2013 Honda CB500X Review

The diminutive (but not really) Adventure-Tourer

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2013 Honda CB500X

Editor Score: 83.0%
Engine 17/20
Suspension/Handling 12/15
Transmission/Clutch 8.5/10
Brakes 7.5/10
Instruments/Controls3.5/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 9/10
Appearance/Quality 8.5/10
Desirability 7/10
Value 10/10
Overall Score83/100

The CB500X postures to be the Adventure-Touring model in Honda’s 500cc parallel-Twin triumvirate. Sharing the majority of components with its CBR500R and CB500F siblings, the X’s distinctions are the styling of its stealthy, matte black bodywork and a one-inch increase in fork travel and seat height.

2013 Honda CB500F And CBR500R Review – First Ride

For a bike of smallish displacement that should attract newer to intermediate riders, the 500X feels more substantial than its engine capacity suggests – a beneficial quality for newer to intermediate riders who are, themselves, larger in size.

The X’s 31.9-inch seat height (a boon for taller riders) combined with low, comfortably positioned footpegs and an easy reach to the handlebars lends to being a commodious seating position for riders of all sizes.

2013 Honda CB500X Action Left

The $5,999/$6,499 (ABS) CB500X is a bargain compared to similar-but-larger-displacement models from competing manufacturers: Kawasaki Versys ABS $7,999, Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS $8,499.

The 471cc parallel-Twin powering the CB500X, R and F produces a respectable 45 horsepower at the back wheel, but it’s the flat torque curve that’s more important. The amount of available torque at nearly every rpm provides the Honda with easy-to-manipulate engine characteristics.

2013 Honda CB500X Dyno Chart

The fuel-injected, liquid-cooled Twin produces 25 ft-lbs of torque as low as 2500 rpm and slightly increases that figure on the way to its 29.5 foot-pound peak.

When we compared the CBR500R to Kawasaki’s Ninja 300 and Ninja 650 models in our 2013 Beginner Sportbike Shootout Part 2 – Video, we were impressed the Twin’s user-friendly usability, smoothness and enough power to keep things interesting. However, we were surprised to find the 500 only barely inching away from the 300 during top-gear roll-on testing. And the 500X has the same powerplant.

In the handling department the X is competent if not excellent. The front end is neutral but willingly turns into slow, tight corners as well as faster sweepers with equal aplomb. Slowing the bike is a single 320mm wave front disc and a single twin-piston caliper up front, while at the rear a 240mm wave disc and single-piston caliper. The stopping power is far from phenomenal but adequately sufficient. ABS adds $500 to the bike’s MSRP and, in our opinion, the upgrade is worth the price for the increased safety factor.

2013 Honda CB500X Wheelie

The CB500X is a perfectly capable all-around motorcycle, even when it comes time for hooligan antics.

Curiously, we experienced a harsher ride on the CB500X than we did on the CBR500R. Owning the same rear shock as the CBR500R and CB500F, the X’s suspension differs only in the 1.2 inches of increased fork travel (5.5 inches for the X vs 4.3 inches for the R and F).

But with a nine-position adjustable rear shock, we looked to better the ride by reducing some spring tension. Alas, to adjust the rear shock’s preload, a special spanner wrench is required (a screwdriver and hammer won’t work, we tried), but the wrench is not included in the bike’s toolkit. The wrench must be purchased or the bike taken to a dealership for adjustment.

2012 Honda NC700X Review – Video

Unable to do either before deadline, and considering the R and F model’s good suspension compliance, left us to assume the shock’s preload was drastically increased by another publication to suit a heavy rider. This affected the X’s ability to cope with abrupt road irregularities when ridden solo. Suspension compliance when ridden two-up was very smooth, adding to our theory.

2013 Honda CB500X Action Right Rear

The 500X has slightly more cornering clearance than its 500R counterpart but will grind pegs when pushed hard.

On the bright side, when ridden aggressively on a twisty stretch within a canyon’s confines, the X proved to be an excellent performer, willingly arcing corners with more confidence and cornering clearance than its CBR counterpart. Footpegs will eventually touch down, but the pace until this happens is quicker and more thrilling than we’d expected.

Other differences between the X and its siblings is a one-inch taller seat height (31.9 inches vs 30.9 inches), a fuel tank with 0.4 more gallons of fuel (4.5 gal. vs 4.1 gal), and the highest claimed curb weight: X = 430 lbs., R = 425 lbs., F = 420 lbs.

2013 Honda CB500X Instruments

Including a fuel gauge, dual trip meters and a clock, the X’s digital instrument cluster is simple and informative but can be hard to read in direct sunlight. The X’s windscreen is manually adjustable via four bolts.

For a person of my near-six-foot height, the manually adjustable windscreen does nothing more than raise wind flow from my collarbone to just beneath my chin. For shorter riders, the minor adjustment could prove to be the difference between comfortable or turbulent wind flow around the rider’s helmet.

When comparing the CB500X to the stylistically similar NC700X, we find the 500’s parallel-Twin to be more motorcycle-ish with a greater appetite for revs. Unlike the 700X, which has its fuel located low in its chassis under the seat and, because of this arrangement, provides a large storage space where the fuel would normally be, the 500X carries its fuel load in the traditional position.

2013 Honda CB500X Pillion

Passenger ergos include grab handles and comfortably placed footpegs.

With a very standard/neutral seating position, the ergonomics of the X beckon all-day rides, and the fuel-sipping quality of the diminutive Twin provides MPGs to grant that request with financial frugality. Seat foam isn’t as compliant as we’d like for spending consecutive hours aboard the 500X, but there are aftermarket ways to amend this minor inconvenience. There’s also an expansive steering sweep for performing tight maneuvers.

2013 Honda CB500X Left Switchgear

The placement of the horn and blinker buttons takes some acclimatization. We inadvertently honked at a few cars when trying to engage the turn signal.

Conclusion

A versatile bike at this price makes a great motorcycle for riders of varying sizes and skill levels. The CBR500R won the shootout against the Ninja 300 and Ninja 650, but the 500X is in class of its own.

+ Highs

  • Comfy, big-bike feel
  • All-around competence
  • Price
- Sighs

  • Freeway passing power
  • Suspension components
  • Shock adjustment tool not included

2013 Honda CB500X Beauty

Honda CB500X Specifications

MSRP $5,999/$6,499 (ABS)
Engine Type Liquid-cooled parallel-Twin
Engine Capacity 471 cc
Bore x Stroke 67mm x 66.8mm
Compression 10.7:1
Fuel System PGM-FI with 34mm throttle bodies
Horsepower 45 @ 8600 rpm
Torque 29.5 @ 7000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed
Final Drive O-ring sealed chain
Frame Tubular-steel semi-double cradle
Front Suspension 41mm fork; 5.5 inches travel
Rear Suspension Pro-Link single shock with nine-position spring preload adjustability; 4.7 inches travel
Front Brakes Twin-piston caliper with single 320mm wave disc
Rear Brakes Single caliper 240mm wave disc
Front Tire 120/70-17
Rear Tire 160/60-17
Seat Height 31.9 inches
Curb Weight 430 lbs
Wheelbase 55.9 inches
Fuel Capacity 4.5 gal
Electronics Optional ABS
Colors Matte Black Metallic

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  • Craig Hoffman

    $5,999 is “cheap” I guess. A very practical bike then. The thing is, even in practical bikes, I want some zest, some irresponsible. I have a Camry for practical, and even the Camry, with it’s 2.5L 4 banger and 180 hp on tap, has some zip. I want my bikes to be a little aggressive and unnecessarily fun :)

    Couldn’t Honda get us 50 hp? Pretty please? Fondly recalling the day of the $2,999 EX 500, which, by the way, had 53 hp at 9,000 rpm, and 32 ft lbs per quick Google search.

    This new Honda looks like a nice bike though, and it will be very cheap to keep and run, and I wager it will run with minimal care, on to the 2nd Coming. $1,500 more will buy so much more motorcycle though.

    This bike’s biggest completion in the used market. A clean used SV650 would cost less and be so much more bike.

    • Errol Smith

      I totally agree, Honda’s new lineup is nothing if not practical but I don’t ride to be practical…I ride to have fun!

      That’s me, however, and I can see new riders flocking to Honda’s new bikes as a non-scary alternative to the established motorcycling culture. If it gets more people out there on two wheels then we (motorcyclists) all are better for their efforts.

      • Craig Hoffman

        The best beginner bike in Honda’s lineup is the CRF250L. Dual sports are great intro bikes and a new rider can learn, or someone like me can be a complete hooligan, in any vacant parking lot. Wheelies over speed bumps, backing it in, I don’t know if I have ever had as much fun on a bike as I did tearing it up in a big empty business park lot on a buddy’s Husky 510 SMR. That Husky is a completely ridiculous bike by the way, the opposite of practical :)

    • Frank

      The new 500′s are designed for the European A2 license, max 35kw.

    • theUg

      I don’t know why you need so much power. I have 16 on my TU, and while it won’t win any races, it is pretty competent, and I got it up to 85 mph indicated with favourable wind on motorway.

    • Honda Cbr

      Please tell me what exactly I can get for $1500 more that is ‘so much more motorcycle’??

      • Kevin Duke

        Well, for less than $2000 more, you could get an FZ-09 with more than double the power..,

        • Honda Cbr

          No ABS, not as comfortable ergonomics, virtually no wind protection…. I guess if ‘more’ is ‘less’, sure.

          Power isn’t everything.

          • Kevin Duke

            No ABS: correct. Not as comfy: Other than less wind protection, not really. Power isn’t everything: True that. And personally, I think the X is the best entry-ish-level bike out there for taller riders who don’t want a dual-sport. It’s a great, capable motorcycle, but it’s unexciting. For my tastes, I’d find a way to afford the Yamaha, but it’s perfectly legitimate if you feel different.

          • Honda Cbr

            I hear ya. There’s so many great options out there… It’s a great time to ride, that’s for sure. Wish I could afford them all. ;-)

  • Doug

    Great bike but the NC700X is a much more refined ride. I tried both but found the the little 500 to be a touch anemic in around town riding due to lack of torque. If you are more of a sports rider this is the better choice. If you are more mature than the NC is still the better choice. 600 mile valve check requirement is STUPID though. Can’t they adjust it correctly from the Taiwanese factory? Another win for the Japanese built NC series.

    • Chris_in_Kalifornia

      Why even have to adjust the valves at all? In 1983 they came out with cool automatic valve adjusters that don’t limit the RPM like hydraulic lifters do. It’s stupid to have to adjust the valves, ever, on any engine any more. I’d rather pay an extra 2 or 3 hundred dollars to include that feature. What’s the deal, to the want you to have to go to the mechanic shop every so often?

    • Red Ride

      Doug get your facts straight. First off the bike is made in Thailand by AP Honda and Honda is shifting much of their factories there and so are Suzuki, Kawasaki,, Yamaha, Ducati, and Triumph, as well as others. My 500X does not need 600 mile valve checks and my bike now has nearly 20,000 miles on it with out any checks. Wonderful bike. Where I live, the NC is more than double the price for just 2 hp more, No thanks. I am a full on Ninja card carrier, and the 500x is my choice for all around riding and adventure riding.

  • is4u2p

    Does it have the same crappy gear box as the CB500F? If so, there’s no way it beats out the ninjas.

  • Chris_in_Kalifornia

    Phaw! It’s still got a chain drive. I’ll bet it has to have the valves adjusted occasionally too. Other than those niggling features it looks pretty good. Can I get an optional rack on the back for quickie runs to the store? That was one of the reasons I bought the 2004 Vstrom when I did. That was a great bike. Put 87,000 miles on it in less than 5 years. Will this bike be as reliable? Only thing that ever broke on my vstrom was the sensor for the speedometer. Never heard of any other problems like that so I think it was a fluke. You don’t mention what RPM it’s turning when it “barely pulled ahead” of the smaller bike. How is it geared, how is the gear spacing? Tell us more please.

  • Red Ride

    About time ! AP Honda who makes this bike offered Motorcycle.com the operturnity to test this bike a over a year ago but you were not interested. Happy you not got around to it. It is the best of the 3 IMO

    • Kevin Duke

      Interesting comment. Who exactly offered us a ride on the 500X more than a year ago?

      • Jeffrey McCollum

        Jeffrey McCollum works at IMAR (International Motorcycle & Automobile Research) that consults with AP Honda, Kawasaki, Lifan, Nissan, Suzuki and others in Southeast Asia. Much of what he says today is what you will be riding a year or two down the road. Motorcycle.com was offered the second production bike off the line and turned him down

        • Kevin Duke

          Interesting. So who did he actually talk to or correspond with? No one talked to me about it.

  • CrashFroelich

    I love reading about all these practical, fun little stinkers. Then I get on The Morrigan (’10 Z1000) and forget all about them.

  • Honda Cbr

    47 HP has trouble passing on the Freeway?? What sort of measure of passing power are we attempting to measure up to here?