do.
The Honda CB500X is a very engaging motorcycle and is a great option if you are looking for a middleweight ‘go-anywhere’ ADV. However, at Rs 6.87 lakh, the pricing is certainly on a higher side and a figure close to Rs 5.5 lakh or 5.7 lakh mark would have certainly made the deal so much sweeter. In order to put things into perspective, if you pay Rs 7,000 more, you can get yourself the Kawasaki Versys 650 that offers 20 hp more, is more road-biased and hence, is a more capable tourer. On the other hand, if you want an ADV with a king-size road presence, you can get yourself the Benelli TRK 502 with similar power and torque and while doing so, you will also end up saving a whopping Rs 2 lakh. Also, if you move towards the lower end of the spectrum, there is the KTM 390 Adventure that offers more electronic aids than the CB500X. Yes, it has lesser power and torque than the CB500X but is over Rs 3.5 lakh cheaper as well.
So very clearly, the CB500X that arrives here via the CKD (Completely Knocked Down) route isn’t the most powerful or the most feature-loaded, or simply the most value-for-money bike in its class. But well, all these things are not really required if you want to have fun on a bike and this is when the ‘Heart vs Mind’ conflict comes into the picture. The CB500X then is an entertaining bike and more importantly, an accessible and rider-friendly soft-roader that will keep you happy on a day-to-day basis. So, if you have to look solely at the value for money proposition (and use your mind basically), then we don’t think your brain will allow you to go for this purchase. But if you are someone whose heart plays an important role in making key decisions, well, then go for the CB500X and we are quite sure that you wouldn’t be disappointed.
After all, it is the heart that wins in most situations and is the one that keeps you happy for long. Isn’t it?
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