Similar to the way practical and upright crossovers have been a trend in the car world, practical and upright motorcycles called ‘Adventure Bikes’ have been booming in the bike world. In recent years the Adventure Bike segment has gone from having almost exclusively very large, expensive and intimidating options such as the BMW R1250GS, to having quite a few small single-cylinder entry level options for beginners. Now we’re to the point where there’s even growing availability in a more intermediate adventure segment with motorcycles like the 2023 Honda CB500X.
What Is It?
The CB500X situates itself in an interesting part of the adventure bike world. It’s arguably capable enough for even the most expert riders to thoroughly enjoy in the right setting. And at the same time it’s small and light enough to be easily adopted by beginner riders.
It has a 471cc parallel twin punching out roughly 47 horsepower at 8600 rpm and 32 lb-ft of torque. It weighs just 430 pounds wet, only 40 pounds more than the lightest entry level bikes in the segment. Honda claims a seat height just under 33 inches. That sounds tall in practice, but even my 5’9 frame with short 30” inseam found it to be very approachable around the parking lot – although I was definitely up on my tippy toes while trying to touch the ground and not able to flat-foot, which may deter some pure beginners.
Recent updates to the CB500X introduced inverted front Showa forks and a preload-adjustable rear spring. Front and rear suspension travel comes in at just under six inches, which indicates this is definitely more of a street oriented ADV. All of this to say there are some impressive pieces of hardware on this bike that should translate to a solid feel on-road or off.
How Does it Ride?
The single word that comes to mind within the first 100 feet of riding the CB500X is “easy.” If you’re a new rider you may be fooled into thinking a tall upright bike is harder to ride than something super low to the ground like a cruiser – quite the opposite. The CB500X feels light and eager to tip into a corner, and the perfectly neutral riding position gives you confidence in your ability to control the bike.
Clutch and gearbox controls are light, yet deliberate, and the entire bike has a tactile feeling of quality to its controls which is something that can’t be said about many competitors in this price range. The front brake lever is adjustable, and it controls updated dual front discs with ABS. These are all very premium features for a bike that can be ridden home for less than $7,500.
Highway manners are typically not a small-displacement strong suit, but the engine and chassis felt promisingly smooth in my short sampling. I’d love to get some more highway time with the CB500X, maybe even some gravel roads, but the conditions during this quick ride didn’t result in any noticeable vibrations through the grips at speeds up to 60 miles per hour.
“Smooth” is a theme throughout the entire bike. Smooth brake and engine operation are complimented by smooth yet well-controlled suspension over some gnarly New York pot holes. I’d venture (pun intended) to say that the vast majority of CB500X buyers may never ride this bike over anything more serious than a gravel road, but its suspension and riding position certainly feel like they are up for the challenge.
Whether it’s motorcycles or cars, Honda has always been known for delivering a quality product at an attainable price. The CB500X lives up to that reputation by providing practical comfort, quality hardware, and approachable dimensions for new riders.
With a large gas tank, adjustable wind protection, and focus on comfort it was hard not to instantly take a liking to this pint sized ADV. Its size and weight add a level of approachability that the big boys in the segment could easily learn a thing or two from.