It’s even more adventure-tastic now

Honda brushed up its CB500X ahead of MY2019 with a number of improvements that came hot on the heels of the buffs it got just the year before. A number of engine tweaks net a small gain in torque, along with a larger front wheel to better tackle road bumps and light terrain. The ’stop’ was boosted right along with the ’go’ in the form of a few refinements in the electronics department, as well as the hardware. Improvements in the suspension and rider’s triangle do their bit to increase rideability and comfort on Honda’s new smallish-displacement adventure bike.

  • 2019 - 2021 Honda CB500X
  • Year:
    2019- 2021
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Parallel-Twin
  • Displacement:
    471 cc
  • Top Speed:
    115 mph
  • Price:
    6999
  • Price:

Honda CB500X Design

  • Familiar adventure-bike posture
  • Wide handlebar for more leverage on irregular terrain
  • LCD display
  • LED lighting
2019 - 2021 Honda CB500X
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2019 - 2021 Honda CB500X
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2019 - 2021 Honda CB500X
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The factory went beyond the usual BNL treatment when it updated the look of the CB500X with a new headlight design that rides above a restyled shroud. The shroud shunts hot air from the radiator away from the pilot for a cooler ride, and an adjustable windshield measures in at 20 mm (0.787 inch) taller this year to punch a larger hole in the weather for increased comfort.

A 4.7-gallon fuel tank rocks a new design as well, but maintains that adventure-typical hump that flows into the front fairing for a bit of rally-bike flavor. I’m proud to say that the factory mounted a proper fender on the front end with only the merest suggestion of a bird’s beak that keeps it from being a complete snub-nose like the Africa Twin, for instance. Gotta’ say, I like the result of that compromise.

A wide tapered handlebar provides the leverage you’ll need to control the front end with a greater steering-lock range by three degrees, and it comes with a rubber mount that helps isolate the rider’s hamburger shovels from the high-freq engine vibrations. LCD instrumentation features a new shift light and gear indicator along with a larger display face to make the instrumentation easier to read at a glance.

The saddle rides in the swale between tank and tail to pull the rider down into the machine, and it’s narrower this year at the front to make for an easier reach to the ground when you go to deploy your training wheels. Subframe-mount, fold-up footpegs and large J.C. handles join the elevated p-pad to finish off the passenger’s amenities.

A new clear taillight lens and new LED turn signals finish the rearward lighting on a mudguard/plateholder assembly that controls the fling and finishes off the gear in the rear. Like I said at the start, far beyond the usual cursory bold-new-look treatment.

Honda CB500X Chassis

  • Long-stroke 41 mm front forks
  • Honda Pro-Link® rear suspension
  • ABS
  • Nine-stage spring preload
2019 - 2021 Honda CB500X
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2019 - 2021 Honda CB500X
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2019 - 2021 Honda CB500X
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The steel diamond-tube frame on the CB500X was on the receiving end of a number of tweaks as part of the brush-up. It starts out with a 27.5-degree steering head that’s kicked out a whole degree farther than last year to give the “X” a bit more stability at speed, but the trail figure still indicates a relatively agile ride, and the turning radius was reduced by a whopping 8 inches to make your parking-lot maneuvers easier to accomplish.

The 19-inch front wheel also aids in handling at highway/interstate speeds. It’s followed by a 17-inch cast rim out back, and the hoops at both ends run a new design with deeper grooves that are sure to increase traction in wet conditions and on soft terrain. Said hoops run with a 110/80 aspect ratio up front followed by a 160/60.

New stems deliver a greater stroke length with increased ground clearance this year to the tune of 5.3 inches up front and 5.9 inches out back. The 41 mm, rwu forks come with fixed values while the Pro-Link monoshock sports only the obligatory spring preload. I started to be disappointed by the vanilla suspension, but then reminded myself that it’s only a 500 and I got over it.

The brake hardware checks in with a twin-pot anchor and 310 mm disc up front with some tweaks to the single-piston rear caliper. The rear delivers improved hydraulic leverage as it bites the 240 mm disc out back. Additionally, the ABS feature is tuned to deliver better modulation in low-traction situations for some mo-better safety.

Front Suspension/ Travel: 41 mm fork/ 5.9 inches
Rear Suspension/ Travel: Pro-Link® single shock with nine-position spring preload adjustability/ 5.3 inches
Rake: 27.5 °
Trail: 4.3 inches (108 mm)
Front Brake: 310 mm disc, ABS
Rear Brake: 240 mm disc, ABS
Front Tire: 110/80-19
Rear Tire: 160/60-17

Honda CB500X Drivetrain

  • 471 cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine
  • 31.7 lb-ft @ 7,000 rpm
  • 49.6 hp @ 8,500 rpm
  • Twin exaust pipes
  • Slipper/assist clutch
  • Smoother shifting transmission
2019 - 2021 Honda CB500X
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2019 - 2021 Honda CB500X Exterior
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2019 - 2021 Honda CB500X
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The 471 cc, water-cooled parallel-twin powerplant was on the receiving end of a number of improvements that garner a torque boost of around four-percent for a total of 31.7 pound-feet of grunt at 7,000 rpm. Horsepower caps out at 8,500 rpm with 49.6 ponies.

How did the engineers do it? Well, they tweaked the valve timing and straightened out the velocity stacks in the intake tract for starters. The spray pattern and droplet size were both refined for greater penetration and vaporization in order to aid in flame-front propagation and fuel efficiency. A low-restriction exhaust system rocks a catalytic converter to help meet emissions and open up the system with optimized backpressure that boosts the mid-range torque.

The mill is nearly square with a pair of 67 mm bores and a 66.8 mm stroke producing a 10.7-to-1 compression ratio that falls in the middle of the range but will likely require top octane pump champagne to prevent pre-ignition, detonation and dieseling. A pair of 34 mm throttle bodies meter the air/fuel ratio, and there’s a new, more accurate crank position sensor that makes the injection and ignition timing considerably more precise.

Dual overhead cams time the eight-valve head (four per bore) with a “silent,” vanadium-treated SV chain to drive them. The pistons borrowed from the Fireblade program with a special shape intended to reduce skirt-slap at high rpm and reduce the mechanical noise at the top end.

Speaking of top-end, the CB500X turned in a top speed of 115 mph, and I expect this model to get up to speed a bit quicker but not actually be any faster. That’s fine, since most of you don’t have a racetrack or abandoned runway in your back pocket where you can safely/legally open it up that far anyway.

Power flows through a slipper clutch that also lightens the clutch pull to give your left hand a break and a reshaped lever for greater comfort. Oh man, I can’t tell you how much I wish my bike had a slipper, especially in city traffic when I have to pull it in about 237 times every trip, though I admit it gives me a left forearm like Popeye.

Engine: 471 cc Liquid-Cooled Parallel-Twin
Bore x Stroke: 67 mm x 66.8 mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Induction: PGM-FI with 34 mm throttle bodies
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital transistorized with electronic advance
Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive: O-ring-sealed chain

Honda CB500X Pricing

2019 - 2021 Honda CB500X
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2019 - 2021 Honda CB500X
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2019 - 2021 Honda CB500X
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The price on the 2021 CB500X is up a few bills over last year at $6,999; but ABS is standard, so that’s figured into the price. Matte Black Metallic is the colorway of the day for 2021.

Model ID: CB500X (ABS model: CB500XA)
Warranty: One Year Transferable, unlimited-mileage limited warranty (extended coverage available with a Honda Care Protection Plan®)
Color:
└ 2019, 2020: Grand Prix Red
└ 2021: Matte Black Metallic
Price:
└ 2019, 2020: $6,699
└ 2021: $6,999

Honda CB500X Competitors

2017 - 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 650 / V-Strom 650XT
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2019 - 2021 Honda CB500X
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Honda kinda has the 500-ish displacement range all to itself over there. Its domestic foes go low and high to leave the CB500X in a class all its own. So, with that in mid, I went uphill just a skosh and grabbed the V-Strom 650 from Suzuki.

Suzuki V-Strom 650 / V-Strom 650XT

2017 - 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 650 / V-Strom 650XT
- image 776794

The Suzi-Q runs with a more pronounced bird’s beak up front for a more typical look, but as a matter of taste, I prefer the Honda’s front end. In profile, the V-Strom toes the genre line, and as far as the overall aesthetic it fits the bill even if it isn’t as sexy as a Ducati Multistrada, for instance, but few things are.

Suzuki scores with its stems that come with all-around preload adjustments plus a rebound-damping adjustment on the rear shock for an overall increase in rideability and comfort. It also gets points for opting for dual front anchors instead of a single, and of course, it comes with ABS protection to let you safely get the most out of the system.

The most obvious advantage with the Suzuki lies in the displacement as it packs in 645 cc for an unsurprising power advantage that measures in with 69 ponies and 50.9 pounds o’ grunt against 49.6/31.7. That extra power may get you up to speed more quickly, but the top speed fall out at 115 mph, just like the CB500X, so that “extra” power ain’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be.

That handful of ponies drives the sticker up to $8,799, and I would seriously question if it is worth the jump if not for the traction control the V-Strom carries. Even then I doubt it, because I’ve got along for 25 years without such gadgetry, and I wouldn’t want to pay for something that I can accomplish with a little thing called skill.

Read our full review of the Suzuki V-Strom 650 / V-Strom 650XT.

He Said

“Ya know, the “street-adventure” genre seems to be quickly replacing the standard sportbike as everyone’s favorite commuter du jour. It’s more flexible and comfortable with comparable performance and potential for fun, and is starting to appeal to the rider segment who has no desire to ride around lookin’ like a racer wannabe but doesn’t want to go to the American style cruisers for their two-wheel gratification. Given its top speed and low price, the CB500X looks like it covers a decent spread of body types and experience levels, and should not be considered just a beginner’s bike or first upgrade.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “Honda took it seriously with this update to the CB500X. They took a ’yeah, it can go offroad’ attitude and gave it more of an ’offroad is where it’s at’ attitude. New fuel injection settings are tailored for offroad riding and the slipper clutch not only makes it easier to pull in the clutch, but it also smooths engine braking, giving you more control. Suspension travel and ground clearance increased over prior years, but my big question is, if it’s offroad-tastic, where are the spoked wheels?

Honda CB500X Specifications

Engine & Drive Train:
Engine: 471 cc Liquid-Cooled Parallel-Twin
Bore x Stroke: 67 mm x 66.8 mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Induction: PGM-FI with 34 mm throttle bodies
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital transistorized with electronic advance
Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive: O-ring-sealed chain
Chassis:
Front Suspension/ Travel: 41 mm fork/ 5.9 inches
Rear Suspension/ Travel: Pro-Link® single shock with nine-position spring preload adjustability/ 5.3 inches
Rake: 27.5 °
Trail: 4.3 inches (108 mm)
Front Brake: 310 mm disc, ABS
Rear Brake: 240 mm disc, ABS
Front Tire: 110/80-19
Rear Tire: 160/60-17
Dimensions & Capacities:
Wheelbase: 56.8 inches
Seat Height: 32.8 inches
Curb Weight: 434 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 4.7 gallons
Top Speed: 115 mph (est)
Details:
Model ID: CB500XA
Warranty: One Year Transferable, unlimited-mileage limited warranty (extended coverage available with a Honda Care Protection Plan®)
Color:
└ 2019, 2020: Grand Prix Red
└ 2021: Matte Black Metallic
Price:
└ 2019, 2020: $6,699
└ 2021: $6,999

Further Reading

Honda

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TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read More
About the author

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: honda.com, suzukicycles.com, ducati.com

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