2013 Honda CB500X Review

Tom Roderick
by Tom Roderick

The diminutive (but not really) Adventure-Tourer

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 CB500X

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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

Honda CB500X Specifications

MSRP$5,999/$6,499 (ABS)
Engine TypeLiquid-cooled parallel-Twin
Engine Capacity471 cc
Bore x Stroke67mm x 66.8mm
Fuel SystemPGM-FI with 34mm throttle bodies
Horsepower45 @ 8600 rpm
Torque29.5 @ 7000 rpm
Final DriveO-ring sealed chain
FrameTubular-steel semi-double cradle
Front Suspension41mm fork; 5.5 inches travel
Rear SuspensionPro-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 Tire120/70-17
Rear Tire160/60-17
Seat Height31.9 inches
Curb Weight430 lbs
Wheelbase55.9 inches
Fuel Capacity4.5 gal
ElectronicsOptional ABS
ColorsMatte Black Metallic
Tom Roderick
Tom Roderick

A former Motorcycle.com staffer who has gone on to greener pastures, Tom Roderick still can't get the motorcycle bug out of his system. And honestly, we still miss having him around. Tom is now a regular freelance writer and tester for Motorcycle.com when his schedule allows, and his experience, riding ability, writing talent, and quick wit are still a joy to have – even if we don't get to experience it as much as we used to.

More by Tom Roderick

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2 of 21 comments
  • CrashFroelich CrashFroelich on Nov 08, 2013

    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 Honda Cbr on Nov 23, 2013

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